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Guest Column

November 11, 2012

The best-laid plans oft go astray

(Continued)

Combine this common-good mindset and arrogance with the fact that his Tompkins County build-out study was financed in part by the Park Foundation (an Ithaca-based organization worth over $300 million that openly admits to an anti-natural gas position and has also funded the likes of EarthJustice, Earthworks and Riverkeepers) and his subjectivity is obvious.

In his Tompkins County study, he begins with the ridiculous baseline presumption that all of the leases filed in the county are viable for the full build-out into the maximum number of drill pads allowed in the New York SGEIS. In fact, the vast number of these leases were based upon cheap speculation on the part of the developers and landmen. If any development at all occurs in Tompkins County, it will be on the basis of real geology based on new seismic data that has not yet been developed.

His magnitude of build-out assumption is even less credible in that he does not consider or acknowledge the real-world context of the logistics of drilling and finishing wells. There is a finite number of drillers/drill rigs/skilled and experienced operators/hydrofracking contractors, etc.

The captives are fully leased and “built-out” for years to come, and there is intense competition for the services of the independents. The developers move to the optimum geology, irrespective of town, county, state or even country. To suggest that they would converge on a single county and “build it out” is ludicrous.

Even if his “perfect storm” scenario were plausible, it is invalid qualitatively and quantitatively in its lack of considerations for advances in technology, operations efficiency and regulation that have occurred over the last several years. Process-water recycling, pipeline transfer of process water from freshwater impoundments directly to well pads, process wastewater post-treatment, drill pad design, chemical composition of process fluids and gases, casing design and redundancy etc., have evolved and improved dramatically with time.

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