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Radiation Fears Over Fracking?

Chris Rhodes, Energy Balance
It is found that high concentrations of salts, including those of radium and barium, are present in the flowback waters from late-end fracking operations, lending fears over potential groundwater contamination…

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analysed samples taken principally from four different sources. These were brines recovered from 40 conventional oil and gas wells in the state; flowback waters from 22 Marcellus gas wells, collected by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Oil and Gas Management; two more samples of Marcellus flowback waters from a previous study; and similar waters from 8 horizontal wells taken by the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The results showed that the flowback waters contained a very high degree of salinity, which is inconsistent with the concentrations of salts contained in the waters used for the fracking operations. Rathermore, it appears that these additional elements stem from the Paleozoic era, which was the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic eon, and lasted from around 541 – 252 million years B.P…
(29 December 2012)

‘Frackademia’: how Big Gas bought research on hydraulic fracturing

Richard Schiffman, The Guardian
Last week, the oil company Chevron took out a full-page ad in the Atlantic Monthly to say – seemingly innocuously – that hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, needs to be "good for everyone". It was a part of Chevron’s ubiquitous "Human Energy Campaign", which uses "real people" to soften its corporate image and argue its case.

The multinational is currently ramping up the PR to coincide with the release (also last week) of Promised Land, a controversial new film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon, which highlights the tactics used by drillers to buy up farmland that sits atop the vast Marcellus shale gas fields.

Chevron’s ad in the Atlantic is co-signed by Bruce Niemeyer, a vice-president of the corporation and Radisav Vidic, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Vidic’s office sits a stone’s throw from the Chevron Science Center, a 15-storey state-of-the-art chemistry laboratory and teaching facility made possible by the philanthropically-minded corporation. I asked him if he saw any conflict in interest in signing an ad paid for by an energy company, when academics are expected to be impartial arbiters. He replied by email:

"I don’t since I agree that the shale gas should be good for everyone or not developed at all."…
(9 January 2013)

EPA Changed Course After Oil Company Protested

Ramit Pluschnick-Mast, AP
When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family’s drinking water had begun "bubbling" like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why…
(16 January 2013)

Poll: Europeans overwhelmingly favour renewables over shale gas

James Murray, Business Green
The vast majority of Europeans believe investment in renewable energy should be prioritised over the next 30 years, compared to alternative energy sources including shale gas, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants.

That is just one of the findings of a major survey of over 25,500 citizens of EU member states carried out to inform the European Commission’s comprehensive review of EU air policy, which found that despite a campaign by industry to promote shale gas as a cost effective and lower carbon alternative to coal, just nine per cent of Europeans believe unconventional fossil fuels such as shale gas should be prioritised…
(15 January 2013)

Shale playground in W. Texas

Jennifer Hiller, Fuelfix
The Eagle Ford Shale play is still in its early stages, with landmen continuing to hunt for mineral rights across South Texas and no one really knowing how much oil is out there.

But if the Eagle Ford seems big, get ready for what’s happening in West Texas, where oil and gas production is ramping up in shale layers such as the Wolfcamp in and around Midland.

“They’re getting thousands and thousands of feet of pay zone,” said Ken Morgan, director of the Texas Christian University Energy Institute, who spoke Wednesday at Palo Alto College. “It’s like the Eagle Ford on steroids. They haven’t even begun. We’re just in the toe of this thing.”…
(10 January 2013)