Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘domestic energy’ tag

Hydraulic Fracturing Has Great Potential, Some Dangers

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Let’s be clear: There is great potential for fracking to improve our domestic energy security. It’s also important to note that there are ways to do it that are unsafe.

For more articles about hydraulic fracturing (fracking), click here.

JANUARY 31, 2011, 11:50 P.M. ET

By RYAN TRACY

WASHINGTON—Data submitted to Congress by 12 oil and gas companies indicates they pumped hydraulic-fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel into wells in 19 states without proper permits, three House Democrats wrote in a letter released Monday.

The letter from Reps. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Diana Degette (D., Colo.) calls on Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to investigate whether the companies violated the Safe Drinking Water act.

The letter is the latest salvo in a battle over the safety of hydraulic-fracturing, a practice central to the expansion of U.S. natural gas production in recent years. Industry officials say hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressures deep underground to extract oil and gas trapped in rock formations, is safe. Environmentalists and their allies in Congress are concerned that increased use of the practice is putting drinking water supplies at risk.

Read the entire article here.

New oil and gas may cripple alternative energy

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By Llewellyn King

Hearst Newspapers

Updated: 03/05/2010 06:10:04 PM MST

“When an irresistible force such as you

“Meets and old immovable object like me

“You can bet just as sure as you live

“Something’s got to give …”

— Johnny Mercer

WASHINGTON — When Johnny Mercer penned those words, he was speaking of love not politics, and not the politics of energy. But he could have been.

In energy, there are two great forces that collide: public policy and the market. Despite the love affair of recent decades with markets, neither is always right.

Consider the struggle between old energy –market-tested and with a mature infrastructure — and new, alternative energy.

Public policy, under Republicans and Democrats, has sought to discourage the nation’s ever-greater dependence on imported oil (about 60 percent). But the market has sung a siren song, tempting us to more oil consumption.

[…]

Bush himself fell for the temptations of ethanol from corn and the possibility of switch grass. Now these are under threat from new discoveries of oil off Brazil and far greater estimates of oil production from Iraq. In fact, Iraq is being touted as a rival to Saudi Arabia with Brazil right behind it.

Read the entire article here.

Lawmakers decry energy grants that create foreign work

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Ai ai ai, one of many, huge problems with our current energy system is our reliance on other countries for resources. Especially if these are government dollars, spending them overseas seems an unwise use of scarce dollars.

By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle

March 3, 2010, 10:06PM

WASHINGTON — Four Democratic senators on Wednesday implored the Obama administration to stop spending federal stimulus dollars on renewable energy projects whenever the bulk of solar cell and wind turbine manufacturing is done overseas.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 5th, 2010 at 3:32 am

How communities can take control of their energy futures

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by John Farrell

March 5, 2010

Energy self-reliant states have stronger economies. And new data on wind power potential reveals that five Midwestern states could match their current electricity use with domestic wind power.

But along with the good news, these states — Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan — should take note of the stakes.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 5th, 2010 at 12:10 am

W.R. Grace aims to reduce energy use by 20 percent

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Not only are they pledging to make the effort, they’re going to report their progress. It’s up to us as concerned citizens to monitor and encourage the process.

February 9, 2010

As part of its sustainability strategy, W.R. Grace is aiming to reduce the energy consumption of its operations by 20 percent per pound of production over the next seven years and make annual reports about its progress in reaching that goal. A leading supplier of catalysts to petroleum refiners and other products, Grace will use 2007 as the base year against which it will measure progress. In that year, it produced nearly 2 million tons of products and had carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of 1.1 million tons.

Read the original article here.

Written by Jason

February 10th, 2010 at 6:27 am

Renewables in Vogue at Obama’s DOE

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By MIKE SORAGHAN AND KATIE HOWELL of Greenwire
Published: February 2, 2010

Nuclear, solar and wind power are the popular kids in the Energy Department schoolyard this year, while oil, gas and coal have been sent to detention.

When he sent his proposed spending plan to Congress yesterday, President Obama recommended subsidizing new nuclear plants with loan guarantees and shoveling more money at wind and solar research.

But when the administration’s budget cutters got to the oil patch, they found a target-rich environment with plenty of programs and tax breaks they wanted to cut.

Read the entire article here.

Mountaintop Mining: Coal Baron Debates a Kennedy

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If the damage to water quality is as bad from mountain top mining as many say it is, the paychecks these miners earn could have to go to their rising health care costs.

Coal baron vs. Kennedy: Activists, industry in mountaintop mining debate for wide US audience

By TIM HUBER and TOM BREEN Associated Press Writers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. January 22, 2010 (AP)

The real audience for the debate between coal baron Don Blankenship and conservationist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was not the hundreds who packed the audience at the University of Charleston.

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For Blankenship, mountaintop mining puts food on the table and mortgage checks in the mail. For Kennedy, it defaces majestic scenery, pollutes water and shatters the quiet country existence of people who’ve called the mountains home for generations.

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“If we can’t have intelligent discourse about the most important issues we face, where are we?” he said. “If we can help people understand it’s a hard issue, that’s a major step forward.”

Read the entire article here.

Democrats study Plan B for energy, climate change

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By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle

Jan. 25, 2010, 10:33PM

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s already dim hopes of passing sweeping energy and climate change legislation darkened further with last week’s Republican victory in the special election to fill a Senate seat from Massachusetts.

Now Democratic leaders eager to cap the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming are mulling a possible Plan B: tacking “clean energy” measures onto a job-creation package and following that up with an “energy-only” bill that doesn’t contain a specific plan for combating climate change.

Read the entire article here.

Drilling Tactic Unleashes a Trove of Natural Gas—And a Backlash

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If there demand is  for natural gas and the technology is feasible, we’ll extract the gas even if the technology for a given location cannot be guaranteed to be safe. If demand is diminished, there is greater opportunity to develop the technology to be safer and more cost effective.We should take advantage of the vast natural gas resources available domestically, and we should do so responsibly and in ways that ensure sufficient energy resources for generations to come.

JANUARY 21, 2010

By BEN CASSELMAN And RUSSELL GOLD

SHREVEPORT, La.—A mounting backlash against a technique used in natural-gas drilling is threatening to slow development of the huge gas fields that some hope will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and polluting coal.

The U.S. energy industry says there is enough untapped domestic natural gas to last a century—but getting to that gas requires injecting millions of gallons of water into the ground to crack open the dense rocks holding the deposits. The process, known as hydraulic fracturing, has turned gas deposits in shale formations into an energy bonanza.

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Matt NagerTrinidad Drilling driller Adam Rios works at the Reveille 1H Chesapeake Energy natural gas site in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 23, 2009.

Frack

The industry’s success has triggered increasing debate over whether the drilling process could pollute freshwater supplies. Federal and state authorities are considering action that could regulate hydraulic fracturing, potentially making drilling less profitable and giving companies less reason to tap into this ample supply of natural gas.

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“We can now find and produce unconventional natural-gas supplies miles below the surface in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner,” Mr. Tillerson told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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[frack]
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Natural gas heats more than half of U.S. homes and generates a fifth of America’s electricity, far less than coal, which provides the U.S. with nearly half its power. The industry and its allies are promoting natural gas a bridge fuel to help wean the U.S. off coal, which emits more global-warming gases, and imported oil until renewable fuels are able to meet the demand.

What most worries environmentalists isn’t the water in the fracturing process—it’s the chemicals mixed in the water to reduce friction, kill bacteria and prevent mineral buildup. The chemicals make up less than 1% of the overall solution, but some are hazardous in low concentrations.

Today, the industry estimates that 90% of all new gas wells are fractured. Shale—a dense, nonporous gas-bearing rock—won’t release its gas unless it is cracked open, and other types of formations also produce more gas when fractured. Easier, more porous formations, which don’t require fracturing, were tapped in earlier decades and have largely dried up.

On a recent Friday morning, a crew from Cudd Energy Services worked to fracture a Chesapeake Energy Corp. well in Caddo Parish, La., the heart of the Haynesville Shale gas field. While cattle chewed grass in a field across the street, a team of Chesapeake and Cudd employees monitored computer readouts as 21 diesel-powered pumps forced nearly 3,800 gallons of water a minute down a well that reached two miles into the earth.

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It is a process Chesapeake says it has learned how to do both efficiently and safely. “We’ve done it 10,000 times in the company’s history without incident,” said Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a separate interview.

But in a coffee shop in nearby Shreveport, Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn said he had concerns after more than a dozen cows died during a Chesapeake Energy fracturing operation last year. A preliminary investigation linked the deaths to chemicals that spilled off the well site into a nearby pasture. A Chesapeake spokesman says the company compensated the cattle’s owner and has taken steps to prevent a similar incident in the future.

“I’m all for drilling, and I want to get the gas out from underneath us,” Mr. Linn said. “But at the same time, how do you balance human life and quality of life and clean water against that?”

Natural-gas companies say what’s at work is fear of the new. “When you introduce something like hydraulic fracturing in a part of the country that hasn’t had any experience with it, I think it’s natural for there to be questions about the procedure,” says Mr. McClendon.

Read the entire article here.

Energy Efficiency Can Mean Lower Taxes

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From cakes and weekends at the Four Seasons, now to tax breaks, as if we needed more incentive to save energy.

Energy efficiency improvements can also reduce your tax liability

By CAROLE FELDMAN Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON January 19, 2010 (AP)

Making energy efficient improvements to your home will do more than reduce your energy costs — they’ll also reduce your tax bill.

The tax credit for energy-efficient windows or doors, air conditioners or furnaces, or other energy-saving improvements disappeared in 2008, but returned for 2009 and 2010 — at an even higher value. This is one case where procrastination paid off.

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Homeowners who choose alternative energy could be in for a bigger tax credit.

There’s a 30 percent tax credit with no maximum for homeowners who install solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps or small wind turbines. The credit also applies to site preparation and installation.

Read the entire article here.