Fracking Threatens Scenic Rivers in the Florida Parishes

Frack well w impound.jpg

Oil and gas development companies are proposing to drill wells and conduct fracking operations in the Tuscalusa Shale in East Feliciana, St. Helena, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany Parishes in eastern Louisiana. One of the major impacts of the proposed fracking for natural gas and oil will be the huge volumes of water required. Each fracking operation can have three, five or up to ten or twelve wells and can use anywhere from 3 to 8 million gallons of fresh water. The water for each well may be mixed with 60 to 160 tons of chemicals used to facilitate the fracking process. Much of the water comes back out as toxic wastewater that requires disposal. The entire quantity of water becomes unusable for any other human activity and is lost to the hydrologic cycle forever.

One company, Helis Oil and Gas Co has said it has leases on approximately 60,000 acres in St. Tammany Parish for installation of fracking wells. Two other companies, Goodrich Petroleum Co. and Comstock Resources have recently filed for five permits to withdraw large quantities of water from three Louisiana Scenic Rivers. The permit applications are shown in the table below. The total volume of proposed water withdrawal so far is 75 million gallons and this is just the start of the fracking boom in eastern Louisiana.

Table of applications for Louisiana Scenic River permits for water withdrawals for fracking as of July 1, 2014

Permit App#

Applicant

Stream

Parish

Public Comment Deadline

SRP #906

Comstock Resources, Inc.

Amite River

East Feliciana Parish

To Be Determined

SRP #904

Comstock Resources, Inc.

Amite River

East Feliciana Parish

To Be Determined

SRP #903

Comstock Resources, Inc.

Tickfaw River

St. Helena Parish

July 20, 2014

SRP #902

Comstock Resources, Inc.

Tickfaw River

St. Helena Parish

July 18, 2014

SRP #896

Goodrich Petroleum Company

Tangipahoa River

Tangipahoa Parish

To Be Determined

Fracking for oil and gas in Louisiana is pitifully under regulated such that no public notice about a proposed well site and no public comment is required or provided for by the State. Only in the case of our designated Louisiana Scenic Rivers is a permit required for activities including water withdrawals. Only through the requirements of our Louisiana Scenic Rivers program, established back in 1970 under the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act, with the efforts of Sierra Club and interested local groups, do we have any notice at all about the intentions of the frackers as they affect some of our state’s most valuable surface waters.

Our concern is what happens to our Scenic Rivers when more and more wells come in to the Florida Parishes in Eastern Louisiana for fracking in the Tuscaloosa shale. We expect we may see significant effects on fisheries, wildlife, scenic values and water quality in our Scenic Rivers. These will be the consequences of water depletions, and disturbances of areas near the streams including pumping equipment, pipelines, damaged streamside vegetation, water turbidity and noise. Standard industry and state government practice will be to consider each proposed withdrawal as an isolated permit action without consideration of the cumulative effects of numerous water withdrawals on our Scenic Rivers. Development of all 7-9 Billion barrels of oil estimated to be in the Tuscaloosa Shale would suck all the water out of rivers and streams in the area. At what point will state regulators decide that enough is enough?

Residents in the Florida Parishes are justifiably worried about what will happen to their communities and property values as the fracking boom accelerates. A number of public meetings have been held at which overwhelming opposition to the fracking was expressed. Sierra Club Delta Chapter has asked for public hearings on the proposed permits for water withdrawals and we have been assured that public hearings will be scheduled. We are asking everyone to submit comments in opposition to the proposed permits. Comment periods for the proposed permits for water withdrawals from Scenic Rivers are currently open and are shown in the table above.

Comments should list which permit application # you are commenting on. Comments can be sent to Keith Cascio, Scenic Rivers Program Administrator, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70898. The phone number for further information is 318-343-4046. Comments can also be emailed to Mr. Cascio at kcascio@wlf.la.gov

You can use the attached sample letter below as your template for comments. Feel free to edit the letter and add in your own comments or just use it as is. You can copy the letter and paste into an email or you can save the letter to your own computer for you to edit and send as an attachment to an email to LDWF. The sample letter refers to comments on permit numbers 902 and 903. If you can send these comments by the July 18 deadline this letter will work for both permits. 

Thanks for your help on this,

Woody Martin. 

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