Twitchy’s got it: Drillers in Wyoming are reportedly one step closer to disclosing what’s in fracking fluid, as the state’s supreme court sends a fracking fluids disclosure case back to a lower court for substantive review.
The expansion in volumes of oil and gas produced by hydraulic fracturing is taking experts and politicians by surprise, with profound consequences for US geopolitics, and even Europe’s reliance on Russian gas
TEXAS: For The Independent, David Usborne reports: Hector Gallegos sits in the cab of his pick-up enjoying a few hours of calm. A day earlier, workers finished carting off the huge rig that had drilled three new wells beneath this small patch of south Texas farmland and he’s now getting ready to prime them for production. He reckons that about three weeks from now each will be producing 1,000 to 2,000 barrels a day. “That’s money!” he exclaims with a broad smile.
“The United States is now poised to become an energy superpower.”
— Meghan O’Sullivan, Foreign Affair magazine
It’s also power, and not in the combustion sense. Thanks to the success of engineers like Mr Gallegos in pushing the frontiers of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to access reserves of oil trapped in shale formations, notably here in Texas and North Dakota, America is poised to displace Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer. With that could come a hobbling of Opec and unforeseen shifts in US foreign policy.
“We keep raising our forecasts, and we keep underestimating production.”
— Lejla Alic, an analyst with the International Energy Agency
So rapid has been the change in its energy fortunes that even some experts, as well as policy-makers in Washington, are struggling to keep up. Nor are we just talking oil. So much natural gas is being released by the shale also that for now outlandish quantities of it are simply being burned off into the atmosphere.
Robert Wilde reports: On Monday, four members of an anti-fracking group wound up in jail for using bicycle locks and glue to fasten themselves to gas pumps at a petrol station in Great Lever, England. The group sacrificed themselves in order to protest the hydraulic fracking activities of Total, a French petroleum company.
But, to their embarrassment, the group sacrificed themselves to the wrong petrol station, which was no longer owned by Total. The petrol station was owned by Certas Energy, who neglected to take down the signs after buying the station.
Chuck Ross reports: Hydraulic fracturing conserves water compared to other energy-generation methods, according to a recent study that undermines claims by fracking opponents.
Bridget Scanlon and a team of researchers at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas compared the state’s water consumption levels for 2010, a non-drought year, and 2011, a drought year, at the state’s 423 power plants.
Even after accounting for the water used in obtaining natural gas from the ground, natural gas-powered plants use much less water to obtain the same amount of energy as coal-powered plants.
“Although water use for gas production is controversial, these data show that water saved by using natural gas combined cycle plants relative to coal steam turbine plants is 25-50 times greater than the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the case,” reads the report, published in Environmental Research Letters.
“Natural gas, now ~50% of power generation in Texas, enhances drought resilience by increasing the flexibility of power plants generators,” the report continues. The researchers predict that reductions in water use from the increased use of natural gas will continue through 2030.
The Audacity of
Hope Wildcatter Fracking Capitalist Revolutionaries
Michael Barone writes: Capitalism, said economist Joseph Schumpeter seven decades ago, is a process of creative destruction. New inventions, new processes, new methods of organization lead to the creation of new profitable and efficient businesses and to the destruction of old ones unable to compete.
There are few accounts of the creative side of Schumpeter’s phrase more vivid than Fracking: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters, a new book by Wall Street Journal writer Gregory Zuckerman.
For years politicians, policy experts and corporate executives have tried to reshape American energy policy and development. They have operated on a series of assumptions seemingly based on experience and logic.
A new poll reveals conservatives are the open-minded ones.
Jeremy Carl writes: According to the Hoover Institution’s recently completed Golden State Poll, conducted in partnership with the nationally respected polling firm YouGov, many Democrats and liberals are in denial when it comes to reality on energy and climate policy, endorsing both science and political fiction.
This is, of course, the opposite of the narrative we hear in much of the media, with its constant paeans to “settled science” and its derision of anyone who opposes liberal climate-policy proposals as a “denier.” (This is certainly not true in the case of this author, who thinks that climate change is both real and worth addressing while strenuously opposing the scaremongering tactics that are unfortunately common among liberals.)
While politics affects both parties’ prescriptions for energy and the environment, a look at the data suggests that Democrats and liberals are far more likely to have their ideological blinders on. In our poll of 1,000 Californians, Democrats and liberals were more likely to give incorrect, highly unlikely, or intensely ideological responses to a set of basic questions about energy and environmental policy than were independents, conservatives, and Republicans.
Such a result should not be entirely surprising. Read the rest of this entry »
Is Fracking Green?
By Michael Bastasch
Is natural gas the Obama administration’s new tool for tackling global warming?
Trillions of cubic feet of shale gas have been safely extracted using hydraulic fracturing all while reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
“It’s been a big contributor to our carbon reduction,” Moniz told the New York Daily News editorial board in an interview.
EPA Covers Up The Safety Of Fracking
Energy Policy: The Environmental Protection Agency declines to have outside experts review its study claiming water contamination from fracking in Wyoming. Why confuse an analysis based on ideology with the facts?
As we noted in December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from environmental groups, tried to manufacture a crisis in which hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was said to have contaminated test wells in Pavillion, Wyo. Those claims and others made in the six-decade history of the technology’s use have repeatedly proved groundless.
Hollywood wimps out and makes a formula film
After a decade of war and half-century of costly military involvement in the Middle East, the United States stands on the brink of “energy independence.” Then a shadowy Canadian billionaire coupled with Mideast oil interests sponsor a Hollywood propaganda movie aimed at luring Americans into throwing away the instrument of their deliverance: shale energy.
They co-opt a name-brand Hollywood movie star to be the useful idiot of their nefarious plot. The movie is released a few days after Christmas, just in time for Oscar nominations in a diabolical scheme to influence a national debate over fracking.
In other words, a typically stupid Hollywood thriller plot, except for a minor deviation: The poor shmuck actor is Matt Damon and he’s making a real movie, albeit with its own typically stupid Hollywood plot, one that doubles down on the conventional “evil oil company” stereotype.
So will Americans flood out of theaters early next year demanding to be relieved of the shale bounty? Not likely. And before getting too conspiratorial, Abu Dhabi’s last movie was a Nick Cage “Ghost Rider” stinker, while Jeffrey Skoll, the Canadian eBay billionaire and co-financier who makes no secret of his progressive longings, also backed “Lincoln” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
Perhaps Mr. Damon at least made a good movie. Alas, early word is not promising. Variety, not constitutionally inclined to criticism, called it “dramatically underpowered” and said its plot “cheapens the seriousness of the issues at stake.”
If a movie were to tell the truth about fracking, it would begin with the core conflict, which isn’t between environmentalists and earth-raping oil companies. Fracking was a bone of contention first of all between landowners who wanted to cash in on energy royalties and neighbors who didn’t want the neighborhood invaded by heavy industry.
This summer, David Letterman used his perch as a late night TV host to rant against hydraulic fracturing as some sort of environmental nightmare, reciting the same debunked talking points (water contamination, flaming faucets, etc.) that we hear from professional opponents of oil and gas development on a daily basis.
Most folks are smart enough to know that Mr. Letterman is neither a scientist nor a go-to expert on well completion technologies, something the “Late Night” host volunteered at the beginning of his soliloquy: According to Mr. Letterman himself, when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, “I’m not smart enough to understand it.” (you don’t say!)
Nonetheless, to quote The Dude, this aggression will not stand.
So in the spirit of David Letterman’s trademark “Top Ten” segments, EID has produced a top ten of its own: The Top Ten Mistakes David Letterman Made on Hydraulic Fracturing.
- Video: ‘The top ten mistakes David Letterman made on hydraulic fracturing’ (aei-ideas.org)
- David Letterman: Don’t Vote For Mitt Romney Unless He Comes On My Show (mediaite.com)
- Hydraulic Fracturing Services in the US Industry Market Research Report Now Available from IBISWorld (prweb.com)