Monday, May 4, 2009

Dead Cows and Regulations

The Shreveport Times published an editorial this weekend that generally urged local communities in north Louisiana to be thoughtful in developing and implementing regulations to best mitigate the externalities associated with drilling. The impetus for the editorial was the mysterious death of 17 cows in Caddo Parish. While it's not known at this time if it was related directly to drilling, it is certainly possible.

The Shreveport situation is not nearly as severe as the battle that is brewing in the Marcellus Shale over groundwater. The issue there is contamination rather than depletion. In reading about the Marcellus play, I think back to an earlier post on the mechanics of horizontal drilling and how the process attempts to seal the drilling from the groundwater. Let's hope that works.

But the undeniable fact is that drilling is an industrial process and there are many things that can go wrong, impacting everything from the physical environment (water, animals, landscape, etc.) to the human environment (noise, light, smells, toxins, etc.), all of which can lead to alienated and generally pissed-off surface owners. If the Haynesville Shale is to be the golden goose for the region, it is better to address and minimize the externalities on the front end rather than try clean up the mess later.

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