Category of Protective Zoning: Specific Aspects of Fracking Infrastructure e.g. Pipelines, Compressor Stations, Wastewater Facilities

Generally, fracking gas wells and all related activity is addressed within one ordinance broadly titled “Oil & Gas”. But sometimes certain parts of that activity is addressed in an ordinance that is specifically dedicated to it.  For example there may be an ordinance titled “compressor stations,” or “oil and gas pipeline facilities” that is dedicated entirely to that aspect of fracked gas infrastructure.

What It Means

As with most of the categories of protective zoning in this resource, the language can either hurt or help, depending on how they are written.  This can be particularly true for these types of ordinances which address certain aspects specifically. For example, a community may adopt an ordinance that allows for that activity more broadly than it was before in order to attract certain activity because they view it as beneficial to their local economy.

However, if a community adopts a pipeline ordinance that goes into detail about requirements that are specific to the nature of, for example, fracked-gas transmission lines, then it would likely be very helpful in keeping the community more protected.

Type of Protective Language: Seismic Testing Requirements

Before drilling begins, gas companies may conduct seismic testing.  They do this in order to determine how much natural gas is below the earth and get a better picture of where exactly it is located.  Seismic testing is usually done by sending sound waves, in the form of very strong vibrations or even explosions from dynamite, into the ground and recording the information that is bounced back to the tester’s equipment.  This is similar to the way that sonar detection functions.

As you may imagine, this involves powerful vibrations which can be in incredibly intrusive.  Some localities have adopted ordinances that specifically address the procedure for seismic testing to limit the potential for harm.

Type of Protective Language: Pipeline Ordinances

A large portion of fracked gas is transported through underground pipelines.  Construction and maintenance of these larger pipelines, often called, transmission lines, can be costly, time-consuming, and potentially very dangerous. Some communities have adopted fracked gas pipeline ordinances to help limit the risks.  

Type of Protective Language: Injection Well Ordinances

Injection wells are an underground "well" that gas companies use to store contaminated fracking waste.  They have been identified by the scientific community as a cause of earthquakes and have the potential to contaminate nearby water supplies. For this reason, some communities have adopted injection well ordinances.

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