Tag archives for hydraulic fracturing

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…

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

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,…

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.

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…

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.…

The energy industry may be increasing the risk of earthquakes  by pumping fluids underground, says a new federal scientific study. But the biggest danger is not due to extraction of fuel, but disposal of waste, said the report published Friday by the National Academies of Science. Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to unlock gas has…

Negotiators picked up discussions toward a new global climate treaty in Bonn, Germany this week. The meeting was the first since the 2011 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, where leaders initially agreed to put together a plan that would limit Earth-warming emissions. The stakes for the 10-day meeting are high—negotiators have set goals of building support for funding…

Not fracking with millions of gallons of water this time round — waterless fracking. Americans love a good game with lots of momentum and game-changing shifts. Who would have thunk — shale gas extraction is turning out to be one of the most exciting games in town. The Original Natural Gas Game Changer Over the…

The U.S. Department of State has received a new application from TransCanada—the company behind the controversial Keystone XL project—to ship crude oil via a proposed pipeline running from the Canadian border to existing infrastructure in Nebraska. TransCanada had its initial application rejected by the Obama administration in January. The reapplication to the U.S. State Department…

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday approved the first large-scale liquefied natural gas export terminal in the lower 48 states despite record falling gas prices. Shipping from the $10 billion Louisiana plant is projected to begin as early as 2015. The Cheniere plant is the third liquefied natural gas plant in the works in Louisiana. Others are planned elsewhere in the country. The plants…

Natural Gas for Cars

Does it make climate sense to drive cars with natural gas? Our nation appears to be rapidly moving to a natural gas-powered economy. Advances in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling have made huge deposits of natural gas in shale and tight sands commercially viable. (See “Hydrofracturing: An Energy Revolution.”) Suddenly the United States is…

Gasoline prices have edged off the pedal in recent days, but the Energy Information Administration this week released new data showing motorists will pay about a quarter more per gallon during peak travel season—April through September. Prices will top out at $4.01, on average, in May. The last time gasoline spiked to such levels was…

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released long-awaited greenhouse gas rules for new power plants this week. Using the Clean Air Act, the agency standard would set the first national limits on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions new power plants can emit. The EPA proposed the rule after delaying it several times since July 2011. Power plants are the largest…

Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed, called the “world’s most environmentally outspoken president” because of his calls for drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, was forced to resign—at gunpoint, he claimed. He had used stunts such as an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight his island nation’s vulnerability to sea-level rise. His resignation followed weeks of protests and was apparently motivated by internal politics unrelated to…

Highlights from a workshop on the environmental and social implications of fracking. A group of the nation’s leading experts on energy and the environment are at Duke this week attending a workshop to try to ferret out the facts (and tamp down the hype) around shale gas and fracking, the controversial method for extracting natural…

When it comes to water from hydrofracking, the question of safety is murky at best. The Chemical Cocktail of Fracking Fluid For many folks the big baddie of hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking or fracking, is fracking fluid — the mixture of water, sand, and chemicals that’s injected deep below the surface to fracture the…

Hundreds of protesters—including famed climate researcher James Hansen—have been arrested in protests in front of the White House over the past two weeks, in an attempt to stop the construction of a pipeline from Canada to Texas to carry diluted tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, mainly over concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and risks…

Folks have lots of questions to ask about the environmental impact of natural gas fracking, but the more important questions to ask may have to do with the economics. Ultimately, the two lines of questioning are intertwined. (Related: “The Great Shale Gas Rush”) I reached out on Twitter for questions yesterday before I moderated a…

A smoking gun in the form of methane isotopes links the two. Shale Gas: Game Changer or Potential Problem? The abundant, cleaner-burning fossil fuel known as shale gas has been hailed as a bridge fuel that’ll allow the transition from coal to a renewable-fueled future. Not only that, drilling for shale gas has propped up…

The Shale Quandary

Does the good outweigh the bad? The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report on “Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2009” was officially released on March 31st. Two of its key conclusions: Total U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases were down by about 5.8 percent relative to 2008 — a…