Index | Australia | UK | Europe | USA | Canada | Africa | Russia | China | Asia | South America
  Gas Accidents | Environment | Economics | Health | Politics | Citizen Journalism | About Us | Links | Contact Us

Index > Environment > United States of America > Water Protection Gets Shortchanged in Proposed Fracking Rules

Bookmark and Share

Hydraulic Fracturing Faces Growing Competition for Water Supplies in Water-Stressed Regions

Escalating Water Strains In Fracking Regions

Nearly half of fracking happens in places short on water

As Oil and Gas Drilling Competes for Water,
One New Mexico County Says No

Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in Western USA

Investors Tackle Fracking And Water Scarcity Risks

Growing Water Scarcity in US is 'Hidden' Financial Risk for Investors

Fracking Can Strain U.S. Water Supplies

The Fracker’s Quest: More Water

Water Protection Gets Shortchanged in Proposed Fracking Rules

Nearly one in 10 U.S. watersheds is “stressed”

USDA, EPA Partnership Supports Water Quality Trading To Benefit Environment, Economy

Halliburton Loophole

"Father of Fracking"
George Mitchell
concerns over environmental
impacts of fracking

History of Fracking
Only a new technology

USA Fracking Stories

A Texan tragedy

Gas injection may have triggered earthquakes in Texas

California Lags in Fracking Regulations

All In for California Water

Fracking in Michigan

Fracking in Michigan Potential Impact on Health, Environment, Economy

Hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale

Methane Gas from Marcellus Shale Drilling

Marcellus Shale Gas Economics

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Pennsylvania Fracking

Fracking in Virginia

Lesson From Wyoming Fracking

Water Pollution from Fracking

Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Substantial Water Pollution Risks

Methane in drinking water wells

Abandoned gas wells leak

Natural Gas Leaks Discovered in Boston

Methane Leaks Under Streets of Boston

Methane leaks make fracking dirty

Fracking effects real estate values

Fracking stimulates earthquakes

Protecting Gas Pipelines From Earthquakes

Gas Pipeline Earthquake - Simulations

America's crumbling pipelines

Averting Pipeline Failures

Dangers to Underground Pipelines

Gas Pipelines Could Serve as Wireless Links

Government Action needed on a National Energy Policy

EPA Releases Update on Ongoing Hydraulic Fracturing Study

Solar Booster Shot for Natural Gas Power Plants

Natural Gas Pricing Reform to Facilitate Carbon Tax Policy

Investing in fracking

What Oil Prices Have in Store?

Methane Out, Carbon Dioxide In

Health impacts of Marcellus shale gas drilling

Professor Ingraffea

Anti-Fracking Billboard

Natural Gas Drilling

Threats to Biodiversity

Pronghorn Migration
hindered by gas development

Microbes in a Fracking Site

Protozoa May Hold Key to World Water Safety

Shale Gas Production

Research into the Fracking Controversy

Convert Methane Into Useful Chemicals

Methane Natural Gas Into Diesel

'Natural Gas' at the molecular level

Arctic Methane risks

Arctic Methane Seeps

Great Gas Hydrate Escape

Undersea Methane Seep Ecosystem

Methane in the Atmosphere of Early Earth

Methane Natural Gas Linked to Climate Change

Cutting Methane Pollutants Would Slow Sea Level Rise

California | Colorado | Dakota | Marcellus | Massachusetts | Michigan | New York |
Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Wyoming

Shale Gas


Water Protection Gets Shortchanged in Proposed Fracking Rules

By Monika Freyman National Geographic Posted on May 23, 2013

Proposed standards that the U.S. Department of Interior announced last week for hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) on federal and Indian lands are hugely important, especially in the arid West where water is gold.

Unfortunately, water protection gets short shrift in the rules that, once finalized, will apply to 750 million acres of public lands (see map below).

To provide a bit of context, oil and gas wells on public lands account for about 13 percent of the nation’s natural gas production and five percent of its oil production.  

An estimated 3,100 wells are hydraulically fractured on federal lands each year.

Disclosure of chemicals and enforcement are key issues in these rules, and I’m disappointed DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) backed down from its initial push to require full disclosure of all chemicals used in fracturing operations.

The newer language requires companies only to disclose chemicals that won’t compromise their proprietary chemical blends.

Provisions for handling large volumes of contaminated wastewater are also overly lenient.

It’s well documented that storage, treatment, transport, and final disposal of the large volumes of contaminated wastewater is a significant water quality risk.

Improper storage, on site leakage, volatile chemicals released from these waters, and surface spills and transport accidents are all areas of concern that must be better addressed.

The rules should mandate closed-loop systems, especially near populated areas.

They also fail to require baseline water testing, as states such as Colorado and Ohio do, before drilling can proceed.

Nor do they include setback requirements for fracturing operations.

Another worry is exemption loopholes that will prevent many aquifers from being protected.  

The new rules protect “usable waters” such as underground drinking water sources and water zones already being used for agricultural and industrial purposes.

But they open the door for operators to seek “exemptions” when water supplies are not in active use.  Under such exemptions an operator is not obliged to take measures to protect the aquifer.

This loophole is misguided because many of these “exempt” aquifers may indeed be needed in the future, especially as populations continue to grow in states like Texas and Colorado.

Likewise, although some of these aquifers may be exempted due to high salt content, they may serve an important hydrological or ecological role and be interconnected with freshwater systems in groundwater or surface water systems.

The exemption issue is especially ironic given a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study released last week showing an alarming trend of aquifer depletion across much of the United States, especially the Midwest and Southwest.

Many of these regions losing groundwater are in areas pursuing shale energy extraction, such as the Eagle Ford and Permian basins in Texas, and the Niobrara basin in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska (see map below).

From 1900–2008, natural stocks of water under the land decreased by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie.

Depletion rates have been especially pronounced since 1950, with the highest loss rates being from 2000 to 2008 (nearly 25 cubic kilometers on average per year).

Figure 1: Cumulative groundwater depletion from 1900-2008 across 40 aquifers.

I’ve often heard how damaging the 1950s and 60s were on groundwater depletion due to the advent of large-scale agriculture irrigation with many saying that this problem is now being properly managed and that we now ‘know better.’

Unfortunately, we still have much to learn.

Pumpage rates are still dominated by agriculture, but they also highlight a worrisome uptick of pumping by municipal and industrial users, especially over the last decade (see below). 

This trend, coupled with escalating shale development in regions with high water stress, highlights the need to better manage groundwater resources.

Figure 2: Annual groundwater withdrawal estimates by water user.

Source: Leonard Konikow, Groundwater depletion in the United States (1900-2008), Report 2013-5079

Monika Freyman is a water program manager at Ceres. She co-authored a Ceres report released in May, “Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Growing Competitive Pressures for Water.”

Read the post at National Geographic

 

 

 

 

site search by freefind