Tag archives for fracking

EDMONTON – It is 7 a.m. and I am on bus with a group of sleepy students from the University of Alberta on our way up to Fort McMurray, the heart of oil sands extraction in Alberta, a western province of Canada. Soft conversations drift across the bus. It is still dark outside and many…

Legal skirmishes are mounting as more U.S. municipalities, including four in Tuesday’s midterm elections, ban the controversial oil and natural gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Two lawsuits were filed Wednesday, only hours after 59% of voters in Denton, Texas, adopted the Lone Star state’s first fracking ban. The city, a 45-mile…

As more data emerge, shale gas increasingly appears to be in the cross-hairs of the water-energy nexus, and far too little is being done to defuse impending conflicts. While hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), the process used to unleash natural gas from shale deposits, has raised serious concerns about groundwater contamination, less attention has been given…

Can good economic times roll while carbon emissions decline? Maybe so. Last week the Obama administration proposed new rules to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. Once EPA officially publishes the rule in the Federal Register (most likely in a week or two), a…

British Columbia finds itself at the forefront of the global debate on natural gas, and its role in the future of energy. Some 15 energy company consortiums are vying to build massive export terminals on the Pacific coastline of Canada’s westernmost province, with an eye to shipping gas to energy-hungry Asia. British Columbia, in other…

Almost all of the climate-affecting methane leaks from the oil and gas infrastructure could be reduced at relatively little expense, often by simply tightening bolts or replacing worn seals, suggests a new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force released today. (See related story: “Green Fracking? 5 Technologies for Cleaner Shale Energy.”) The report…

Emissions of the potent heat-trapping gas, methane, the main component of natural gas, are likely 50 percent higher than U.S. government has estimated in its official greenhouse gas inventory, says a new study that is the most comprehensive effort yet to assess the problem. But the team of scientists, after reviewing more than 200 earlier…

Fracking in Water-Stressed Zones Increases Risks to Communities – and Energy Producers

Even as concerns arise about the threats hydraulic fracturing poses to water quality and human health, a new study released yesterday finds that the water demands of the “fracking” process are adding considerably to localized water depletion, especially in parts of Texas, Colorado, and California. (Vote and comment: “How Has Fracking Changed Our Future?“) Nearly…

A new study challenges our understanding of natural gas as a clean fuel, and raises new questions about the U.S. energy boom. Sure, natural gas (or methane, its main component) burns with less pollution than coal, but release it directly to the atmosphere and it is a highly potent greenhouse gas–at least 25 times worse…

Forty years ago this month, Syria and Egypt launched a Yom Kippur surprise attack on Israel to regain land and prestige lost in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli forces were nearing Damascus and Cairo when a ceasefire took hold. But as the Soviet Union resupplied its Arab clients and President Nixon resupplied Israel, Arab members…

Another crack in the “fracking is safe” story for the industry to address.

Many states in the U.S. have grappled with how, or whether, to exploit newly accessible reserves of shale gas. In Virginia, the question is complicated by the fact that its shale lies beneath about half of a one-million-acre national forest; and what happens in that forest could have implications for federal lands across the country.…

The oil and gas industry promises “a few days of fracking” for “decades of … production.” But is it true? Believe it or not, some people don’t buy the fracking boom story. Some predict bust. Others, more of a petering out. What gives? Let’s begin with a story about a lunch. Lunch with a Skeptic In…

Has fracking changed our energy future for the better, or for the worse? Read viewpoints on both sides and vote in the poll below. The use of hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from the earth dates back to the 1940s, but only in the past few years has “fracking” become an energy buzzword,…

  Energy policy historically has been a matter of policymakers chasing events – and the most recent example is the current boom in natural gas. The controversial technique of fracking gets most of the attention, and there’s no question that fracking’s ability to  vastly increase the supply of natural gas is reshaping the energy world.…

Fracking has now become so much a part of the fabric of American life that it has earned its first genuine Hollywood treatment. Promised Land, co-starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, opens today in a limited number of theaters, with wider release next week. While the energy industry has girded for battle…

This map, released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides one of the best views yet of how hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil has spread across the United States. It is a snapshot in time, based on 24,879 wells that were “fracked,” or hydraulically fractured, between September 2009 and October 2010. (Related…

History suggests he’s wrong.

Energy independence is a lot like the extravagant Christmas present you wished for all year as a child. For Americans, it’s been the equivalent of a pony, or a Red Ryder BB gun  – we hoped for it, we yearned for it, but we never completely believed we’d get it. Now that it’s potentially within…

United States predicted to be world’s leading oil producer. Warning: Claiming lower carbon emissions while exporting fossil fuels can lead to cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance, according to Merriam-Webster, is “psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously.” Dustin Lynn, an admissions counselor at Vanderbilt University, writes that it is “the tension or even…

North American companies are raising both cash and controversy recently in deals with Chinese firms: both American battery maker A123 and Canadian oil and gas firm Nexen have made headlines in recent weeks as some U.S. politicians question the transactions on the basis of national security. China has been ramping up foreign investment in energy…

Water samples in Pennsylvania suggest there may be natural pathways for contamination. Drinking water contamination from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — a k a fracking — for natural gas in Pennsylvania, does it occur? No, say the gas companies (and many geologists). A new paper adds a “but.” Many Say It Can’t Happen There…

On a recent visit to Pennsylvania, I saw signs of a natural gas boom on the wane. Googling “Pennsylvania ‘natural gas rush’” this morning got me 356,000 hits. Some may call it a gas boom instead of a rush, but, regardless, it seems to be a happening thing. The development of the technology that combines…

Peter Voser, the chief executive officer of Shell, sees a world where energy, food, and water resources face increasing stress, and where businesses can offer the leadership that national governments have failed to provide in the search for solutions. Shell is sponsor of National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge, an effort to engage and enlighten readers…

Part two — the view from the grassroots. Last week I led a group of Nicholas School colleagues on an “eco fact-finding” trip to learn about fracking in Pennsylvania. We spent the first half of the trip (covered last week) touring facilities and getting a bird’s eye view of what’s going on with the landscape.…