Fracking’s ‘Ominous’ Cost To New York’s Roads

Tue, 2011-08-16 11:48TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

Fracking’s ‘Ominous’ Cost To New York’s Roads

A draft discussion paper [pdf] from the New York State Department Of Transportation (NYSDOT) projects costs that unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will have on state transportation infrastructure.

New York already ranks near the bottom of the 50 states with regards to bridge and pavement conditions. Considering this fact, the discussion paper should be treated as a warning sign. NYSDOT’s draft Transportation Impacts of Potential Marcellus Shale Gas Development describes the effects of drilling as “ominous,” requiring the reconstruction of hundreds of miles of roads and numerous bridges. As well, safety and operations improvements in many other areas will be required.

The paper pegs the costs to transportation infrastructure as totaling up to $378 million:

The annual costs to undertake these transportation projects are estimated to range from $90 to $156 million for State roads and from $121-222 million for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing State and local governments to absorb these additional transportation costs without major impacts to other programs and other municipalities in the State.”

There are currently 58 gas drilling permit requests pending approval with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). In all, more than 7,000 wells are expected to be drilled in the Marcellus Shale and peak annual drilling could surpass 1,200 wells.

The NYSDOT estimates that exploiting unconventional gas may lead to an additional 36,000 trips/hour during peak hours (+/- 15 percent), and during peak years an extra 1.5 million heavy truck trips. The impact of these figures is put into perspective when the report says that “an old rule-of-thumb is that pavement structural damage done by the passage of a single large truck is equivalent to that done by about 9,000 automobiles.”

Assuming significant drilling moves forward, the report recommends several approaches to averting the probable impacts that unconventional gas operations will have on the state’s transportation infrastructure:

One option would be to dedicate some share of the gas tax revenues from gas production to mitigate the transportation and other impacts of such development;

A second option might be to levy a “transportation impact fee” for each well drilled in the Marcellus in New York at the time of permitting;

A third option would be to require the establishment of an “industrial association” specifically charged with mitigation of the cumulative impacts of Marcellus Shale development;

A fourth option might be to require a transportation mitigation surcharge on gas production in the Marcellus;

Finally the Department might do nothing, assuming that future increases in its budget will offset the incremental costs of mitigating the transportation impacts of Marcellus development.

The costs to transportation infrastructure will be disproportionately high given that much of the investment will be required upfront in order to service the gas play. As well, it is worth noting that few of the proposed unconventional gas wells will have a productive life span of more than 15 years.

The assessment of transportation impacts from developing unconventional gas coincides with the NYSDEC’s July release of its preliminary revised recommendations [pdf] on the environmental impacts from high-volume fracking to develop the Marcellus Shale. That report aims to put in place the ‘safe’ conditions for the exploitation of around 85 percent of the Marcellus.

Specific measures the NYSDEC has identified in order to protect the state’s drinking water include prohibiting surface drilling:

•    within 2,000 feet of public drinking water supplies;
•    on the state’s 18 primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries;
•    within 500 feet of private wells, unless waived by landowner;
•    in floodplains;
•    on principal aquifers without site-specific reviews; and
•    within the Syracuse and New York City watersheds.

Former governor David A. Paterson placed a de facto moratorium on fracking last year, but newly elected governor Andrew Cuomo will not extend the ban since he supports the use of unconventional gas as a reliable energy source [pdf].

Safely” exploiting unconventional gas was again called into question recently after the release of an Environmental Protection Agency report stating that fracking had poisoned water supplies. Not only will drilling in New York risk the state’s water, but this internal NYSDOT discussion paper points to how drilling will cost millions of dollars in infrastructure damage and repair, for short term gains.

Access the Draft Discussion Paper, Transportation Impacts of Potential Marcellus Shale Gas Development [pdf].


"... after the release of an Environmental Protection Agency report stating that fracking had poisoned water supplies."

Simply repeating fabricated bullshit doesn't make it true

Oooh! Sounds really "ominous"!

Considering the 95,000 jobs that would be created and the billions of state and local tax revenue generated -- that's about as "ominous" as getting a paper cut from counting the money after you win the lottery.

BTW, there still isn't even one proven case where fracking has caused groundwater contamination, and that's after over a million fracked well sites. What's the expression? Oh, yeah: "The science is settled".

Fracking is also used to enhance flow of low volume water wells. Get over it! Fracking fluid are 98 to 99.5% water. In water wells it is 100% water. Gotta watch out for the water in water pollution.

I put some tap water in my swimming pool once ... and lived to tell.

"Fracking is also used to enhance flow of low volume water wells. Get over it! Fracking fluid are 98 to 99.5% water. In water wells it is 100% water. "

You guys just love red herrings don't you?

The fact is, fracking companies in the last 5 years in the USA alone have pumped 11.4 Million gallons of toxic chemicals into the ground, including Benzene. You also like to hide behind the FACT that fracking companies laregly do not have to disclose the chemicals they use. So how can can claim 99% water when they don't disclose it?

"Benzene causes cancer and other illnesses"

If i give you a glass of water with 99% water & 1% potassium cyanide, will you drink it?

It's just water!

"Benzene causes cancer and other illnesses"

Well, gee, then it's probably a good thing they're putting 20,000 FEET UNDERGROUND, isn't it?

That would be 10 TIMES DEEPER than the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Facility for spent radioactive fuel rods.

And, by the way, where do you think benzine originates, sooper genius?

20,000 feet well drilling for fracking ? You better have a solid source for that, because even deep conventional oil wells don't go that far. Since fracking costs a lot, and drilling costs increase exponentially with depth, having a 20,000 feet fracking well sounds a lot like a Sovietic project.

Or maybe you added a zero by mistake. In this case, I have some bad news for you : this is the usual depth of the "strategic" aquifers.

Oh, by the way, don't even try to obscufate me on these matters : I am a geophysicist, and I have some friends in oil exploration.

So, if you're a geophysicist, as you claim, why don't you tell us of a documented case where hydraulic fracking has ever contaminated drinking water?

That should be easy for you, if the hysteria generated by this web site is any indication.

Don't even try to divert attention. I asked you for a 20,000 ft fracking well, give me the source or shut up.

Firm authoritarian tone. It's good to be King.

House of mirrors. Who began saying authoritatively - and falsely - that fracking well attain 20,000 feet ?
Right of speech comes with a responsivity to tell the truth. Our founding Fathers would never have said anything foolishly wrong.

So still waiting for the reference. Either you provide it, or your claims are dismissed.

Oooh! He's so manly when he's barking orders, it sends a "thrill up my leg"(tm).

Maybe daddy wants to give us a little spanking?

So, not even one credible documented instance of fracking having ever contaminated drinking water, eh?

My answer would be disappointing to you, ye anonymous sockpuppet. In fact, I typed my answer and am waiting for the source of the 20,000 feet fracking well. I don't see why I would give a learned answer that you will distort/quote out of context in order to smear me, while you didn't even answer MY question first.

No sense of politeness, eh ?

"So, not even one credible documented instance of fracking having ever contaminated drinking water, eh?

Um...except for:


"This is a 1987 report to Congress by the Environmental Protection Agency that deals with waste from the exploration, development and production of oil, natural gas and geothermal energy. It states that hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, can cause groundwater contamination. It cites as an example a case in which hydraulic fracturing fluids contaminated a water well in West Virginia. The report also describes the difficulties that sealed court settlements created for investigators. "

"The E.P.A. concludes that hydraulic fracturing can lead to pollution of groundwater supplies. Further, the agency cites an example from West Virginia in which fracturing fluid migrated from a natural gas well to a water well owned by James Parsons, making it unfit to drink."

"Although some drilling experts have pointed to other possible sources for some of the contaminants found in the Parsons water well, the E.P.A. concludes that the gel found in the well was associated with the fracturing process and that hydrocarbons were also found in the water.

Since then. Fracking companies have fought & won exemptions from investigation & scrutiny in many cases. They also don't have to disclose all their chemicals. So these days, its harder to investigate them. The government is not interested in it either. They want the revenue.

Investigations are taking place in many places around the world as we talk into fracking practices & possible contaminations or pollution.

Evidently you missed the word, "credible".

"Evidently you missed the word, "credible"."

I don't believe your authority, fox news was available for comment that day.

In other words, you can't give one single documented example of where fracking has ever been proven to contaminate drinking water?

That, right there, is the answer to the only relevant question here, and you just provided it.

Thank you.

in other words, you can't back up your wild claim ?

I asked FIRST the question, and once again you try to escape like a sissy boy. So from now on I should assume every thing you say is a lie.

Thank you for answering this question.

Still got nothing, eh?

Which, by the way, renders your shrieking demand irrelevant. Since you can't document one single instance of fracking ever contaminating drinking water, then it really makes no difference how deep the wells are, now does it?

Oh, and you may want to check out some well depths in the Anadarko Basin. There are a few in the 30,000 foot range. Offshore rigs go even deeper. But, of course, since 30,000' isn't 20,000', a pinhead like you will consider himself victorious.

And we all know what that means: more angry naked spankings for your Philipino houseboy.


I knew you selectively quoted answers, now you selectively quote questions ?

Should have done that in my college years. Wait, you did ?

Since there seems to be loss of interest in this thread, let's close it definitively.

There is a reason, dear reader, for my forceful ask for source. You may have found it : a 20,000 feet fracking well does not exist, and is not likely to exist. The reason is not physical, but financial.
First, abot the Anadarko basin. They list 30,000 feet wells, which is correct. Wikipedia list a depth of 7000 feet. This is also correct. Both are correct. But anonymous thought that a well *length* is a well *depth*. Yes, wells can extend horizontally, especially when they try to exploit big natural resources like the ones in the Anadarko basin ...
What is the problem with deep wells ? Several problems arise when you try to go deeper :
- the heat grows up, asking for special (costly) drillheads
- the lithostatic pressure builds up. It becomes harder to maintain the well integrity, and you have to vanquish a greater force to inject the mud necessary for drilling softness and you therefore need more powerful (and costly) pumps
- at each change of layer, you change the lithostatic pressure gradient. Therefore you need to change the well diameter, leading to logistic expenses.
This is why deep wells are possible, but reserved to productions whose profit will far exceed the extra costs. In other words : you use them for proven giant conventional reservoirs, when one well can exploit a gigantic volume.

Fracking unconventional reservoir is another matter. You need first to detect it, which is harder - and thus detectable only for shallower depths. Then one well will frack the rock and suck the oil out of it, instead of only sucking : you have to vanquish pressure to inject huge amounts of fluid and then suck it out - it is therefore very expensive for *each* operation. And, finally, instead of retrieving large amounts of oil like the conventional reservoirs, you retrieve a limited volume for each fracking operation.
Therefore you *can* build 20,000 feet fracking well. Given their exploitation price, you can as well build them in gold, and provide champagne fountains to workers. And these wells would be competing with the Canadian tar sand bulldozers ...

Now, onto the leaks Anonymous rudely asks me in order to divert attention. A bit of theory behind first for you reader : fracking essentially consists of injecting an agressive mixture with high surpressions, in order to break rocks and suck them. This method is already in use for conventional reservoirs and geothermal fields, but there is a difference. Conventional reservoirs have a protecting caprock retaining oil (and fracking fluids), geothermy uses mainly plain water. For shale rocks, you do not necesseraly have caprock, and you need a far more agressive mixture ...
Now, the real cases :
- a fracking well blowout in Pennsylvania
- a well leak leads to investigation of the role of fracking
- if we broaden a bit the range, EOR fluids can also leak and go to the surface, such as in the Krechba gas field in Algeria

And, dear reader, the conclusion of this story is : if you make a claim on the Internet, you better back it up firmly. Lot of anons (the true ones) lurk the Web, and they like juicy and easy targets like someone blatantly not knowing what he claims.
Now, dear reader, you will say "why not having providing the source for fracking leaks earlier ?". Well, for a start, this was an obvious try to divert attention, and rather inelegant to boot - I do not fall in this trap, and I have no liking to inelegant pathetic trolls. Second, these people are well known to misquote and distort answers, when they understand it ; I didn't want to feed further drivel, but I wanted them to stick to the point.
in the end, they didn't. Romm claims the GOP as a "anti-science party" (which is a bit over the top for the poor few sane Republicans), but some Tea Party activists on the Web sure look like anti-science.

TL,DR : anonymous didn't have a source from the start and I knew it. He tried to divert attention, too bad I had answers for both. Thanks for the fish.

"That would be 10 TIMES DEEPER than the proposed Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Facility for spent radioactive fuel rods."

They create drilling rigs & drill down into the earth to seal nuclear rods?

"And, by the way, where do you think benzine originates, sooper genius?"

It's organic, but highly carcinogenic. They have already banned it for use with petroleum products in contact with the public.

The point's a carcinogen that causes cancer, no matter which way you spin it.

What a spectacular own goal by you.

"They have already banned it for use with petroleum products in contact with the public."

They've banned gasoline now?

Who knew!

"They've banned gasoline now?"

You're a bit "special" aren't you?

"Because it is a known carcinogen, its use as an additive in gasoline is now limited"

So "limited" = "banned" now?

Who knew!

So benzen is not carcinogenic, then, and should not be severely limited ?

Well, if that's how you feel about it ...

So you admit it IS carcinogenic.

By the way, benzen was used as a gas additive until the 50s ; then, adding benzen to the gas was *banned*, leading to the use of lead. I may be wrong, but since the problems arising with lead they softened up a bit, knowing very well this is a choice between plague and cholera. On top of that, regulations ask now that the natural amounts of benzen (coming from original hydrocarbons) shall be limited ; however, since benzen is an organic solvent, it is too costly to produce a benzen free gas.
So it is correct to say that using benzen in gas was banned. And Benzen is of course recognized as carcinogenic since the 20s. But I see you prefer forum games because you cling desperatly to shale gas drilling, thinking that it will allow you to go on with your lifestyle.
Let's put aside for one second the health risks, and let me tell you an economic truth : shale gas won't let you your current lifestyle, because it will cost far more than the current gas. You have to use far more wells with a more complicated technology, use far more energy, for a far less usable crude. So the price will skyrocket, no matter what. Are you ready for this reality ?

Now, let's go back to your famous 20,000 feet fracking well.

This fracking is worse than I thought. It's gotta be stopped

Rick, you do jokes! Who would have thought?


Next thing you know, gas drilling will cause dancing and other immoral behaviour.


Ken Stanton’s 400-cow dairy farm lies in the path of the proposed Constitution Pipeline, which would carry fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York.

Three generations of Stanton’s family spoke in opposition to the pipeline during a packed public comment session at a hearing at Cobleskill-Richmondville high school on March 31.

The pipeline would cut through my land. With eminent domain, there’s nothing I can do. It doesn’t feel like America anymore,” Stanton told the Daily Gazette.  

It’s people like Stanton who stand to lose in the...

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