Natural gas

December 30, 2013

EDITORIAL: Fracking's impact on water supplies looking better

Source: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com, December 26, 2013

Fracking has caused a bonanza of oil and gas production in the United States, but it has its detractors. And one of their chief complaints was that it used too much water, as much as five million gallons per well, even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in a big oil-producing state like Texas.

Yet a new study by the University of Texas at Austin indicates that fracking actually cuts overall water use for energy. As the price of natural gas has declined, some utilities have switched to using gas instead of coal to produce electricity. The amount of water saved by shifting a power plant to gas from coal is 25 to 50 times greater than the amount needed to get the natural gas via fracking.

Trade-offs like that must be kept in mind when looking at energy production and use in this country. No aspect of this complex equation is pure. For example, wind farms have been increasingly criticized for their large numbers of bird deaths caused by turbine blades.

Even if alternative forms of energy like wind and solar can increase in coming years, oil and natural gas will remain fundamental to our energy needs. And the bottom line on fracking is that it has produced so much oil and gas that this country is less dependent than ever on oil imports from the volatile Mideast.

Fracking should be monitored wherever it occurs to ensure it doesn’t drain area water supplies or contaminate ground water. But the pluses far outweigh the drawbacks, which is why few states or locales have banned it nationwide.

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December 27, 2013

Fracking Saves Water, Prevents Droughts, New Study Claims

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com, December 23, 2013
By: David Kashi

Even though hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses millions of gallons of water to blast shale rock to release trapped gas, the controversial technique actually saves water, according to a recent study by the University of Texas.

The study claims that the Lone Star State is less vulnerable to drought because of its transition from coal to natural gas as the main fuel source used to generate electricity.

“Natural gas also enhances drought resilience by providing so-called peaking plants to complement increasing wind generation, which doesn’t consume water,” the study said.

Thanks to fracking, Texas is now extracting more oil and gas than ever. The state’s production could surpass that of Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Iran and even Canada by the end of next year. The drilling technique has been heavily criticized, as some environmentalists contend fracking contaminates and wastes groundwater.

“The bottom line is that hydraulic fracturing, by boosting natural gas production and moving the state from water-intensive coal technologies, makes our electric power system more drought-resilient,” Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the university’s Bureau of Economic Geology, who led the study, said.

While the study asserts that fracking accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in Texas, it also acknowledged that it strains local water supplies in areas where the technique is heavily concentrated.…

September 13, 2013

Pennsylvania drillers may soon face tightened environmental regulations

Source: http://www.lexology.com, September 5, 2013
By: Scott J. Bent, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Oil and gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation may soon find themselves subject to more stringent environmental protection standards under regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“the Department”). The Department announced on August 27, 2013 that the proposed regulations were approved by the state’s Environmental Quality Board. The proposal now moves to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel, followed by a public comment period.

The proposed regulations address four general issues: 1) protection of public lands and resources; 2) orphan and abandoned well identification; 3) pollution containment practices; and 4) protection of water resources.

Protection of Public Resources

Under the proposed regulations, applicants for well permits must notify the appropriate public resource agency (such as the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or the Pennsylvania Game Commission) if a well site is within a certain distance of public lands or resources. For example, notice is required if a site is within 200 feet of a national natural landmark or within 1,000 feet of a water well, surface water intake, reservoir, or other water source used by a water purveyor.

The resource agency has an opportunity to provide comments and recommendations to the Department and the well operator. The Department makes the final determination on the permit application, and it may add conditions to the well permit to mitigate potential impact to public resources.…

August 14, 2013

Pipeline driller still polluting

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 12, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A company that faces state sanctions and fines for pipeline-construction spills in eastern Ohio continues to foul streams and wetlands.

Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, told Denver-based MarkWest Energy in a March 8 letter that the size and repeated nature of four spills dating to September were “unacceptable.”

As the EPA and the company negotiate penalties, agency reports show that MarkWest and its contractors have had 13 additional spills in Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey, Monroe and Noble counties, including a 1,200-gallon slurry spill that polluted a Monroe County wetland in July.

MarkWest attorney Chris Jones said the most-recent spills are smaller and less severe than those reported in 2012.

Much of MarkWest’s problem stems from drilling in areas that were once strip-mined for coal, Jones said. Soils and rocks there often are too loosely packed to contain the slurry.

“If there is any indication of a void in the ground, we stop drilling and address it,” said Jones, a former Ohio EPA director.

EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the agency continues to investigate the spills.

Teresa Mills, fracking coordinator for the Buckeye Forest Council, an environmental advocacy group, said the state should be tougher on the company.

“They should just totally make (MarkWest) stop until they figure out how to do it properly,” Mills said.…

July 25, 2013

Fracking Study Shows Water Not Contaminated by Chemicals

Read here about a study that showed that chemicals from natural gas drilling did not contaminate drinking water aquifers in Pennsylvania.…

May 20, 2013

Energy future may be swamped in fracking wastewater, scientists warn

Source: http://science.nbcnews.com, May 16, 2013
By: John Roach

The current boom in U.S. natural gas production from glassy shale rock formations is poised to usher in an era of energy independence and could bridge the gap between today’s fossil-fuel age and a clean-energy future. But that future may be swamped in a legacy of wastewater, a new study suggests.

Natural gas production is soaring thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that shoots several million gallons of water laced with chemicals and sand deep underground to break apart chunks of the glassy rock, freeing trapped gas to escape through cracks and fissures into wells.

An average of 10 percent of this water flows back to the surface within a few weeks of the frack job. The rest is absorbed by the surrounding rock and mixes with briny groundwater, explained Radisav Vidic, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Pittsburgh.

“What happens to that water is a very good question,” he told NBC News. “We would like to know how much of it stays in the shale, and for how long, and is there a potential for migration away from the well.”

Vidic led a review study of the scientific literature looking into these questions, which is published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.…

May 9, 2013

Energy group says fracking water report is sensational

Source: Wyoming Public Media, May 8, 2013
By: Irina Zhorov

An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.

But Research director for Energy in Depth, Simon Lomax, says the amount of water used for oil and gas development is .06-percent of total water use for Wyoming and the other three states studied, there are sufficient regulations in place, and that natural gas actually puts water into the hydrological cycle.

“For some reason they decided to ignore the amount of water that’s actually added to the hydrological cycle when you burn natural gas. It works out that for every billion cubic feet of natural gas that is burned you get about 11 million gallons of water added to the natural cycle in the form of water vapor,” says Lomax.

Powder River Basin Resource Council member Bob LeResche says, “water vapor going into the atmosphere does not replace it in a usable form for thousands of years, and even then, not locally.”

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May 2, 2013

Hydraulic Fracking & Water Pollution

Source: http://theenergycollective.com, April 30, 2013
By: Grant McDermott

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In planning my series on the environmental impacts of natural gas for The Energy Collective, I had always intended for my third post to cover the critical issue of water needs. While climate concerns may dominate for some (see my previous posts), it seems fair to say that the most contentious aspect of the shale gas revolution is related to fears over high water demands and contamination risks posed by hydraulic fracturing, i.e. “fracking”.

Unfortunately for me, Jesse Jenkins inadvertently pre-empted my article with a great recent post asking how much water is actually consumed by fracking for shale gas? (Short answer, probably not nearly as much as you think.) While I don’t wish to reproduce Jesse’s article verbatim, I think a recapitulation of his main points is in order:

  • The U.S. fracking industry was responsible for around 0.3 percent of the country’s total freshwater consumption in 2011. Even in arid regions like Texas, this figure is probably not much larger than one percent.
May 1, 2013

Franklin Forks Residents Concerned About Methane In Water Wells

Source: http://www.wicz.com, April 30, 2013

A response wasn’t long in coming, following the latest bit of news on a very controversial subject. Just one day after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said methane found in private water wells in Franklin Forks Township was naturally occuring and not the result of natural gas development, one of the homeowners whose well was tested still has questions.

Tammy Manning said she’d like to see the tests themselves that the DEP conducted and not just the results.

She says the agency isn’t making those tests available.

“Very vague. I think they’re not giving us the full information. I asked them for the test results and how they determine that and they won’t give it to me,” said Tammy Manning. Franklin Forks Township resident.

A spokesperson for the DEP says while the tests aren’t available to the public, a homeowner would likely have a chance to see them. A spokesperson for Energy-In-Depth, an industry-funded group, says the DEP investigation closes the door on the idea the methane migration in Franklin Forks was due to gas drilling.

Manning says she might have her water tested privately.

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April 24, 2013

Fracking for Natural Gas Fuels Health Worries

Source: http://womensenews.org, April 22, 2013
By: Molly M. Ginty

The boom in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas raises medical worries for a number of female health activists and researchers. “We need comprehensive studies to assess long-term problems,” says public health professor Madelon Finkel.

Creeping over the darkened hills of Concord Township, Ohio, past oak and maple trees and through an open window, the intruder entered Kari Matsko’s home without a sound.

“It was only when I woke the next morning that I realized something had changed,” says Matsko. “I had unexplained muscle spasms and terrible neck pain. I saw three doctors, and spent four months recovering. Then a neighbor told me about the 3 a.m. hydrogen sulfide gas leak from a nearby fracking operation that sent her whole family to the emergency room with aches and pains the same day I got sick in 2006.”

Now heading a grassroots group called The People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative of Ohio, Matsko is among the growing number of women who are fighting health problems associated with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a drilling process that harvests natural gas from rock.

“When I found out why I fell ill, I thought ‘How could residents not be notified there was fracking nearby? How could this even be legal?'” says Matsko. “Because oversight is lax and studies are sparse, I’m still asking the same questions today.”…