Archive for the 'fracking' Category

Page 2 of 10

Noam Chomsky slams Canada’s shale gas energy plans

Canada’s rush to exploit its tar sands and shale gas resources will destroy the environment “as fast as possible”, according to Noam Chomsky.

In an interview with the Guardian, the linguist and author criticized the energy policies of the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He said: “It means taking every drop of hydrocarbon out of the ground, whether it’s shale gas in New Brunswick or tar sands in Alberta and trying to destroy the environment as fast as possible, with barely a question raised about what the world will look like as a result.”

But indigenous peoples in Canada blocking fossil fuel developments are taking the lead in combatting climate change, he said. Chomsky highlighted indigenous opposition to the Alberta tar sands, the oil deposit that is Canada’s fastest growing source of carbon emissions and is slated for massive expansion despite attracting international criticism and protest.

Read More: The Guardian

 

New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“A recently published  study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation  recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed  elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency  later abandoned.

ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. (Fontenot and another author, Laura Hunt, work for the EPA in Dallas, but they conducted the study on their own time in collaboration with several UT Arlington researchers.) Here’s an edited version of our interview:

What led you guys to do the study?

We were sort of talking around lunch one day, and came up with the idea of actually going out and testing water in the Barnett Shale. We’d heard all the things that you see in the media, all the sort of really left-wing stuff and right-wing stuff, but there weren’t a whole lot of answers out there in terms of an actual scientific study of water in the Barnett Shale. Our main intent was to bring an unbiased viewpoint here — to just look at the water, see if we could find anything, and report what we found.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Texas towns run out of water due to fracking

Photo retrieved from: www.americablog.com

“Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart [Texas] are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted. Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.”

Read more: America Blog

 

The Fracker’s Quest: More Water

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“Hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) has recast the U.S.’s energy future, but it’s also shining a light on fragile water supplies, which could crimp the industry’s growth.

The pinch is especially strong on shale energy producers and state regulators who are scrambling to find ways to keep the water flowing to this thirsty industry while not shortchanging farmers, municipalities, and growing populations. Anywhere from two to 10 million gallons of water (along with sand and chemicals) are injected into each fracturing well. Multiply that times tens of thousands of wells and you’re talking lots of water – and wastewater, too.

Given a fast-changing regulatory landscape and the diverse geologic conditions of key shale energy basins around the country, it’s a challenge with no easy solutions.

“We’ve got to plan and plan and plan,” engineering executive Ken Burris told a crowd of 75 industry players and regulators last week at a Water Management for Shale Plays 2013 conference in Denver.

The urgency is palpable. In less than a decade, hydraulic fracturing has grown from a largely unregulated wildcat industry to an energy juggernaut that is rejuvenating rural economies in North Dakota, Texas, and Pennsylvania and putting America back on track to become the world’s largest oil producer again.”

Read more: National Geographic

 

Fracking Is Already Straining U.S. Water Supplies

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“Every fracking job requires 2 million to 4 million gallons of water, according to the Groundwater Protection Council. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has estimated that the 35,000 oil and gas wells used for fracking consume between 70 billion and 140 billion gallons of water each year. That’s about equal, EPA says, to the water use in 40 to 80 cities with populations of 50,000 people, or one to two cities with a population of 2.5 million each.

Some of the most intensive oil and gas development in the nation is occurring in regions where water is already at a premium. A paper published last month by Ceres, a nonprofit that works on sustainability issues, looked at 25,000 shale oil and shale gas wells in operation and monitored by an industry-tied reporting website called FracFocus.

Ceres found that 47 percent of these wells were in areas “with high or extremely high water stress” because of large withdrawals for use by industry, agriculture, and municipalities. In Colorado, for example, 92 percent of the wells were in extremely high water-stress areas, and in Texas more than half were in high or extremely high water-stress areas.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Mexico Lacks Water to Frack for Shale Gas

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Mexico plans to expand shale gas exploration this year, but it could run into a shortage of water, which is essential to hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the method used to capture natural gas from shale rocks.

“In Mexico there isn’t enough water. Where are they going to get it to extract shale gas?” Professor Miriam Grunstein at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) remarked in an interview with IPS.

She is opposed to the involvement of PEMEX, Mexico’s state-run oil company, in fracking, and recommends that it instead focus on higher priority sectors.

In 2012, a lengthy drought especially affected a large part of central and northern Mexico, with a heavy impact on agriculture and livestock, and on living conditions in dozens of rural villages.

And the forecast for this year is not much different.

Since 2011, PEMEX has drilled at least six wells for shale gas in the northern states of Nuevo León and Coahuila. And it is preparing for further exploration in the southeastern state of Veracruz, at a cost of 245 million dollars over the space of 18 months, in conjunction with the Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP), a state institution.

To obtain shale gas, high pressure is applied in order to pump vast quantities of chemical sludge into layers of shale rock located deep in the earth. This results in the fracturing of the shale and the release of natural gas trapped in the rocks.”

Read more: IPS

 

Will Plans for Massive Tunnels to Pipe Northern California Water South Mean a Boon for Fracking?

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former Chair of the Marine Life Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Task Force for the South Coast, is pushing for increased “fracking” in California.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.

The question is: Where will the industry get the water for fracking on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas, including Monterey County where large Monterey Shale deposits are located?

Burt Wilson, Editor and Publisher of Public Water News Service, believes he has the answer. He contends that the “hidden agenda” of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build twin tunnels is to provide water for the environmentally destructive process of fracking in California.

Wilson definitely knows what he is talking about. He was was on the media staff of the “No on 9″ campaign against the peripheral canal in 1982. They won by a 2/3 vote statewide and stopped the canal.

Unfortunately, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the urging of corporate agribusiness interests, began his campaign build the peripheral canal in 2007. Brown has continued and fast-tracked the Republican governor’s plan, opting to go for twin tunnels under the Delta than a single peripheral canal.

“As the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) nears completion, some unusual elements of the project have been revealed piecemeal and when they are all put together the total effect is that there is a hidden agenda going on that is far from what has been revealed on the surface,” said Wilson.”

Read more: AlterNet

 

Activism and the Nexus: Shaping Policy

Retrieved from GRIID.org

Activism & the Nexus: Shaping Policy

by Miles Ten Brinke

Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy MSc at the University of Exeter on a Fulbright.

Activism is a force to be reckoned with. This simple truth is one easy to forget in the grim utilitarian realm of policy analysis. It’s a factor that depending upon your given governance structure is easy to shove off to the side as secondary. When the problems seem so big, when you’re working at a global system change the contributions of active engaged individuals can seem so small to be insignificant.

You might find yourself starting to ask brutal questions. What voice does the little guy have when the big players have such loud lobbyists? Given their diffuse and often ephemeral nature what influence can grassroots movements really have on decision makers?-So easy to do, and so damning.

Lucky for me I’ve got you folks in the Peak Water network and friends around the world constantly reminding me of this. People power can wield enormous influence, regardless of the particular creed it amplifies. In the pursuit of a truly sustainable global energy-water- climate system transition it’s these movements that give moral purpose and a groundswell of democratic legitimacy. They animate  people, engaging them in the complexities of the problem while helping them grow into change agents.

Right now across the United States there is a movement to divest public institutions from fossil fuels. In this column I’m going to highlight the efforts of the folks in the University of California pushing for such change.

As of 20 February 2013 the University of California, San Diego student government joined their fellows at the Berkeley and Santa Barbara campuses in passing a resolution to fully divest its portfolio from fossil fuel funds. Equal parts inspired by the 350.org call to action and the success of the anti-Apartheid divestments of the 80s and 90s the movement is as much about a moral revolution as climate change mitigation. The college campaign in California has largely been coordinated by the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) which coordinates environmental actions by students across the state.

At Berkeley the charge is being led by senior Katie Hoffman, her tireless efforts leading the team at Cal through their unsuccessful campaign in 2011 to divest the UC from coal companies all the way through to the current momentum of the day. That is, of UC Berkeley’s student government setting a vital new precedent by voting to divest. Katie is an old friend; we first met as transfer students to the Society & Environment B.S. programme at UC Berkeley a few years back.

I’ve watched her work, witnessed her passion and drive first hand. I have seen what she and all the other activists in the CSSC have accomplished.  I can see what they’re capable of. Expect more big things to come! To have been there at the start and to be here now is an incredible privelege, even from across the Atlantic. Katie and all the other folks on the ground across California and the whole United States pushing forward with divestment are a true and continued inspiration.

Some would scoff at the arrogant naivety of students, denying them even the pleasure of small victories. Such folks need only look at the million dollar funds at the disposal of UC student governments to see how wrong they are. This is a targeted movement, with specific and modular goals. Across the country they’re succeeding and their campaigns are growing.

All of this has profound implications for not only how we concieve of each and every sutainability nexus but the pathways we choose to realize them.  To bear witness to, even join, movements such as these opens your eyes to the possibility of a democratised and decentralised (both of technologies and governance) transition. That is, of a radical departure from the status quo and viable in a multitude of different manifestations. Yes, activism is but one complex piece but  what a vital part yet!  

The choice we face is not simply between different technical and economic structures, so too is it a resolution on how we are to conduct ourselves-a new order to things. It’s about governance, and strategic decision making. Grassroots organizing, direct action, advocacy and all the other forms must orient towards this truth. From the ground up and back down again how we choose must be reshaped. In radical, chaotic little steps we may yet solve the riddle of the sustainability nexus.

Activism is about policy, an imperfect and fragile evolution.

~ Miles on Water

More Threats From Fracking: Radioactive Waste

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was embarking on a year-long study of radioactivity in by-products from oil and natural gas development.

But findings and any action from the study may come too late for people like Portage, Pennsylvania resident Randy Moyer, who is suffering from a flurry of health problems he believes are the result of radiation exposure from his work transporting fracking wastefluids. Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times reports:

Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

US to become ‘net energy exporter’

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“Environmentalists and some analysts, however, caution that jubilant predictions from a country that consumes some 25 percent of the world’s oil will run into environmental constraints including global warming and a lack of fresh water.

“There is no question that fresh water is going to be a serious concern… the water crisis will be the next big crisis people will have to confront everywhere in the world in the next few decades,” Pierce, the energy lawyer and professor, said. “Limits on fresh water, to a certain extent, will be the determining limit on fracking capability… how serious a limit is hard to say.”

Extracting gas from one well through fracking takes about five million gallons of water, the equivalent of between 800 and 1,300 truckloads, said energy consultant Faeth. Over its lifespan, an average well produces more than 4 billion cubic feet of gas equivilent – enough energy to power about 16,000,000 homes for one day. Mixed with chemicals, much of the water ends up contaminated after being used in the fracking process. One well will often need to be fracked up to 18 times, drastically increasing water contamination.”

“The industry is not that transparent; we don’t know exactly how much water is being used in different places,” Lorne Stockman, research director of advocacy group Oil Change International, told Al Jazeera. “Public discomfort with the fracking boom is growing, especially in states like Ohio… I can’t say if it will come to a head.”

Read more: Aljazeera