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Vermont Bans Fracking 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-gas-for-you dept.
eldavojohn writes "Vermont is the first state to ban fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a process that was to revolutionize the United States' position into a major producer of natural gas. New York currently has a moratorium on fracking but it is not yet a statewide ban. Video of the signing indicates the concern over drinking water as the motivation for Vermont's measures (PDF draft of legislation). Slashdot has frequently encountered news debating the safety of such practices."
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Vermont Bans Fracking

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:36PM (#40034929)
    We're moving to Vermont!
    • by AG the other (1169501) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:44PM (#40035015)

      Cue the lawyers.
      You know if the oil companies think that there is recoverable gas or oil in Vermont the oil companies will try to go after it.

      • by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:56PM (#40035131)
        Vermont is small enough that they can just slant drill under it from neighboring states.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:32PM (#40035483)

          Are you suggesting they drink Vermont's milkshake?

          • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:23PM (#40036565)

            Well, according to the latest laws in Vermont:

            WHEREAS Vermont's milkshake has been proven to bring all the boys to that yard

            WHEREAS Vermont asserts that damn right, it's better than yours

            WHEREAS Vermont acknowledges the possibility of educating others on its milkshake as long as financial remuneration is achieved

            WHEREAS Hydraulic fracking has been shown to endanger said milkshake

            BE IT RESOLVED that Vermont hereby bans hydraulic fracking in all forms.

      • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:48PM (#40036287) Homepage Journal

        I'm not sure, but I don't think Vermont even has the right kind of geology for gas or oil. The Green Mountains are very old, I believe metamorphic rock, and I thought natural gas and oil are generally in sedimentary deposits - sandstone with a limestone cap, or some such.

        I suspect the ban is a symbolic gesture, already knowing that nothing is really at risk.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Neo-Luddism is alive and well in Vermont.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Taco Cowboy (5327)

        I do not know why the above message is modded as Flamebait

        What Vermont did is neo-luddism

        Unless Vermont decides that it stops using any fossilized fuel, and will NOT import any of it, stopping fracking inside the state is simply a NIMBY move

        • by Lanteran (1883836) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:29PM (#40036607) Homepage Journal

          When the result of fracking in your backyard is making your drinking water flammable, they're damn right to not want it there.

          • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:17PM (#40036913)

            When the result of fracking in your backyard is making your drinking water flammable, they're damn right to not want it there.

            Well, since the only instance of this "flammable drinking water" that I know of existed *before* any fracking took place, you don't have much of a factual/logical leg to stand on here.

            Another NIMBY/Luddite fairy tale, spread to frighten the uninformed masses into knee-jerk reactions.

            Like yours.

            Strat

            • by sycodon (149926)

              You might as well argue with your dog.

        • Unless Vermont decides that it stops using any fossilized fuel, and will NOT import any of it, stopping fracking inside the state is simply a NIMBY move

          That would only be true if the only way to obtain natural gas was by fracking.

        • by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:15PM (#40036899)

          Clearly someone that doesn't know anyone from Vermont. You know how frustrating it was for me to move to AZ back in 2001? I had DSL in Vermont since 1996. They were one of the first states to deploy it state-wide to assist with telecommuting. Our governor at the time, Howard Dean, even pumped state funds to help the more rural areas get it which was a direct benefit to myself.

          No, Vermonters are not afraid of progress or technology, hell IBM is a huge part of their tax payer base. You also wanna know where the two safest places are in terms of natural disasters? Yep, Arizona and Vermont! That's why people like to build data-centers there. I imagine they want to keep their drinking water and maintain steady ground beneath their feet. They actually care about their natural resources.

          Also, Vermonters are big producers of biodiesel so again I say, you probably shouldn't attack something you clearly know little to nothing about.

          With all the evidence against fracking and the banning of it in Europe, I'm concerned that people still haven't seen the writing on the wall with it.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @09:48PM (#40037085) Journal
          It's not neo-luddism. Vermont has no natural gas, so this has no effect. It's just good old-fashioned political cynicism. Throw a bone to appease anyone who cares but doesn't care enough to actually check.
    • by G00F (241765)
      Even better, they where the last to get a walmart . . .
  • by Radtastic (671622) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:39PM (#40034953)
    "Vermont Says, "No Fracking Fracking!"
  • About time.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:42PM (#40034987)
    A common sense idea made law that goes against the big oil and gas industries? Maybe there is hope after all!
    Its a little old, but here is a good PBS report on the subject fot the lesser informed:
    http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/613/index.html [pbs.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by emarkp (67813)

      Now, if only there was scientific evidence that there was a problem with fracking, instead of all of this political pressure because all fossil fuels are evil.

      • Re:About time.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:52PM (#40035093)

        I cant believe localized earthquakes in places that never have earthquakes isn't enough to sound any sort of alarm.........

        • As a rule, Australia never gets earthquakes.

          Someone forgot to tell the earthquake in 1989 that hit Newcastle (close to Sydney).
          Measured 5.6 which is somewhat more than what some explosives can do.

          Funnily enough, ground water contamination didn't seem to happen.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          The earthquakes are from the disposal of the frack water (in Ohio) and are not occurring where the fracking itself is taking place (in PA).

          • The draft bill also bans under ground disposal of fracking fluids.

          • by LurkerXXX (667952)

            There's lots of fracking going on on Ohio. Some of it just a few miles down the road from me.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          I cant believe localized earthquakes in places that never have earthquakes isn't enough to sound any sort of alarm.........

          Big shock? You can live in a geologically stable area(like the canadian shield) and still get earthquakes. Imagine that....

      • Now, if only there was scientific evidence that there was a problem with fracking, instead of all of this political pressure because all fossil fuels are evil.

        Because scientific evidence proves that there are no downsides to extracting and burning fossil fuels, and the only arguments against them are politically motivated?

        • by Genda (560240)

          Wow... I'm hoping this is a sarcastic statement... The scientific evidence on global dimming, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, greenhouse gas impact on both animal and plant behavior is simply huge, I mean vast, immense, nearly astronomical! For someone to make this claim, I'd have to believe you either come from a parallel dimension where CO2 is some form of laughing gas, or you are spending way too much time watch Fox News. In any case, the issue is and has always been economics, and only became pol

      • Re:About time.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:04PM (#40035217)

        This isn't science.

        This is engineering implemented by human actors who are both Not rational and Not accountable for their actions due to deregulation of fracking and its exemption from the Clean Water Act.

        Linking anti-fracking with anti-science is dishonest and manipulative of the discussion.

      • WE need scientific evidence, and the people flooding the water table with cocktails of industrial grade chemicals don't?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          His point is that there is no evidences that any of t is getting into the water table. DO you even know what chemicals are in there?

          And Vermont seems to miss the point that the new questions are about horizontal fracking, nit vertical fracking.

          • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:27PM (#40035425) Journal

            His point is that there is no evidences that any of t is getting into the water table.

            Well, there have been cases where the stuff that is taken out does find its way into the drinking water [npr.org] but the common argument is that it was mishandled. The way I see this, in a very unscientific way, is that we're doing something similar to when we dumped mountains of garbage into the Pacific Ocean because, hey let's face it, there's nothing out there and nobody's ever going to be able to find it, right? And now we just sit there and stare at it wondering if anyone's going to do anything about it [seattlepi.com] saying stupid shit like "Well, it doesn't matter if we stop, Japan will keep dumping out there."

            And, you know, this fracking stuff just sounds like more of the same mentality and I feel like it could bite our ass in the future when all of Pennsylvania has pockets of water underneath it that, by themselves pose no risk but added up eventually cause us some discomfort. And yet, all the comments on Slashdot assure me I'm just a fear monger [slashdot.org] so what are you to do? People seem to get upset when I try to place the burden of proof that this will not harm us in anyway on the companies that are going to make billions of dollars off it and the people that still own mineral rights are telling me to shut the hell up at all costs. These natural gas companies sound like really unsavory types [thisamericanlife.org].

            DO you even know what chemicals are in there?

            Now that's a funny question if you're in PA [theatlantic.com] (and I don't mean "ha-ha" funny).

          • by LurkerXXX (667952)

            DO you even know what chemicals are in there?

            No one knows for sure because the oil/gas companies won't tell us what they are pumping into the ground around our well water.

            And if you claim there's no evidence things are getting into the water table, you are ignoring a lot of data out there.

            • by willy_me (212994)

              No one knows for sure because the oil/gas companies won't tell us what they are pumping into the ground around our well water.

              It's steam, pure and simple. Of course, chemicals are a problem but not because the companies are pumping them into the ground water. You see, the steam moves everything around and can dislodge hazardous elements allowing them to enter the ground water. The entire point of fracking is to disrupt the earth thereby unlocking the resources trapped below. It's obviously going to cause problems..

              My sister purchased a property in rural northern Alberta a while back. Before the sale went through she had th

          • Re:About time.. (Score:5, Informative)

            by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:37PM (#40036643) Journal

            His point is that there is no evidences that any of t is getting into the water table

            If it can't possibly affect the water table, why do drilling companies end up shipping water to people such as Mr. Ira Haire [huffingtonpost.com], who live near their fracking sites?

            Why are the horses and pets in Dimock, PA, losing their hair [vanityfair.com]?

            Why is the EPA detecting fracking chemicals in the aquifers of Pavillion, Wyoming [bloomberg.com]?

            How about this Oklahoma Geological Survey report [ou.edu] (PDF) that suggests the recent uptick in earthquakes were caused by fracking?

            What about waste treatment plants that fail to successfully reduce the levels of contaminants [cbslocal.com] before discharging the water into a river?

            How about the President of the Marcellus Shale Coalition admitting that fracking has contaminated the drinking water in PA [cbslocal.com]?

            And what happens to the chemicals *after* they're pulled out of the ground? Sometimes they just dump it, like the case of Josh Foster [wnep.com].

            Fracking can be done right. But it's expensive and requires the cooperation of many disparate companies and enforcement of regulations (or any regulations at all; I'm looking at you, Halliburton Loophole [nytimes.com]). And expensive is not profitable.

          • Re:About time.. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Frangible (881728) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @10:08PM (#40037209)
            Sorry, but the burden of proof is on he who is fracking things up. And a lack of data does not indicate safety, either.

            Before fracking as we know it today was commercially viable, under the "Plowshares" program, nuclear bombs were detonated to stimulate the release of natural gas. They included Project Rio Blanco and Project Rusilon in Colorado, and Project Gasbuggy in New Mexico.

            For the most part, this was not a successful venture. Rio Blanco, a test which used three bombs in close proximity, failed entirely. Rusilon and Gasbuggy succeeded -- Rusilon especially -- but as you probably correctly guessed already, the gas was radioactive and unmarketable.

            But, all the plans required careful designs for preventing the release of contamination to a degree no one has to live up to with modern fracking.

            Now, pull up Google Earth and look at 39.405278, -107.948528 . This is the where the Rusilon device was detonated in Colorado. Now start zooming out and panning around. You will note a great deal of little patches of concrete and dirt in the area. These are natural gas wells. The DOE is still accountable for making sure no radioactive contamination from Rusilon ever gets out.

            So what you see here is someone taking advantage of mysterious, conveniently rich and abundant quantities of natural gas suddenly found in this region in the last 40 years. But none of it's directly contaminated by the Rusilon test. Either the isotopes have decayed or secondary effects from the blast unrelated to contamination resulted in long-term changes to the region. The water quality in the Rusilon area has been extensively monitored, so at least that was not affected here.

            But the point is, I can state things definitely here because the DOE has spent millions watching these sites like a hawk. And even the most minute traces of radioactive contamination can be detected, because it is its own radioactive tracer.

            Can anyone say the same about modern fracking? Who's going to be watching modern fracking sites in 40 years? Who's making sure the secondary long-term effects upon region geology don't negatively impact others?

            I'm not arguing for detonating nukes for natural gas production, I think it's a dumb idea, but these tests have shown long-term effects upon area geology caused by the blast effects alone, which while not negative in these three cases, certainly have the potential to be, no matter what force of nature you're relying on to frack things up for you.

            And then there's the contamination. And you have to use a lot more fracking stuff to stimulate the same amount of natural gas production as a couple kilograms of plutonium. That equates to injecting a lot of fracking crap in the ground. No monitoring, no testing, changes to area geology, no half-life that it will decay in... do you think every fracking site out there is going to sequester things away forever?
      • Yeah, Vermont (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pubwvj (1045960)

        They pump toxic chemicals into the water. Despite how deep they drill, what they pump in percolates up to the water supply. And you want more evidence? You'll never be satisfied, Denier.

        Fact is, by doing what the gas companies doing they are STEALING natural gas from under other people's land and polluting other people's water. They have no right to that.

        They've gotten a free ride for too long. They need to be stopped and they need to pay for the damages they have already done despite being given immunity b

      • Re:About time.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:26PM (#40035419)

        I'm in PA, which is not hostile to fracking.

        In general I am "pro" fracking - even given some health and environmental effects, you have to weigh it against the effects of coal mining and oil drilling.

        My main concern is that the fracking chemicals are considered a trade secret and so are not disclosed. The broader scientific community has no good way of evaluating the chemicals that are frequently used, and I think that does a disservice to everyone involved.

        My other problem is a political one - our state does not make any money when the gas is extracted. I think a fee should be charged and that the money should go to a contingency fund (in case this fracking thing needs cleanup afterall...) that after, say, 30 years could dump into the state treasury. Other money should go into an infrastructure fund - the state should benefit in the long-term from resources extracted inside of it.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        There are usually two kinds of claims about harm.

        One is about pollution of local drinking water. This is unlikely due to depth to where fracking fluid is pumped. It is remotely possible in case of catastrophic failure of piping, but likelihood of it happening is quite remote.

        Other is about local earthquakes. This one is real, observed in several different regions and somewhat of an unknown on both how it happens and how to avoid it. Until this one is solved, I would consider avoiding fracking in the areas w

    • A common sense idea made law that goes against the big oil and gas industries?

      Were common sense involved all involve would realize how far apart gas deposits are from water tables, and never have passed such a law.

      It's really sad that these days you find Slashdot filled with people so full of fear, and unwilling to look further for the truth of things.

      In reality Fracking doesn't have any of the evils alarmists like you are painting it with - for example the drinking water issues you note about probably are

      • by geekoid (135745)

        However, it does seem like, at this point, the horizontal fracking is attributing to a significant increase in the amount of earthquake a region has.

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:23PM (#40035379)

        You would think that right?

        I have experience with fraccing, and have been on several very deep wells with huge fracs (or so I thought).

        Logically, by most definitions of fraccing it is nigh impossible for the water table to be affected by activity thousands of feet below. If it is being affected it is because of shoddy casing (the cement lined straw that goes through all the formations), which has nothing to do with fraccing.

        Shoddy casing is surprisingly more common than I thought. Fraccing puts a lot of strain on casing anyways. A bad casing job will absolutely have problems if it is exposed to the water table.

        Several months ago a poster pointed me to an article about a different method of fraccing that is being used in these wells. For the life of me I wish I had it book marked. It described a fraccing process that I could only say was irresponsible at best. It was *not* a simple one time frac thousands of feet below water tables.

        The method described in this article could easily affect water tables in a short period of time.

        When I first heard about the controversy over fraccing I thought exactly as you did. It was ridiculous. Basic knowledge about fraccing precludes such possibilities.

        I tried looking up the article in Google again... and lo and behold... 4 advertisements. 2 pro, and 2 con. Can't find anything about this method of fraccing anymore. Hmmmm....

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        And whose fault is that? How many Superfund sites did We, The People get stuck with again? these corps have NO problem making shitpiles of money off these resources but when its found that they have caused serious harm they disappear and leave that to the people. Hell the NG wildcatters in my state have have already set up their exit strategies if something horrible happens by having ALL the assets and mineral rights owned by a shell corp they control while the public facing corp mearly LEASES the rights an

    • by hashish (62254)

      Fracking is not the elephant in the room. The unknown effects of de-pressuring the gas seams and poorly completed wells are bigger issues that the fracking process.

      • Re:About time.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by phrostie (121428) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:39PM (#40035565)

        you're closer than most, thank you.

        rather than taking the Luddism approach they should first educate the people about the difference between fracking and disposal wells. they are not the same.
        the media never got it right, and they passed that ignorance on to the alarmist, who ran with it.

        when problems happen it's not the fracking, but the completion of the well that was done wrong. that's when you cement the steel casing(pipe) to isolate your production zone from the other formations your drilled thru. they should be passing laws to require more strict control durring this phase.
        they should be hiring and training more inspectors.
        that they aren't paying attention until several steps later tells me this probably isn't regulated at all in these states.

        • by dr2chase (653338)

          Sure, but one way to get rid of the crappy disposal wells, is to ban fracking -- no fracking, nothing to dispose. If the fracking industry now wants to whine that the wrong thing is being regulated, who the hell's fault is that? They could have gotten ahead of this and asked the state legislatures to enshrine their best practices into law, but they did not. They could even do that now. Instead, they only complain that the wrong thing is being regulated. This is not signalling that they intend to do the

  • by Lavithas (1549675) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:43PM (#40034991)
    I hope I wasn't the only one who immediately thought of Battlestar Galactica.
  • by ravenscar (1662985) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:45PM (#40035023)

    From this wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shale_gas_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org], it would appear that VT doesn't have any natural gas reserves to speak of. That makes it easy for them to ban fracking - there isn't any revenue/economy to be built on that effort anyhow. Perhaps Nebraska can outlaw fishing for Chilean Sea Bass. States with large reserves will likely have a harder time taking that leap.

    Note - VT is close to a large reserve so I suppose I could be wrong about how much gas is easily accessible from that location.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      If Monsanto and Cargill keep messing with GM corn, there may be Chilean Sea Bass growing on corn stalks in Nebraska!
    • by ediron2 (246908) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:18PM (#40035327) Journal

      I'm not a geologist, but the quantity of slate and shale I saw hiking the green mountains makes me doubt there's nothing there.

      And going at the question another way, the Dakotas were hardly hotbeds of petrol -- natural gas and shale oil projects are huge employers in NoDak right now. Idaho's never been good for coal or petroleum, but gas is interesting enough to someone with deep pockets to cause preliminary drilling near Payette (if memory serves). And Idaho saw LOTS of legislative fury as the state preemptively denied counties/towns any control over fracking. Yep, politicians that never shut up about local control all lined up and voted to completely deny any local control on fracking chemicals or processes.

      Something stinks, and I'm betting it's energy-extractive industry working fast and quiet before revealing their hand.

      Looking forward to those cornfed seabass; YUM.

    • by Tailhook (98486)

      The parent is dead on correct. Vermont pulls most of it's power from a nuclear reactor that is slated to be shut down. They use almost no natural gas; it doesn't even register as a fuel source for electric power generation in Vermont according to the feds [energy.gov].

      Vermont will replace the nuke with Canadian hydro power. They neatly re-classified [towardfreedom.com] huge hydro power operations ( > 200MW ) as 'renewable' so they can sign a big contracts with Hydro Quebec.

      They're just trading salmon habitat in Canada for the consequ

      • Hydro power is renewable. It does have certain adverse effects on the environment, such as those that you've mentioned, but those effects do not preclude you from keeping using it essentially indefinitely if you're living to live with those effects.

  • Frack those fracking frackers!
  • Idiots (Score:5, Informative)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:02PM (#40035199) Homepage

    No fracking will be coming here, due to our geology [nashuatelegraph.com]. But don't let that stop grandstanding politicians from doing something to solve a problem, even one that doesn't exist.

  • by demonbug (309515) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @06:02PM (#40035201) Journal

    The article doesn't go into much detail on what specifically is banned. We sometimes use hydraulic and/or pneumatic fracturing for environmental cleanups; of course, only water (or air/nitrogen) are used - generally pretty shallow and only trying to increase transmissivity of sediments, not break up rock. Just wondering if they actually put some thought into it, or just knee-jerk banned all hydraulic fracturing. The technology does have uses besides breaking up shale to extract natural gas.

    • (Keep in mind I'm neither a lawyer nor expert on this stuff though) In the introduced legislation (H 464) that I linked to in the summary (and, mind you, that could well have changed in the process to get it signed), they use the phrase "for conventional or enhanced recovery of natural gas or oil" at the end of any statement banning permits being issued. Like this one:

      To ensure that the state’s underground sources of drinking water remain free of contamination and to formalize ANR’s interpretation of the state underground injection control rules, the general assembly should prohibit the issuance of a permit for the discharge to an underground injection well for conventional or enhanced recovery of natural gas or oil.

      So I would guess for environmental cleanups you might be okay but, of course, you would most likely need a discharge permit to ensure that y

    • The article doesn't go into much detail on what specifically is banned.

      Fracking related to oil and natural gas exploration. The draft bill (PDF linked in summary) states as much.

  • Some years back a drilling company drilled some dry holes in the Lake Champlain Valley ...
  • America will sputter its last gasp under the alarmist jackboots of enviro-fascists who want us all to live in caves!

    Why isn't anyone taking me seriously? Guys?

  • Vermont bans something that doesn't, and won't, happen in their state? Next, Montana will be banning professional sports, Nebraska will ban surfing, and Utah will ban dancing and rock and roll.
  • http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/geo/oilandgas.htm [state.vt.us]

    Vermont doesn't fucking have anything worth cracking, unless it's water Wells. What douchebag politicians. My dad has been cracking wells since I was a baby and it has never polluted anything. OK I get hating energy production, but hating fracking is moronic.

  • Frack.

  • In a surprise move, Vermont also banned toasters, leaving people baffled.
  • by nurb432 (527695)

    Just when we had another good homegrown energy source option. I guess they had to stop it somehow, typical shortsighted idiots.

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