Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

What resources can provide further information?

QUALITY OF LIFE

Gathering pipeline construction, PA. Photo by Bob Donnan, 2014.

 

Construction of oilgas pipeline in ND. Photo by the National Parks Conservation Association, 2014.

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

QUALITY OF LIFE

Property owners:  If your property might be impacted by the construction of an interstate pipeline – and thereby be subject to eminent domain – you will receive information on the process from FERC and from the pipeline operator, and will have the opportunity to participate in informational meetings to learn more about the proposed pipeline. Residents and municipalities can inform themselves about their options during the permitting process, and landowners can learn about negotiating an easement with the company (see the resources section below).

When eminent domain does not apply to the proposed pipeline, as with gathering lines in many states, property owners can accept or deny easement rights, with a certain amount of leverage in negotiating terms. Given the concerns about state capacity to regulate most gathering lines, property owners should carefully attend to matters of construction, inspection, and safety.  

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

What health considerations are there?

Quality of Life – Economic Impacts

Eminent domain is a legal process by which a state, municipality, private person, or corporation can acquire rights to private property for public use. Allowed under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and referenced in most state constitutions, eminent domain is specifically granted for interstate natural gas transmission pipelines under the 1938 Natural Gas Act. Good faith negotiations should precede the exercise of eminent domain, and property owners should receive just compensation.

Other types of pipelines — intrastate, gathering, and distribution — may or may not fall under eminent domain, depending on the constitution of the state involved. States vary significantly in their application of eminent domain to natural gas pipelines, in granting private companies the privilege to use eminent domain, and in what is considered just compensation to property owners. 

In terms of potential benefits to communities, pipeline companies pay taxes to the municipalities in which they operate. A pipeline construction project also generates temporary economic activity for a community and could create a few permanent jobs. In some cases, natural gas may be made available to communities along the pipeline route if they are not presently being serviced by a gas utility company.

Research suggests that real estate values and insurance rates are generally not affected by the presence of a natural gas pipeline on or near the property. 1 Property owners receive financial compensation (or an easement), in the form of an up-front payment per linear foot, with a signing bonus added on occasion; property owners continue to pay taxes on the easement unless they can show cause for tax abatement. If the easement is in an agricultural area, farming can continue to take place, but other activities may be restricted (e.g., cattle grazing may require fencing and arrangements for access by the pipeline operator).

Quality of Life – Psychological Impacts

When communities and property owners first learn about a proposed natural gas pipeline, they often have concerns about the project. Their concerns tend to cluster around issues of land value, eminent domain, and the safety of living near a natural gas line. The company and FERC invite potentially impacted landowners to public meetings for clarification and input on the process. FERC and the operator may take certain environmental or safety concerns raised by community members into consideration (e.g., land subsidence over abandoned mine sites), which can result in the alteration of the proposed route. 2

Quality of Life – Visual Impacts

During construction, the right-of-way for a transmission line may be 75 to 100 feet or more, depending on soil conditions and topography. Trees are cut and vegetation is removed. While grassy vegetation is planted after construction is complete, no trees are permitted for fear of tree roots damaging the pipeline, as well as to allow for aerial inspection of the route. The permanent easement is usually 50 feet wide, which the operator maintains. Above-ground components such as valves may remain visible. 3

Notes:

  1. William N. Kinnard, Jr., Sue Ann Dickey, and Mary Beth Geckler, “Natural Gas Pipeline Impact on Residential Property Values: An Empirical Study of Two Market Areas,” International Right of Way Association (June/July 1994), https://www.irwaonline.org/eweb/upload/0604d.pdf.
  2. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, “An Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline on My Property? What Do I Need to Know?” updated August 2013, http://www.ferc.gov/for-citizens/citizen-guides/citz-guide-gas.pdf.
  3. Pennsylvania State University Extension Agency, “Negotiating Pipeline Rights-of-Way in Pennsylvania,” accessed December 6, 2014, http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/natural-gas/publications/negotiating-pipeline-rights-of-way-in-pennsylvania.

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

What health considerations are there?

SAFETY

Pipelines carry hazardous materials and therefore entail safety risks. Typically, natural gas pipeline accidents that cause explosions and/or fires are most frequently due to excavation and pipeline corrosion or defects. 1 According to PHMSA, from 2004 to 2013, the ten-year incident average for natural gas pipelines was as follows: 117 incidents on transmission lines; 16 on gathering lines (rural gathering lines do not require incident reporting) 2; and 137 on distribution lines. 3

Notes:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation, “The State of the National Pipeline Infrastructure” (2011).
  2. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), “Pipeline Incidents by System Type,” data as of 11/21/14.
  3. Incidents that are recorded by OPS involve a release of gas that results in death or in-patient hospitalization, and/or property damage of $50,000 or more. (PHMSA, “Reporting Criteria as of 2011,” March 2011.)

Appendix E: Pipelines—Transporting Shale Gas to Markets

Appendix C: Overview of the U.S. Legal and Regulatory Framework for Shale Gas Development

Appendix C: Overview of the U.S. Legal and Regulatory Framework for Shale Gas Development

U.S. Federal Legislation & Regulation

WATER QUALITY

At the request of Congress, the EPA has been studying the potential impact of shale development operations on drinking water resources. The agency released a draft assessment summarizing existing science and new EPA research in June 2015. 1 The draft is currently undergoing review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board. Once finalized, it is anticipated to serve as a resource for the protection of drinking water resources. 2

Safe Drinking Water Act

The EPA protects underground sources of drinking water (USDW) through its regulatory authority under the SDWA. The Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program is the principal means of protecting USDWs, which requires permits for the use of underground injection as a means of waste disposal. States that have demonstrated an ability to meet EPA’s requirements for enforcement of the UIC program have been granted primary enforcement authority, called primacy. These states have established regulations for the protection of USDWs for Class II injection wells, including on injection pressure and monitoring, well testing, and reporting. In states that have not received primacy, the EPA directly implements the regulations.

There are six categories (or classes) of UIC injection wells, depending on the kind of fluid and depth at which the fluid is injected. The oil and gas industry uses Class II injection wells to 1) permanently dispose of wastewater; 2) reinject it at the site of a production well in order to improve the recovery of the resource; and 3) to store hydrocarbons beneath the surface to be pumped out later for processing and use. As of September 2013, the Ground Water Protection Council estimated that 31 states host approximately 168,000 Class II injection wells. 3

Prior to well construction, the site is evaluated to ensure that the injected fluids will be appropriately isolated from drinking water sources and that construction and operation procedures will be protective of USDWs. Well construction techniques use layers of steel casing and cement to prevent any subsurface fluid migration. Once constructed, the wells are tested prior to injection. After the wells enter into operation, they are monitored for injection pressures and volumes to ensure proper operation and to allow for the identification of any problems. Wells must also be tested at least once every five years to check the performance of the well and the subsurface conditions. When operations cease, wells must be closed in a manner that protects USDWs and are typically sealed with a series of cement plugs.

Is hydraulic fracturing considered underground injection?

Some stakeholders have raised the question of whether hydraulic fracturing constitutes underground injection and should be regulated under the UIC program. 4 In response to such questions, Congress declared in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids for oil and gas development activities (except those containing diesel fuel) is not considered underground injection and is therefore excluded from regulation under the SDWA. 5 Following on this decision, in May 2012 the EPA issued draft guidance indicating that when operators use hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel, they are required to obtain a permit under the UIC program. 6 

Clean Water Act

The discharge of oil and gas wastewaters into the surface waters of the United States is regulated by the EPA under the CWA. The CWA controls industrial discharges directly to surface waters (e.g., through stormwater systems) and industry’s indirect discharges to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). Any discharges to surface waters must be below the limits set under the CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). NPDES may authorize a permit that allows discharging of chemicals into U.S. waters, provided that they are below EPA standard limits. 7 Permitting generally occurs at the federal level; however, NPDES has authorized some states to issue permits directly.  

Waste Disposal

As with other oil and gas wastes, shale development wastes are classified as “special waste” and are therefore exempt from hazardous waste regulations under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). 8While exempt from RCRA Subtitle C pertaining to hazardous wastes, wastes from shale development are still subject to other federal regulations (e.g., CWA, SDWA), RCRA Subtitle D solid waste regulations, and state regulations. 9 If hazardous substances from shale development contaminate a site and pose a threat to public health or the environment, operators can potentially be liable under CERCLA for natural resource damages, cleanup costs, and the cost of public health studies. 10

Shale Development on Federal and Tribal Lands

In March 2015, the BLM issued new standards for shale development on federal and tribal lands. The BLM controls 700 million acres of federal subsurface minerals and is the regulatory agency for an additional 56 million acres of tribal subsurface minerals. 11 To date, there are over 100,000 oil and gas wells on federal lands, with 90% of the wells currently being drilled using hydraulic fracturing techniques. 12 The new rule includes new requirements for ensuring well integrity, the disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, higher standards for wastewater storage, and a requirement that operators provide additional information on preexisting wells, with the goal of reducing the potential for cross-well contamination. In September 2015, however, a federal judge issued an injunction blocking the implementation of the new regulations until an industry challenge to the regulations can be heard in court later in the year. 13

Notes:

  1. U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources:  Executive Summary (External Review Draft) (Washington, DC:  June 2015).
  2. U.S. EPA, “Questions and Answers about EPA’s Hydraulic Fracturing Study” last updated October 8, 2015.
  3. Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), “Injection Wells:  An Introduction to Their Use, Operation, & Regulation” (September 1. 2013), 13.
  4. GWPC, “Injection Wells,” 28.
  5. U.S. EPA, “Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” last updated February 11, 2014.
  6. U.S. EPA, “Fact Sheet: Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels, UIC Program Guidance #84 – Draft” (May 2012).
  7. U.S. EPA, “Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale:  NPDES Program Frequently Asked Questions,” attachment to memorandum from James Hanlon, Director of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management to the EPA Regions titled, “Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale under the NPDES Program” (March 16, 2011): 6.
  8. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Crude Oil and Natural Gas Waste,” last updated 4/7/14.
  9. U.S. EPA, “Exemption of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Wastes from Federal Hazardous Waste Regulations,” 5, 20.
  10. Adam Vann, Brandon J. Murrill, and Mary Tiemann, Hydraulic Fracturing. 
  11. U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), “Interior Department Releases Final Rule to Support Safe, Responsible Hydraulic Fracturing Activities on Public and Tribal Lands” (March 20, 2015). 
  12. BLM, “Interior Department Releases Final Rule.”
  13. Coral Davenport, “Judge Blocks Obama Administration Rules on Fracking,” The New York Times (September 30, 2015).

Appendix C: Overview of the U.S. Legal and Regulatory Framework for Shale Gas Development

Appendix C: Overview of the U.S. Legal and Regulatory Framework for Shale Gas Development

U.S. Federal Legislation & Regulation

AIR QUALITY

In 2012, the EPA issued enhanced regulations under the CAA, requiring that natural gas emissions from new hydraulically fractured and re-stimulated shale gas wells be flared (burned), as opposed to vented, thus reducing the level of toxic emissions when the well is prepared for production. Beginning in January 2015, 95 percent of all volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted during the well completion stage must be captured through a process known as green completion, whereby commercially useful gas and liquid hydrocarbons are separated from flowback in a closed-system technology. 1

In August 2015, the EPA issued proposed rules to reduce methane emissions under the CAA, with the goal of reducing emissions by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025. 2 Building on the 2012 standards for natural gas wells, the proposed  rules will require reductions of  methane emissions from shale oil wells and more downstream (associated with natural gas transmission) equipment and infrastructure. The proposed rules require operators to locate and plug leaks from equipment and infrastructure, including pneumatic pumps, pneumatic controllers, and compressor stations, which can be a significant source of emissions. 3 Operators of shale oil wells will be required to implement green completions, which capture both VOCs and methane. These rules will apply only to sources newly constructed or modified after the date of proposed rule publication in the Federal Register (September 18, 2015). In addition, the agency offers guidelines for states to reduce VOC emissions from existing oil and gas sources in areas with smog problems. The proposed rules have been issued with a 60-day comment period, and the agency intends to have the final rules in place in 2016.

Notes:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “EPA’s Air Rules for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry: Summary of Key Changes to the New Source Performance Standards,” accessed November 21, 2014, http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/20120417changes.pdf
  2. U.S. EPA, “Proposed Climate, Air Quality and Permitting Rules for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry: Fact Sheet,” 1, http://www3.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/og_fs_081815.pdf.
  3. U.S. EPA, “Proposed Climate, Air Quality and Permitting Rules for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry: Fact Sheet,” 1.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

Quality of Life—Noise

In addition to the management options described in Stage 3, here are some additional measures to help reduce noise during the phases of development and production:

  • erecting sound barriers around engines and/or adding mufflers to them
  • enclosing compressors and other noisy equipment in sound-proofed buildings, particularly when in proximity to residences, schools, or places of assembly
  • to the extent possible, monitoring the site remotely during the production phase to reduce traffic to the site

Quality of Life—Visual Impacts

During interim reclamation, much of the infrastructure and equipment used during development can be removed. The wellhead will be visible above ground; small brine storage tanks (often painted green to blend with the surroundings) and a metering system remain at the site. The size of the pad and surrounding land disturbance can be reduced by replanting much of the site with appropriate vegetation. There is also the option of adding a landscaped earth berm to enhance visual screening. Access roads can be shrunk to 10 to 20 feet wide and revegetated. On average, a multi-well pad can be reduced to 5.5 acres, and a single-well pad to 4.5 acres, with even smaller footprints possible. 1

A partially reclaimed single-well site in Chemung County, New York. The footprint of the drill site was 3.2 acres, reduced to a fenced area of 0.45 acres. Photo credits: Henkel, 2002 and 2009. Used with permission. Source: NY Draft SGEIS 2011, p. 6–336.

Notes:

  1. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation Study suggested average production-phase pads of .5 to 1 acre in size.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Quality of Life

There are numerous ways to ease the transition within a community experiencing rapid shale gas development. For example, communities could create a task force to identify and anticipate social issues, tap into regional resources for information on how to respond to changes, and maintain ongoing engagement with industry representatives. Part of the task force’s role could be to anticipate the recreational needs of temporary workers and facilitate their participation in community activities and programs. 

Beginning in the development phase, API’s Community Engagement Guidelines suggest that operators support local activities and nonprofit organizations seeking to address local challenges. The guidelines emphasize the importance of working with local officials and other stakeholders, being responsive to community concerns, and maintaining and continuously improving high industry standards for road and traffic safety, among other considerations.

Furthermore, employee assistance personnel and project managers can be engaged in discussions of how to address substance misuse, given that it is not only a medical and public health problem, but also an issue of workplace safety. 1 In one example, when methamphetamine addiction emerged as a serious health problem in Gillette, Wyoming, Marathon Oil Company undertook an educational awareness campaign to combat the problem (see Box 15. Case Study:  Meth Education Program).

Notes:

  1. International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, Substance Misuse: A Guide for Managers and Supervisors in the Oil and Gas Industry (2010).

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Water Quantity

Engaging in consultations with local stakeholders, proactively developing water management plans, and coordinating with other operators in the region to develop shared, centralized infrastructure can help a company to sustainably manage its consumption of water resources. In addition, the company may seek to engage its employees in water conservation efforts and encourage sustainable practices on the part of its suppliers and contractors.

To reduce fresh water withdrawals, the operator can treat and reuse wastewater on site for use in its hydraulic fracturing operations or for other industrial or agricultural uses (if the treated water meets the user’s chemical criteria and the operator obtains the necessary permits). Some companies are achieving nearly 100% recycling of their produced water, which reduces their freshwater consumption by 10 to 30 percent. 1 Companies could also seek to replace the use of fresh water in their operations with municipal wastewater or brackish water.

Other activities that can serve to reduce impacts on local water supplies include:

  • minimizing the subsurface injection of produced water to prevent its removal from the water cycle
  • considering the practice of groundwater banking, in which an entity stores water in a groundwater basin for the purpose of future withdrawal (see the resources section below)
  • timing surface water withdrawals to avoid coinciding with periods of low flow or of heavy usage (see Box 14. Case Study:  A Solution in Water Sourcing)

Notes:

  1. Freyman, “Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress,” 39.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Quality of Life – Noise

The impact of noise on nearby residents can be reduced in several ways – by increasing the distance between the source of the sound and person hearing it (the receptor); by directing the noise away from the receptor; and by altering the time of day that the sound is produced. 1 It is important for the operator to be aware of the noise levels generated in order to help take appropriate corrective actions when needed; installing sound meters on the well pad to monitor sound levels 24 hours a day can therefore be useful. Residents can also monitor sound levels in their homes. 

When considering how to best mitigate noise impacts, it is important to take into account:

  • the combined effects of various sources of noise
  • the time of day when people are exposed
  • vulnerable groups, including people with medical problems or disabilities such as blindness or hearing impairment; those managing complex cognitive tasks; those in learning environments; fetuses; children, particularly during the stage of language acquisition; and the elderly
  • low frequency sounds, which are often experienced as vibrations or pressure sensitivity, and are extremely bothersome to certain individuals 2
  • distinctive sounds or those generated by an impact, particularly when they are intermittent or unpredictable
  • effects of noise on wildlife and livestock, which can also affect livelihoods

Measures that operators can undertake to reduce noise impacts in the exploratory drilling and development phases include:

  • erecting sound barriers like those used on highways around the site, or arranging infrastructure like storage tanks and other onsite materials (trucks, hay bales, topsoil) to serve as sound barriers
  • using rubber hammer covers
  • installing high-grade noise reduction baffles on equipment and air-relief lines

Quality of Life – Visual Impacts

During the construction of well pad facilities, following some basic principles may help to reduce the potential visual impacts of the site:

  • reducing the height of facilities and equipment when possible
  • placing equipment so that it is screened from view by topographical features or vegetation
  • painting equipment to blend with the surroundings
  • avoiding the use of reflective surfaces
  • ensuring the site is clean and well-kept

With regard to the potential disturbance caused by nighttime work, lighting should be used for safety purposes only and turned off when not in use. Operators can also use energy-efficient lighting and shielded light fixtures, as well as angle light paths downward rather than horizontally (see Box 11. Case Study:  West Texas Dark Sky Reserve). Nearby residents may need to use window coverings at night so that the light from the well pad does not disturb sleep or affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. 3

Notes:

  1. See New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Study (April 2015)
  2. Earthworks. Oil and Gas at Your Door?
  3. McCawley, Air Noise and Light Monitoring.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

Safety

Activities that can serve to protect the safety of project workers and the community include:

  • siting well pads as far away from residences and water wells as possible
  • pressure testing of blowout prevention equipment prior to production
  • following best practices and industry guidance for well construction and maintenance, particularly for well casing
  • providing safety training for workers on proper equipment maintenance and practices to prevent blowouts and spills
  • engaging in emergency planning in which operators meet with emergency room staff and local first responders to review emergency response plans and provide the information on the chemicals used at the project site
  • conducting joint trainings and drills for hazardous materials (hazmat) incidents with operators, emergency room departments, fire departments, and other first responders
  • assessing local health care and emergency response capacity and helping to improve capacity where needed
  • providing driver training programs, along with safety controls such as speed monitors, road risk maps, driver drug testing, stringent rules regarding shift lengths and proper rest, and routine vehicle maintenance and inspection 1 (see Box 9. Case Study:  Driver Safety)

Notes:

  1. Ian Urbina, “Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road,” The New York Times (May 14, 2012)

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Water Quality

Approaches the operator may undertake to address water quality concerns include:

  • using tanks to store wastewater instead of open pits, following best practices for their design, construction, and operation to prevent leaks and spills 1
  • following best practices for well-casing construction, following best practices and industry guidelines 2
  • adopting the use of green fracturing fluids (strategies include drawing on the chemicals listed in EPA’s Design for the Environment program and establishing a staff position responsible for reducing the volume and toxicity of chemicals used)
  • implementing storm water plans to control runoff and flooding
  • publicly disclosing the contents of hydraulic fracturing fluids, possibly using a “systems approach” to reporting that separates trade names from chemical ingredients and concentrations, allowing operators to preserve confidential information while sharing the chemicals used 3
  • as mentioned in the safety section, providing driver training programs and establishing safety controls such as speed monitors and road risk maps to avoid accidents and spills (see Box 9. Case Study: Driver Safety)
  • establishing a community-based participatory monitoring program, in which trained and experienced volunteers conduct water sampling in the surrounding area to monitor for chemical constituents that could pose a health risk (see Box 4. Case Study from the Mining Industry:  The Good Neighbor Agreement)

Notes:

  1.  GWPC, “State Oil and Gas Regulations,” 11
  2.  API, “Hydraulic Fracturing Operations – Well Construction and Integrity Guidelines,” API Guidance Document HF1, First Edition (October 2009)
  3. U.S. Department of Energy, “Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Task Force Report on FracFocus 2.0” (Washington, DC:  March 28, 2014), 2.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Industry Representatives

Air Quality

There are a range of measures that can be taken to reduce air pollution from shale development. The EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program, a voluntary program that partners with industry, offers an extensive list of recommended technologies and practices for reducing methane and VOC emissions.

Options for reducing air emissions include:

  • transitioning from diesel-powered equipment to natural gas- or solar-powered or reduced-emission engines and motors (some companies are using gas produced at the site to fuel equipment engines, thus reducing the use of diesel fuel)
  • constructing pads and roads of gravel, or applying water or other dust suppressants to them
  • instituting carpooling and busing programs to transport workers, thereby reducing the number of vehicles accessing the site (see Box 4. Case Study from the Mining Industry:  The Good Neighbor Agreement)
  • establishing driver training and incentive programs to ensure local speed limits are obeyed (also relevant to safety; see Box 9. Case Study: Driver Safety)
  • establishing a community-based participatory monitoring program, in which trained and experienced volunteers conduct air sampling in the surrounding area to monitor for chemical constituents that could pose a health risk

In order to ascertain the amount of air emissions that might be coming from the site, it is important to conduct monitoring activities before, during, and after drilling takes place. 

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Collaborative Activities

Quality of Life – Economic Impacts

In some areas, local governments, educational institutions, and companies have collaborated on designing and delivering educational and job skills training programs to equip local residents with the knowledge and skills needed to work in the oil and gas industry (see Box 10. Examples of Education and Training Programs).

Local Infrastructure & Services: To maintain local roads and infrastructure, companies and local governments can develop road use agreements that set forth parameters for the industry such as hours of usage, route selection, and upgrades. Given that much of the truck traffic to a shale development site is for the transport of water and other liquids (over 90%, according to one study 1), exploring alternatives to trucking, such as pipelines and onsite waste treatment and disposal, could be worth considering. For an overview of the issues related to pipelines, see Appendix E.

Notes:

  1. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Final SGEIS (April 2015), 7-134.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Collaborative Activities

Diseases

Given that the increased occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases is common in communities with a mobile workforce, local health officials and companies could work together on informing workers, industry subcontractors, and community members about the risks and methods of prevention. It is critical for companies to provide preventative guidance and set standards for both their workers and subcontractors. 1

Sexually transmitted diseases are best prevented with the use of condoms, which should be made readily available to workers at their places of residence and in public locations like pharmacies, bars, and convenience stores. Health officials and companies could also collaborate to ensure that workers and residents have access to clinics for testing and treatment. 

Notes:

  1. Shira M Goldenberg, Jean A Shoveller, Aleck C Ostry, Mieke Koehoorn, “Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Testing among Young Oil and Gas Workers: The Need for Innovative Place-based Approaches to STI Control,” Canadian Journal of Public Health 99, no. 4 (July/August 2008),http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/viewFile/1666/1850.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Collaborative Activities

Safety

When a company begins exploration activities in the area, it could engage with local officials on the capacity of the local health care system and its emergency response services. Given that the operator relies on these services for the care of its personnel, it would be valuable for local health officials, company representatives, health care providers, and emergency responders to jointly identify needs. If the local health care system lacks the necessary capacity to respond to shale development-related incidents, companies could support local efforts to expand services, upgrade equipment, or provide training. 1  

Notes:

  1. Daniel Raimi and Richard G. Newell, “Shale Public Finance,” 4.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES

Quality of Life—Noise Impacts

The best way to alleviate the effects of noise at the well site is by increasing the distance between the source and the person hearing it (“the receptor”). With multi-well pad shale development operations, one pad can drain a larger basin than in conventional oil and gas development, allowing more flexibility with regard to pad location. State requirements for setbacks of well pads from residences vary significantlyIn an RFF survey, 20 states were found to have building setback restrictions for natural gas wellheads, ranging from 100 feet to 1,000 feet, with an average restriction of 308 feet. 1 After examining composite noise levels for various activities involved in shale development, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommended in a 2015 report setbacks of at least 1,000 feet, or even greater distances for multi-well pads. 2

In addition to following setback restrictions, the operator could undertake the following activities in the permitting phase:

  • conducting a noise impact assessment  that accounts for the presence of vulnerable populations or individuals in the vicinity
  • siting access roads as far away from homes, schools, and other sensitive buildings as possible
  • selecting a site that allows the topography or vegetation to act as sound barriers
  • piping  in water and/or recycling it on site to reduce truck traffic to the site (it is worth noting that pipelines have their own impacts, discussed in Appendix E)

Quality of Life—Visual Impacts

As with noise, the operator could seek to avoid visual impacts by siting well pads and access roads away from visually sensitive areas. Mitigation measures to consider during the permitting phase include:

  • minimizing the footprint of the well pad
  • reducing the size of  fluid retention ponds or replacing them with storage tanks
  • using topography or vegetation to screen the site from view
  • seeking to reduce  the visual impact of structures such as compressor stations through design considerations (for example, by emulating the area’s existing agricultural structures) 3

Notes:

  1. Richardson, Nathan, Madeline Gottlieb, Alan Krupnick, and Hannah Wiseman. “The State of State Shale Gas Regulation.” Resources for the Future (June 2013), 24-28.
  2. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, “High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in NYS: 2015 Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) Documents” (April 2015), 7-134.
  3. Earthworks, “Oil and Gas at Your Door?” I-71.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

LOCAL OFFICIALS

Quality of Life—Economic Impacts

It is important to note that local governments may experience a shortfall in funding in the early stages of development due to new demands upon local infrastructure and services, while the government might not receive additional income from production taxes for 2-5 years. 1 Local officials could therefore begin discussions with state legislative and executive branches during the early stages of shale development on how to design a tax structure that allows local governments to receive funding in a manner that meets their communities’ infrastructure and service needs.

The economic impacts of shale development begin to materialize in Stage 3—Exploratory Drilling and are addressed in detail there.

Quality of Life—Noise Impacts

The permitting stage is a good time to consider how to avoid or mitigate many potential impacts, given that siting is a critical aspect of managing the impacts of noise. Some states require a noise mitigation plan as part of the permitting process. Truck traffic to and from the site is another major source of noise that stakeholders can seek to mitigate in this early phase. Local officials can therefore play a role in establishing speed limits for truck traffic, as well as designating appropriate truck routes.

The health impacts of noise are addressed under Quality of Life—Noise Impacts in Stage 3 when sound levels from the project could begin affecting residents.

Quality of Life—Visual Impacts

As with noise, the permitting phase—when plans are reviewed regarding siting and design of the project—is an important time for addressing visual impacts (see Quality of Life—Visual Impacts in Stage 3 for an overview). There are statutory requirements to protect significant scenic, historic, and recreational locations, including at state and federally owned sites. State regulators might conduct environmental impact assessments (EIAs) at this stage, and they could seek the input of municipal authorities on topics such as potential visual impacts. 

For local officials, particularly those in tourist areas with high-value scenery, it can be useful to 1) conduct an early assessment to identify area resources of high visual sensitivity; 2) gather input from residents on their concerns regarding siting; and 3) review local land use ordinances. When there are significant cultural, historic, or natural resources near the planned development site, it may be helpful to conduct modeling or computer simulation of the viewshed, or the landscape/scenery visible to the eye from a fixed vantage point. 2

Notes:

  1. Headwaters Economics, “Oil and Natural Gas Fiscal Best Practices:  Lessons for State and Local Governments,” (November 2012), 3.
  2. See Cornell University study of modeling for the Cayuga Heights and Ithaca overlooks:  Sarita Rose Upadhyay and Min Bu, “Visual Impacts of Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale Region,” Cornell University (Fall 2010), 33-34.

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

What can be done to address health concerns? What have others done?

Collaborative Activities

Water Quantity 

The issue of water availability is covered in detail in Stage 4—Development and Production when regular withdrawals of large quantities of water come into play. As many of the impacts can be alleviated or avoided by appropriate planning, it is worth considering water management options at this stage of development. Furthermore, operators are sometimes required to submit their plans for water sourcing as part of the permitting process. It can be helpful for the company to develop a water-sourcing plan whether or not it is required, in order to understand existing water sources and demands and how the company’s needs will interact with them.

To find out how water withdrawals and uses are regulated in your state, you can consult with the water quality state engineer at the state’s department of water resources. As part of the information-sharing sessions between local officials and company representatives mentioned above, questions to discuss could include:  

  • What are the sources of water (ground or surface) in your community and how are they used (drinking, recreation, agriculture, livelihoods, energy generation)?
  • What water source will the project use? If relevant, how might it impact other important uses of water in the community?
  • When will the water withdrawals for the project take place?
  • Will the project provide infrastructure that increases access to water? If so, will the community be able to use that water? 
  • What will happen to the wastewater? Will it be treated and returned to the water cycle, injected into rock formations, or reused for operations?