Blog Archive

Saturday, November 30, 2013

More fracking news from rjs

Environmentalists Decry California’s Fracking Rules -- Amid intense rivalry between the oil industry and the agricultural industry, regulators in the state of California have released long-awaited proposed rules on fracking, inviting acceptance from oil and gas companies and harsh criticism from environmentalists. The draft rules require fracking to undergo strict monitoring and have earned criticism from both sides of the fence in California.  According to the new regulations, state environmental officials will be teamed up with air quality regulators and regional water boards to track potential problems related to fracking operations, and wells undergoing hydraulic fracturing will be monitored both before and after the process. Oil companies will be required to implement groundwater testing and to notify landowners before fracking procedures begin. The regulations also come with disclosure obligations regarding the chemicals used in fracking. Companies would also be required to disclose the chemicals used and acquire permits before they start the fracking. The rules are set to take effect in 2015, with emergency regulations that companies will have to comply with beginning in January 2014.

Fracking Industry Dumping Toxic Wastewater Into California Coastal Waters - In a letter delivered as commissioners meet this week in Newport Beach, CA, the center says hundreds of recently revealed frack jobs in state waters violate the Coastal Act. Some oil platforms are discharging wastewater directly into the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a government document. “The Coastal Commission has the right and the responsibility to step in when oil companies use dangerous chemicals to frack California’s ocean waters,” said Emily Jeffers, a center attorney. “Our beaches, our wildlife and our entire coastal ecosystem are at risk until the state reins in this dangerous practice.” After noting seven risky chemicals used by oil companies fracking in California waters, the letter describes the duties of the Coastal Commission to protect wildlife, marine fisheries and the environment. “Because the risk of many of the harms from fracking cannot be eliminated, a complete prohibition on fracking is the best way to protect human health and the environment,” the letter says. At minimum, the Coastal Commission must take action under the Coastal Act to regulate the practice, including requiring oil and gas operators fracking in state waters to obtain a coastal development permit.

Coast Guard To Approve Barging Hazardous Fracking Waste On Rivers - The Coast Guard is moving forward with a proposal that would allow barges to transport large amounts of hazardous and radioactive wastewater from fracking operations on America’s major rivers. After studying the issue at the request of the fracking industry, the Coast Guard recently released proposed regulations for fracking wastewater barging. A public comment period on the proposal runs through November 29, 2013.  Wastewater from the Marcellus Shale, a heavily fracked formation under much of Pennsylvania, is known to contain elevated levels of radium and other radioactive elements. The fracking industry has been shipping the wastewater from fracking fields in the Marcellus region for disposal in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana by truck and rail. And now the industry wants to barge large quantities of wastewater on major rivers such as the Ohio and Mississippi. Fracking and disposal firms claim that barges have a much better safety record than trucks and other methods of waste transport, but environmentalists fear that a leak or spill on a major waterway could contaminate drinking water supplies for millions of people. Under the proposal, the Coast Guard can require barge owners to test wastewater to identify hazardous chemicals and determine if the waste meets specific radiation limits. Operators must keep records of the analysis for two years and make them available to the Coast Guard upon request. Information from hazardous-material reports would be available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act, but the identities of “proprietary” chemicals would not be available to the public.

Breaking Down The New Proposed Fracking Rules Released In Illinois And California - The states of California and Illinois both released proposed rules for fracking on Friday, which received general criticism from environmental groups and measured acceptance from the oil and gas industry. The California law says that the state must conduct a scientific study of the benefits and the drawbacks of fracking before a ban on the practice could be considered. Neither California nor Illinois had regulations on fracking before this law was enacted, which is true for most states across the United States. North Carolina, Maryland, and New York have issued effective moratoria on fracking in their states — California and Illinois are the first states to allow the practice to continue in their states but regulate it to any serious degree. The rules both largely address water usage and pollution. The Illinois law required the water that comes back up from fracked wells to be held in tanks instead of open pits — except in case of emergencies. But the rules allow enough leeway in how companies can define that emergency that it could function as a “gaping loophole” that makes open pit wastewater storage a regular practice, according to NRDC’s Senior Attorney Ann Alexander. The rules also require companies to test water before, during, and after drilling, while companies will be liable for any contamination that takes place due to drilling. Drillers must disclose chemicals used in the practice both before and after drilling, as well as how the well will be drilled, how much fluid will be used and at what pressure, and how water will be obtained, used, and disposed. The California rules require monitoring of well water before and after companies drill, which would be managed by the Department of Conservation, the Air Resources Board, and regional water boards. The rules also mandate that names and concentrations of the chemicals used in fracking be made public. These chemicals are used to lubricate the process, kill bacteria, and facilitate the grains of sand into the fractures in the shale rock. Fracking chemicals are exempt from federal water disclosure laws following passage of the 2005 Energy law.

House To Vote On Bill That Would Impose $5,000 Fee For Protesting Drilling Projects -- The House is likely to vote on a number of GOP bills this week related to the oil and gas industry, arguably the most sweeping of which is the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), is broad legislation designed to make it much easier for oil and gas companies to obtain permission to drill on public lands. If signed into law, the legislation would automatically approve onshore drilling permits if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days.  If an individual does not like a proposed drilling project and wanted to oppose it, he or she would have to pay a $5,000 fee to file an official protest. In addition, Lamborn’s proposed bill would direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, a controversial type of production that has been largely banned by the United States since President Herbert Hoover prohibited the leasing of federal lands for oil shale. Oil shale — which should not be confused with the more common “shale oil” — is a type of rock that needs to be heated to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil, which then has to be refined.  The Natural Resources Defense Council calls it “the dirtiest fuel on the planet.” Under Lamborn’s bill, the government would be required to offer 10 leases on federal lands in 2014 for oil shale research and demonstration projects. And before 2016, the government must hold at least 5 commercial lease sales of federal lands for oil shale development, each no less than 25,000 acres.

House Plans To Roadblock Federal Fracking Oversight   - The federal government would have no authority over hydraulic fracturing in states that have their own fracking laws, if legislation set to be heard by the House this week is passed into law.  On Wednesday, lawmakers will consider HR 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act. Proposed by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), the bill would made fracking a states-only game. Unless a state has not passed any laws regarding fracking, the U.S. Department of Interior — the agency responsible for conservation of most federal land and natural resources — would have no say in whether companies disclose chemicals in fracking fluid; whether water that comes back up from fracked wells is polluted; or whether people can request public hearings on fracking permit applications.  Top climate scientists recently sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) to issue a fracking moratorium because of carbon emissions, groundwater contamination, and the massive amount of water required to frack a well. Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Watch once described the process as “a giant pipe bomb four or five miles underground.” Rep. Flores introduced the bill in July as an attempt to avoid draft regulations from the Obama regulations to regulate the fracking performed by the oil and gas industry. Those rules would require companies to make sure that fluids from the fracking process aren’t contaminating groundwater, and mandates that those companies have management plans for large volumes of wastewater that flows back to the surface throughout the fracking process.

House Passes Bills To Fine Drilling Protesters, Squelch Federal Oversight Of Fracking - The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed two bills that would, among other things, impose a $5,000 filing fee on any individual that wanted to file an official protest of a drilling project, and take authority away from the federal government to regulate hydraulic fracturing in states that already have their own fracking rules.   H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, provides that onshore drilling permits would be automatically approved if the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) failed to act on them in 60 days. The bill would also impose a $5,000 fee on anyone who wanted to file an official protest of a proposed drilling project, and would direct the DOI to begin commercial leasing for the development of oil shale, a controversial type of production that has been largely banned by the United States. Oil shale — which should not be confused with the more common “shale oil” — is a type of rock that needs to be heated to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce crude oil, which then has to be refined. H.R. 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, would made fracking a states-only game. Unless a state has not passed any laws regarding fracking, the U.S. Department of Interior — the agency responsible for conservation of most federal land and natural resources — would have no say in whether companies disclose chemicals in fracking fluid; whether water that comes back up from fracked wells is polluted; or whether people can request public hearings on fracking permit applications.

Bakken operator releases fracking documentary: ‘Down Deep: Unearthing the Truth About Hydraulic Fracturing’ - From The Bakken MagazineWSX, a Tulsa-based energy company specializing in the production of natural gas, has launched a website to help clear up controversy and misinformation surrounding hydraulic fracturing and the process of exploring for, drilling and producing oil and natural gas. The site Downdeep serves as a platform for delivering a 30-minute video titled, “Down Deep: Unearthing the Truth About Hydraulic Fracturing” and features conversations with experts, landowners, neighbors and WPX executives.Using genuine facts and interviews with third parties, Down Deep takes on the dishonest politicking and misguided environmentalism that has become entangled with the public’s image of “fracking.” WPX Energy believes U.S. citizens all have the right to be informed of the facts surrounding any vital issue—and the right to be involved in the decisions that shape America’s energy future. You can watch the documentary Down Deep above.

Steingraber: Setting the Record Straight on Fracking - Earlier this month, just days after voters in Colorado and Ohio went to the ballot box to protect their communities against the demonstrably dangerous oil and gas drilling process known as fracking, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell delivered a proclamation that only served to highlight just how much misguided faith the Obama administration has invested in the oil and gas industry, and its quest to keep the American public hooked on fossil fuels. Jewell cited what she called “confusion” in the fracking debate, implored the oil and gas industry to clear up “misinformation,” about the process, and asserted that industry should “make sure the public understands … why it’s safe.” 

But the only thing confusing about the fracking debate is why this administration continues to embrace the practice in the face of scientific evidence that fracking and associated activities contaminates water, air, communities and the climate. Hardly a month goes by without the release of a new study that highlights one aspect or another of the harmful effects of fracking. Given these headlines, it’s no wonder that despite the untold millions of dollars being spent by the oil and gas industry to promote the process, Americans are increasingly rejecting it. A recent poll released by the Pew Research Group finds that opposition to fracking has grown significantly across most regions and demographic groups. Overall, 49% are opposed to increased fracking, up from 38% six months ago, while only 44% support it. Americans are turning against this practice not because they are confused, but because the evidence of fracking’s harmful effects continues to swell. In just the last few months, a Duke University study linked fracking to elevated levels of methane, ethane and propane in groundwater; a study out of University of Texas, Arlington found high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in samples from water wells near active natural gas wells; and last month, a study in Environmental Science and Technology found concentrations of radium in the Allegheny River 200 times normal levels, as a result of fracking waste disposal.

Schilling Shilling -- Kunstler - Such is the power of wishful thinking that a set of fool-making memes now pulses through the word-clouds of financial chatter in America spreading the false good cheer that our economic troubles are behind us and pimping for perpetual motion in wealth expansion. A poster boy for this bundle of falsehoods is financial analyst A. Gary Schilling. Just last week, he was talking out of his cloacal vent about US “energy independence” and “the manufacturing renaissance” that will allow this country to magically decouple from the compressive contraction driving the rest of the world. Shilling is among the growing chorus of cheerleaders who believe that the shale oil and gas boom will make it possible for so-called “consumers” (what we foolishly call ourselves) to keep driving to Wal-Mart forever — which is the master wish behind all the current fantasies of endless expansion. That idea is going to leave a lot of people disappointed and put the nation further behind in the necessary reorganization of all the key systems that support everyday civilized life, namely: food production, commerce, transport, and the management of capital. Here’s what’s actually going to happen with shale oil and gas. Best case scenario: shale oil production rises for three more years to about 2.3 million barrels a day and then crashes so quickly that in 10 years the shale oil industry ceases to exist. A less rosy forecast would admit that the exorbitant costs of drilling-and-fracking will not find the necessary capital to even take the industry that far. Rather, dwindling capital will see the shocking decline rates of shale wells (commonly 50 percent the first year and double digits the following) and will run shrieking for other places to hide.  Contrary to Gary Schilling’s blather, America is not practicing “energy conservation.” Rather, an economy engineered strictly to run on cheap oil has gotten crushed by oil that is not cheap. Does Schilling believe, for example, that American suburbia works just as well on $90-a-barrel oil as it did on $11-a-barrel oil, or that it has a future as the basic armature of daily life, or that we are doing anything meaningful to alter the burdens of living this way? My guess is that he has never thought about it.

The Coming Bust Of The Great Bakken Oil Field - There has been a lot of Fanfare on the huge increase of oil production coming from the Bakken Field located in North Dakota.  There are many stories of people moving to the state to take advantage of the new OIL BOOM.  It seems like everyone is going there to start a new life and make it rich in one of the coldest areas in the United States. However, with all BOOMS, comes the inevitable BUST.  The EIA – U.S. Energy Information Agency is now putting out data on the individual shale oil and gas plays in the country.  While the American public and world have been made aware of the huge increase in oil production coming from the Bakken, few are privy to the dark side of the equation.  The Bakken’s daily decline rate from their existing oil wells has reached a staggering 63,000 barrels a day.This means, that every day the Bakken pumps oil, its existing wells are now declining 63,000 (bd) barrels a day.   As you can see from the chart above, the rate really started to decline in a big way after 2011 when the average daily decline was only 20,000 bd.  In less than 3 years, this rate has increased more than 3 times (63,000 bd). This next chart gives us the total as well as net oil production increases month over month:
What Happens after the U.S. Oil Boom Goes Bust? - The Bakken crude oil formation spread out over North Dakota and Montana should give up more than 1 million barrels of oil per day next month. North Dakota is already the second-largest crude oil producer in the country behind Texas. A string of reports out last week said oil production in states like North Dakota is putting a dent in OPEC's market influence. A break from the grips of Middle East oil producers was put on the U.S. table 40 years ago and politicians and pundits alike are heralding recent developments as an energy revolution. What develops after the revolution is over, however, is something policymakers may have to consider in the not too distant future. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said it estimated crude oil production from the Bakken region of North Dakota will top 1 million bpd in December. That region, the heart of the shale revolution in the United States, now accounts for more than 10% of total U.S. oil production. Last week, the EIA said oil production from states like North Dakota helped push net aggregate crude oil imports for October to their lowest level in more than 20 years.  Last week, the International Energy Agency said crude oil production from North America is reducing the role of OPEC on the international stage. OPEC acknowledged the influence of North American crude oil production in its own reporting, saying its share of crude oil production in global production declined slightly to 33.1%. The IEA said, however, that the Middle East is "the only large source of low-cost oil [and] takes back its role as a key source of oil supply growth from the mid-2020s."

Marcin Korolec, chair of the U.N. climate change talks in Warsaw, fired by Polish government for not speeding up regulations for expanding fracking - Marcin Korolec, chair of the U.N. climate change talks in Warsaw that run through Friday, was sacked from his job as Polish environment minister on Wednesday, reportedly for failing to speed up regulations to expand shale gas exploitation. Expectations of progress were already low for the United Nations climate conference in Poland this week, but few delegates were probably prepared for the latest stumbles.Ten days into Poland's role as host of the two-week U.N. gathering, Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday fired the conference president, Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, Polskie Radio and other national media reported. Tusk clarified later that Korolec would continue representing Poland in the climate talks through the country's stint in the rotating presidency that runs through the end of 2014. But climate change activists warned that Korolec's loss of government backing undermines his clout in pressing delegates to commit to emissions reductions. "Korolec will have no real political power." Worse, said Greenpeace Poland director Maciej Muskat, Tusk said he was replacing Korolec to speed up development of Poland's shale gas industry.  "This is nuts," Muskat said. "Furthermore, justifying the change of minister by the need to push the exploitation of another fossil fuel in Poland is beyond words."

Botswana Secretly Fracks World’s Second-Largest Wildlife Preserve After Kicking Out The San People - Botswana has been getting fracked for years without the public knowing, even in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, ancestral home of the San people and second-largest wildlife reserve in the world.  The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)’s film, The High Cost Of Cheap Gas, contains footage of fracking equipment and energy company employees describing their work as “fracking.” A news release on Kalahari Energy’s website talks about hydraulic fracturing operations in Botswana that began as early as 2009 to extract coal bed methane. And a 2005 post on the site found by the Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis talks about the construction of water evaporation ponds “for hydraulic fracturing of the wells.” A government map of oil and gas concessions indicate the coal bed methane concessions exist in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and the Chobe National Park, home to the world’s largest herd of elephants. Keikabile Mogodu, a San rights advocate, told The Guardian that nobody had heard anything from companies or the government about fracking on San land. “We are in the dark,” he said. “If fracking is done in the areas where people are consultations should be done.” Botswana President Ian Khama’s government has been fighting in court to keep San people from returning to their land, and it seems this may be why.

Toxic Lakes From Tar-Sand Projects Planned for Alberta - The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliateImperial Oil Ltd. are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen -- a highly viscous form of petroleum -- into diesel and other fuels. By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn an area the size of New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet (3.4 meters) deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy. To tackle the problem, energy companies have drawn up plans that would transform northern Alberta into the largest man-made lake district on Earth. Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water.  Syncrude began work this summer on Base Mine Lake, which when complete will measure 2,000 acres. It says the reservoir will eventually replicate a natural habitat, complete with fish and waterfowl. As many as 30 so-called end-pit lakes are planned, according to Alberta’s Cumulative Environment Management Association, a private-public partnership.  

& here's a story about a victory by wind opponents for tom & diane; France sounds worse than Auburn Twsp:

French Wind Critics Get Turbines Removed, Leaving Country More Reliant On Nuclear - Earlier this month, judges in Montpellier, France ordered French energy company GDF Suez to take down 10 wind turbines near the city of Arras in Northern France. The decision comes after a six-year legal struggle between GDF and a local couple who claimed the 10 turbines, installed back in 2007, destroyed the character of their 17th century chateau. According to the French court, the clean energy generators were guilty of causing the “total disfigurement of a bucolic and rustic landscape.” GDF Suez was given four months to dismantle the turbines or face a fine of €500 per day per turbine. GDF was also ordered to pay the chateau owners €37,500 in damages. The wind turbines had been providing electricity to over half of the 40,000 residents of Arras. The judges emphasized that the ruling was not because of actual demonstrated lost property value, but because of things like the “unsightliness of white and red flashing lights.”  In a statement, the couple’s lawyer, Philippe Bodereau, said: “This decision is very important because it demonstrates to all those who put up with windfarms with a feeling of powerlessness that the battle is not in vain, even against big groups, or authorities who deliver building permits, that legal options are available to everyone, that we have a right to live in peace and that people can do other things than suffer.”

No comments: