The big number to remember in natural gas in the U.S. is that we consumed 24 trillion cubic feet of it in 2010. That’s a lot of hydrocarbons. Today, entire sectors are making decisions about future energy choices based on how much natural gas we have left to burn. And with the Energy Information Administration's new Annual Energy Outlook, it appears we have been making those choices on false assumptions.
The report, released yesterday, issues new estimates of recoverable natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, a vast formation more than a mile below 8 eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Leaders of 52 national and state organizations, including Earthworks, are demanding that the so-called Super Congress make elimination of government handouts to the oil, coal and gas industries a central part of the deficit reduction plan the panel is to present to the full Congress next month.
Eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuels industry could reduce the national debt by $122 billion over ten years while bettering the environment and public health for America’s families, the groups asserted:
The activists' rite of spring has arrived, this year with a new crop of shareholder resolutions looking to reform the oil and gas industry. In 2011 investor-owned oil and gas companies are considering a series of proposals calling for greater transparency and disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Shareholders have filed resolutions to address fracking at 9 companies total: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Ultra Petroleum, El Paso, Cabot Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy, Energen, Anadarko and Carrizo Oil & Gas. "Oil and gas firms are being too vague about how they will manage the environmental challenges resulting from fracking," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a January press release. DiNapoli's office filed a resolution with Cabot Oil & Gas asking for a specific plan to reduce or eliminate hazards from fracking. This week, shareholder advocacy group As You Sow will be moving resolutions at ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Ultra Petroleum.
Are Arkansas' earthquakes manmade? While scientists work to determine the cause of over 700 earthquakes in a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Guy Earthquake Swarm, alarms are sounding that the quakes are caused by waste disposal for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas.
Fracking is the process of injecting fluids into oil or gas wells at high pressure in order to fracture the formations and enable the oil or gas to flow more freely and be pumped to the surface. Some of the fracking fluid stays underground, and some of it returns to the surface as waste. Since 2009, natural gas drillers have been pumping fracking wastes, also known as 'produced water' into disposal wells in the region around Guy, Arkansas. Beginning in that same time period, the region began experiencing earthquakes, including last Sunday's quake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale.
The earthquake issue came to a head last week when two natural gas drillers suspended their practice of injecting fracking wastes underground.
But, there isn't, at least, not yet. That's why the wealthy Texans Dick Bass and William Herbert Hunt are proposing to develop a coal field that lies beneath the Chuit River, an extremely productive wild salmon watershed. On January 20th, more than 150 people attended a hearing in remote Kenai, Alaska to tell the State of Alaska that the commercial and subsistence salmon harvest make the Chuit River an 'unsuitable land' for an open-pit coal mine. Check out this great coverage in The Mudflats, including photos from the hearing and an outline of the comments. You can weigh in too; the deadline for comments if February 19th.
Last week the EPA stepped into a leadership position by revoking the water permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia, recognizing that mountaintop removal coal mining causes irreparable damage to America's waterways. This campaign came after years of struggle against the intractable coal industry, and great work from our allies the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Appalachian Voices, Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club, and many others.
A great victory for Indigenous Rights and the environment emerged in Canada this week when the government declined to authorize the Prosperity open-pit gold mine.
Widely criticized for its plan to fill Fish Lake (Teztan Biny) with toxic tailings, the Prosperity Mine has become a symbol of conflict between Canada's free-entry system for mining companies and its commitment to negotiate in good faith with First Nations.
Congratulations to the Tsilhqot'in Nation, whose release is after the jump:
Gasland opens when Filmmaker Josh Fox is offered $100,000 for the drilling rights to the gas under his land in Pennsylvania near the New York border. Many people have signed on the dotted line and regretted it. But not Fox. He took off on a cross-country investigation of America to understand what it would mean to open the door to natural gas drilling on his family s land.
The film that resulted, Gasland, follows Josh as he exposes the environmental effects of drilling and hydraulic fracturing. What he uncovers is nothing new to OGAP members but horrifying to those unfamiliar with what it takes to turn on a light switch or light their stove top: homes with tap water so contaminated you can set it on fire; people with similar chronic illnesses and symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and toxic waste pits that kill livestock and wildlife.
From Dimock, Pennsylvania, to Wyoming s Powder River Basin to DISH, Texas and Aztec, New Mexico, Fox documents the dark side of America s energy policy: an oil and gas industry that is exempt from nearly every one of our federal environmental laws the Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, to name a few. In 2005, Congress, thanks to former Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, exempted hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") from the Safe Drinking Water Act.