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Potential LP map - shale plays (fracking)...

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#1 amicus sidera

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 12:59 PM

The map at the following link, prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, delineates the extent of recoverable shale plays in the continental United States; anywhere in a shaded area will have a chance to experience greater or lesser light pollution due to fracking at present or sometime in the future:

EIA Lower 48 Shale Plays map in .pdf format

Certainly an encouraging picture... (/sarc off)

Fred

#2 csrlice12

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 07:21 AM

Figures, they've even got one named for where I live...."Denver Basin".....

#3 mountain monk

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:35 PM

Amicus Sidera,

Thanks for starting a new thread with a broader consideration of the consequences of fracking on LP. Some initial remarks.

1. As you can see, and as I've been whining about for years, my beloved state has been hosed.

2. As I've noted here before, all of eastern Utah is heading into The Great White Light, and that includes all our beloved red rock country with its many national parks. Anyone still want to retire to the Four Corners with their 36' dob?

3. Part of Montana--especially areas bordering Glacier National Park, and Great Bear, Bob Marshall, and Scapegoat wilderness areas will be heavily impacted. God only knows what kind of regulations the Blackfoot reservation will put on fracking--my guess is: none.

4. West Texas--gone, gone, gone, gone to the great beyond--the future as foretold by Cormac McCarthy.

5. California: good luck. The four-way fight over water between famers, cities, oil/gas interests, and environmentalists--a hundred year war--will be, if nothing else, interesting. May they all win!

And, as several people here have pointed out--Nevada is looking sweeter by the minute. "Take me home, two-track road, to the place I BELONG, Black Rock Desert, dark, clear haven, taken me home..." (apologies duly noted).

A great map, but nothing--nothing--can take the place of actually visiting, say, the Bakken fields and just looking around for a week. Dante would be hard-pressed to express it.

Thanks.

Dark skies.

Jack

#4 derangedhermit

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 12:21 AM

Most of the light pollution comes from flaring. Currently the EPA deadline for installing equipment to capture the natural gas at each frack / re-frack site is Jan 2015. If that happens, the flaring will pretty much stop.

#5 amicus sidera

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:29 AM

Most of the light pollution comes from flaring. Currently the EPA deadline for installing equipment to capture the natural gas at each frack / re-frack site is Jan 2015. If that happens, the flaring will pretty much stop.


I was under the impression that each well had considerable ancillary lighting on it, and that this caused significant LP. Once flaring ceases, is the well run without dawn-to-dusk floodlights?

#6 George N

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 04:32 PM

Most of the light pollution comes from flaring. Currently the EPA deadline for installing equipment to capture the natural gas at each frack / re-frack site is Jan 2015. If that happens, the flaring will pretty much stop.


I was under the impression that each well had considerable ancillary lighting on it, and that this caused significant LP. Once flaring ceases, is the well run without dawn-to-dusk floodlights?


From the wells I’ve seen: during drilling, the tower is lit with flood lights from the ground. At a prior Cherry Springs Star Party (2011??) an official of the state of Pennsylvania said that these lights are required by OSHA and the state employee safety regulations because there is always at least one person on the tower. There is also considerable bright lighting on the ground level (drill pad), plus many trucks delivering water for the frack’ing fluid, etc. Areas of active drilling have hundreds of additional trucks on the roads, day & night. After drilling (and flaring), once gas production starts, the tower goes away, as does any on-site activity at all. All that’s left is a green box connected to a pipeline. Note that several wells are drilled on each pad.

I’m not sure what level of LP comes when a well needs to be re-fract’ed, but that apparently has to happen every few years. Some of the wells in Potter Co PA are already running out of gas, and apparently, with the current low gas prices, it is not worth the cost to re-fract them right now.

Gas development comes with considerable “industrial” impact that can result in long-term LP. There are things like equipment storage areas (one I’ve seen is about 3 times the size of a Wal-Mart parking lot, and lighted). The gas lines have to be pressurized using compressors, there are collecting facilities where pipelines come together, etc. All of these sites have substantial nighttime lighting. I’m not sure what lighting is associated with the large frack’ing fluid holding ponds, but considering the toxic and radioactive nature of these open “lakes” of chemicals, I’d assume they will have some form of nighttime lighting. The level of long-term, post-drilling LP impact will depend on anti-LP regulation (state, local, or self-regulation).

“Long-term” is relative. In PA they currently plan to drill 10s of thousands of additional wells over the next 10 to 20 years. Same for NY. The “industrialization” of what was a low population wild forest area will be massive. The permanent LP impact is probably controllable.

#7 derangedhermit

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 07:06 PM

One big difference in current light pollution from shale formations like the Marcellus and Barnett and Bakken is that Bakken is exploited primarily for oil, not gas.

Quick Google searches show they are flaring over 30% of the natural gas in the Bakken oil fields. The State of ND is trying to get the flaring to under 10%; they will struggle to do that quickly and it's still not very good. Here in Texas, the official state estimate is that 0.5% of gas is flared off. That figure might be intentionally low, though.

There are two holding ponds close to my house. I'll check for lights the next time I'm out at night. They are fenced like a minimum security prison.

They just fracked a new site that's basically in the middle of the town I live in, on some pasture land undeveloped because it's in the 100-year flood plain. I agree there is a lot of heavy equipment traffic - first a variety of stuff to build and drill, then mainly tanker trucks (to haul off the fluid, I suppose). And more-or-less permanent roads have to be built to the site and pipelines run. There is a lot of impact from it.

OTOH, fracking seems to be the only viable alternative to a continued level of imported energy dependence. We drove through Sweetwater, TX, on the way to TSP, where there are hundreds of huge windmills. They require new roads, heavy equipment during installation, high-voltage power lines...and the much lower cost of domestic natural gas (and coal, and oil) has stalled widespread deployment.

#8 mountain monk

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 10:19 PM

I would like to put a face on these various abstractions. Please look at the photographs of the Upper Green River Basin in WY.

http://uppergreen.org

Go to programs, then down to photo gallery.

Then go back to the home page and click the interactive map; more photos, especially of the Pinedale Anticline and the Jonah field.

In the photo gallery, go to photograph #14 to see what a rig looks like at night. Elsewhere notice the fleet of Halliburton trucks serving one fracking rig. Note other structures, such as the stations to reinsert toxic water; it cannot be used for cattle. The groundwater is contaminated and some companies now provide citizens with bottled drinking water. The ozone concentrations are higher than those in L.A. There are about 7,000 wells (gas) with 3,500 more on the way.

This is only the tip of one iceberg. The Upper Green is at the top of what some call the Unita Basin, an area said (again, by some) to contain four time as much oil as Saudi Arabia--not what they have left, but what they had.

In your mind's eye, extrapolate what you see in the photos to an area all the way down to northern New Mexico and you can see why some of us are so concerned. Bloomberg reports that in five to seven years we will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production. It's called the New American Gas and Oil Revolution. It will go on for a long time, folks, and will...well, you know what it will do to visual astronomy.

In the summer of 1960, when I was 18, I worked for GSI, the geophysical exploration company the mapped the Upper Green gas and oil reserves. A simple job. For 12-14 hours a day I rolled up 70# of cable on a chest harness, dropped it and rolled up another. I had an old canvas covered canteen, a denim coat stuffed with candy bars, and a cowboy hat. $1.25 an hour. In several months on the job I saw only the folks in the crew-truck that dropped me off and picked me up. I saw lots of Unita chiselers, pronghorn, and wild horses, but I never saw another person. The country I walked through is the country you see in the photographs.

Dark skies.

Jack

#9 seryddwr

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:25 AM

What on earth are we going to do? These people literally own the government. The lobbyists write the laws! We and anyone who cares about the night, the land, or the water will be drowned out by the clamor for more fuel, more gas, more, more, more!

#10 csrlice12

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:03 PM

Here in Denver, last summer they drilled a gas well with all the ancilliary lighting they could find....less than a mile from the DAS dark site. At the end of summer, the lights went out; now, they've built a building of some sort there and the bright lights are back (it appears this time permanently, though not as many), and who knows were they'll drill next. I do know that you can read a newspaper at the dark site now with no additional lighting needed........needless to say, don't look in that direction...

#11 mountain monk

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:16 PM

More ammo on fracking from one of the engineers (a professor at Cornell) who developed it, a man with impeccable credentials:

http://www.nytimes.c...uture.html?_r=0

Dark skies.

Jack

#12 mak17

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 12:52 AM

Disheartening.

#13 derangedhermit

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 08:07 AM

The "impeccable credentials" guy is out to lunch, on our dime. If we took his advice, this country would plunge into depression and we'd stick our kids with another huge mountain of debt, along with leaving them energy-starved.

The only affordable large-scale energy sources are coal, hydro, oil and gas. That's it. Nothing else is even close, now or in the near future. We may not like it, but that is reality. This crank lives in some other world; or, more likely, he makes his living saying what he says; he's getting well-paid for his words.

His reason we have to impoverish the country is to reduce global warming.

He's right that fracking temporarily increases local release of methane from the ground. What he doesn't say is that methane is constantly naturally coming out of the ground anyway, and how much difference the fracking makes compared to that. He doesn't know how much difference it makes; no one does. He also doesn't say how significant it is compared to other sources of methane in the air; he doesn't know that, either. And that should remind us all of Carl Sagan's statement about the world's largest source of atmospheric methane:

"Bovine flatulence."

I hope we can stick to posts about light pollution in this forum. There's "The off-topic observatory" forum further down the list for other stuff.

#14 mountain monk

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:21 AM

Fracking is an industrial process that entails major light pollution. Over the past year or two there have been threads on CN that explore its consequences for communities in various parts of the country. Astronomers (and others) are fighting fracking for excellent reasons, reasons that you are entitled to disagree with. Light pollution is not the only unfortunate consequence of fracking, there are others--water use, etc.--but I believe astronomers opposing fracking deserve to be informed of all these consequences in order to make their contestation more effective.

The author is a professor of engineering at Cornell who helped develop the process. If he is not an expert, who is?

Dark skies.

Jack

#15 derangedhermit

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 01:35 PM

No one is. No one has gathered enough real data to stake out the position he has (or the opposite one, for that matter). Even if the methane being released now instead of later has some impact on "climate change" (I think he actually made the mistake of using the old "global warming" term), it will be tiny in comparison with many other things (most outside this country and outside our control), and his proposed "remedy" is financial disaster for the country for decades to come. It's simply not helpful nor reasonable.

And you are saying fracking has to stop to prevent LP, or at least that is the position astronomers should take, aligning ourselves with those who insist it has to stop - a rather all-or-nothing role of the dice, and one very likely to lose almost entirely.

My opinion is that it would be more productive, or more likely to be successful, to try to get legislation in place to control flaring. That, at least, seems feasible (and actually happening) to some extent. Legislators in at least some jurisdictions have acted, are acting, or are considering acting on this.

And promoting the control of flaring would be most appropriate for this forum, since that is an LP issue.

Lee

#16 richard7

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 05:45 PM

Whether or not this author has global warming credentials or not is getting off the light pollution topic.
Can we possibly steer this discussion back to light pollution please?

#17 JayinUT

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 07:51 PM

Well, good-bye to the Uinta Mountains as LP from the Ogden-Salt Lake-Provo LP dome will do nothing but continue to grow. Four corners, good thing I didn't plan to go down there. Western Utah where I love to go and observe will be the key area. Notch Peak area and over toward Great Basin. Nevada looks good in the central portion and the areas that can be access from I-80. It is coming ad remember, I don't think given the government structures and the apathy of voters in Utah that the government is going to stop this, put in LP restrictions etc. There is a major play for land by Canyonlands and Arches to extend the BLM and national land to create a buffer. I don't know if that will come through though.

Again, now you know why I head off to western Utah and my only hope is to enjoy it while I can and hope beyond hope, that there is no effort to move into western Utah and the west desert. So far I think I am okay.

#18 derangedhermit

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 08:08 PM

Can we possibly steer this discussion back to light pollution please?

Absolutely. That's all I wanted.

#19 csrlice12

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 09:23 AM

Well, there will always be what used to be the Greenland Ice Shelf after it melts. Should be dark there for a few weeks in it's winter......

#20 ThreeD

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 12:59 AM

About a month ago I drove my family to Brooklyn and back as part of a vacation. (Yup, 6500+ miles.) On the way East we drove through the Tetons and Yellowstone then East through Cody and Greybull and on over the Big Horn Mountains via 14. We continued through Sheridan on toward SD and Mount Rushmore. Incredibly beautiful country.

I could be wrong but I think it was between Buffallo and the SD stateline/Custer National Park that I saw a stack that was bursting flames. I wondered what the heck it was at the time and it made my wife and I think of Mad Max. I think I have my answer now.... how sad.






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