Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 5 Environmen​tal Standards Meeting Notes

I am fortunate to have some great reports and notes being sent to me from others trying to help us all know what is happening at the many MEC meetings for fracking.
Please share too so we can help educate people of what is happening .  

Main topics covered:

1. Diesel Fuel Constituents and Uses by Ryan Channell
-- 6 Chemical Abstract Numbers identify diesel fuels for the EPA Underground Injection Control program. Those chemicals are banned from underground injection. Oil and gas operators who want to use any of those chemicals need to obtain an EPA permit

-- diesel fuel alternatives are encouraged and industry has been able to develop alternatives with very low aromatic content (these are preferred)

-- suggestions to committee:
a. As long as bans on those 6 types of fuels remain then the use of those fuels will be restricted in NC
b. If ban is repealed from session law 2012-143 then the EPA requirements would still remain
c. MEC could recommend an automatic threshold set for diesel products used in fracking

Vik Rao explained that it is better to use water as the base fluid, not diesel fuel. If diesel fuel must be used then the ban list would need to be better defined

Jim Womack addressed the need to look at the context of the diesel ban... what are the ways that diesel fuel can be used? What purposes do those fuels have on a drill site?

Vik Rao says that they need to address the wording of a ban.

2. Hydraulic Fracturing Risk Assessment by Research Triangle International by Donna Womack (no relationship to Jim Womack) & colleagues

-- RTI is a non-profit that provides research, development and technical assistance
-- Their team developed a tool to evaluate topics of interest through GIS technology. Those topics of interest for the MEC's work includes: water availability, potential health impacts, infrastructure, economic impacts & demographics
-- Three tier based system, more details and analysis in tiers 2-3. The purpose of the tool to to aid in making decisions (for ex. where to drill a well)

Ray Covington (RC) asked if RTI is gathering info from other areas (besides NC). RTI plans to branch out to other states to gather info for Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming

RC: When will this program be available? Who is the target user? Timetable for getting this program out: about a month. Any stakeholder would be able to use the program (ex. local governments)

RC: NC is not on a grid based system, how do we deal with production units?
RTI: the GIS tool allows you to zoom in to look at property boundaries, fault maps and any other parameter you're interested in to determine where best to place a production unit.

Comments on RTI's presentation from the audience:
- Martha Girolami (CRG): What studies have been looked at for the health data available for this GIS tool? What will this cost?
RTI: Hypothetical health analysis data has been used but the development team is looking into getting more data from health studies. The cost of this program is unknown. RTI thought it would be useful so they started development.

- Diana Hales (HRA): used to be employed by the Center for Geographic Analysis (used to be in DENR but then it got moved over to the ITS office) - info gathered here is very relevant
- RTI: a lot of data from Geographic Analysis was used for the program

Jim Womack commented at the end to say that he thought the program seemed very complicated and that the use of such a program may have limited use (operational use). He also said that the software may not be appropriate as a replacement to human logic.

Vik Rao at one point made this comment about the usefulness of the GIS program: "Don't kill what you can't eat." I've never heard that expression but it seems to have the same meaning as "don't bite off more than you can chew"?

My overall impressions from the meeting:
Vik Rao seemed pretty against using diesel fuels as the base fracking fluid since it's much easier & cheaper to use water. It seemed like the committee would follow up at a later meeting about defining diesel fuel use for fracking.

RTI seemed a little opportunistic and definitely pitched their GIS system as something very useful for making decisions about where wells are drilled, determining set backs, etc.
written by Maribel Sierra from Clean Water for NC

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