You are here

Tutorial on Why All Types of High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Have Not Been Banned in New York

A. The Final SGEIS Findings Statement issued on June 29, 2015 only prohibits high volume hydraulic fracturing involving: "300,000 or more gallons of water." Hydrofracking is only one type of hydraulic fracking.

New York's HVHF prohibition deliberately excludes so-called "environmentally friendly" fracking methods that use "gelled propane," aka Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), carbon dioxide and nitrogen foam.

This gaping loophole was adopted even though the Findings Statement determined that these waterless fracking alternatives, "all fail to limit unavoidable adverse environmental impacts and fail to address the risks and uncertainties of high-volume hydraulic fracturing."

B. DEC undoubtedly knew that its HVHF prohibition limited to water would open the door to LPG fracking in Marcellus Shale because the agency received a gelled propane fracking permit application on April 24th.

Toxics Targeting obtained extensive documents regarding the Barton, NY well permit applications. There can be no dispute that this is an extremely serious effort.


C. The HVHF prohibition has an even more problematic loophole that might render it all but useless. A close reading of the language of the prohibition reveals that the word "all" can also mean "each" with reference to the individual stages in a well completion.

If you use the word "each" in place of "all" in the prohibition, it is arguable that unless each and every stage in a well completion involves "300,000 or more gallons of water," the HVHF prohibition simply would not apply. The word "sum" in the definition does not necessarily negate that interpretation.

Read the prohibition for yourself:

"High-volume hydraulic fracturing is defined as the stimulation of a well using 300,000 or more gallons of water as the base fluid for hydraulic fracturing for each/all stage[s] in a well completion (emphasis added), regardless of whether the well is vertical or directional, including horizontal. The 300,000-gallon threshold is the sum of all water, fresh and recycled, used for each/all stage[s] (emphasis added) in a well completion."

See full text of the HVHF prohibition at bottom of PDF page three:

There are typically eight to 13 stages in a HVHF well completion. It is arguable that if only one stage involves less than 300,000 gallons, fracking would be allowed. Yikes!!!

Wonder what a fracking stage is?

"The hydraulic fracturing process itself is conducted in stages by successively isolating, perforating and fracturing portions of the horizontal wellbore starting with the far end, or toe. Reasons for conducting the operation in stages are to maintain sufficient pressure to fracture the entire length of the wellbore,68 to achieve better control of fracture placement and to allow changes from stage to stage to accommodate varying geological conditions along the wellbore if necessary.69 The length of wellbore treated in each stage will vary based on site-specific geology and the characteristics of the well itself, but may typically be 300 to 500 feet. In that case, the multi-stage fracturing operation for a 4,000 foot lateral would consist of eight to 13 fracturing stages (emphasis added). Each stage may require 300,000 to 600,000 gallons of water, so that the entire multi-stage fracturing operation for a single well would require 2.4 million to 7.8 million gallons of water."

See PDF page 92: