While XL Pipeline Stalls, Gas Fracking Comes Under Closer Scrutiny for Contaminated Aquifer

According to Credo and a host of other environmental organizations, “The State Department and Obama Administration announced today that they will re-evaluate the route of the Keystone XL pipeline, and restart their environmental assessment, which take until at least the beginning of 2013 to complete.” So the new XL pipeline is stalled—for now. But in another email I received from Pro Publica, the EPA found a fracking compound in a Wyoming aquifer in an area plagued by citizen’s complaints their water was contaminated.
ProPublica’s article stated:

The Pavillion area [in Wyoming] has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade [1] that the drilling — and hydraulic fracturing in particular — has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment [5], loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.
The gas industry — led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion — has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.

This information is based on raw sampling data but the article went on to say:

The chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one — a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) — widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The agency said it had not found contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.
The wells also contained benzene at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols — another dangerous human carcinogen — acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.

I would say the people in that area and other fracking areas across the U.S. have a “legitimate” complaint now. This discovery will certainly open a big can of worms for the fracking industry.

READ THE WHOLE STORY at ProPublica’s website:
. http://www.propublica.org/article/epa-finds-fracking-compound-in-wyoming-aquifer.

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Sweltering Heat Worldwide as U.S. House Tacks Anti-Environmental Riders to Budget Bills.

Headlines from around the globe show nothing but sweltering heat.

 From the NOAA website:

 Heatwave sweeps across the U.S.

http://www.noaa.gov/heat/index.html

Europe’s heat wave hit earlier in June this year:

Heat wave has Europe Sweltering

http://www.torontosun.com/2011/06/28/heatwave-has-europe-sweltering

 Europe hit record highs just last year along with Russia!

 Record-Breaking 2010 Eastern European/Russian Heatwave

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110318091141.htm

As of today an estimated 10 million people already need humanitarian aid in eastern Africa but extreme drought conditions along the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia are exacerbating the situation.

Somalia drought forces more people into displacement camps

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2011/jun/28/somalia-drought-appeal-in-pictures

After suffering a tsunami, Japan hasn’t been spared. The final days of June in Japan were 6 degrees higher than the 30 year average:

Japan struggles to cope with heatwave, with 26 dead of heatstroke

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8645326/Japan-struggles-to-cope-with-heatwave-with-26-dead-of-heatstroke.html

Drought continues in SW Australia where rainfall in some places is at all time record lows:

Long-term dry conditions continue in southwest WA

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/drought.shtml

 And the cool weather of Northern Canada—not so much:

Heat scorches Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/07/17/cda-weather-heat.html

But instead of posting headline after headline across the earth, the Union of Concerned Scientists has a worldwide heat map:

http://www.climatehotmap.org/

One would think that in light of what the world is experiencing as far as climate change that our government would heed Mother Nature but new corporate lackeys in the House persist in adding anti-environmental riders to budget bills.

Most Anti-Environment House of Representatives in History Tries to Do More Damage

According to Frances Beinecke, of NRDC, and a barrage of email from my environmental charities our new U.S. House of Representatives is the worst on record for assaulting clean air, water, and our public lands.

Tea Party leaders in the House have dramatically stepped up their assault on America’s environmental and public health safeguards. Last week alone they used about 50 floor votes and more than 30 policy riders on spending bills to undermine the protections that keep our air safe, our water clean, and our public lands intact.

Another barrage of anti-environment bills is on its way. The upcoming debate in the full House on funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department will likely feature votes on even more policy riders designed to prevent the government from upholding basic environmental standards.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/fbeinecke/most_anti-environment_house_of.html

Clean water is specifically under attack by new house member (R) Ohio, Bob Gibbs according to the NY Times. He thinks there may be too many clean water regulations. Bob is a former hog farmer. An enlightening read from a former post of mine relative to the hog industry, particularly CAFOS, applies here. Smithfield Foods polluted waterways clear to the ocean with runoff from their hog industry. So we see where Bob the former hog farmer might be coming from. And reading what Bob had to say in an excerpt in the NY Times, it’s all about money first, pollution later.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2006/12/spreading-pig-poo-who-knew/

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/03/03greenwire-anti-environmental-house-freshman-leads-charge-98149.html

The problem is that Bob isn’t alone. It looks like there may be complicity among state’s leaders with the idea that water has too many regulations. Just the other morning I caught that little ticker on GMA that stated several states have failed to report clean water violations? Hmmm. Found the story by the AP on Yahoo.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Feds-in-dark-about-some-apf-2889953000.html?x=0&.v=1

My guess is that some of the under-reporting by states is due to problems with fracking for natural gas. Fracking is a drilling process that wastes millions of gallons of clean water to blast each well with enough pressure  to fracture dense shale to release natural gas. The water mixes with gases and chemicals and is toxic. This practice has been blamed for spoiling residential water wells due to leaching from the fractures. The process pollutes nearby streams and water areas also. Exxon claims they recycle some of the water but “some” isn’t all and when we’re dealing with millions of gallons of water in exchange for a fossil gas—it’s unconscienceable. Children die from lack of water everyday.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=13353997

Besides compromising or possibly depleting our clean water supplies, fracking and drilling are costing us our public lands leased to the oil/gas industry. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for leases for drilling/fracking.

Ah, so now it’s clear why all those pesky WILD MUSTANG HORSES had to go. Thirty year-old laws protecting those horses were just brushed aside while helicopters were used for roundups into overcrowded conditions.  We were told wild mustangs were too numerous and destroying precious grasslands. But the BLM is leasing our public lands right from under us while we’re occupied with the economy. That land will never be the same.

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/newsroom/2011/march/energy_publiclands_teleconf.html

http://wilderness.org/content/wild-lands-under-attack-budget-2011

The idea that it’s OK to keep forging ahead with filthy fossil fuel  as long as the fuel is our own is ludicrous and at least a decade old, a decade out of touch with the environment. By using fossil fuel we’re affecting other natural resources in the worst way.  We’re invading areas that we hold dear, tainting both water and land, and destroying animal/plant life in the process. We can’t drink natural gas or oil and that’s basically the tradeoff.  Without water we die. Without gas/oil –we’re inconvenienced. The U.S. House doesn’t have life’s best interests at all.

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Like Michigan and Gulf Oil Spill, Lack of Regulatory Oversight at Fault in California Gas Line Explosion

Our infrastructure has been neglected for far too long. And maybe deregulation sounds good, but it doesn’t work and has served to prolong the neglect. Deregulation has been the ideology in practice for a decade and as a result there aren’t enough regulators around to MAKE industry do what the law dictates for the health and safety of the public. As a result we witnessed BP’s gulf oil spill, Enbridge Energy’s oil spill in Michigan, and the recent natural gas line explosion yesterday evening that along with the fire it created, wiped out a neighborhood in San Bruno California. Pacific Gas and Electric own the gas line.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/10/BAVQ1FBPMD.DTL.

According to ABC World News, PG&E like Enbridge scratched their heads as to what caused the ruptured pipeline. Well you would think the fact that it was 62 years old and lacked regular inspection might have something to do with it. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA simply do not have enough regulators to ensure all 2.5 million miles of criss-crossing pipelines in the U.S. are inspected and tested regularly. And industry isn’t going to do one iota extra if there is a loophole they can use instead.

Gas pipelines are to be inspected and tested for pressure every 7 years except in rural areas. That is the loophole. Considering the spread of suburbia to rural areas, there are probably plenty of pipelines that have not been inspected for the increase in usage. Rural areas less sparsely populated used thinner walled pipe years ago because of less volume. As neighborhoods grow, the older pipes should either be replaced with thicker walled pipe due to increased volume or be checked for pressure more often. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. And even if regulations are upgraded quickly there are fewer regulators to make sure pipelines have indeed been inspected. Industry appears to be more and more unreliable for self regulation when it comes to our health and safety.

A washintonindependant.com article about Michigan’s oil spill stated, “According to PHMSA records, there were 265 “significant incidents” in the U.S. pipeline system last year, resulting in 14 deaths, 63 injuries and more than $152 million in property damage. A total of 53,000 barrels of liquid were spilled during these incidents. About 100 of those significant incidents involved “hazardous liquids” like oil. PHMSA defines significant incident as any accident involving a fatality, more than $5,000 of damage or a spill of liquid.”

http://washingtonindependent.com/93129/michigan-oil-spill-raises-familiar-questions-about-oversight.

We’re going to see more and more problems down the road if we continue to rely on the foxes to watch the henhouses. Self-regulation is just that. People want to argue that industry is smart enough not to take big risks and most of the time adheres to the regulations laid out for them. Do they? We see that they don’t and in a big way. This latest explosion that wiped out an entire neighborhood should not be brushed under the rug as one of many problems that take place regularly. It was large and the picture of the crater it left does not create a sense of security for any of us. The gulf oil spill was too huge to forget too quickly even though some would also like to brush it under the rug as part of the daily risks by that industry. And Michigan citizens will continue to witness the oily mess of Enbridge long after we quit hearing about it.

The Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act looks to pass in the Senate after recess. It finally has 60 votes. Senator George Voinovich of (R-OH) stated, “We don’t have time anymore. The nation is really hurting.” He’s joining 59 other senators to pass the bill. Hopefully, transportation infrastructure upgrades spurred by this bill will also spur the need for greater oversight of the miles and miles of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure that needs upgrading also. It isn’t like the oil and gas industry doesn’t have the money to upgrade relevant pipelines. This bill isn’t just about jobs, but our health, safety, and a future free of explosions and spills that put lives at risk. The gulf spill, the Michigan spill, and now this devastating explosion should be enough already to realize industry needs a watchful eye and prodding to do what is right relative to citizen’s health and welfare and the environment that sustains us.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100910/pl_yblog_upshot/republican-senator-voinovich-offers-60th-vote-for-small-business-bill.

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Many Share the Blame for the Oil Spill

There are many in the mix that contributed to the oil disaster that still unfolds and is threatening Florida’s coastlines now. If the oil slick catches the Gulf Stream our eastern seaboard could also have fouled beaches. BP is the overall responsible party and will pay billions for the aftermath. The media blames BP. Sec’y of Interior Ken Salazar blames BP. But look at all the hands in this mess that aren’t mentioned by the media. Transocean Ltd. leased the $600 million oil rig to BP from its inventory. Before oil drilling ever began Halliburton cemented the pipe into the hole. And 2 U.S. agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Minerals Management Services have varying degrees of oversight. The USFWS states that as part of its management goals for the wildlife refuge struck by the oil slick is “oversight of oil and gas development and production.” Minerals Management Services agency “determined there was ‘no discernible improvement by (oil) industry over the past 7 years'” relative to safety/drilling practices and ‘proposed taking a more proactive stance by requiring operators to have their safety program audited at least once every three years.'” One would think that before any more drills were placed, the new regulations would be in effect and current inspections completed especially with the U.S. announcing more offshore drilling. As it stands right now, the oil industry safety programs are “self-managed and voluntary for operators.” Ah, self regulation shows its ugly head. The foxes watching the henhouses or self-regulation didn’t work out too well for us AGAIN, while we continue the mantra-less government, less government.

Both “BP and TransOcean Ltd. aggressively opposed the new safety regulations proposed last year. And the oil industry launched a coordinated campaign to attack those regulations, with over 100 letters objecting to them”. Why? Minerals and Management Services estimated that “the proposed rule, which has yet to take effect, would cost operators about $4.59 million in startup costs and $8 million in annual recurring costs.” So there you have it. Ethics regarding safety takes a back seat to costs or MONEY.

TransOcean’s Deepwater Horizon rig was “placed into service in 2001. [] Working with BP, the Transocean crews on the Deepwater Horizon previously drilled a well to 35,050 vertical depth and 35,055 feet measured depth (MD), or more than six miles, while operating in 4,130 feet of water.” It set a record for this and so drilling extremely deep has all been done before. But:

Relatives of workers who are presumed dead in this disaster claim that BP and rig owner TransOcean “violated numerous statutes and regulations” issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.

Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

2001-2007 is the timeline for the study by Minerals Management Services that determined self operated safety programs/practices had not improved within the industry. But even though safety practices may have been lax, the drill supposedly never struck oil prior to the explosion.

http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/IDeepwater-Horizon-i-Drills-Worlds-Deepest-Oil-and-Gas-Well-419C151.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/27-1.

When the explosion first happened, I blogged that ABC News reported BP had not yet struck oil with the TransOcean rig. The concern was mainly for the 11 missing crew members and the diesel fuel onboard the oil rig when it began to list. Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano stated on CNN that the Coast Guard was there from the beginning, as well as BP, and a host of others to contain what should have been only diesel fuel spillage. So why the oil?

Halliburton was contracted to cement the pipe in the hole. The lawsuits filed by family members of the missing 11 workers “also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company “prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion.”

After digging around to learn more about it, I found an interesting article on seminal.firedoglake.com about known problems with cementing the pipe for drilling at extreme depths. It has to do with gas bubbles trapped in frozen crystals and a very interesting read. The article went on to say that late last year Halliburton did a presentation about cementing and there is admitted shortcomings in the process in deep water. According to Halliburton’s PDF of the presentation:

Deepwater Well Objectives

Cement slurry should be placed in the entire annulus with no losses
Temperature increase during slurry hydration should not destabilize hydrates
There should be no influx of shallow water or gas into the annulus
The cement slurry should develop strength in the shortest time after placement

Conditions in deepwater wells are not conducive to achieving all of these objectives simultaneously.

What? If they cannot achieve all of these objectives than something can definitely go wrong, is liable to go wrong especially when the frozen crystals of gas melt, releasing that gas. According to the diary on sentinel.firedoglake.com, “The problem is that when you drill into these formations, and then try to inject cement into the hole/gaps to prevent leakage, the curing process for that creates heat. That heat can, if not controlled, cause the gas to escape the frozen crystals. If a lot of gas is released all at once, as could happen during the cement/curing process, it can cause a blowout where the cementing is occurring.” In short, too many gas bubbles released = Kaboom.

Minerals Management Service’s 2007 study revealed that 18 out of 39 gas explosions on rigs were a result of improper cementing procedures.

http://www.aade.org/houston/study/Fluids/11182009/F%20Tahmourpour%20Deepwater%20Cementing.pdf.

http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/44259.
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/27-1.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB2000142405274870357250457521
4593564769072.html
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Congress is investigating Halliburton too.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/01/nation/la-na-oil-spill-investigation-20100501.

And what about Ken Salazar’s statement, “Those responsible for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be held accountable.” Um, the USFWS and Minerals Management Service are under the Dept. of the Interior, or Ken Salazar. Both agencies have degrees of oversight in oil production in the gulf. Those agencies knew the safety practices/programs for oil drilling were self-regulated, not effective, and had not improved in 7 years! It looks like Salazar’s Dept., once again gave more credence to industry’s stance than the overall protection of our wildlife and habitat the Dept. of Interior oversees. Let’s see, we have an ongoing and unscientific wolf and mustang horse slaughter on what appears to be the behalf of the cattle and sport hunting industry condoned by Salazar. Now we have a huge wildlife refuge ruined with thousands of animal, bird, fish, and reptile lives at stake on behalf of the oil industry. They only wrote 100 letters? Thousands of letters have been written to Salazar on behalf of wolves/mustangs.

http://www.newser.com/article/d9fdj21g0/salazar-those-responsible-for-gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-will-be-held-accountable.html

Finally, BP just wasn’t prepared for a deepwater spill. According to an article on Daily Finance:

BP’s 52-page exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon Well, filed with the federal Mineral’s Management Service, says repeatedly that it was unlikely an accidental surface or sub-surface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.

And while the company concluded that a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas, it argued that due to the distance to shore, (48 miles), and that response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant, adverse impacts are expected.

Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs, Mississippi based environmental lawyer and board member for the Gulf Restoration Network didn’t see anything in the document that BP addressed the kind of technology needed to control a spill in water at that depth.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/article/document-bp-didnt-plan-for-major-oil/993853/.

This morning, BP made a statement on ABC’s GMA that they aren’t totally responsible for the accident. They do take responsibility for the oil and the clean-up, but… Watch it:

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ABC’s GMA also showed a picture of a dead sea turtle one of 20 giant DEAD sea turtles that have washed up on shore already. Some 5,000 dolphins are among the rigs in the Gulf this time of year. It is the birthing season for them. I’m waiting for dead baby dolphins to wash up next. Hopefully, dolphins are smart enough to get out of Dodge.

After what I’ve gathered and summarized here, I think BP is right to take a stance against ALL the blame. There were a lot of hands in the pot for this mess. Of this I am certain. What looks to be the largest environmental disaster in the U.S. was created by MAN. There is no brushing this one off as natural. WE DO AFFECT our world and everything in it.

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Chinese Coal Cargo Ship Rams Part of Great Barrier Reef in Australia

A Chinese Coal Cargo Carrier (Cosco shipping), rammed the Douglas Shoal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Queensland, Australia at full speed. So far the ship, the Shen Neng 1, is holding together and dozens including marine salvage experts are working to insure it stays that way. An oil spill from this ship could prove disastrous for the world’s largest reef.

Only a small number of oil patches were spotted from the air and they have already been sprayed with chemical dispersant. Whether or not the chemical dispersant has a bad affect on living organisms in the reef is still unsure. I tried to read up on chemical dispersants in a PDF file pages long. Basically, the affects of dispersants are only known in controlled lab experiments and for a handful of living organisms. To cover all the effects of chemical dispersants on all living organisms in a reef that size has not ever been done. And we pretty much know a lab experiment would be hard pressed to cover how the movement and volume of water in the sea changes the findings on chemical dispersants in the lab anyway.

So needless to say, officials in Australia are working frantically to keep this ship together and figure how it’s going to be salvaged. Prevention of any spillage is of course the best scenario. The ship was almost 10 miles off course when it entered the area that is off limits to commercial ships. Cosco could be fined over $1,000,000 and the captain $250,000 in penalties according to an article on news.com.au.

Luckily, no storms are predicted for the next few days to cause more problems because the ship is carrying 975 tons of heavy fuel oil and 65,000 tons of coal. My last blog that coal is dirty start to finish didn’t encompass the risk of shipping it across the sea. In the article, the Queensland Premier, Ms Anna Bligh said, “The number of ships in the area was expected to increase with the growth of the natural gas industry. There has been a growing concern about increased ship traffic and that Maritime Safety Queensland was already considering whether more professional pilots should be used to help with ships’ navigation. It may well be that we will see more pilots.”

After this, let’s hope so.

http://www.news.com.au/national/coal-carrier-shen-neng-1-runs-aground-on-great-barrier-reef/story-e6frfkvr-1225849471528.

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Offshore Drilling Opens Up

President Obama will open up offshore gas and oil drilling off the coasts of Virginia and possibly southward. There will also be drilling in the eastern gulf coast, and unfortunately, the Arctic. I wrote about the ban on offshore drilling expiring back in September 2008. I wrote then that the momentum might not end up being there for offshore drilling with alternatives around the corner. And that may still hold true. There wouldn’t be any effort toward offshore drilling until at least 2012. It’s in very initial stages of research.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/09/offshore-drilling-ban-to-expire/.

With respect to what many are calling a change in position, Obama said all along he would open up offshore oil drilling. I remember crinching when I heard it. The NY Times recalls: “Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore-drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require ‘tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.'” Nuclear energy was among the options too.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/science/earth/31energy.html.

The NY Times article also said there may be protests from local government officials whose seaside towns would be affected. Tropical storms and near hurricanes have been running up the Atlantic seaboard farther and farther lately. Hurricane Ike failed to make an impression, occurring during the presidential campaign. The devastation of Texas’ shoreline, the oil slicks, and drums floating around was horrible. If it occurs along the Atlantic, it was Virginia’s call. The same holds true for Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. If a spill occurs, or wildlife is affected, it’s pretty much hers. In any case, the advancement of new offshore drilling will be interesting to watch.

I hate to say this, but this might be what it takes to get people paying closer attention to be careful what they chant for, “Drill, Baby, Drill.” I wouldn’t want to look out at a rig or be near one in the event of a hurricane. The western shores of Florida might be looking at them too, because the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a broad energy bill last June that greatly shrinks the size of the no-drilling buffer off of Florida’s western shores according to The Hill website,

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/89785-interior-offshore-drilling-announcement-coming-very-soon-.

I’m just thinking, KISS GULF SHRIMP GOODBYE.

There might be a lot of newcomers joining the opposition, all those that live along our coastlines already battered by bad weather, and abused by the insurance industry. Now big oil and gas are coming to a neighborhood near them. It will be an interesting few years, and also the new energy legislation to come. President Obama kept his promise on some major points—lets see what we get in the form of progressive, green energy legislation in return.

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2009 Second Warmest Year of Warmest Decade on Record

An article on Environmental News Service website reported: “January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Throughout the last three decades, the GISS surface temperature record shows an upward trend of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade.” James Hansen of NASA went on to say: “There’s a contradiction between the results shown here and popular perceptions about climate trends.” Do ya think?

It’s a good article that addresses a cool 2008 due to the tropical Pacific cooling, and that the Arctic and Antarctic in particular warmed more than the rest of the earth. It also explained that our lower 48 states only comprise 1.5 of the total earth’s surface so our overall temperature doesn’t factor in greatly. Guess that leaves out the notion we can simply rely on the backyard thermometer hanging on the fence as a predictor of climate change, or the ever popular check for wind direction by licking a finger and sticking it up in the air. Check out the graph and you’ll see what I mean. While the variance zig zags up and down accounting for our sometimes hot, sometimes cool summers, the AVERAGE OVERALL global temperature continues to rise.

The article even addressed other issues that account for climate change such as “changes in the sun’s irradiance, oscillations of sea surface temperatures in the tropics, and changes in aerosol levels.” Also factored in was the presence or lack of El Nino or La Nina’s. I’m sure this report addresses far more than that of the first in the 1880’s.

The best part was the following explanation for the lovely Arctic blasts we’ve been getting. I wondered about them and if we’ll be getting more?

The near-record temperatures of 2009 occurred despite an unseasonably cool December in much of North America. High air pressures in the Arctic decreased the east-west flow of the jet stream, while also increasing its tendency to blow from north to south and draw cold air southward from the Arctic. This resulted in an unusual effect that caused frigid air from the Arctic to rush into North America and warmer mid-latitude air to shift toward the north.

So we can look for more of the frigid cold? No happy camper here because there are far too many charges on my heating bill, different pricing per CCF, and the “oh so cheap” natural gas is not.

>http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2010/2010-01-25-03.html.

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Natural Gas is Plentiful But Extraction Methods Threaten Clean Water

The New York Times just ran an article called “The Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom,” about extraction practices that threaten wells, and groundwater. Not surprisingly, natural gas drilling expanded significantly over the last decade. Halliburton happens to be the second largest natural gas extractor in the country and with the help of the last administration had thousand of acres of land, some in our national parks, open to them for gas drilling. Natural gas is so plentiful now that it threatens the coal industry because it is also cheap, and a much cleaner fuel for electricity generation. An article at groundreport.com stated: “Last week, Progress Energy, an electricity generator in North Carolina, announced plans to close all of its old coal plants and switch to natural gas.” Interesting. http://www.groundreport.com/Business/Energy-Deflation-Cometh-CheaPiling-On-Shale-Gas-LN/2913527..

What I remember most about the natural gas boom is the few and far between stories about how fracturing allows methane, benzene, and a host of other poisons to leak out of the ground uncontrolled. I blogged about it this past year, http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/05/natural-gasmethane-found-in-more-and-more-drinking-water-across-the-country/. I also remember an article in Rolling Stone years ago that stated drilling for natural gas is not exact and underground springs and water sources are often hit. The clean water shoots out uncapped. After all it’s not the gas drillers job to capture clean water.

Considering the glaciers that normally supply rivers and underground aquifers in the U.S. are melting and the outcome may mean a water shortage down the line, the U.S. simply cannot afford to threaten any of our existing water supplies in a rushed and abrasive quest to tap natural gas. The process of extraction requires millions of gallons of water to begin with so contaminating water sources nearby just aggravate an already dire situation for clean water availability. There needs to be balance between acquiring natural gas and preserving clean water otherwise we end up with a resource for energy for our comfort while losing our most basic of needs to live—WATER.

Read about it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08fracking.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=tap+water+&st=nyt.

http://www.propublica.org/feature/buried-secrets-is-natural-gas-drilling-endangering-us-water-supplies-1113.

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Higher Heating Bills Next Winter

Now that the weather might be warming up in Michigan we don’t really think about the awfully high gas prices we paid for winter heating. But I caught a quick little announcement on WXYZ news that we will see higher heating bills this coming winter. HIGHER?!?!?!?! The price of natural gas is down, but DTE will be charging more for delivery costs.

At the same time congress is conducting hearings on the pros and cons of fracturing for natural gas. Fracturing is a quick method of forcing water, sand, and other liquids (chemicals) into the ground under high pressure. Not a good practice at all. We really need to get moving on alternative sources for our energy needs because we’re really lousing up the earth with the way we do things. I’ve read about streams poisoned from the benzene leaking out of the ground with the fracturing process, and the humungous waste of water especially when hitting underground springs. I recently wrote about natural gas drilling again.http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/05/natural-gasmethane-found-in-more-and-more-drinking-water-across-the-country/.

According to ProPublica, “the fracturing process was exempted from federal environmental oversight in 2005 and now, amid emerging evidence that it is damaging water resources [4] across the country, Congress is preparing legislation that would reverse [1] the exemptions and require the industry to identify the toxic chemicals it pumps underground.” The American Petroleum Institute and its deep pockets is preparing to fight stating that individual state regulations are enough. Remember, I wrote a blog about our state cutting back so badly in its regulatory departments especially relative to groundwater issues that no one is minding the fort. So the API is grossly incorrect already in its assumptions about states being able to monitor fracturing processes.

Whatever happens, you know it will affect our wallet one way or another. It’s curious though just reading through feature articles on Oxford-Princeton Industry Briefs website says a lot. Starting on May 15th with “Natural gas stocks rose in U.S.,” the headlines follow: “Natural gas supplies rose last week, Natural gas rig count reaches 6 year low, Arctic thought to contain massive oil and gas supplies, Congressional plan could raise energy royalties, Natural gas customers enjoying low rates, Natural gas stockpiles rose last week, Natural gas, oil prices see as trending upward, and Senate committee backs more drilling in the Gulf.” If you click on Senate committee… the related headlines say, “Oil prices boosted by higher supplies, Debate over congressional proposal taking shape, and OPEC production headed back up.”

None of it makes sense. How are natural gas supplies rising if gas rig counts are down, less rigs should equal less natural gas? And now that Congress might raise energy royalties the push is on to drill more in the Gulf. Oh and suddenly the Arctic is THOUGHT to have massive oil and gas supplies so if the gulf doesn’t produce… And as customers enjoy lower rates, natural gas and oil supplies are trending upward, that’s curious. Finally, why are oil prices boosted by higher supply, and not higher demand? I thought we are using less oil? OPEC’s production is headed back up. When supplies are high, aren’t prices supposed to drop?

http://www.propublica.org/article/natural-gas-drilling-debate-heats-up-603

http://www.oxfordprinceton.com/dib/dib.asp?article=19210999&title=Congress+eyes+hydraulic+fracturing+regulations&key=
The+Natural+Gas+Industry

http://www.oxfordprinceton.com/dib/dib.asp?article=19213244&title=Senate+committee+backs+more+drilling+in+Gulf&key=
The+Oil+Industry%2C+The+Natural+Gas+Industry

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Natural Gas/Methane Found in More and More Drinking Water Across the Country

In our verve to tap more fossil fuel in the form of natural gas we are acting like irresponsible fools. For some reason we think natural gas is OK for use, that somehow it can’t really be included with coal because it burns clean. It’s just doesn’t seem that dirty. And natural gas is in greater supply than oil. There will be no oil spills.

Boy are we stupid, at least those of us that don’t live near any natural gas drilling/fields. For the people that do, it’s a nightmare. Newspapers have reported about natural gas in drinking water from Pennsylvania to Colorado like The Post Gazette, The Denver Post , and The Times Union. The devastation left behind from drilling/blasting for natural gas leaves the landscape looking like a photo of Mars. But even more sacrilegious is the amount of water used. Millions of gallons are needed for each natural gas site and there are thousands of sites around the country. We might think these fields are far removed, but think again. Natural gas drilling affects the health and well-being of Americans, and is devastating to our land, water, and wildlife. And exposing ourselves to more natural gas explosions is outright risky.

Watch the following you tube videos for a sample of what is happening across the country due to the natural gas industry:

Pennsylvania

Arkansas

New Jersey

It’s been years now since I first read an article about poking holes in the earth for natural gas. I remember reading about the waste when a natural water spring would get hit. The water would gush out to the ground and never get tapped. The people searching for natural gas weren’t in charge of water of any kind. So they just let it go.

Then I wrote a blog one year ago to the month about Colorado’s natural gas drilling problem http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/05/natural-gas-exploration-trashing-rocky-mountains-polluting-colorado-river/. And now we’re slowly, too slowly, seeing more and more stories about the problems created by natural gas exploration.

After watching the Arkansas video, imagine the destruction that would be caused by the proposed natural gas pipeline from Alaska through Canada. And some of the video of the flame from the gas wells makes me wonder about safety in areas that are suffering drought conditions. There is a greener alternative to all fossil fuel, and we need to start moving in that direction.

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