Land Use Control in Hydraulic Fracturing
Prepared for Katherine Wears, Phd.
Professor and Assistant Dean at Clarkson University
Prepared by Martin Sable
Student, Masters in Engineering Management at Clarkson University
August 10, 2014
This paper will review the process of hydraulic fracturing, its effects on the environment, and the opposition against the practice. A chronological discussion of lobbying activities and regulatory actions will be discussed, with a particular focus on land use control. A discussion of some of the past and potential future litigation on land rights related to the subject will be covered. The paper will end with the author’s ...view middle of the document...
One of the largest shale formations in the United States, the Marcellus shale basin located primarily under the states of New York and Pennsylvania, has been the target of horizontal high volume hydraulic fracturing in recent years. 15
While the benefits of hydraulic fracturing are many including reduced dependency on foreign oil, and the lower environmental impact of natural gas as a fuel, there are many environmental and health related issues associated with the process which has generated large amounts of opposition. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) on hydraulic fracturing citing a number of environmental concerns:
Natural gas (methane) is a greenhouse gas and accidental releases occur throughout the fracking process. The fluids used in fracturing contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, and human and animal health. As much as 95% of the fluid injected underground remains underground. The remaining water that returns to the surface can pick up radon and other substances containing radioactive isotopes and bring them to back to the surface. In addition there have been many cases of groundwater contamination through fracturing of natural aquifers and leaching of fluids and methane into drinking water. Finally, increases seismic activity have been recorded in areas subject to frequent hydraulic fracturing.1,17
Because gas companies typically lease the land on which they are drilling from property owners, much controversy has arisen regarding this subject. Recent cases in hydraulic fracturing have made a significant impact on land use regulations in this sector of the industry.
Lobbying and Regulation
As a result of the potential environmental impacts of fracking, many property owners have decided take to matters in their own hands. This is especially true in New York State, where much lobbying has been done to encourage public officials to prohibit or heavily regulate land use. Some communities have successfully banned hydrofracking altogether. Even so, landowners are not completely protected from hydraulic fracturing; future laws and cases will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry in New York State, and the entire country.
2008 was the first year that energy companies applied for horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing. There had been fracking done in some parts of New York prior to this, but all were done with conventional fracturing methods, and none were high-volume. Shortly afterward, Governor David Paterson assumed office.18
On July 23, 2008, Governor Paterson issued a legislation that fracking would be permitted only after a revision, or supplement as it was called, to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s 2004 Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) was issued. This statement was to study the health and environmental effects of high volume hydraulic fracturing. The prior GEIS...