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Natural gas & fracking

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Fracking is draining water resources, especially in the West

John Platt, Mother Nature Network
The natural gas extraction technique known as fracking uses so much water that it could threaten groundwater resources, especially in the Western U.S., two new reports conclude.

The first report (pdf), from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), found that hydraulic fracking removes 7 billion gallons of water every year in just four states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado...

The second report, from the sustainable business organization Ceres, said fracking is affecting water-stressed regions throughout the country, with Texas and Colorado being two of the most heavily affected states...
(7 May 2013)

Whatever you think of fracking, this isn't the way forward

Michael Hanlon, The Guardian
Serious countries, with serious governments, have equally serious energy policies to keep the lights on. This means developing long-term strategic plans, making sure that you create as mixed a basket of energy sources as possible. It means taking steps to ensure that if the supply of a particular energy source becomes scarce or prohibitively expensive, then there are alternatives that can be brought on stream quickly.

That is the sort of thing a serious country does. What it does not do is come up with a hare-brained scheme to bribe locals into accepting an unproven new technology with "community benefits" that may involve new sports clubs and money off the electricity bill.

This is not a spoof: it is actually being considered by the coalition, on the advice of the energy and climate change select committee, as a way of getting the people of Lancashire and elsewhere to drop their opposition to fracking, a controversial technology that extracts natural gas by blasting it out of ancient, deeply buried shale strata...
(1 May 2013)

Are Methane Hydrates Really Going to Change Geopolitics?

Chris Nelder, The Atlantic
The right way to understand the potential of unconventional fuels like methane hydrates and tight oil is to closely examine their production rates and their prices. If these fuels can be produced at large scales and profitable prices, they very well might influence geopolitics and economics in the ways that Charles C. Mann speculates in his recent Atlantic cover story. If they cannot, then it truly doesn't matter how much of those resources may exist underground and in the ocean floor.

Unfortunately Mann offers precious little data on price or production rates...
(2 May 2013)
The response from Charles Mann at The Atlantic is here.

California Fracking Rules Plan Stirs Trade Secrets Fight

Alison Vekshin, Bloomberg
A California proposal to regulate the chemicals used by oil companies in hydraulic fracturing is stirring a battle over industry assertions of trade secrets protection and environmentalist calls for disclosure to shield public health.

State officials developing rules for fracking say they have to walk a fine line to avoid lawsuits by both the public and the industry, circumscribing their proposal.

“What we’re doing with the regulation is limiting how often we would get sued,” said Jason Marshall, chief deputy director of California’s Conservation Department, which oversees oil and natural gas production...
(25 April 2013)

Image credit: Gas drilling - Skytruth/flickr

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