Arctic Oil/Gas Neg



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Counterplans

Trilateral CP Solvency

Trilateral solves


Higgenbotham and Grosu May 14 John Higgenbotham, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Carleton University, and Martina Grosu master’s graduate in international public policy of Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of International Policy and Governance “The Northwest Territories and Arctic Maritime Development in the Beaufort Area” May 2014 CIGI Policy Brief http://arcticjournal.com/sites/arcticjournal.com/files/cigi_pb_40.pdf JDI14 LabBKG

Special attention should be given to bilateral and trilateral cooperation with the United States and, as circumstances permit, Russia. Canada, as well as the United States, could benefit from pragmatic cooperation with Russia, the Arctic maritime superpower. Russia is steadily developing her Arctic by carrying out major infrastructure projects, building ports, acquiring icebreakers and other ice-capable vessels for military and commercial purposes, as well as re-opening Soviet era military and search and rescue bases along its NSR. In addition to working through multilateral fora, Russia is also interested in bilateral and regional cooperation, particularly with Arctic countries that have similar views and interests. Attempts should be made to preserve practical bilateral and multilateral Arctic cooperation with Russia and shelter it from political infection from other parts of an increasingly difficult relationship. Attending, contributing to and supporting the Arctic Council and, in particular, its working-level groups and taskforces that are doing useful joint work on important Arctic climate, environment and sustainable development issues will be more important than ever. Closer cooperation among Canadian, American, Russian and other coast guards, for example, will provide Arctic countries with an innovative opportunity to undertake practical cooperation in key Arctic areas, such as search and rescue, traffic management, and oil spill mitigation and response. This would operationalize Arctic Council agreements in these fields

Alaska CP

Alaska able to export LNG, USFG not needed


Street 14 The author is the co-host of the Agenda 21 Radio Show and will be teaching microeconomics at University of California, Irvine this spring, February 19, 2014, “All-Alaska Gas Pipeline Will Spike America's Energy Boom”, http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/02/all-alaska_gas_pipeline_will_spike_americas_energy_boom.html

America's energy boom is about to take another huge leap forward as the State of Alaska is on the verge of approving the $50 billion All-Alaskan Gas Pipeline (AAGP). The massive project will transport "stranded" North Slope natural gas south down the Kenai Peninsula to a new port built to export Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Asian markets. The project expects to gain the State Legislature's approval in 60 days, finish planning and begin six years of construction in 2018. Despite drilling on U.S. federal land shrinking every year since 2008, individual states are aggressively partnering with the private sector to build intra-state energy projects that do not cross any foreign borders and are thus exempt from the type of presidential approval requirements that stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline. AAGP will have spectacularly positive economic impacts on Alaskan citizens and cut America's trade deficit by up to $24 billion a year.


Bond Exemption CP

1NC Oil Drilling


Counterplan Text: The United States federal government should exempt companies that agree to post bond requirements four times the current limit from restrictions on oil production on federal lands. 

Current policy ensures risky action because of loopholes but bonding makes safety economically salient and solves accidents better if they occur

Nath 11 (Ishan, consultant, MA economics for development at Oxford, “ECONOMISTS’ PERSPECTIVES ON LIABILITY CAPS AND INSURANCE FOR THE OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY IN THE WAKE OF THE MACONDO BLOWOUT” National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, 3/11)

Basic economic theory posits that holding firms liable only works when they actually have the assets to pay the costs. If a firm goes bankrupt and is shielded from the full cost of damages, their liability is essentially limited and prevents them from having the proper incentive to invest in safety. Furthermore, absent taxpayer contribution, compensation will not be available for victims of an accident. While it appears BP will be big enough to bear the full costs of the Deepwater Horizon accident after they waived the liability cap, that would not have been the case with a smaller firm. Thus, unlimited liability actually creates a strong advantage for smaller firms who do not have to worry about damages they cannot pay. This also creates, as Sweeney puts it, “incentive for corporations to spin-off separate companies that will be doing the riskier things.” Greenstone describes the problem further and proposes a set of possible solutions: There are a series of corporate reorganizations that firms could take to evade a higher cap. This might include dividing themselves into smaller entities and making liberal use of bankruptcy statutes in the case of a spill or the formation of limited partnerships. To prevent such practices, any increase in the cap should be accompanied by a requirement for proof of liability insurance, a certificate of financial responsibility, or the posting of a bond to cover damages.43 A financial responsibility requirement means firms must demonstrate the ability to pay for a certain amount of potential damages, either through external or self insurance. The current requirement for offshore facilities is $150 million, which would have to be raised by orders of magnitude to ensure the ability to pay for an accident resembling the Deepwater Horizon. 44 Mark Cohen, a Vanderbilt University law professor, does believe, however, that doing so would effectively prevent the threat of firms creating small limited-liability entities to do drilling.45 A stronger version of demonstrating financial liability would actually require drilling firms to post a bond before drilling in offshore wells. Such a system would ensure the availability of funds to pay out damage claims in the event of an accident, not only protecting potential spill victims from the risk of bankruptcy, but also serving to make safety far more salient to the company. As Wolak puts it: “That’s quite salient to them. Instead of us trying to get money out of you, it’s you trying to get money back from us.” In light of concerns that firms will not rationally account for the threat of low-probability, high-consequence events such as oil spills, this salience could be an important consequence of bonding. An additional benefit of bonding requirements goes to victims who do not have to wait for court decisions to compel companies to pay for damages. Wolak says that “part of putting this money in escrow is if you have [an accident], we immediately have this money available to confiscate to do whatever we want with.” Noll adds a description of further benefits So you can avoid the problem . . . [of] lots of people going out of business – going into bankruptcy – who actually are probably eventually going to get paid, but the process is so slow they don’t get it [in time]. It would be a two-step process. It would not only be to create the fund, but have an advance plan of ‘how do I in two days get people down there writing checks to avert short-term impacts that have arisen.’ I think that’s a perfectly good way to reduce the human cost of the disaster. The human cost referred to by Noll can be seen in victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster who waited nearly two decades before receiving any compensation for that spill, clearly underscoring the importance of a bonding program.

Unsafe oil wrecks ecosystems – impact’s whales, oceans, groundwater withdrawal, and soil erosion

NPC 11 – National Petroleum Council (“Operations and Environment,” http://www.npc.org/reports/NARD/NARD_Ops-Environment.pdf)

Environmental Challenges Expanded potential of natural gas and oil resources has dramatically improved the North American energy supply outlook. The increased use of natural gas is likely to reduce the overall carbon intensity of recoverable. Continuous attention to reducing risks is essential to ensure pollution prevention, public and worker safety and health, and environmental protection. These are essential outcomes in order to enjoy access to the resources for extraction and ultimate satisfaction of consumers’ energy demand. Due to the importance of these issues, their influence on the study process has been significant. Risk to the environment exists with natural gas and oil development, as with any energy source. Local, state, and federal governments have developed a mix of prohibitions, regulations, and scientific study to reduce potential environmental impacts of natural gas and oil development. Parties discussing energy policy can be missing a common vocabulary and set of references to have a constructive conversation and make educated decisions. No form of energy comes without impacts to the environment. An appropriate framework for discussing energy sources is necessary. Environmental challenges associated with natural gas and oil development vary by location, such as onshore versus offshore, and by the methods employed to extract the resource. Although each well involves drilling into the crust of the earth and constructing well casing using steel pipe and cement, differences arise from the affected environment, resource type, regional and operating conditions, and proximity to environmental receptors. The public, policymakers, and regulators have expressed the following environmental concerns about onshore operations: yyHydraulic Fracturing – Consumption of freshwater (volumes and sources), treatment and disposal of produced water returned to the surface, seismic impacts, chemical disclosure of fracture fluid additives, potential ground and surface water contamination, chemical and waste storage, and the volume of truck traffic. yyWater Management – Produced water handling and disposal has created apprehension about existing water treatment facilities and the ability to treat naturally occurring radioactive material, adjust salinity, and safely discharge effluent. yyLand Use Encroachment – The encroachment into rural and urban areas results in perceived changes to quality of life, especially in newly developed or redeveloped natural gas and oil areas. yyMethane Migration – Methane in domestic drinking water wells, either naturally occurring or from natural gas development. yyAir Emissions – Emissions generated from combustion, leaks, or other fugitive emissions during the production and delivery of natural gas and oil present challenges regarding climate change and human health impacts. Offshore operations environmental challenges are somewhat different than onshore due to the sensitivities of the marine environment, harsh operating conditions, remote locations in the case of the Arctic, and advanced technologies employed. These challenges include: yyPrevention of and Response to a Major Release – The pressures and temperatures associated with remote wellhead locations that are difficult to access on the bottom of the ocean floor, and high flow rate of deepwater wells, make the containment of a subsea release challenging. yy Safety – Offshore natural gas and oil drilling practices, called into question by the recent Deepwater Horizon incident, have resulted in a weakened public perception of offshore process and worker safety. The limited operating space coupled with significant production volumes can create a higher-risk work environment. yyMarine Impacts – Seismic noise generated by offshore natural gas and oil exploration activities is recognized as a concern for whale populations and other marine life, including fish. yyArctic Ice Environments – Responding to an oil spill in seasonal subzero temperatures with the presence of broken sea ice and 24-hour darkness is difficult and presents challenges not faced in other marine environments. The development of oil sands poses unique environmental challenges that differ from those associated with other onshore oil resources, including: yyWater Consumption – Large volumes of water have generated public and regulatory issues associated with water sourcing, groundwater withdrawals, and protecting water quality. yyLand Disturbances – Removal of overburden for surface mining can fragment wildlife habitat and increase the risk of soil erosion or surface runoff events to nearby water systems, resulting in impacts to water quality and aquatic species. yyGreenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions – Transportation fuels produced solely from oil sands result in well-to-wheels life-cycle GHG emissions 5% to 15% higher than the average crude oil refined. The carbon intensity of oil sands can vary based on extraction, refining and transport method. And, in 2009, well-to-wheel emissions from oil sands processed in the United States were only 6% higher than the average crude oil consumed in the United States. Over time, incremental efficiency improvements, as well as new technologies, such as the application of solvents to mobilize oil in situ (as an alternative to heat) are expected to continue to reduce the GHG intensity of unconventional operations.

Collapse of ocean biodiversity extinguishes all life

Craig 3 – Associate Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law (Robert Kundis, Winter, “Taking Steps Toward Marine Wilderness Protection? Fishing and Coral Reef Marine Reserves in Florida and Hawaii,” 34 McGeorge L. Rev. 155, Lexis)

The world's oceans contain many resources and provide many services that humans consider valuable. "Occupy[ing] more than [seventy percent] of the earth's surface and [ninety-five percent] of the biosphere," n17 oceans provide food; marketable goods such as shells, aquarium fish, and pharmaceuticals; life support processes, including carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and weather mechanics; and quality of life, both aesthetic and economic, for millions of people worldwide. n18 Indeed, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the ocean to humanity's well-being: "The ocean is the cradle of life on our planet, and it remains the axis of existence, the locus of planetary biodiversity, and the engine of the chemical and hydrological cycles that create and maintain our atmosphere and climate." n19 Ocean and coastal ecosystem services have been calculated to be worth over twenty billion dollars per year, worldwide. n20 In addition, many people assign heritage and existence value to the ocean and its creatures, viewing the world's seas as a common legacy to be passed on relatively intact to future generations. n21


2NC Oceans Impact

Oil spills kill marine keystone species


Earth Gauge 10 – A national environmental education foundation program (Earth Gauge, “Gulf Oil Spill Series: Effects on Invertebrates”, National Environmental Education Foundation, 2010, http://www.earthgauge.net/wpcontent/EG_Gulf_Invertebrates.pdf)//MM

A variety of factors affect the impact of oil on invertebrate populations, including the type of oil, how long the oil has been in the water, concentration, type of habitat, microbial communities present, weather conditions and water quality. Latitude can also be a factor. Hydrocarbons – organic compounds made up of carbon and hydrogen that are the building blocks of oil – linger longer in high latitude marine environments. In addition, high latitude ecosystems have simple food webs and lower biodiversity; if a keystone species’ population is reduced after an oil spill, there are few to no species that can take its place in the food web. Because oil spills input a large amount of oil into the marine environment in a short amount of time, marine bacteria that typically digest oil from natural sources cannot break it down fast enough to prevent impacts on other marine life. In addition, if there is more sediment in the water, it mixes with oil, causing the oil to sink or travel farther outside of the spill area. Once it enters the ocean, crude oil breaks down into three main components, which each affect invertebrates in a different way. Volatile compounds evaporate at the surface or dissolve in the water column, impacting animals such as plankton that live close to the surface and take in a large amount of water relative to their body size. Another component of oil forms a thick “mousse,” which coats mammals and birds, in addition to washing onshore and impacting tidal communities. The third is a sinking component that impacts invertebrates, fish and mammals below


Species loss can trigger extinction


Alois and Cheng 7 – The Arlington Institute is a non-profit think tank specializing in predictive modeling of future events (Paul and Victoria, “Keystone Species Extinction Overview”, Arlington Institute, July 2007, http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/wbp/species-extinction/443)

The ecosystems that human beings depend on for their very survival have been radically undermined, and today many of them appear to be on the verge of breaking down. The most recent paradigm in ecological sciences posits that environmental change happens in a rapid, non-linear fashion. This paper will examine certain species of organisms that have the potential, once their numbers are low enough, to trigger a sudden collapse in the cycles that provide human beings with food.

1NC OCS Gas


Counterplan: The United States federal government should create an exemption to restrictions on conventional offshore natural gas production in the United States for natural gas producers who provide a minimum bond of $60,000 per lease. The United States federal government should issue a moratorium on further federal restrictions on natural gas production in the United States.

Counterplan solves the aff, avoids politics and state fill-in, and resolves environmental concerns

Davis, 12 -- US Berkeley economic policy professor

(Lucas, Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, National Bureau of Economic Research research fellow, Energy Institute at Haas faculty affiliate,



"Modernizing Bonding Requirements for Natural Gas Producers," June 2012, www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2012/6/13%20bonds%20davis/06_bonds_davis.pdf, accessed 8-17-12, mss)

The immense supply of natural gas made possible by hydraulic fracturing is an enormous boon to the United States. Just when it seemed the United States would be crippled under mounting energy costs into the distant future, technological innovations opened up the natural gas equivalent of Saudi Arabia right under our feet. The challenge for policymakers is how to allow the continued development of these valuable resources while ensuring environmentally safe drilling. The purpose of bonding requirements is to force producers to take potential environmental damages into account when making decisions. Bonds provide a source of funds for cleanups when necessary, but, more importantly, bonds provide an incentive for producers to avoid environmental damages altogether. This approach makes a great deal of sense, but the legislation has not been updated in more than fifty years. Minimum bond amounts are woefully inadequate, particularly given the risks associated with advanced drilling techniques. This proposal outlines concrete steps to take to modernize bonding requirements. Minimum bond amounts would be increased substantially for drilling on federal lands, and states would be encouraged to adopt similar minimum bond amounts for non-federal lands. In addition, provisions that now allow companies to meet requirements with blanket bonds would be eliminated, preventing average bond amounts per well from falling to unreasonably low levels. Much is at stake both for the environment and for the economy. For natural gas producers, this proposal represents a much preferred alternative to the drilling moratoria that have been enacted, for example, in the state of New York. Supporting stronger bonding requirements would demonstrate the industry’s commitment to environmental protection, and reduce the risk of more states taking steps to ban hydraulic fracturing altogether. Stronger bonding requirements also could help broaden the market for natural gas. There has been much discussion, for example, about increasing the use of natural gas in transportation, and about constructing liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals for exporting natural gas. Much of the reticence among policymakers goes back to environmental risks, and these concerns can be reduced by committing to stronger bonding requirements.

Expanded offshore gas production collapse critical ocean resources

SELC, 12

[Southern Environmental Law Center, "Offshore Drilling: Defending the Atlantic and Eastern Gulf," 6-20-12, www.southernenvironment.org/cases/drilling_in_the_atlantic_huge_risk_little_reward, accessed 1-31-13, mss]



For more than 25 years, the Atlantic coast has been off-limits to offshore oil and gas drilling. During that time, SELC has protected our coastal resources from a variety of harms. Today, our beaches and marshlands remain largely unspoiled, and our fisheries are among the most productive in the world. The Push to Drill In 2008, the freeze on offshore drilling in new areas of the U.S. was lifted, and two years later, President Obama announced plans to allow drilling in the Atlantic, from Maryland to northern Florida, and in the eastern Gulf, near Alabama. Virginia, which had a potential lease sale in the works, was suddenly in the crosshairs. Shortly after, the blowout of BP’s deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spill that lasted several months brought into stark focus the threats posed by offshore drilling to coastal communities and ecosystems. SELC and our partners, including Defenders of Wildlife, are taking legal action to stop the lax federal oversight that led to the Gulf disaster, and we continue leading the opposition to plans to open more of the Southeast’s coast to oil and gas development. Coastal Riches for Wildlife and People The beautiful and biologically rich coastal areas off Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama feature some of the most productive estuaries in the country, including the Chesapeake Bay, the Pamlico Sound, the ACE Basin, and Mobile Bay. Our shores attract millions of tourists, anglers, and other visitors each year and provide important breeding and feeding habitat for migratory birds, turtles, and whales, many of which are globally rare. Tourism and fishing—both commercial and recreational—are the economic backbone of hundreds of towns and cities along our coasts. In 2008 alone, our four Atlantic states yielded $262.8 million in commercial fish landings. Potential for Disaster The environmental impacts of offshore drilling were well known even before Gulf disaster. Ocean rigs routinely spill and leak oil—and sometimes blow out. Chemicals used to operate oil and gas wells also pollute the marine environment. Moreover, oil spills and other contamination from onshore refineries, pipelines, and associated infrastructure would spoil wetland and marsh ecosystems that provide untold benefits for Southern communities, including flood control, clean drinking water, and essential habitat for fisheries that sustain their economies. Hurricanes occur frequently in the Atlantic and add to the risk. In the Gulf, the devastation and loss of life caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita overshadowed the fact that roughly 8 million gallons of petroleum products spilled from various sources. Too Little, Too Late The relatively low amounts of oil and gas in the Atlantic are not worth the tremendous risk to the South’s exceptional coastal resources. According to only available government estimates, the Mid- and South Atlantic hold less than a two-month supply of oil (at current rates of national consumption) and just a six-month supply of natural gas. The Virginia lease area holds just six days of oil and 18 days of natural gas. . (Read more about the Virginia lease sale.) The South has too much to lose and too little to gain by opening up the Mid- and South Atlantic coast and eastern Gulf to offshore drilling. SELC strongly opposes any moves to do so.

Extinction

Craig, 3 -- Indiana University School of Law professor

[Robin, "Taking Steps Toward Marine Wilderness Protection?" McGeorge Law Review, 34 McGeorge L. Rev. 155, Winter 2003, l/n, accessed 2-2-13, mss]



The world's oceans contain many resources and provide many services that humans consider valuable. "Occupy[ing] more than [seventy percent] of the earth's surface and [ninety-five percent] of the biosphere," n17 oceans provide food; marketable goods such as shells, aquarium fish, and pharmaceuticals; life support processes, including carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling, and weather mechanics; and quality of life, both aesthetic and economic, for millions of people worldwide. n18 Indeed, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the ocean to humanity's well-being: "The ocean is the cradle of life on our planet, and it remains the axis of existence, the locus of planetary biodiversity, and the engine of the chemical and hydrological cycles that create and maintain our atmosphere and climate." n19 Ocean and coastal ecosystem services have been calculated to be worth over twenty billion dollars per year, worldwide. n20 In addition, many people assign heritage and existence value to the ocean and its creatures, viewing the world's seas as a common legacy to be passed on relatively intact to future generations. n21

2NC Biod Impact

Offshore natural gas wrecks ecosystems – impact’s whales, oceans, groundwater withdrawal, and soil erosion


NPC 11 – National Petroleum Council (“Operations and Environment,” http://www.npc.org/reports/NARD/NARD_Ops-Environment.pdf)

Environmental Challenges Expanded potential of natural gas and oil resources has dramatically improved the North American energy supply outlook. The increased use of natural gas is likely to reduce the overall carbon intensity of recoverable. Continuous attention to reducing risks is essential to ensure pollution prevention, public and worker safety and health, and environmental protection. These are essential outcomes in order to enjoy access to the resources for extraction and ultimate satisfaction of consumers’ energy demand. Due to the importance of these issues, their influence on the study process has been significant. Risk to the environment exists with natural gas and oil development, as with any energy source. Local, state, and federal governments have developed a mix of prohibitions, regulations, and scientific study to reduce potential environmental impacts of natural gas and oil development. Parties discussing energy policy can be missing a common vocabulary and set of references to have a constructive conversation and make educated decisions. No form of energy comes without impacts to the environment. An appropriate framework for discussing energy sources is necessary. Environmental challenges associated with natural gas and oil development vary by location, such as onshore versus offshore, and by the methods employed to extract the resource. Although each well involves drilling into the crust of the earth and constructing well casing using steel pipe and cement, differences arise from the affected environment, resource type, regional and operating conditions, and proximity to environmental receptors. The public, policymakers, and regulators have expressed the following environmental concerns about onshore operations: yyHydraulic Fracturing – Consumption of freshwater (volumes and sources), treatment and disposal of produced water returned to the surface, seismic impacts, chemical disclosure of fracture fluid additives, potential ground and surface water contamination, chemical and waste storage, and the volume of truck traffic. yyWater Management – Produced water handling and disposal has created apprehension about existing water treatment facilities and the ability to treat naturally occurring radioactive material, adjust salinity, and safely discharge effluent. yyLand Use Encroachment – The encroachment into rural and urban areas results in perceived changes to quality of life, especially in newly developed or redeveloped natural gas and oil areas. yyMethane Migration – Methane in domestic drinking water wells, either naturally occurring or from natural gas development. yyAir Emissions – Emissions generated from combustion, leaks, or other fugitive emissions during the production and delivery of natural gas and oil present challenges regarding climate change and human health impacts. Offshore operations environmental challenges are somewhat different than onshore due to the sensitivities of the marine environment, harsh operating conditions, remote locations in the case of the Arctic, and advanced technologies employed. These challenges include: yyPrevention of and Response to a Major Release – The pressures and temperatures associated with remote wellhead locations that are difficult to access on the bottom of the ocean floor, and high flow rate of deepwater wells, make the containment of a subsea release challenging. yy Safety – Offshore natural gas and oil drilling practices, called into question by the recent Deepwater Horizon incident, have resulted in a weakened public perception of offshore process and worker safety. The limited operating space coupled with significant production volumes can create a higher-risk work environment. yyMarine Impacts – Seismic noise generated by offshore natural gas and oil exploration activities is recognized as a concern for whale populations and other marine life, including fish. yyArctic Ice Environments – Responding to an oil spill in seasonal subzero temperatures with the presence of broken sea ice and 24-hour darkness is difficult and presents challenges not faced in other marine environments. The development of oil sands poses unique environmental challenges that differ from those associated with other onshore oil resources, including: yyWater Consumption – Large volumes of water have generated public and regulatory issues associated with water sourcing, groundwater withdrawals, and protecting water quality. yyLand Disturbances – Removal of overburden for surface mining can fragment wildlife habitat and increase the risk of soil erosion or surface runoff events to nearby water systems, resulting in impacts to water quality and aquatic species. yyGreenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions – Transportation fuels produced solely from oil sands result in well-to-wheels life-cycle GHG emissions 5% to 15% higher than the average crude oil refined. The carbon intensity of oil sands can vary based on extraction, refining and transport method. And, in 2009, well-to-wheel emissions from oil sands processed in the United States were only 6% higher than the average crude oil consumed in the United States. Over time, incremental efficiency improvements, as well as new technologies, such as the application of solvents to mobilize oil in situ (as an alternative to heat) are expected to continue to reduce the GHG intensity of unconventional operations.

2NC Watershed Impact


Key to avoid watershed destruction

Argetsinger, 11 -- J.D. Candidate, Certificate in Environmental Law, Pace Law School

(Beren, Pace Environmental Law Review, "The Marcellus Shale: Bridge to a Clean Energy Future or Bridge to Nowhere?," 29 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 321, Fall 2011, l/n, accessed 5-24-12, mss)



As noted above, the EIA's long-term projections estimate that over forty-five percent of all natural gas produced in the United States by 2035 will come from shale gas. Experience in shale gas-producing states reveals that hydraulic fracturing has significant impacts on water and air resources; with nearly half the country's natural gas supply expected to come from shale, the long-term consequences must be considered and addressed now. Reports of shale gas development in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, and Pennsylvania highlight numerous water and air contamination problems that have arisen from shale gas production. n53 Improper [*331] well casing, lax on-site wastewater storage practices and perhaps even the hydraulic fracturing process itself, can allow natural gas constituents to migrate into and permanently contaminate underground aquifers and private wells. n54 The dumping of flowback waters into streams and onto roads contaminates surface waters and improperly treated fracking wastewater at sewage treatment plants (often defined as publicly owned treatment works or "POTWs") damage streams and drinking water supplies, putting human and ecological health at risk. n55 Air pollutants in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrous oxides (NOx), which are precursors to ground level ozone, a respiratory hazard, arise from the concentrated operation of diesel pumps, truck traffic, and on-site generators. n56 Methane gas, a highly potent greenhouse gas, and other pollution constituents are released through the drilling, fracturing, venting, flaring, condensation, and transportation processes of a well's lifecycle. n57 A. Water Pollution The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC or DEC) estimates that the hydraulic fracturing process requires anywhere from 2.9 million to 7.8 million gallons of injected water combined with chemicals and sand to fracture a single well, depending on the depth of the well and geology of the area. n58 DEC estimates that over the next thirty years, "there could be up to 40,000 wells developed with the high volume hydraulic fracturing technology." n59 Reports from hydraulic fractured wells in northern Pennsylvania indicate that between nine and thirty-five percent (or 216,000 to 2.8 million [*332] gallons) of the water-chemical solution used in fracking returns as "flowback" before a well begins to produce gas. n60 Handling and treating these high volumes of flowback water is a significant operational challenge of extracting shale gas and one that has not been met in some states. The treatment of flowback waters has proven a persistent challenge in Pennsylvania, causing environmental damage that regulators in some areas have been slow to address. n61 Former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner John Hanger said in a DEP press release in April 2010: The treating and disposing of gas drilling brine and fracturing wastewater is a significant challenge for the natural gas industry because of its exceptionally high total dissolved solid (TDS) concentrations... . Marcellus drilling is growing rapidly and our rules must be strengthened now to prevent our waterways from being seriously harmed in the future. n62 However, the DEP has largely limited its regulatory oversight on the issue of wastewater disposal at POTWs to a request that shale gas producers "voluntarily" cease disposing of flowback water at some POTWs. n63 The issue of improper treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater is compounded by specific exemptions for hydraulic fracturing from certain federal environmental laws. For example, [*333] the Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to largely exempt gas drillers from the SDWA, from EPA regulation, and from disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. n64 While some states such as New York would require drillers to meet higher standards, n65 industry has largely fought efforts to force public disclosure as well as federal efforts to study the impacts of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. n66 Independent analysis of products used in some western states for the production of oil and gas revealed more than 350 products containing hundreds of chemicals, the vast majority of which have known adverse effects on human health and the environment. n67 However, industry feet dragging on public disclosure has contributed to incomplete knowledge of the chemical makeup and concentrations used in fracturing fluids, and the full extent of the risk the chemicals pose to human and environmental health is unknown. n68 The NYS DEC advised in its Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (Revised dSGEIS) that: There is little meaningful information one way or the other about the potential impact on human health of chronic low level exposures to many of these chemicals, as could occur if an aquifer were to be contaminated as the result of a spill or release that is undetected and/or unremediated. n69 Incomplete knowledge of the chemical constituents injected into wells during the fracturing process raise concerns about [*334] understanding their effects on people and how to treat acute and chronic exposure. Further, as noted above, the fracturing fluids that return to the surface in flowback wastewaters create particularly daunting treatment challenges. The fracking solution pumped into the wells dissolves large quantities of salts, heavy metals such as barium and strontium, and radioactive materials. n70 When the water returns to the surface, it is stored for reuse, recycled, or treated and disposed. Currently, Pennsylvania is the only state that allows for the primary method for disposal of drilling wastewaters at POTWs. n71 Many POTWs are incapable of treating fracking wastewater and discharges of untreated fracking wastewater into surface waters create environmental and human health hazards. n72 The chemicals, radioactivity levels, and high salt concentrations pose difficulties for managers because most POTWs are not equipped to test for or treat all of these substances. n73 John H. Quigley, former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, stated: we're burning the furniture to heat the house ... in shifting away from coal and toward natural gas, we're trying for cleaner air, but we're producing massive amounts of toxic wastewater with salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, and it's not clear we have a plan for properly handling this waste. n74

Extinction

WWP, 10

(Western Watersheds Project, "Protecting Watersheds," 2010, www.westernwatersheds.org/issues/protecting-watersheds, accessed 5-29-12, mss)



Protecting Watersheds A watershed is land that contributes water to a stream, river, lake, pond, wetland or other body of water. The boundary that separates one watershed from another, causing falling rain or melting snow or spring water to flow downhill in one direction or the other, is known as a “watershed divide”. John Wesley Powell put it well when he said that a watershed is: "that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course" The defining watershed divide in the United States is the Continental Divide which generally follows the Rocky Mountains and determines whether water flows to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. Our biggest watershed is that of the Mississippi River which starts in Minnesota and spreads across 40% of the lower 48 states, drawing its water from the Yellowstone, Missouri, Platte, Arkansas, Canadian, Red, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers---and their drainages. While major watersheds are clearly visible on satellite photographs and maps, within each one is an intricate web of secondary drainages, each fed by a myriad of streams and smaller creeks, many unnamed and so small a person can jump across them. In many parts of the country, particularly in the arid West, these smaller drainages may cover thousands of acres, yet collect far less water than those in the East. For example, the Hudson River has a flow equivalent to that of the Colorado, yet collects its water from a land area less than 1/20th the size required by the Colorado River which is 1,400 miles long. Because there is very little land that is truly flat, watersheds and drainages are all around us, and just about everybody in the United States is within walking distance of one whether they live in a city, on a farm, in a desert, or on an island. Some carry the names of well known rivers like the Columbia and the Rio Grande. Most, however, do not, and remain anonymous, hidden in culverts or ditches or flowing only intermittently in high deserts, unrecognized and unheralded as vital, contributing parts of the complex system that supplies all of our fresh surface water. “Surface water” runs through watersheds and drainages, from mountains or high ground to the sea. Underlying watersheds, or adjacent to most of them, however, is an even greater source of supply, “ground water”. Ground water is formed when falling rain or melting snow percolates deep into the ground over time, sometimes centuries, to a level where it is stored in porous rock and sand and accumulates there until tapped by drilled wells or comes to the surface of its own accord as a spring or artesian well. This stored ground water is commonly referred to as an “aquifer” and its level is measured in terms of a “water table”. Like watersheds, water stored in aquifers generally seeps downhill, and many, like the Mississippi River drainage, cover wide areas of the United States. The nation’s largest deposit of ground water is the Ogallala Aquifer System that underlies 8 states, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Many smaller aquifers are found across the country and some remain unnamed and uncharted. These two water resources, surface and ground water, not only sustain all life but are the only practical source of fresh water we have for industry, agriculture, and municipal use. And although they are often viewed as two separate entities, they are, for the most part, inextricably linked. For example, in addition to rain and melting snow, ground water springs are vital to maintaining the flow of many streams and rivers in a watershed. And a great deal of surface water, about 25% of it, percolates deep into the ground where it is stored in or helps recharge our aquifers. The remaining surface water, after evaporation, which claims some 40%, becomes the complex system of streams and rivers that flow through watersheds from the mountains or high ground to the sea. Along the way, however, some of that water is temporarily held back in ponds, wetlands and the land bordering creeks, streams and rivers where water may not be visible but lies just below the surface. These areas are collectively referred to as riparian zones, and while they constitute only a small percentage of the land in most watersheds, they are the heart and soul of a delicately balanced natural system that, collectively, produces our fresh water. A healthy, functioning riparian zone is a virtual classroom in life sciences---botany, biology, animal ecology, fisheries, entomology and ornithology---and contains a miraculous diversity of wildlife, fish, birds, bugs and an array of vegetation ranging from trees and grasses to algae and other aquatic plants. Riparian zones and the biodiversity they contain are interdependent. That is, the trees, plants, grasses, reeds, and algae provide food, shade, protection and habitat for wildlife, birds and fish. Their root systems stabilize soil and prevent erosion and flooding in wet seasons; and in dry seasons, this vegetation retains water and releases it slowly to maintain even stream flows. For their part, the variety of animals, fish, birds, and bugs living in these zones aerate the soil, spread pollen and seeds and eventually, when they die and fungi and bacteria break down the dead organic matter, provide nourishment for a new generation of riparian vegetation. This is an oversimplified description of a pristine riparian zone within a source watershed, that critical part of the system where water is gathered from a web of springs, bogs and creeks and begins its long, twisting journey from the mountains to the sea. Such pristine conditions still exist in some isolated areas, but today no major river arrives at its terminus in this condition, and some don’t make it at all. Along the way, watersheds are radically transformed by man. Rivers are dammed, channeled, and otherwise diverted to serve a multitude of agricultural, industrial and municipal purposes. And while a good portion of the water is eventually released back into the system, much of it is polluted and requires costly purification. Today, water conservation is one of the most serious natural resource issues facing this country, and nowhere is conservation more important than in the arid West which is literally running out of water.


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