Archive for the 'coal' Category

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Fracking, Coal and Nukes Wreak Havoc on Fresh Water Supplies

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“The undisputed champion of the current U.S. energy debate is  hydraulic fracturing or fracking. As conventional oil and gas resources become more difficult to come by, energy companies now have to dig deeper than ever to unearth the rich deposits of fossil fuels still available. In order to fracture shale formations that often exist thousands of feet below the surface, drillers use anywhere from 1 to 8 million gallons of water per frack. A well may be fracked up to 18 times. The water, usually drawn from natural resources such as lakes and rivers, is unrecoverable once it’s blasted into the earth, and  out of the water cycle for good.

Even if there wasn’t a problem with  water contamination , deforestation, and noise and  air pollution from fracking, the pro-drilling agenda would still be hit hard with an insurmountable roadblock—access to abundant water.

On June 28, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission  suspended 37 separately approved water withdrawals for fracking due to localized streamflow levels dropping throughout the Susquehanna Basin in Pennsylvania and New York.

In Kansas, oil and gas drillers are running out of options due to the tenth driest July on record. Companies with dwindling access to water resources are resorting to paying farmers for what water they have left, or more, drilling their own water wells, digging ponds next to streams or trucking in water from places as far way as Pennsylvania, according to  CNN Money .”

Read more: Alternet


The Hidden Water Cost Of South African Coal Addiction

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“It’s a little known fact that South Africa has some of the best quality water in the world for those who have access to it and can afford to pay for it. But the country is facing a looming water conflict and coal is right in the middle of it.

The quantity of water available for each person in the world is declining steadily. Nowhere is the rate of decline as dramatic as we continue to see in Africa. Chillingly, the estimates are that South Africa won’t be able to meet its water demand by as early as 2030.

In the face of this kind of future, surely every effort to avoid this impending crisis must be made? But that is simply not the case.

Two new mega coal-fired power stations (Medupi and Kusile) are being built by the national utility, Eskom and new coal mines are being approved without a clear view of what the water impacts are likely to be, or where the water will come from.

The reality is that local communities may well lose their water rights to make way for mines. Kusile will use 173 times more water than wind power would use per unit of electricity produced and Eskom gets a guaranteed supply of water, no matter what.”

Read more: SteelGuru

In Chile, A Conflict Between Clean Energy And Pristine Wilderness

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“Five dams have been proposed in the isolated region of Aysén in southern Chile: three on the wild, uninhabited Pascua River, and two on the Baker. The most voluminous river in Chile, the Baker (BAH-ker) is the thundering, silvery blue heart of Aysén, and the core of the region’s history and lore. The $10 billion project, proposed by private, multi-national developer HidroAysén, will generate a whopping 2,750 megawatts, energy that will be shipped north to power Chile’s growing population center via a 1,400-mile transmission line. “In 10 years, we have to double our energy production,” says María Irene Soto, HidroAysén’s communications chief.

Chile’s neoliberal economic model demands a high rate of economic growth, “and energy is the basis of growth,” says Soto. The country imports approximately 75% of its energy in the form of coal, diesel, and natural gas; advocates see the dams in Aysén as the solution to a cleaner and cheaper energy mix. Detractors insist that mega-dams are “dinosaur” technology, and that the increase in energy production is not targeted at the private sector at all, but rather mines in Chile’s northern desert; that the environmental damage will just beget more environmental damage.”

Read more: Co.Exist


China’s Looming Conflict Between Energy and Water

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“Yet, in expanding coal-industry bases in west China, one crucial challenge has so far received far less attention than it deserves: Coal-based industries are massively water-intensive (in fact, coal mining, coal-based power generation, and petrochemical processing together account for more than one-fifth of China’s total water usage). And much of western China is already short on water — think Gobi desert and camels, as opposed to Pearl River Delta rice paddies. “The west of China is an environmentally fragile area,” says Professor Wang Xiujun, who conducts research on climate and precipitation jointly for the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and the University of Maryland. “There’s not much water to spare.”

When new industry comes to town, water is secured by tapping local lakes and rivers, pumping groundwater, and constructing reservoirs to capture rainwater, which diverts its normal flow and reabsorption into the soil. All three have unintended environmental consequences, says Sun Qingwei, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace China and a former government scientist based in western Gansu province.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360