Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘natural gas

Hydrofracked

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This week’s episode of This American Life is a fascinating case study in regulatory and institutional capture, organized around the politics of natural gas mining in Pennsylvania. Both Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh come out looking hopelessly compromised by corporate influence, with state and local government not far behind. Give it a listen.

Four for Thursday

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* Study estimates that illegal immigrants paid $11.2B in taxes last year, unlike GE, which paid zero.

* Wis. Dems To File Recall Signatures Against A Fifth Republican State Senator.

* Major hydrofracking spill in Pennsylvania.

* Related: BP Ready To Resume Oil Spilling.

LONDON—A year after the tragic explosion and oil spill that caused petroleum giant BP to cease operations in the Gulf of Mexico, the company announced Wednesday that it was once again ready to begin oil spilling. “People said this company might never rebound from last year, but we’re here and ready to do what we do best,” said BP chief executive Robert Dudley, who confirmed that the company had already successfully conducted small test spills and that full-scale spilling operations could resume as early as July. “We’ve reorganized and regrouped, and now we’re ready to put the faulty blowout preventers on the wellheads and watch them pump raw crude petroleum right into the environment.” BP stock jumped $14 a share following the announcement.

Monday Links!

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* Fredric Jameson previews his new book, Representing Capital.

You will now have understood that this distinction between politics and economics, between the achievable Utopia of the Utopian planners and the deep unconscious absolute Utopian impulse, is one between the social-democratic moment and the moment of communism. Communism can only be posited as a radical, even unimaginable break; socialism is an essentially political process within our present, within our system, which is to say within capitalism itself. Socialism is capitalism’s dream of a perfected system. Communism is that unimaginable fulfillment of a radical alternative that cannot even be dreamt.

* Unexpectedly, grad school lowers your blood pressure. It doesn’t seem right to me either.

* The GOP thinks not enough people are unemployed. Calculated Risk has a brief history of the current catastrophe.

Wisconsin has some buyer’s remorse.

* More on hydrofrackingHow radioactive is Pittsburgh’s drinking water? What’s fracking going to do to New York?

* First Big Coal Broke the Union. Then It Broke This Town.

* Trailer for the American remake of The King’s Speech.

* Scientists in Hollywood. The focus is on Natalie Portman and Mayim Bialik.

* Ponzi justice in Raleigh.

* And Jon Hamm, Superman. I’m sure yet another version of the origin story will be great, though.

Burning the Furniture to Heat the House

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They should have known it was trouble when they named it “hydrofracking”:

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.

The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.

But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.

In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe.

Climate Progress has your two-line take-away:

The bottom line this bombshell story is that the natural gas industry should no longer be given any presumption of innocence or safety in regards the health impacts of fracking. Time for the EPA and the wastewater industry to do some testing and inform the public of the dangers.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Oil!

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The USGS has released its survey of the hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic and it’s a doozy: “90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, 1,670 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of technically recoverable natural gas liquids.”

These resources account for about 22 percent of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources in the world. The Arctic accounts for about 13 percent of the undiscovered oil, 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids in the world. About 84 percent of the estimated resources are expected to occur offshore.

Environment 360 notes that this is “enough to meet global demand for three years”—so while it’s not salvation from Peak Oil, it does push the peak back a bit, and probably (unfortunately) makes opposition to Arctic drilling politically untenable in the short term.

Still, as Dot Earth makes clear, this “bonzana” doesn’t change the underlying energy calculus in any substantive way:

The Arctic energy report, then, perhaps supports the assertions of those saying that the world will not be able to drill its way out of the oil crunch in the long run, and that, with or without considering global warming, we must eventually shift to electrified transportation and renewable farmed fuels for sectors like aviation that can’t plug in.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 24, 2008 at 3:46 pm

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