Obama’s Energy Plan: Full Speed Ahead on Fracking

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

At DeSmogBlog, Steve Horn summed up President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan as “drill, baby, drill” and  “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” The president’s plan is a full endorsement of controversial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract natural gas from shale rack using toxic chemicals and horizontal drilling. Steve points out that the president’s claims of providing clean energy and a “moral obligation” to protect the environment for future generations flies in the face of the facts about the dangers of fracking not only to carbon emissions but to clean water.

In a study from Cornell University, researchers confirming that shale gas recovered through high volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” will produce even more greenhouse gases than the burning of coal in the next two decades:

“The greenhouse gas footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years… These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured — as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids — and during drill out following the fracturing.”

Another study from Duke University (pdf), shale gas fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination in the Marcellus Shale basin of Pennsylvania.

The scientists analyzed 141 drinking water samples from private water wells across northeastern Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale basin.

They found that, on average, methane concentrations were six times higher and ethane concentrations were 23 times higher at homes within a kilometer of a shale gas well.  Propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometer of drilling.

“The methane, ethane and propane data, and new evidence from hydrocarbon and helium content, all suggest that drilling has affected some homeowners’ water,” said Robert B. Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.  “In a minority of cases the gas even looks Marcellus-like, probably caused by poor well construction.”

The ethane and propane data are “particularly interesting,” he noted, “since there is no biological source of ethane and propane in the region and Marcellus gas is high in both, and higher in concentration than Upper Devonian gases” found in formations overlying the Marcellus shale.

This all comes as the Environmental Protection Agency has delayed a study examining the connection between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming. The EPA also dropped and censored the groundwater contamination study in Weatherford, TX.

Pres. Obama also endorsed plans to expand fracking internationally:

Obama’s plan also boasts about bringing the U.S. model for fracking abroad through the U.S. State Department’s Global Shale Gas Initiative, now called the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program.

And to add to the package, the plan also fully endorses “T. Boone Pickens’ “Pickens Plan,” helping create a domestic market for natural gas vehicles, particularly for 18-wheelers.”

Obama’s Climate Plan: A Historic Turning Point or Too Reliant on Oil, Coal, Natural Gas?

Transcript can be read here

President Obama has unveiled a climate plan that imposes the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. The move will not require congressional approval, meaning Obama can bypass expected Republican-led opposition. In his address, Obama also outlined a broad range of measures to protect coastlines and cities from rising sea levels, and vowed to promote the development of renewable energy. In a development that has led both opponents and supporters of the Keystone XL oil pipeline to express optimism for their side, Obama said approval of the project will be contingent upon assuring it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Just how successful Obama will be in carrying out his sweeping plan to address climate change – and whether it goes far enough – is a matter of debate. We assess his speech with two guests holding differing views: Dan Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen.


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  1. TMC
  2. tahoebasha3

    “clean fuel” needs to be dispelled.

    Fracking has to be the worst yet of the gas and oil companies’ adventures in juicing the earth and ocean of every bit of oil and gas it can, some of the ramifications of which are known and yet, those that are unknown in terms of long term damage to the environment and health, to say nothing about the utter destruction of the decades’ old natural formations that Mother Nature provides, as well as the utter beauty.

    There is not one aspect of fracking that is good.  The silica derived for fracking, known as sand frac mining, is equally as dangerous and hazardous to the health as fracking, the tiny particles of silica lodge in the lungs and have razer sharp edges that damages the tissue.  Right now, there is planned for the Starved Rock State Park location by Minnesota Sand Mining Midwest Energy News.  Should this go ahead, this will utterly destroy this scenic and historical Park.  A young lady with respiratory problems, living in the area, has commenced a Petition against this sand frac mining.  Governor Quinn: Stop the Mississippi Sand Frac Sand Mine Near Starved Rock!

    Fracking had long been planned for Southern Illinois, in 18 counties and there were numerous petitions (I had one going, as well) from varying districts to Governor Quinn, AG Lisa Madigan, etc. demanding a moratorium on fracking.  However, on June 6, a bill (SB1715) was passed allowing fracking, with what is supposedly a bill with the most stringent of regulations.  That depends on one’s point of view.  It is not that strong period.  And fracking in Southern Illinois is unconscionable to begin with.  The areas designated for fracking are all within the New Madrid Seismic Zone and some are sitting atop two major fault lines. A disaster waiting to happen?  Fracking actually began before the bill was passed. Fracking can cause earthquakes. The Sierra Club was completely against the fracking there.

    Compounding the unlimited problems surrounding fracking is:

    “Of special concern are the hundreds of fracking components, some of which contain chemicals known to be or suspected of being carcinogenic or otherwise toxic. Increasing the likelihood of unwanted environmental effects is the so-called Halliburton loophole, named after the company that patented an early version of hydraulic fracturing. Passed during the Bush-Cheney Administration, the loophole exempts the oil and gas industry from the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. What’s more, manufacturers and operators are not required to disclose all their ingredients, on the principle that trade secrets might be revealed. Even George P. Mitchell, the Texas wildcatter who pioneered the use of fracking, has called for more transparency and tighter regulation. In the absence of well-defined federal oversight, states are starting to assert control. In 2011 the North Dakota legislature passed a bill that said, in effect, fracking is safe, end of discussion.”* (emphasis mine)

    *March 2013 issue of National Geographic Magazine, entitled The New Oil Landscape” The fracking frenzy in North Dakota has boosted the U.S. fuel supply-but at what cost?

    It is incredible to me to think that we continue to puncture the ocean floors, remove mountain tops, drill deep into the earth, fracture mountain shales and assault Mother Nature in all the ways that we do and not expect it all to come back and haunt us.

    Thank you for this, TMC.  

  3. terryhallinan

    Some studies have suggested natural gas may be the greatest contributor of all fossil fuels to global warming.

    The general idea is that some of the gas will inevitably escape unburned into the atmosphere.  It is some 22-23% more potent as a greenhouse gas than C02.  Eventually the methane will degrade into CO2 but even that timeline seems to be lengthening.

    Meanwhile the U.S., most notably, is more than willing to inject all the products of burning forests and burning forest critters in the atmosphere with decades of additional emissions from decay rather than maintain forest health with clean-up of the waste – because it’s more natural than using waste for energy.

    Thanks so much, “environmentalists.”  It would be so much harder to banish winter without you and Exxon.

    Best,  Terry  

  4. TMC

    and as much of the gas as we can, in the gound.

  5. terryhallinan

    We ourselves are likely to have originated from deep in the ocean where the deep ocean floor opened to volcanic vents.

    Deep-Sea Vents May Hold Clues to Life’s Origin

    Wrestling with ‘kryptonite’

    By the time Jason submerged for its 10th and final dive of the expedition, Chris German and his team could already declare this mission a success. The team had returned to the Von Damm site for a final look at the rocks surrounding the hydrothermal system.

    In the operations van aboard Atlantis, the Geology Team – Guy Evans and Frieder Klein from Woods Hole and Matt Hodgkinson from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom – looked on. Unless you have the right rocks yielding the right chemistry, you won’t get the right conditions for life, regardless of what planet you’re on. (At least as far as life as we know it goes.)


    We know more about the surface of the dead moon and the planets than the floor of the ocean where volcanic vents are yet teeming with strange, exotic life forms.  

    Drilling itself can tell a piece of the history of the planet with even environmental niches inhabited today by  single life forms more exotic than the extremophiles that survive, neigh require, unbelievable high temperatures.

    Such exploration should be no more inhibited today than the inquisitors punishing the forbidden viewing through Copernicus’s telescope that put the lie to their “science.”

    Copernicus died in 1543 and was never to know what a stir his work had caused. It went against the philosophical and religious beliefs that had been held during the medieval times. Man, it was believed (and still believed by some) was made by God in His image, man was the next thing to God, and, as such, superior, especially in his best part, his soul, to all creatures, indeed this part was not even part of the natural world (a philosophy which has proved disastrous to the earth’s environment as any casual observer of the 20th century might confirm by simply looking about). Copernicus’ theories might well lead men to think that they are simply part of nature and not superior to it and that ran counter to the theories of the politically powerful churchmen of the time.

    Two other Italian scientists of the time, Galileo and Bruno, embraced the Copernican theory unreservedly and as a result suffered much personal injury at the hands of the powerful church inquisitors. Giordano Bruno had the audacity to even go beyond Copernicus, and, dared to suggest, that space was boundless and that the sun was and its planets were but one of any number of similar system


    The inquisitors remain with us yet and are often called environmentalists.

    Best,  Terry

  6. terryhallinan

    Drilling water wells is very different from poisoning water wells.

    Best,  Terry

  7. tahoebasha3

    You’ve taken another side to point out the good of some exploration.  I think there’s a difference between some gentle exploration and that of an all out assault on the ocean floor, the deep coal mining, etc.

    Your points are, nonetheless, interesting.

  8. tahoebasha3

    is, of course, important.

    I fear, however, much of our discoveries have proven to be to our detriment.  Leave well enough alone??????

  9. tahoebasha3

    And drilling water wells is somewhat different from drilling in coal mines, drilling for oil, etc., etc.

  10. terryhallinan

    The mining may be harmful or not, will almost inevitably reveal information but small chance of Great Truths I would think.  

    Modern road-building inevitably provides much information about the geology of the area just as construction often leads to archaeological finds but it is hardly the purpose of the work.

    Exploration for mining or other exploitation of subsurface minerals is quite different than the actual mining.

    I have been stumbling around looking for one South Pacific island that was all but destroyed by guano mining.  There is a small sad colony today as best I can recall but the   name escapes me.  It was not Howland Island, a name that keeps popping up.

    Peat mining, by some accounts, does as much harm as forest destruction but who cares about that?  A peat bog is hardly as endearing as a redwood forest.

    But fertilizer and peat need not be mined.  

    Fertilizer, which does enormous harm to bodies of water, can be recycled.

    One outfit that was attempting to commercialize a peat moss substitute from the fiber residue of anaerobic digesters was essentially put out of business by peat moss purveyors suing for infringement of their trademarks.

    Gawd, we learn slow.

    Hope we survive.

    Best,  Terry

  11. terryhallinan

    My hard work was blasted into cyberspace by a most unkind computer and this is about all that remains of an old post with dead links:

    Limbert is described as a naturalist and promoter, among many other things.  Promoter for sure.  Limbert used to give shooting exhibitions that would have driven Charlton Heston to ecstasy.  Limbert took some of his shots standing on his head.  Teddy is described as a mixed breed Labrador.  No doubt that is a kindness.

    Bobby and Teddy set off to explore the most hostile environment on earth along with a friend dragooned into the venture.  There is nothing anywhere on earth much like the Craters of the Moon as astronauts peering down from space could tell you:

    Good thing the friend came along.  Teddy had to be carried part of the way.  Better than the remains of many of the covered wagons of pioneers that tried to get through the area.

    I won’t bore you further with a travelogue but the owner of a motel in Arco, ID,  a short distance away told us that her husband was in the business of drilling for scientific core samples.  Would have liked to inquire into that further but we had our own tales of woe along with aches and pains.  She did wonder how the Craters of the Moon could draw more attention from the public.  The lady herself, depending largely yon such an attraction for her business, didn’t quite know how to describe the area in order to interest others.  I suggested she describe it as being much like what our politicians have done to the economy.

    Craters of the Moon is an incredible area overshadowed by Yellowstone, which has less of a story to tell.

    Gun nut hopped into a cave from above while Freddy and friend were taking the days off to heal.  

    But then had no way out.

    Eventually he got out by making a pile of rocks.

    Freddy and friend were happy and relaxed.

    Best,  Terry


  12. tahoebasha3

    terryhallinan.  Was curious!  Sorry you had such a loss with dealing with your computer.  I tell you, it hurts.  It’s happened to me more times than I care to relate.  You’re sitting there writing away, and then, something happens, and everything goes up in smoke.

    Making a pile of rocks — indeed!

  13. terryhallinan

    In Craters of the Moon National Park, lava poured out of long slits instead of forming cones.  During the Great Dying some 250 million years ago, all life was nearly exterminated on the planet attributed by some mainly to the extreme volcanism of the period.

    Some covered wagons tried to follow those slits from which lava and ash poured as a natural path and some of the remains are still there.

    Yellowstone is a wondrous place overlying a supervolcano but Craters of the Moon is a unique spectacle like no other on earth.

    Best,  Terry  

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