‘Industrial Gas Drilling Reporter’ by James L. Simpson, Hilary Atkin and Jennifer McAleese
Natural gas, a nonrenewable source of fuel formed in the earth millions of years ago, perhaps before the dinosaurs, is a fossil fuel that, according to Scientists, forms from ancient plants and animals’ remains. As an energy source, natural gas boasts of superabundant benefits that render it one of the most preferable sources of energy in the world compared to other sources of energy such as coal. This can be attested in light of the fact that natural gas does not produce much green house gases (Congress, 2010). This paper is an article review of the article ‘Industrial Gas Drilling Reporter’ by James L. Simpson, Hilary Atkin and Jennifer McAleese, all working for Riverkeeper Incorporation, New York. The authors present a well argued review of the prospects of Natural Gas Drilling in New York as well as a closer look at the legislations involved in gas drilling with an extended role of updating the general public on the several pertinent environmental issues; issues that find their basis and relevance with regards to Supplemental Environmental Impact Study.
Riverkeeper Incorporation’s mandate is to protect the Hudson River and its tributaries in an effort to ensure safe drinking water for New York Resident as well as the residents of the Hudson Valley. The organization publishes many journals that address issues relating to the Hudson River, both natural and anthropogenic. However, in this article, the Riverkeeper Incorporation tries to assert the peril that the mining of natural gas imposes to the Hudson River and the Environment in general.
According to the authors, Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock layer found deep within the earth’s crust and is currently believe to form the Catskill Mountains. Hydraulic Fracturing, as asserted by the authors, is a new technology that permits drilling companies to obtain natural gas trapped in the fractures of the Marcellus Shale by drilling into the shale at right angles, horizontally and vertically, and afterwards using high pressure to release the gas.
To Simpson, Atkin and McAleese, there is a plethora of environmental impacts imputed to the process of fracking. The process makes use of pressurized chemicals to release natural gas from the fractures in the Marcellus Shale; a process that requires large volumes of water and involves the use of toxic chemicals coupled with the use of a lot of truck traffic, which by all means pollute the air. In addition, the authors acknowledge that natural gas drilling has a much more reaching effect of contaminating drinking water sources with contaminant like Methane iron and manganese. Further, farmers also suffer lose of cattle to deaths as a result of ingesting pasture contaminated with potassium chloride used in hydraulic fracturing. Likewise, aquatic life plants and animals like fish, aquatic insects and salamanders are also affected.
In addition, the article presents assorted legislations in the US that govern natural gas drilling. Firstly, the article highlights a bill presented to the congress with the aim of sealing the Halliburton Loophole, as well as regulating fracking. Secondly, the article pinpoints that the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the 2005 Energy policy Act culminated to the Halliburton Loophole. Also, highlighted in the article is the New York Assembly Bill aimed at banning natural gas drilling within New York’s watershed. Lastly, with regards to legislations, the article touches on a move that will seek to mandate the Delaware River Basin Commission the responsibility of approving all the natural gas extraction projects in a bid to maintain the all-time high quality of Delaware River.
The last two chapters of the article update anyone in the readership of the article about the recent natural gas drilling reports and studies as well as the proceedings of the State Environmental Quality Review.
The article is, indubitably, a well thought-out article on the perils that New York’s water sources are subjected to as a result of the drilling of natural gas. The authors are portrayed by the article to be exceptionally well versed with knowledge about the environmental impacts of natural gas drilling, a wealth of knowledge they aptly state in this surpassingly organized piece. There is no doubt that the article is an indispensable addition to the current, available body of knowledge on the implications of drilling gas to the environment.
However, I think that the attention given to the impact of oil gas drilling to the environment was not sufficient. This subject is one of the most relevant topics with regards to environmental protection, in addition to oil gas drilling; I think that the topic warrants a more deserving attention. In addition, when viewed critically, it can be instituted that whenever there is an oil gas-drilling project to be implemented, not all the regulations apply. Therefore, it is logical that the Riverkeeper, mandated to watch over the watersheds, should notify the congress and the public that the projects should not be subjected to general rules and regulations. To this effect, the organizations should remind the congress that legislations regarding drilling of oil gas should be based on the individual projects. This is can only be effective if before any implementation of a project, the passing of legislations should be pursuant to the environmental impact assessment report specific to the project.
The leading aim of this article was to update anyone in its readership about the developments in legislations governing drilling of natural gas during the period concurrent to its publication. In as much as most of the developments were highlighted in the article, there are some development of equal importance to the ones highlighted that were exempted. For instance, in the same year, 2009, a bill was presented to the congress concerning the amendment of the Environmental Conservation Law to include a clause that requires drilling companies to use nontoxic fracking chemicals for hydraulic fracturing. Again, within the same period, a congress member proposed that the Environmental Conservation Law should establish a moratorium that hinders the drilling of natural gas within two miles of any New York water supply infrastructure. These are just but two examples of updates on legislations that were not included in this otherwise excellent article.
The article, despite the few problems I highlighted in the discussion chapter of this paper, is no doubt a well-documented article that can somewhat achieve is intended objective of updating the readers. The article discusses some of the most crucial terms used if natural gas drilling. Moreover, the article highlights some of the significant changes that have occurred to the legislations governing natural gas drilling.
Congress, (2010). Congressional Record (Bound Volumes), Part 7. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office
Legislative Update, June 20, 2009. Retrieved from http://d.yimg.com/kq/groups/23158650/894889044/name/Legislative_Update_June_20_2009.doc
Simpson, J. L., Atkin H., & McAleese, J. (2009). Industrial Gas Drilling Reporter. Riverkeeper Incorporation. Retrieved from http://www.cwconline.org/news/riverkeeper_gas_report_1.pdf