Tag Archive for 'ogallala aquifer'

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


5 Reasons the ‘Geezer Empire’ of Billionaire Republicans Are Showering Romney With Cash

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“For decades, Simmons has been buying and selling companies, running into government regulators and unions along the way, and more often than not stubbornly overcoming his opponents—through paying campaign donations, lobbying and changing laws. In 1995, he became involved with a project to create a nuclear waste dump in Andrews County in West Texas. Last year, after Texas’ legislature passed a bill to allow 36 states to dump low-level waste, Forbes reported that his stake in the project jumped from $5 billion to $9.6 billion.

Simmons is hoping that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will allow the site to start accepting high-grade radioactive waste from power plants and the military. In 2006, the company won a state environmental permit, after it spent six years not only changing Texas law to allow it to proceed, but steamrolling state environmental geologists who worried the project would leak into the Ogallala Aquifer, North America’s largest.”
Read more: AlterNet

Over 1,000 Arrested While Protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline

Photo retrieved from: www.foodandwaterwatch.org

“One of the largest acts of civil disobedience in the environmental movement is underway as over 1,000 people have been arrested in front of the White House while gathering to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline, which will extend from the Athabasca tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, is a threat to our environment and threatens the drinking water of millions of people in its path.

The pipeline is especially threatening because it will run from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada through the Ogallala aquifer—one of the world’s largest supplies of fresh water—as well as major rivers that supply substantial agricultural water to farmers and drinking water to millions of Americans.”

Read more: Food & Water Watch


Nebraska Water Scientists Warn of Oil Pipeline’s Risk, Call for More Study

Retrieved from: www.worldweatherpost.com

“WASHINGTON—Great Plains states are risking an unknown level of environmental and economic hurt if the U.S. State Department persists in routing a controversial tar sands pipeline atop the Ogallala Aquifer without further study.

That is the scientific warning coming from a pair of University of Nebraska professors with expertise in groundwater flow and contamination.

In a June 6 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (attached below), the two scientists laid out how their state’s fragile sandhills region is particularly vulnerable to crude oil pollution from a pipeline spill and why a research information gap needs to be closed.

Their concerns align with those expressed by Environmental Protection Agency authorities in their recent harsh critique of the State Department’s second attempt to draft an environmental review of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.”

Read more: Reuters


Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline Is Risk Depleted Aquifer Can’t Afford

Photo retrieved from: www.upstreamonline.com

“The U.S. State Department is due to wrap up its current review of the Keystone XL pipeline that would span almost 1700 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and transport oil mined from tar sands, once regarded even by the oil industry as an energy source too dirty to effectively refine. Approval of this pipeline would facilitate further development of the tar sands in Canada, which is having serious social and environmental consequences there.

“The proposed pipeline would run through the depleted Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 82 percent of the people who live within its boundaries. About 20 percent of the nation’s irrigated agricultural land overlies the aquifer, and about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the U.S. is withdrawn from it. But in the last 50 years, water levels in the aquifer have dropped significantly, losing 65 trillion gallons of water in storage — enough to supply all the homes and businesses in Washington D.C. with drinking water for more than 1,000 years.

“If Secretary of State Hilary Clinton approves this project, the dwindling freshwater resources in the aquifer could be irreparably harmed.

“With over 2,500 pipeline accidents between 2,000 and 2009 alone in the U.S., the oil industry poses significant threats to critical water resources. We have seen nothing that shows that the Federal government has the capacity to mitigate damage should the pipeline leak into this already depleted aquifer.”

Read more: Food & Water Watch


Panhandling for Water

Windmill at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer.

Windmill at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge pumping water from the Ogallala Aquifer. photo by:" panoramio.com

“On the high plains of the Texas Panhandle, farmers owe their livelihoods to a marvel of geology: the cool, gravely waters of the country’s largest aquifer, the Ogallala. Stretching across eight states, the amount of water is so vast that, according to one writer, it could fill Lake Erie nine times over. Within Texas, the Ogallala accounts for about 40 percent of all water use.

“But the aquifer’s levels are declining sharply here. In a dry growing season last year, the High Plains Water District, which includes all or part of 15 Panhandle counties, recorded an average drop of 1.5 feet, the most since 1997. The rains have returned, but the 2007 state water plan projects that the Ogallala’s volume will fall a staggering 52 percent between 2010 and 2060, as corn and cotton growers continue to draw from its depths. The consequences for farmers could be severe: The use of big pivot irrigation — the lifeblood of the Panhandle — could be cut back severely in 10 to 20 years if current usage patterns continue, researchers at Texas Tech University estimate.

“The aquifer is reaching a point where it is not going to produce the water that some farmers are going to want to see produced,” said Robert Mace, the deputy executive administrator of the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s water development planning group. Like other experts, he notes that the aquifer’s thickness varies tremendously from place to place — and in a few spots, like parts of Dawson County, the levels are actually increasing. In general, he says, Texans are probably pumping the Ogallala at about six times the rate of recharge.”

read more: Texas Tribune