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General Astronomy >> Light Pollution

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d00d
sage
*****

Reged: 02/24/12

Loc: So Cal
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: neilson]
      #5744922 - 03/20/13 11:30 AM

Neilson,

Sorry to hear about your plight. Let me ask this, has the drilling itself impacted your quality of life beyond that of the LP? I've read a number of pieces on the matter and many of them speak of the constant noise from the drills as well as the increased traffic from trucks and such.

Have you considered a light barrier of some sort? A gent from Georgia made one from the remains of a trampoline.


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neilson
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/22/10

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: d00d]
      #5745568 - 03/20/13 04:33 PM

Hi,
The trucks are constantly going by in the day but that doesn't bother me too much. They capped the closest drilling rigs last fall but in December they signed leases on all the ranches connected to our little ranch, so they will probably be drilling very close soon.
The noise won't bother me too much. Its the lights. It's as though I live in town across from a Walmart now. I can actually see the stadium type lighting from down the road on that light pollution map. The light dome covers our property too. Just over a year ago it was pitch black. If they would just point the lights down. They have them pointing at almost a 90 deg angle on top of really high poles. Half the light is going upwards causing a glare. It washes out the stars. I use our house to block the direct lights.

My plans are to send out new emails to their headquarters offices again and the offices here in April. Then I plan to make personal visits. I will be reasonable and happy about any resolution that will reduce the light any amount. I think setting the timers on half the lights to not come on until midnight or 1 AM is reasonable, their not even open at night. The whole area is like daytime over there. The white caliche parking lots make it even brighter.

neilson


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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
*****

Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: neilson]
      #5745649 - 03/20/13 05:03 PM

I sure hope that lighting gets straightened out soon. Living deep in a red zone myself I can sympathize with you.
If they aren't even operating at night then it would only make sense to use only a couple of security lights all night anyway.


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Gary Honis
Vendor-DSLR Mods


Reged: 12/15/04

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: richard7]
      #5751640 - 03/23/13 11:32 AM

A new organization (CSSD) was formed this week comprised of the gas drilling industry and environmental groups that have reached agreement to create a system to set standards for reducing the effects of shale drilling. The article is here:

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/03/both_sides_agree_on_tough_...

According to the article, multiple states will be covered but it does not mention any outdoor lighting or flaring controls.

The CSSD has a comment page set up for receiving comments. If you are so inclined, please consider requesting that they include exterior lighting and flaring standards to address the problem of light pollution. The CSSD comment page is here:

http://037186e.netsolhost.com/site/contact/

If they don't get comments from the astronomical community, I doubt lighting issues will be addressed. Below are the comments I provided:

...........................

My recommendation is the CSSD should include flaring and lighting requirements in its standards to avoid the problems of light pollution such as glare, light trespass, energy waste and skyglow. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) maintains a list of IDA approved shielded light fixtures and also has developed lighting codes jointly with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). See

http://www.darksky.org/outdoorlighting

Utilizing the IDA approved light fixtures and CSSD adoption of the IDA/IESNA lighting codes would address lighting problems for adjacent land owners. It would also avoid the light pollution as documented in the 2012 NASA Earth Observatory images showing wasted light and skyglow in North Dakota and Pennsylvania from gas drilling operations. See:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html

Having standards that limit flaring operations to daytime or during New Moon periods, as is being done in sensitive areas of PA, would help preserve our disappearing night sky resource.

Thanks for your consideration of this request.

Gary Honis, P.E.
GHAAS
........................


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Glen A W
sage


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: WEST VIRGINIA USA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: Gary Honis]
      #5758527 - 03/26/13 03:56 PM

I live in that black spot on the map, which is central West Virginia. It is still dark here. I have seen some light from the wells, and a man was killed in an explosion at one on the same morning the meteor came down over Russia - some thought the boom was a meteor hitting here!

However, all things considered, the wells are nothing compared to the development in the I-79 corridor west of me, especially around Clarksburg. One infamous big-box store in particular caused a whopping increase in light pollution.

I used to live in town and could still see M31 naked eye in 1990, along with the Milky Way. Now, that might happen on some rare crystal clear 2am Winter morning, but barely. I am glad I live in the country now but realistically, my site will be screwed up within 15 years. That also means that Spruce Knob will be very seriously damaged, and it's the best sky I have ever seen this side on New Mexico.

>>>>>I think Spruce Knob should be made a focal point by the IDA or whoever is handling this now. Glen


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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
*****

Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5758623 - 03/26/13 04:42 PM

Quote:



>>>>>I think Spruce Knob should be made a focal point by the IDA or whoever is handling this now. Glen




I can sympathize with you. The last few years, since the downturn in the economy, LP has remained pretty steady. Bad but steady.
Now that things are picking up again you know more LP is coming.
While I don't know how big Spruce Knob is it really doesn't matter much how much effort you put up to save it if everything around it goes downhill.


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Glen A W
sage


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: WEST VIRGINIA USA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: richard7]
      #5758877 - 03/26/13 06:57 PM

They were turning off lights through Clarksburg on route 50 back in 2009, I think it was, to save money. There were times I had a pretty decent sky from in town, well after midnight.

On the fracking - there are so many making money on it around here that minimizing the damage is the best that can be hoped for. We get a double whammy in West Virginia because we have mountaintop removal, too. It may not be progress but I guess we need the energy.

I believe Spruce Knob is threatened by distant light domes and also by development right there at it. They pave the roads into it a little more each year, it seems like, and vacation cabins are going up along the newer paved road which comes in from the east. Besides LP, the natural feel of it is liable to take a beating. Glen

Edited by Glen A W (03/26/13 07:00 PM)


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darber99
member


Reged: 03/26/13

Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5765387 - 03/29/13 05:38 PM

Here is a copy of the email I sent to the CSSD... I hope all will copy and send as well. Our dark skies are too important to just give up to industry...

To whom it may concern:
When developing a program for sustainable shale development, I hope you would consider standards for exterior lighting and flaring as it pertains to astronomical observations and light pollution. The Marcellus Shale has some of the most pristine areas for viewing the night skies and it still can be by employing low cost light shields, which will focus light towards the ground and not allow light to escape into the atmosphere. This increases sky glow and decreases amateur astronomers ability to view deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae. Metal casings could also be made to contain flaring while still allowing the heated gases to escape.
Natural gas drilling is going to be an important aspect of PA's economy in the near and distant future and I hope that during development of this natural resource, your center takes appropriate steps to safe guard the environment for all who enjoy it.

Thank you for your time.

Brad Lukach.


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darber99
member


Reged: 03/26/13

Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: darber99]
      #5765392 - 03/29/13 05:41 PM

Whoops... That was my 1st draft... Here is the real one...

Letter to Center for Sustainable Shale Development

When developing a program for sustainable shale development, I hope you would consider standards for exterior lighting and flaring as it pertains to astronomical observations and light pollution. The Marcellus Shale has some of the most pristine areas for viewing the night skies in the Eastern US and it still can be by employing low cost light shields that are approved by the International Dark Sky Association, which will focus light towards the ground and not allow light to escape into the surrounding atmosphere. Existing lighting increases sky glow, light trespass and decreases amateur astronomers ability to view deep sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae. Flaring could also be limited to daytime hours or during full moon periods as to not disrupt evening, dark sky observations.
Natural gas drilling is going to be an important aspect of PA's economy in the near and distant future and I hope that during development of this natural resource, your center takes appropriate steps to safe guard the environment for all who enjoy it.

Thank you for your time.

Brad Lukach


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Gary Honis
Vendor-DSLR Mods


Reged: 12/15/04

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: darber99]
      #5765480 - 03/29/13 06:22 PM

Hi Brad,

Thanks for preparing and sending your comments to the CSSD. I have heard from many others that have sent comments and that is encouraging. I drafted a Performance Standard No. 16 to address Light Pollution and I sent it as a follow-up comment to the CSSD with a recommendation that they consider adding it to their existing 15 perfomance standards:

....................................

LIGHT POLLUTION PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
Performance Standard No. 16

1. Beginning on January 1, 2014, an Operator must install only light fixtures that are fully shielded so that no light is emitted at or above a horizontal plane drawn through the lowest light-emitting portion of the luminaire. No light fixtures located on any drill or operation site are to be directed in such a manner so that they shine directly on public roads, adjacent property, the night sky or any property in the general vicinity of the operation site. All lighting will comply to standards of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Electrical Code. Illumination Levels for all support facilities shall have illuminances, uniformities and glare control in accordance with the recommended practices of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES).

2. Beginning on January 1, 2014, in order to minimize the visual impact of flaring at night and to avoid the creation of skyglow, an Operator shall schedule any nightime gas flarings to take place during the two weeks each month outside of the New Moon period. Sending gas to a flare outside of that period is acceptable only for safety reasons. Operators must document the extent of additional flaring and reasons requiring flaring outside of that period.

..............................

I haven't heard of anyone that subitted comments receiving a reply from CSSD yet. Hope to see you at CS soon.


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darber99
member


Reged: 03/26/13

Loc: Philadelphia, PA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: Gary Honis]
      #5767059 - 03/30/13 03:29 PM

Thanks Gary,
I really hope that the CSSD pays attention to what we are saying and adopts the new performance standard that you drafted. I haven't heard anything back from the CSSD myself concerning the email I sent but you never know...

Brad Lukach


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Dan G
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/27/06

Loc: Minisink, NY, USA
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: darber99]
      #5776557 - 04/03/13 09:41 PM

I added my 2 cents. Thanks for the link Gary.

Dan in NY


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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
*****

Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA [Re: Dan G]
      #5835276 - 05/01/13 09:35 PM

More bad news for LP in the Dakotas and Montana.

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George N
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/19/06

Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: richard7]
      #5920586 - 06/14/13 01:15 PM

The following is what I gleaned (assuming my memory is working) from listening to Chip (Cherry Springs State Park Manager) at last week’s Cherry Springs Star Party:

Note: Thanks to Chip’s efforts on getting Cherry Springs designated a ‘gold standard’ dark sky park by the IDA, he has been asked by the IDA to take part in a review of the rules for all such IDA designations. The IDA is about to change “the rules”, to include a continuing monitoring of a designated park’s sky conditions, with the possibility of losing or changing the designation if conditions change. The IDA is also researching possible anti-LP reguations for the gas industry in PA (there are currently none). Chip said that he likes the reguations currently in place in Texas, at least as a starting point for PA.

According to Chip:

The shale bed in Potter Co is very thin, and this has inspired the gas companies to reduce drilling activity and even to abandon some existing gas wells (not so to the east in Tioga Co). The low price of gas right now has resulted in a significant reduction in frack’ing activity. The main frack’ing impact so far has been from new gas well flaring (burn-off of the first gas produced). The gas companies have been very willing to not flare on dark weekends, and have even called the park to ask “Can we flare now? What is the best time so that we won’t cause you problems?” As pipelines are installed, there will be less and less need to flare a new well, or a re-fract’ed one.

On the other hand, equipment storage sites, pump sites, etc, are having ‘security lights’ installed, and the frack’ing fluid trucks are greatly increasing night-time traffic.

With IDA help, the park is looking into installing a permanent sky brightness monitoring system, with data available on-line. The same is being considered for all IDA dark sky designated parks/areas.

Bottom line: Cherry Springs may be permanently impacted by increased light from the conversion of rural PA into an “industrial zone”, and the park may lose it’s IDA “gold standard” rating if anti-LP regulation of the gas industry is ineffective.


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John Vogt
super member
*****

Reged: 10/26/05

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: George N]
      #5925797 - 06/17/13 03:39 PM

Hi George,

Thanks for the update. Was there any mention of working with the gas companies to install night sky friendly fixtures with motion control at the various sites to minimize their LP impact? Enacting LP regs. would certainly help but the time frame to get them enacted in the current climate would take quite some time. I think the horse will have left the barn at that point, assuming it hasn't already.

John


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Smittty692k4
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/05/11

Loc: East Bernard, TX
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: John Vogt]
      #5925981 - 06/17/13 05:20 PM

Neilson,

Where outside of Pleasanton are you?

I have mixed emotions on this topic.
1) I LOVE dark skies, using my scopes, seeing stars, and most recently imaging.

2) I work for MI Swaco/Schlumberger in the Production Testing Services area. My main area is the Eagle Ford. My job allows me to have the funds to support my family and curve my telescope addiction.

I need the work, but want for dark skies.

Yes, any type of oilfield always has its downsides, but there are some (depending who you are) upsides as well. Small towns down here like Catarina, Carrizo Springs, and Cotulla were barren wastelands 6 years ago, but now thrive due to oilfield traffic. New businesses, better roads, and local economy are thru the roof. Plus it doesnt hurt if you happen to have mineral rights.

I know the upsides and down, and I dont want anyone here to think im an oilfield lobbyist. I am gone away from my family for days, weeks, and occasionally, months on end.
I hate my job, but it pays the bills.

I brought my 8SE with me on this job (I posted a pic in the "Viewing area" thread yesterday) and last night turned off the light plants on location just to show my night guy what he was missing.

I agree with all of you, the light pollution COULD be cut down tremendously, but with oilfield companies bringing in billions in revenue, being charged for light plant and diesel rentals is insignificant compared to profits.

I hope it changes I really do, but as far as the near future, in south Tx anyways, it will only get worse before it gets better. At least for the life of the Shale play.

Clear skies to you all.


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George N
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/19/06

Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: John Vogt]
      #5925992 - 06/17/13 05:26 PM

Quote:

Hi George,

Thanks for the update. Was there any mention of working with the gas companies to install night sky friendly fixtures with motion control at the various sites to minimize their LP impact? Enacting LP regs. would certainly help but the time frame to get them enacted in the current climate would take quite some time. I think the horse will have left the barn at that point, assuming it hasn't already.

John




John,

The only thing I can remember Chip saying is that "the gas industry" is not adverse to anti-LP regulation, shielded lighting, etc. Apparently they are willing to do a lot to improve their public image. Chip emphasized the point that the long-term LP threat to the area is from the logistics sites that will remain long after the drilling. There is already a new equipment staging area to the northeast of the park with piping, drill rigs, parked trucks, etc. I did not see it at night, but I think I remember light poles.

Considering the anti-LP efforts that the village of Galeton has already done (changed to all shielded street lights), I would bet that the gas industry might be willing to do a lot if they can be sure that they will not have to re-install new lights at a later time to meet new laws.


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Kfrank
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/20/08

Loc: Northern Colorado
Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5926012 - 06/17/13 05:40 PM

Quote:

Here in Colorado, you can heat your house, run your car, and your lawnmower...all from the convenience of your Kitchen faucet!!




Where are you getting this from???

I regularly watch the local news in Denver and read 2 daily newspapers and I've never seen anything about the faucet incidents you keep referring to.


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neilson
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/22/10

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: Smittty692k4]
      #5926220 - 06/17/13 07:42 PM

Hi Matt,
I live on Corgey rd. Near interstate 37. East of Pleasanton. There was nothing but ranch land and 2 cemeteries on our road until 2012. Now there's about a dozen or more brand new businesses all in brand new buildings, all built since January 2012. All of it was a ranch with trees and cattle. A smooth talking developer guy bought small parcels then finally the entire ranch all the way up to our 10 acres. The owner of the ranch didn't need the money and didn't want to sell any of it but the developer guy just wouldn't stop bothering him until he got every acre of it. He is building quickly coming up the road. These are all oil field support businesses.

On the other side of town is a large industrial park that was abandoned many years ago. Some of the buildings and lots have been bought by oil field businesses but there are more open spaces for sale there than could fill this entire road. There are even truck stops and access to the interstate over there. Our road just goes over the interstate with no access at all. The bad part is they didn't need to install all those high powered lighting up on high poles that light up the sky all night long. They are closed at night. You'd think they were new car dealers.

I have seen how the oil field has overtaken those areas you talk about like cotulla. There are some huge ranches all around there owned by rich people in Houston and Dallas that use them for hunting. Now they are getting even richer from the oil wells. Until a few years ago all that area use to be extremely dark all around as far as you could see. Not anymore.



neilson


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David2011
newbie


Reged: 06/17/13

Re: Fracking & Light Pollution in PA new [Re: John Fitzgerald]
      #5926737 - 06/18/13 01:19 AM

Quote:

And herein Wisconsin, home of numerous frac sand mines that run 24-7, the light domes mark each facility.




Quote:

Why do they feel they have to light up every facility? Lighting does not equal security!




New to the forum and don't want to ruffle feathers but I've been an amateur astronomer for a long time and have some exposure to the oilfield. There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about fracking. The sand mines run 24x7 and are lighted so the operators can dig up the sand. Fracking a well takes from a day to a week depending on how many zones are to be fracked. The locations are lit while the crews are working. When finished there are normally no lights or flares left. Natural gas has gotten into water wells for as long as there have been water wells. Fracking occurs thousands of feet below the surface. Most water wells are 25 to 250 feet deep. The casing (pipe) of a well is cemented into the ground under
high pressure to seal the casing to the ground and isolate the production zones from one another, groundwater and the surface. I won't say that a natural gas well has NEVER contaminated groundwater but don't believe that every story I see on TV is related to drilling. Decomposing vegetation or coal is a more likely source of methane at water well depths.

David


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