As Earth Day Nears, Latest Data Show U.S. Air Quality Continues to Improve, Thanks to Shale Gas

Ahead of Earth Day, an Energy In Depth analysis of the latest government data shows that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and three air pollutants responsible for millions of deaths worldwide have significantly declined since the shale revolution began. This is a trend that multiple reputable third parties agree can be traced directly to increased natural gas use made possible by hydraulic fracturing.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data show that natural gas consumption increased 25 percent from 2005 to 2016. During that same timespan, the most recent EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have declined 13 percent, while overall greenhouse gas emissions are at their lowest levels since 1992. The latest EPA data also show that sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter emissions are down 82, 49 and 32 percent, respectively, since 2005.

Read the full blog post on EIDClimate.org.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

More Scary Headlines from ALA? Or Have They Learned from Their Troubles Past?

The American Lung Association (ALA) will likely make a few headlines today based on the release of its 2018 “State of the Air” report. But by now it should be clear that the ALA’s report should be viewed with a high level of caution and even skepticism.

Not only has Energy in Depth pushed back on ALA’s numbers over the years (examples here and here), state regulators from numerous states have pushed back on the numbers and methodology used in the report. Hopefully the group has learned from embarrassing mistakes in the past. But based on EID’s initial review of the report, we won’t be holding our breath.

For instance, the new ALA report claims that, “ozone pollution worsened significantly in 2014-2016 compared to the previous report,” even though the latest EPA data show that ozone levels only slightly increased from 2014 to 2016, remaining below federal limits.

A Reason For Hope?

Despite ALA’s predictably alarmist topline conclusions, the report actually concedes that U.S. air quality has improved significantly since its last report. ALA’s new report finds “… the number of people exposed to unhealthful air remains still far below the 166 million in the years covered in the 2016 report (2012-2014).”

ALA’s latest air quality report also finds that “10.4 million fewer people” live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone and short-term and year-round particulate pollution when compared to last year’s report.

Notably, the most recent EPA data show that the two primary ozone precursors — nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) — have decreased 49 and 15 percent respectively since 2005, while fine particulate matter emissions have declined 32 percent. That same data show ozone concentrations have decreased 22 percent during that timespan. These trends can be traced at least partially to the fact that natural gas consumption has increased 25 percent since 2005. Natural gas emits far less NOx when burned than other traditional fuels.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Florida the Latest State to Join National Legal Stunt

The National activist campaign to sue governments over climate change on behalf of “kids” has officially added Florida to its list of targets. It’s the latest political stunt in a series of cases brought all over the country. The lawsuits are not brought forward on legal merits — the true motivation is to generate press coverage and carry out PR stunts to turn public opinion against energy companies.

While these lawsuits name young people as the plaintiffs, the effort is really backed by deep-pocketed environmental organizations with the ultimate aim of curtailing oil and natural gas production – forcing through their political will via the courts when state legislatures do not embrace their desired policy.

Read the full blog post on EIDClimate.org.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Epic Fail: Sierra Club ‘Pipeline Pillage: Petrochemical Hub’ Event Draws Just Eight Attendees

Just one week after a Sierra Club event in West Virginia attracted meager attendance despite the group that hosted the event offering to pay people to attend, just eight people showed up to an April 12 Appalachian Ohio Sierra Club event dubbed “Pipeline Pillage: The Appalachian Petrochemical Hub.”

The event’s dismal attendance cannot be blamed on a lack of publicity, as the event was featured in the newspaper and across the group’s social media platforms.  However, these efforts were so ineffective that the Sierra Club has since yanked the event off its webpage, likely hoping nobody would notice that no one showed up! Newsflash, Sierra Club: Considering your event’s attendance, it’s clear no one even noticed when the event was on the webpage.

 

Taken together, these two events further highlight the fact that the Sierra Club has no traction in the Appalachian Basin — particularly in Ohio and West Virginia. The people who actually live and work in these states are wise to the Sierra Club’s “Keep It In The Ground” agenda, preferring the economic and environmental benefits provided by shale development over the misinformation touted by Sierra Club and similar fringe environmental activist groups.  As Belmont County Port Authority (BCPA) Executive Director Larry Merry told EID,

“Most of the Sierra Club leaders I know were given a sock full of money from their trust funds and billionaires in California, and now they don’t want any of the rest of us to have anything in Appalachia. They don’t want to give us a chance.” (Emphasis added)

This sentiment is echoed from county to county along the Ohio River, and it’s why fringe environmental activists have struggled to gain any influence in this region of the country. Even when these groups pay attendees to show up, they fail to make any significant headway, as they are so far removed from understanding the local men and women who support and depend on oil and gas development – especially since the introduction of shale development. Perfectly illustrating this fact, the “petrochemical hub” that Sierra Club’s April 12 event was fighting against could lead to an estimated 100,000 permanent petrochemical-related manufacturing jobs in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, according to a new report by the American Chemistry Council.

Good luck finding anyone in the Ohio Valley – or any rational person, for that matter – who would sacrifice these good paying jobs and economic security in order to perpetuate an anti-fossil fuel agenda.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Pa. Enviro Regulator’s Analysis Concludes Operation of Shale Wells Is Protective of Groundwater

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently released its comprehensive analysis of the structural integrity of shale wells across the Commonwealth. The Mechanical Integrity Assessment Program report “shows that the majority of wells in the state are being operated in a manner that greatly reduces the risk for groundwater impacts,” according to DEP.

DEP explained that gas or fluid migration from a well “has the greatest potential to result in environmental concerns,” but 2014 data demonstrated that this is not a widespread issue for the state’s oil and gas industry. In fact, according to DEP, the data “showed that less than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint.”

That’s a far cry from the ridiculous and oft-repeated well integrity claims made by anti-fracking activists across the country. As Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer explained in a statement following the report’s release,

“At a time when anti-energy activists are seeking to undermine the integrity and safety of our operations, this report, like countless others, reflects that natural gas development and strong protection for our environment are not mutually exclusive.”

DEP Sec. Patrick McDonnell explained in a press release that the report is “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States.” And with reports submitted for 99 percent of the state’s unconventional wells, Pa.’s shale industry has shown strong and consistent compliance in reporting.

According to DEP, in addition to onsite inspections and file audits conducted by the agency, all oil and gas operators – conventional and unconventional – must conduct quarterly inspections of the structural soundness of their wells. These inspections include:

  • “Leaks outside the surface casing, which is the outermost casing layer around the well, designed to protect groundwater;
  • “Leaks outside the intermediate casing, which is the well casing intended to facilitate safe drilling of most shale gas wells to the depth where gas is found;
  • “Gas flows or pressures inside and outside the production casing, which is the deepest casing layer in the well;
  • “Escaping fluids (oil, gas, and saltwater); and
  • “Severe corrosion.”

This latest report and data set from DEP adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that fracking does not pose a major risk to groundwater.  And it comes at a critical time in Pa., as the Delaware River Basin Commission deliberates over a potential ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing in the basin. Importantly, this report further shows the decision to ban shale development in the Commonwealth has no basis in science.

As Spigelmyer said, the industry’s collaboration with regulators and other stakeholders, as well as laser-focus “on leveraging continuously improving technologies, world-class engineering solutions and best practices aimed at safeguarding and enhancing our environment, including groundwater protection, as well as public health” are ensuring continued environmental and economic progress here in the Commonwealth. Shale is a game-changer and a win-win for our state and the region as whole.

The post Pa. Enviro Regulator’s Analysis Concludes Operation of Shale Wells Is Protective of Groundwater appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Pa. Enviro Regulator’s Analysis Concludes Operation of Shale Wells Is Protective of Groundwater

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently released its comprehensive analysis of the structural integrity of shale wells across the Commonwealth. The Mechanical Integrity Assessment Program report “shows that the majority of wells in the state are being operated in a manner that greatly reduces the risk for groundwater impacts,” according to DEP.

DEP explained that gas or fluid migration from a well “has the greatest potential to result in environmental concerns,” but 2014 data demonstrated that this is not a widespread issue for the state’s oil and gas industry. In fact, according to DEP, the data “showed that less than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint.”

That’s a far cry from the ridiculous and oft-repeated well integrity claims made by anti-fracking activists across the country. As Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer explained in a statement following the report’s release,

“At a time when anti-energy activists are seeking to undermine the integrity and safety of our operations, this report, like countless others, reflects that natural gas development and strong protection for our environment are not mutually exclusive.”

DEP Sec. Patrick McDonnell explained in a press release that the report is “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States.” And with reports submitted for 99 percent of the state’s unconventional wells, Pa.’s shale industry has shown strong and consistent compliance in reporting.

According to DEP, in addition to onsite inspections and file audits conducted by the agency, all oil and gas operators – conventional and unconventional – must conduct quarterly inspections of the structural soundness of their wells. These inspections include:

  • “Leaks outside the surface casing, which is the outermost casing layer around the well, designed to protect groundwater;
  • “Leaks outside the intermediate casing, which is the well casing intended to facilitate safe drilling of most shale gas wells to the depth where gas is found;
  • “Gas flows or pressures inside and outside the production casing, which is the deepest casing layer in the well;
  • “Escaping fluids (oil, gas, and saltwater); and
  • “Severe corrosion.”

This latest report and data set from DEP adds to a growing body of research demonstrating that fracking does not pose a major risk to groundwater.  And it comes at a critical time in Pa., as the Delaware River Basin Commission deliberates over a potential ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing in the basin. Importantly, this report further shows the decision to ban shale development in the Commonwealth has no basis in science.

As Spigelmyer said, the industry’s collaboration with regulators and other stakeholders, as well as laser-focus “on leveraging continuously improving technologies, world-class engineering solutions and best practices aimed at safeguarding and enhancing our environment, including groundwater protection, as well as public health” are ensuring continued environmental and economic progress here in the Commonwealth. Shale is a game-changer and a win-win for our state and the region as whole.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

California Needs Common Sense on Renewable Energy, Not ‘All or Nothing’

As children we learned the truism that “there is no free lunch.”

However, this lesson seems to have been lost on many California climate activists, academics and legislators who tout “all or nothing” proposals involving renewable energy while forgetting that even carbon-free energy has many hidden costs in the form of lost jobs, toxic waste, wildlife depletion and energy poverty. The entire life-cycle of renewables, not just their use, must be factored into a serious analysis of their costs and benefits. This life-cycle includes mining, production, recycling and disposal.

This is particularly important because California climate activists are often drawn to “all or nothing” proposals instead of reasonable climate-mitigation policies that can gain broad support. They insist on 100 percent of this (renewable energy) and zero of that (fossil fuels).

The hidden costs of renewables

As a new infographic prepared by California Resources Corporation (CRC) demonstrates, the entire life-cycle of renewables, not just their use, must be factored into any serious analysis of their costs and benefits. Per CRC:

“Renewables are not as reliable [as fossil fuels], nor are they free. All forms of energy have social, environmental and economic costs and impacts, including wind and solar. The key to California’s vibrant future is producing an affordable, reliable mix of local traditional and renewable energy sources to power our state’s diverse communities.”

Let’s take a quick look at some of the costs of renewables, from mining to disposal, that CRC has identified.

Production

  • Solar panels, batteries, electric cars, wind turbines (not to mention wireless devices and many commercial products) rely on cobalt and other rare earth elements, which are not readily available.
  • China produces more than 80 percent of rare earth elements and has 36 percent of the world’s rare earth deposits.  The Democratic Republic of Congo produces more than 50 percent of the world’s cobalt. The United States holds or produces less than 1 percent of these critical materials.
  • Mining one metric ton of rare earth elements, which would be enough to produce two commercial power wind turbines, generates 9,600 cubic meters of waste gas, 75 cubic meters of acidic wastewater and approximately one ton of radioactive waste.

Use

  • Wind and solar energy have a significant effect on wildlife. As California mandates increasing the use of wind and solar energy, this should be taken into account.
    • Wind turbines kill 573,000 birds, including 83,000 raptors, and over 888,000 bats every year.
    • In the Mojave Desert, one solar plant alone incinerates 3,500 birds each year.
  • California has more than 35 million registered vehicles, including emergency vehicles. Forcing Californians to convert to higher-priced electric vehicles would hurt working families, reduce consumers’ freedom to choose how to get around, and require our state to generate or import significantly more electricity than we do today for 24/7 coverage. As noted previously, the automobile market is moving in a lower-carbon direction already.

Mandates and subsidies

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and a worsening housing crisis.  Households living in poverty are being pushed to live further away from their work, on routes unavailable via mass transit. In addition, most households cannot afford to purchase solar power systems, even with government subsidies, which are set to expire.

  • Mandating renewable energy can equate to a wrong-direction wealth transfer that adds to California’s high cost of living and hurts housing affordability.
  • In fact, nearly one million California households already live in energy poverty
    • Californians pay some of the highest electricity rates in the nation, with inland communities paying tiered rates that people living on the cooler coastline do not experience.

Disposal 

  • The safe handling and disposal of the batteries that are the key component of electric vehicles and proposed solar power storage systems is a growing challenge.
  • In in less than 20 years, there may be seven million used electric vehicle battery packs in the U.S., mostly in California. The life cycle cost of mining, manufacturing, recycling and disposing of batteries must be considered when evaluating the use of EVs and solar in our energy mix.

Having a clear understanding that, though renewables play an important role in our energy mix, they are not a panacea that can thrive without other traditional energy sources. As noted previously, this is especially important in California where legislators and academics try to pretend that “all or nothing” approaches are cost-free.

Two recent examples are noteworthy.

Legislative mandates

Last year California’s overwhelmingly Democratic legislature defeated a bill that would have required all of California’s electricity to come from non-carbon sources.

Not to be outdone, Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) this year introduced a bill that would potentially upend California’s – and eventually the nation’s economy – by banning the sale of any vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE) after 2040.

The proposed law, Assembly Bill 1745, is dubbed the “Clean Cars Act,” which appears to dismiss the enormous efforts that regulators and industry have undertaken to make cars increasingly less emission-intensive. The bill spares almost no vehicles on the road today. Cars with high gas mileage like the Honda Accord? Gone in 22 years. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius? Ditto. Plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt? Even these are too “dirty” for Mr. Ting. And you can forget about more functional vehicles like Ford F-150 trucks.

As columnist Justin Salters put it in the Bakersfield Californian:

“California already has the most aggressive greenhouse gas and air quality emissions reductions in the world. In 2016, the state adopted a greenhouse gas emissions target to reduce emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. And, in 2017, the Legislature extended the state’s signature Cap-and-Trade program as the mechanism for achieving its emissions reductions goals.

“There is no question that these policies are responsible for the increased energy costs paid by California families and businesses. But at the same time, they are actually working at moving the state towards its emissions goals.

“California taxpayers have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to encourage the purchase of more efficient internal combustion engine vehicles, but AB 1745’s focus on 22 years from now ignores opportunities we have to continue making progress today.”

While the bill is supported by the same “keep it in the ground” activists that have been fighting a losing battle to ban all fossil fuels for years – groups like Bill McKibben’s 350.org, Earthjustice, and Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate – it’s being taken seriously enough by Democrats in Sacramento that it is to have a hearing next week. AB 1745 is not an attempt, as 350 Bay Area claims, to make “progress to a new, better standard for our vehicles.” We have already been making considerable progress in this regard – including the slow but growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), which, while they do not emit carbon as they drive, are still powered primarily by natural gas and coal-generated electricity.

Full disclosure: I am one of the 1.9 percent of Californians who bought an all-electric vehicle in 2017. The other 98.1 percent of Californians who purchased cars or trucks got vehicles that were dramatically more environmentally friendly than they were years ago. It is inevitable that there will be a slow but steady increase in the adoption of all-electric vehicles as prices drop and the charging infrastructure becomes more robust, but EVs simply aren’t practical for the vast majority of Californians. Some may find an “all or nothing” approach that mandates by government fiat that almost every car on road today, in the nation’s most populous state, be banned in two decades to be a worthwhile trade-off in the fight against climate change, but advocates for this approach ignore the dramatic improvements in ICE emissions, and thus in our air quality. They also ignore the cost of a wholesale shift to renewables and the seismic impact such a ban would have on the nation’s economy.

Academic dreams

Another recent example of an “all or nothing” proposal is Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s study claiming that the United States can transition to 100 percent wind, water and solar (WWS) energy by 2050 – even without employing carbon-free nuclear energy. While it made for a good theoretical extrapolation, the study quickly faced massive criticism from both the scientific and environmental communities even as the wholly unworkable-in-real-life framework was hailed by fringe environmentalists as proof that such a transition is possible. (An Energy In Depth report revealed that Dr. Jacobson’s own data showed that the transition to 100 percent renewables would cause a net loss of more than 1.2 million long-term jobs and he altered his data based on our discovery.)

The real (high) cost of renewables

Regardless of one’s view of Assembly member Ting’s legislation or of the feasibility or even desirability of Dr. Jacobson’s “100 percent renewables” goal, “all or nothing” proposals beg the question of whether this is a goal worth pursuing and if renewable energy is a panacea that will solve all climate ills, as some activists, academics and politicians would like us to believe. In reality, these energy sources are an increasingly important, yet also flawed, part of our energy mix in the future.

This is no way an argument against renewables; even with their costs they do indeed move us in the direction of lower global carbon emissions and this is a good thing.

It is important, however, to recognize that extreme “all or nothing” solutions rarely make sense nor are they without costs that are conveniently ignored by those arguing in favor of them.

It is also important to remember that the United States leads the world in carbon emissions reduction thanks to the shale boom of the past decade – and the fracking that made it possible. Unleashing the ability to extract hydrocarbons from tight shale formations has created an economic renaissance in many parts of the nation at the same time that we’ve witnessed dramatic decreases in greenhouse gas emissions. And it gets even better: according to a recent a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper illustrates that not only that renewables must have natural gas as a backup to be a viable energy option but, because of this, fracking has actually accelerated renewable energy growth.

It is also important to remember, despite claims that renewables can completely replace oil and gas in the near future, that California uses all of the oil it produces – 200 million barrels per year. If we produce less, that means we have to replace this oil – because solar and wind don’t replace oil, and demand for gasoline and diesel is projected to go up for several decades before tapering off. Importing oil rather than producing it here in California would yield 588 more tanker ships per year in our harbors and nearly 300,000 more rail cars in our terminals. These options have a larger carbon footprint than producing at home – which brings it jobs, tax revenue and enhanced economic activity – and they also present national security concerns.

All forms of energy – oil, gas, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear – have environmental, economic, and social costs. The key to California’s bright and less carbon-intensive future is, as CRC noted, producing an affordable, reliable mix of local traditional and renewable energy sources to power our state’s diverse communities and economy.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

U.S. Natural Gas Production Breaks Two All-Time Records in 2017

A new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report released this week shows that U.S. natural gas production reached all-time record levels in 2017 based on two of the three measures EIA uses to gauge production.

According to the EIA’s latest data, gross withdrawals of natural gas were 90.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) last year, breaking the previous record of 90.2 Bcf/d set in 2015. The EIA defines gross withdrawals as follows:

“Full well stream volume from both oil and gas wells, including all natural gas plant liquids and nonhydrocarbon gases after oil, lease condensate, and water have been removed. Also includes production delivered as royalty payments and production used as fuel on the lease.”

The EIA also reports that marketed natural gas production reached 78.9 Bcf/d in 2017, breaking previous record of 78.7 Bcf/d set in 2015. EIA defines marketed natural gas production as follows:

“Marketed production reflects gross withdrawals minus natural gas used for repressuring reservoirs, quantities vented or flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed in treating or processing operations.”

U.S. dry natural gas production was 73.6 Bcf/d last year, falling just short of the record 74.2 Bcf/d set in 2015.

EIA notes that this record production was spearheaded by a 1 Bcf/d year-over-year increase in Louisiana production and continued surging Marcellus and Utica shale output in the Appalachian Basin. As the following EIA chart illustrates, the Appalachian Basin — including Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — not only retained its title as the nation’s most prolific natural gas producing region, its gross withdrawals increased from 22.2 Bcf/d in 2016 to 24.3 Bcf/d in 2017.

EIA reports that Ohio enjoyed the largest state-level percentage increase in natural gas withdrawals in 2017, increasing 24 percent to 4.9 Bcf/d. This prolific production is just one reason a recent report argued the Appalachian Basin is the most profitable region for petrochemical investments.

Of course, this incredible production growth is attributable to the advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that launched the shale gas revolution roughly a decade ago. U.S. dry natural gas production has increased 44 percent since 2008, and more than two-thirds of U.S. natural gas production is now attributable to fracking.

Even more remarkably, the shale gas revolution appears to be only in the second or third inning, as both the EIA and International Energy Agency (IEA) project U.S. production will increase dramatically over the next four years.

EIA forecasts dry natural gas production will average 81.1 Bcf/d in 2018, establishing a new record, before rising another 1.7 Bcf/d from that level in 2019. The IEA predicts that the U.S. will account for 40 percent of global natural gas production growth by 2022.

The EIA also projects U.S. natural gas exports to continue surging in coming years after natural gas exports grew 36 percent in 2017 and LNG exports quadrupled, allowing the United States to became a net natural gas exporter in 2017 for the first time in nearly 60 years.

The EIA believes that growing natural gas exports will be coupled with increasing domestic consumption as well. From the report:

“Growing U.S. natural gas production is expected to support both growing domestic consumption and increasing natural gas exports in the forecast. EIA forecasts U.S. consumption of natural gas to increase by 4.2 Bcf/d (5.7%) in 2018 and by 0.7 Bcf/d (0.9%) in 2019, with electric power generation the leading contributor to this increase. EIA also expects net natural gas exports to increase from 0.4 Bcf/d in 2017 to an annual average of 2.2 Bcf/d in 2018 and 4.4 Bcf/d in 2019.”

These developments are simply remarkable considering media outlets such as TIME magazine were publishing stories headlined “Why U.S. Is Running Out of Gas” as recently as 2003, while the Post Carbon Institute’s David Hughes and other “peak gas” pundits were making the following claims as recently as 2006:

Only about four percent of the world’s reported gas reserves are in North America. If you look at world natural gas to production ratios, how long they will last at current production rates, we can see that North America has about 10 years.”

Flash forward 12 years from when Hughes made that claim, and the U.S. not only has not run out of natural gas, it has more of the clean-burning resource than it has at any time in its history — all thanks to fracking.

 

 

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Central Figure Behind National Climate Litigation Campaign Comes to Boulder This Week as City Readies Suit

A controversial activist at the center of a national campaign bringing climate change lawsuits against oil and gas companies – including in Boulder, Colorado – will be a prominent speaker at this week’s University of Colorado, Boulder Conference of World Affairs. It won’t be the first time Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes has participated in the conference, but this time she will be a part of no less than five panels spanning three days, one of which is a screening of her documentary, Merchants of Doubt.

While Oreskes presents herself in these scenarios as a climate expert and historian, she usually omits the fact that she is one of the central figures behind the national climate liability campaign that aims to use the court system to investigate energy companies and assign blame for climate change. Yet she has been featured for her controversial campaign in the New York Times.

Oreskes has been known to publish research with questionable findings that help push forward her preferred narrative of ongoing wrongdoing by energy companies. For instance, her latest study—which purported to show statements made by ExxonMobil proved that the company knew about climate change but covered up its findings—drew a sharp rebuke from the very academic who designed the data analysis method Oreskes used to back up her claims. According to Kimberly A. Neuendorf, Ph.D., a Cleveland State University professor who literally wrote the book on content analysis, Oreskes’ findings were “unreliable, invalid, biased, not generalizable, and not replicable.”

With Boulder on the verge of announcing its lawsuit, and given Oreskes’ role in the national campaign, could her visit to Boulder extend beyond her on-campus presentations?

Climate Litigation Campaign

The climate litigation campaign started at a 2012 conference in La Jolla, Calif. where Oreskes helped organize climate activists to devise a plan to bring lawsuits against energy companies. The goal was to extract hundreds of billions of dollars in punitive damages and turn public opinion against the industry. The conference was co-sponsored by the Snowmass, Colo.-based Climate Accountability Institute (CAI), a group Oreskes co-founded and served as a longtime member on its Board of Advisors.

CAI has been front and center in the push to saddle energy companies with legal liability and bad press. Their members have also been integral in convincing politicians and attorneys general to disavow these companies in public and use their legal authority to investigate them. Oreskes admitted to briefing several attorneys general behind closed doors alongside fellow CAI alum Peter Frumhoff (whose day job is with the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists) as far back as 2015 with the hopes of convincing these states to pursue litigation against energy companies. Since then, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey have moved forward with investigations against ExxonMobil (though so far, they have been fruitless).

Coastal cities have joined in on the climate litigation pile-on. Several municipalities in California, along with New York City, have announced they are suing energy companies for “public nuisance,” claiming they are responsible for climate change and should pay for damages incurred by storms. Most of these suits are being filed by the same plaintiffs’ attorneys who are putting forward identical, flawed legal arguments. Matt Pawa, who was also a major player at the La Jolla Conference, has been spearheading the legal arm of the climate liability campaign. Pawa’s involvement is no surprise given he has a history of bringing forward frivolous lawsuits that depend on the “public nuisance” argument these municipalities are using. That same reasoning made it all the way to the Supreme Court where it was unanimously defeated in an 8-0 decision.

When Will Boulder Announce its Climate Lawsuit?

It’s no secret that Boulder has been planning its own climate lawsuit, in the same style as those brought forward by California municipalities and New York City. Oreskes has not yet disclosed whether she will also be briefing Boulder city officials while she is in town.

The Boulder City Council first talked publicly about their desire to join in on the climate suits at a meeting in November 2017. The Boulder City Attorney made clear that Boulder is the next target for these cookie-cutter lawsuits because of its geographical diversity when he said:

“Obviously California is a coastal community; we are not. And so the people who have approached us are interested in branching out to other communities in the country who have different kinds of climate effects than those that are affecting the coastal communities.”

While these suits claim to have merit based on environmental damages, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio offered up clarification on their intent when he told U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), “Let’s help bring the death knell to this industry.”

While these cities are filing lawsuits based on the effects of climate change, the same municipalities are downplaying those risks in their bond offerings. In other words, the cities are telling courts that they face imminent destruction from climate change while simultaneously telling their investors that it is unlikely they will be materially impacted by climate change. In a letter asking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the discrepancy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute went as far as to say, “In our view, this inconsistency raises serious questions of municipal bond fraud.”

Josh Rosner at Seeking Alpha wrote earlier this year, “There is little doubt that these suits have been the result of the dissatisfaction some states feel towards federal environmental and energy policies.” Frustrated by federal inaction on climate change, activists are instead trying to force their preferred policies through the courts, cutting the representative parts of our democracy out of the conversation.

Perhaps the emerging backlash against these meritless legal maneuverings is giving Boulder pause to move forward with their own case. Back in November, it was full steam ahead, as Councilmembers expressed their support and enthusiasm for the litigation. But since then, it has barely been discussed during subsequent meetings.

Reports surfaced that Boulder is considering “potential costs and risk” associated with pursuing the litigation. While the as-of-yet unnamed law firm shopping the lawsuit has agreed to represent the town pro-bono, there are still potential costs associated with the case. If a judge were to deem the suit frivolous, Boulder could be on the hook for fines or be forced to pay the attorney fees for the other side. In addition, the litigation will take up substantial city resources and divert their attention from other matters necessary for keeping the town running. And just last month, one of Colorado’s top environmental regulators cautioned against taking up these climate lawsuits.

It will be interesting to see if Oreskes’ visit to town has any impact on whether Boulder decides to move forward with the misguided litigation.  Let’s hope for Boulder taxpayers that it’s not the case.

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Sierra Club-Backed W. Virginia Anti-Fracking Event Flops Despite Participants Being Paid to Attend

A “community organizing summit” against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) held in West Virginia over the weekend by the Appalachian Gas Working Group (AGWG) drew minimal participation, despite the group offering to pay for people to attend through “scholarships.” Backed by the West Virginia and Virginia Chapters of Sierra Club, along with about 24 other fringe activist groups, AGWG’s summit saw fewer participants than the group has partners, as the Facebook event shows just 23 people went – and pictures show even fewer than that.

Source: West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Facebook page.

AGWG’s inability to attract even moderate interest in their anti-fracking “community organizing summit” further proves the broad support of natural gas development by Appalachian communities, and is yet another failure from “Keep It In The Ground” groups trying to stop development in the region.

Promoted by Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other AGWG partners, the AGWG Summit was billed as a way to “help you take action against extraction,” through presentations from activist groups. Presentations included one on health effects, put on by a member of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (a group whose claims on fracking have been debunked by EID multiple times), and another on “environmental monitoring” from a member of Earthworks, a group notorious for releasing misleading FLIR footage of oil and gas infrastructure.

Amusingly, the very first presentation of the summit was on “starting and building a campaign,” hosted by WV Sierra Club Field Organizing Manager Bill Price and described as:

“What questions need to be answered when looking to begin an issue campaign? What are the basic building blocks of an effective campaign that will assure a successful outcome? These questions and more will be discussed in this workshop Bill Price is the Field Organizing Manager for the Sierra Club, and has worked on numerous environmental and social justice issues over the last 17+ years.”

Considering the terrible turnout for this summit, maybe Sierra Club and the AGWG should rethink their tactic for trying to build “an effective campaign that will assure a successful outcome” – or maybe they’ll just increase the amount of money given to attendees and hope more will show up.

Jokes aside, looking closer at the presentations scheduled and the activist groups which comprise AGWG, their efforts against oil and gas development appear to be more nefarious than the group lets on. Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, described the summit as:

“We’re trying to provide a comprehensive platform and exposure to the issues while providing a unique opportunity for volunteers, organizations, activists to come together, network and learn from one another.”

However, since event and AGWG backer Sierra Club has stated that it is “our goal is to end our reliance on dirty dangerous natural gas and fracking,” while the event was advertised to “those who want to resist the growing threat of oil and gas extraction,” it’s clear the motive behind this event is to stop oil and gas development. But it’s not just production, as one presentation focused on how to oppose infrastructure such as the Appalachian Storage Hub:

“The Appalachian Storage Hub is the biggest threat to tap water and air quality in the Ohio River valley regions that we’ve heard of. In our workshop, you will see maps and receive handouts about this project and what it will mean in terms of second and third wave fracking operations in our region. We are moving into solution focused dialogues with allies, so if you would like to join networks that are developing ways to resist key components of this massive project, you will have the opportunity to sign up.”

This is yet another example of the Sierra Club trying to rob West Virginia of hope for real economic development, as the American Chemistry Council has reported that petrochemical manufacturing and natural gas liquid storage projects could lead to over 100,000 permanent jobs along the Ohio River. Thankfully, and as this recent epic failure of the Sierra Club’s so-called summit proves, the residents of West Virginia and the Ohio River Valley have no interest in learning about their fearmongering misinformation campaign.

 

 

 

 

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Source: Energy In Depth

 

Report Highlights Fracking Safety, Concluding Development is ‘Managed Best’ at State Level

The oil and gas development process, including associated regulations designed to protect water resources, is “managed best” at the state level, a recent report from the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC), a nonprofit organization made up of groundwater regulatory agencies, finds. The report notes that while regulatory policies and programs in place related to oil and natural development vary from state to state, this does not mean current state regulations are deficient, but instead that state agencies are best equipped to craft regulations specific to their unique geographies.

Building on previous reports published in 2009 and 2013, GWPC’s third edition of “State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to Protect Water Resources” outlines improvements implemented by state regulators, as well as the degree to which each portion of the oil and gas development process is sufficiently regulated at a state level. According to the report:

“Regulation of oil and gas field activities is managed best at the level where regional and local conditions are understood and where rules can be tailored to fit the needs of the local environment. While some related oil and gas regulation does occur at the local and federal governmental level, on most issues the greatest experience, knowledge, and information necessary to regulate effectively rests with state regulatory agencies.” (emphasis added)

Specifically, the report touches on the importance of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), along with the mechanisms in place by both agencies and industry stakeholders to ensure groundwater is protected and risks to these water sources is properly mitigated. As a “critical component” of the development process, the report mentions that hydraulically fractured wells have become increasingly relied upon for domestic production, as such wells have gone from being responsible for just 10 percent of U.S. marketed natural gas production in 2000 to roughly 66 percent by the end of 2015. Further, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), hydraulically fractured horizontal wells accounted for 69 percent of all oil and gas wells drilled in the U.S. in 2016.

Fracking’s prevalence is important, not only for facilitating increased oil and natural gas output, but also for mitigating environmental impacts. As the report finds, the amount of resources produced from a single horizontally drilled well, coupled with the improved production efficiency associated with fracking, minimizes surface impacts. The report states:

“The only viable alternative to fracturing the producing formations in reservoirs with low permeability would be to drill more wells in an area. Given the costs of drilling, the risks associated with creating multiple new vertical pathways for fluid migration, and the fact that it could take very large numbers of wells located within a very small area to equal the production of even a single hydraulically fractured well, generally this alternative is neither environmentally desirable nor economically viable.” (emphasis added)

Also of note is the report’s distinction of what “fracking” is and how that contrasts with what the term has come to mean to media not familiar with the process, as well as activist groups who oppose oil and gas development and intentionally obscure public understanding of it. The difference in what those groups view as “fracking” and what the process entails, has led to widespread misunderstanding of the process and, at worst, wildly misplaced concern from the public:

“To the oil and gas industry, ‘hydraulic fracturing’ generally is understood to mean the actual process of pumping fluids and proppant under pressure to fracture the rock. To others, hydraulic fracturing has become a more inclusive term that encompasses every activity associated with natural gas development from pad construction, drilling, production, pipeline transportation of gas, midstream processing of the product, and the disposal of waste products. Differences in the definition of hydraulic fracturing have led to misunderstandings and resulted in a greater level of concern than may have otherwise been associated with the discrete process of fracturing the formation.”

In addition to addressing the hydraulic fracturing process overall, the report also examined issues related to specific portions of fracking and development. For example, the report noted that fracturing fluids — typically composed of 99 percent water and sand, with the remaining one percent consisting of chemical additives (i.e. biocides to prevent bacteria growth) – are not only well regulated, but safe:

“The majority of additives to fracturing fluids, including sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and diluted acids, present low to very low risks to humans and the environment.” (emphasis added)

Further mitigating risk to groundwater resources, state agencies implement regulations on well construction through both its construction and isolation techniques designed to address the unique geology of each state. For example, while fracking takes place several thousand feet below even the deepest groundwater zones, state regulators have taken steps to require a “minimum vertical distance” in case some areas house reserves at shallower depths. But even if that is the case, states such as Texas have put in place regulations to safeguard water resources in the uncommon instance fracturing takes place within the “minimum vertical distance.”

With these regulations in place, coupled with efforts from operators to better predict how the formation will react to fracking such as “advanced computer modeling in fracture design,” potential impacts on water are extremely small. According to the report:

“Regardless, the lack of demonstrated groundwater contamination where substantial intervals between the fractured zone and protected groundwater exist make it reasonable to conclude that the risk of fracture fluid intrusion into groundwater from hydraulic fraction of deeper conventional and unconventional oil and gas zones.”

This study is just the latest of over two dozen scientific studies and assessments that conclude that fracking does not pose a major risk to drinking water resources.

While not an exhaustive list, other protections employed include pressure monitoring during the fracking process in states like California and Texas; review of the area around the wellbore for potential existing pathways to water resources states such as Alaska and Ohio; and adjacent water well testing and monitoring in several states including Colorado, Ohio and West Virginia. Add to these requirements the various regulations on disclosure and reporting of fluids used in fracking, well casing construction (the layers of steel and cement surrounding a well underground), wastewater storage and recycling, as well as well site remediation, and it’s clear that fracking is a highly regulated and safe process.

Considering the complexity of development and the unique geologies across the county, this report makes clear the fact that states are best equipped to oversee oil and gas operations. Attempting to take a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation from a federal level would not only be misguided, but also ineffective.

The post Report Highlights Fracking Safety, Concluding Development is ‘Managed Best’ at State Level appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) acknowledged this week in its annual report forecasting both natural and induced seismicity potential in the eastern and central United States that Oklahoma earthquakes have declined “rapidly” since measures to reduce wastewater disposal volumes were introduced in 2015. From the report:

“Rates of earthquakes across the United States M≥3.0 grew rapidly between 2008 and 2015 but have steadily declined over the past 3 years, especially in areas of Oklahoma and southern Kansas where fluid injection has decreased.”

Oklahoma regulators implemented measures in 2015 that either shut in or reduced volumes of injection for more than 700 disposal wells throughout a 15,000-mile “Area of Interest,” reducing wastewater injection volumes 40 percent from 2014 levels. And though these more than a dozen directives have resulted in a “significant economic impact,” they have not only been largely supported by industry, but have proven effective.

An EID review of the latest USGS data reveals the number of “felt” Oklahoma earthquakes — those registering magnitude 2.8 or greater on the Richter scale — continued to fall significantly in the first quarter of 2018. The daily average of felt earthquakes during the first three months of 2018 was 79 percent below levels seen in Oklahoma’s most seismically active year of 2015 and also 27 percent below last year’s daily rate.

As the following EID chart shows, Oklahoma’s monthly earthquake totals have declined dramatically since 2015. For instance, the number of felt earthquakes this past March (19) was 90 percent below the number experienced at the height of the state’s seismic activity in June 2015.

These most recent declines come after the monthly average of felt earthquakes fell 58 percent from 2016 levels in 2017 and 71 percent from the most seismically active year of 2015, as EID previously reported.

These declines’ correlation with wastewater disposal reductions further illustrates the fact that the latter — not hydraulic fracturing, a completely separate process — has been the primary cause of Oklahoma’s induced seismic activity.

The first sentence of the USGS’s list of myths and misconceptions regarding induced seismicity notes that, “Fracking is NOT causing most of the induced earthquakes,” further clarifying that: “Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.”

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has also stated:

“Most of the wastewater comes not from hydraulic fracturing operations, but rather from producing wells. The water exists in the producing formation and comes up with the oil and natural gas.”

In fact, approximately 95 percent of the wastewater disposed of in Oklahoma disposal wells is formation water, which is co-produced with oil and gas whether a well has been hydraulically fractured or not. Approximately five percent is used fracking fluid, sometimes called flowback.

These facts explain why Oklahoma has managed to significantly reduce seismicity at the same time drilling activity (and fracking) has surged since early 2017.

Oklahoma’s average weekly rig counts have nearly doubled from levels seen in early 2016, while the state’s oil production increased eight percent in 2017 from 2016 levels, reaching its highest annual average since 1984. For the third time in four months this January, Oklahoma achieved its highest monthly production total since the Energy Information Administration started tracking state-level production in 1981.

Though the USGS report notes that Oklahoma’s seismic hazard level remains elevated this year, the report emphasized that the threat of larger earthquakes capable of widespread severe damage is far lower than that of California, contrary to what a number of sensational media reports have claimed:

“The short‐term hazard levels for Oklahoma are similar to short‐term hazard calculated in the more seismically active regions of California. This does not imply the long‐term hazard in California and Oklahoma are the same; California has historically experienced many large and great (M∼8.0) earthquakes that have caused extensive damage. Historically, Oklahoma has not experienced earthquakes greater than M 5.8, and although it is possible that larger earthquakes could be generated by ruptures that link across multiple faults in tectonically active regions (e.g., Hamling et al., 2017), this has not been observed in Oklahoma. Larger earthquakes in Oklahoma only have a small chance of occurrence in our model.” (emphasis added)

For perspective, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak recently noted that the seismic energy of all of Oklahoma’s earthquakes since 2009 adds up to the equivalent of just one M-6.1 earthquake; California has had two such 6.1-or-greater quakes since 2014.

Though state regulators have noted “Oklahoma is not out of the woods yet” when it comes to solving its induced seismicity issue, this latest data is certainly encouraging and further illustrates that mitigation measures aimed at reducing seismic activities are yielding positive results.

The post USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015 appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) acknowledged this week in its annual report forecasting both natural and induced seismicity potential in the eastern and central United States that Oklahoma earthquakes have declined “rapidly” since measures to reduce wastewater disposal volumes were introduced in 2015. From the report:

“Rates of earthquakes across the United States M≥3.0 grew rapidly between 2008 and 2015 but have steadily declined over the past 3 years, especially in areas of Oklahoma and southern Kansas where fluid injection has decreased.”

Oklahoma regulators implemented measures in 2015 that either shut in or reduced volumes of injection for more than 700 disposal wells throughout a 15,000-mile “Area of Interest,” reducing wastewater injection volumes 40 percent from 2014 levels. And though these more than a dozen directives have resulted in a “significant economic impact,” they have not only been largely supported by industry, but have proven effective.

An EID review of the latest USGS data reveals the number of “felt” Oklahoma earthquakes — those registering magnitude 2.8 or greater on the Richter scale — continued to fall significantly in the first quarter of 2018. The daily average of felt earthquakes during the first three months of 2018 was 79 percent below levels seen in Oklahoma’s most seismically active year of 2015 and also 27 percent below last year’s daily rate.

As the following EID chart shows, Oklahoma’s monthly earthquake totals have declined dramatically since 2015. For instance, the number of felt earthquakes this past March (19) was 90 percent below the number experienced at the height of the state’s seismic activity in June 2015.

These most recent declines come after the monthly average of felt earthquakes fell 58 percent from 2016 levels in 2017 and 71 percent from the most seismically active year of 2015, as EID previously reported.

These declines’ correlation with wastewater disposal reductions further illustrates the fact that the latter — not hydraulic fracturing, a completely separate process — has been the primary cause of Oklahoma’s induced seismic activity.

The first sentence of the USGS’s list of myths and misconceptions regarding induced seismicity notes that, “Fracking is NOT causing most of the induced earthquakes,” further clarifying that: “Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.”

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has also stated:

“Most of the wastewater comes not from hydraulic fracturing operations, but rather from producing wells. The water exists in the producing formation and comes up with the oil and natural gas.”

In fact, approximately 95 percent of the wastewater disposed of in Oklahoma disposal wells is formation water, which is co-produced with oil and gas whether a well has been hydraulically fractured or not. Approximately five percent is used fracking fluid, sometimes called flowback.

These facts explain why Oklahoma has managed to significantly reduce seismicity at the same time drilling activity (and fracking) has surged since early 2017.

Oklahoma’s average weekly rig counts have nearly doubled from levels seen in early 2016, while the state’s oil production increased eight percent in 2017 from 2016 levels, reaching its highest annual average since 1984. For the third time in four months this January, Oklahoma achieved its highest monthly production total since the Energy Information Administration started tracking state-level production in 1981.

Though the USGS report notes that Oklahoma’s seismic hazard level remains elevated this year, the report emphasized that the threat of larger earthquakes capable of widespread severe damage is far lower than that of California, contrary to what a number of sensational media reports have claimed:

“The short‐term hazard levels for Oklahoma are similar to short‐term hazard calculated in the more seismically active regions of California. This does not imply the long‐term hazard in California and Oklahoma are the same; California has historically experienced many large and great (M∼8.0) earthquakes that have caused extensive damage. Historically, Oklahoma has not experienced earthquakes greater than M 5.8, and although it is possible that larger earthquakes could be generated by ruptures that link across multiple faults in tectonically active regions (e.g., Hamling et al., 2017), this has not been observed in Oklahoma. Larger earthquakes in Oklahoma only have a small chance of occurrence in our model.” (emphasis added)

For perspective, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak recently noted that the seismic energy of all of Oklahoma’s earthquakes since 2009 adds up to the equivalent of just one M-6.1 earthquake; California has had two such 6.1-or-greater quakes since 2014.

Though state regulators have noted “Oklahoma is not out of the woods yet” when it comes to solving its induced seismicity issue, this latest data is certainly encouraging and further illustrates that mitigation measures aimed at reducing seismic activities are yielding positive results.

The post USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015 appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) acknowledged this week in its annual report forecasting both natural and induced seismicity potential in the eastern and central United States that Oklahoma earthquakes have declined “rapidly” since measures to reduce wastewater disposal volumes were introduced in 2015. From the report:

“Rates of earthquakes across the United States M≥3.0 grew rapidly between 2008 and 2015 but have steadily declined over the past 3 years, especially in areas of Oklahoma and southern Kansas where fluid injection has decreased.”

Oklahoma regulators implemented measures in 2015 that either shut in or reduced volumes of injection for more than 700 disposal wells throughout a 15,000-mile “Area of Interest,” reducing wastewater injection volumes 40 percent from 2014 levels. And though these more than a dozen directives have resulted in a “significant economic impact,” they have not only been largely supported by industry, but have proven effective.

An EID review of the latest USGS data reveals the number of “felt” Oklahoma earthquakes — those registering magnitude 2.8 or greater on the Richter scale — continued to fall significantly in the first quarter of 2018. The daily average of felt earthquakes during the first three months of 2018 was 79 percent below levels seen in Oklahoma’s most seismically active year of 2015 and also 27 percent below last year’s daily rate.

As the following EID chart shows, Oklahoma’s monthly earthquake totals have declined dramatically since 2015. For instance, the number of felt earthquakes this past March (19) was 90 percent below the number experienced at the height of the state’s seismic activity in June 2015.

These most recent declines come after the monthly average of felt earthquakes fell 58 percent from 2016 levels in 2017 and 71 percent from the most seismically active year of 2015, as EID previously reported.

These declines’ correlation with wastewater disposal reductions further illustrates the fact that the latter — not hydraulic fracturing, a completely separate process — has been the primary cause of Oklahoma’s induced seismic activity.

The first sentence of the USGS’s list of myths and misconceptions regarding induced seismicity notes that, “Fracking is NOT causing most of the induced earthquakes,” further clarifying that: “Wastewater disposal is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central United States.”

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has also stated:

“Most of the wastewater comes not from hydraulic fracturing operations, but rather from producing wells. The water exists in the producing formation and comes up with the oil and natural gas.”

In fact, approximately 95 percent of the wastewater disposed of in Oklahoma disposal wells is formation water, which is co-produced with oil and gas whether a well has been hydraulically fractured or not. Approximately five percent is used fracking fluid, sometimes called flowback.

These facts explain why Oklahoma has managed to significantly reduce seismicity at the same time drilling activity (and fracking) has surged since early 2017.

Oklahoma’s average weekly rig counts have nearly doubled from levels seen in early 2016, while the state’s oil production increased eight percent in 2017 from 2016 levels, reaching its highest annual average since 1984. For the third time in four months this January, Oklahoma achieved its highest monthly production total since the Energy Information Administration started tracking state-level production in 1981.

Though the USGS report notes that Oklahoma’s seismic hazard level remains elevated this year, the report emphasized that the threat of larger earthquakes capable of widespread severe damage is far lower than that of California, contrary to what a number of sensational media reports have claimed:

“The short‐term hazard levels for Oklahoma are similar to short‐term hazard calculated in the more seismically active regions of California. This does not imply the long‐term hazard in California and Oklahoma are the same; California has historically experienced many large and great (M∼8.0) earthquakes that have caused extensive damage. Historically, Oklahoma has not experienced earthquakes greater than M 5.8, and although it is possible that larger earthquakes could be generated by ruptures that link across multiple faults in tectonically active regions (e.g., Hamling et al., 2017), this has not been observed in Oklahoma. Larger earthquakes in Oklahoma only have a small chance of occurrence in our model.” (emphasis added)

For perspective, Oklahoma Geological Survey Director Jeremy Boak recently noted that the seismic energy of all of Oklahoma’s earthquakes since 2009 adds up to the equivalent of just one M-6.1 earthquake; California has had two such 6.1-or-greater quakes since 2014.

Though state regulators have noted “Oklahoma is not out of the woods yet” when it comes to solving its induced seismicity issue, this latest data is certainly encouraging and further illustrates that mitigation measures aimed at reducing seismic activities are yielding positive results.

The post USGS Report: Oklahoma Earthquakes Have Decreased ‘Rapidly’ Since 2015 appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Under Scrutiny from Federal Judge, Climate Litigants Backtrack on Conspiracy Claim

California cities suing energy companies for the risks of climate change have quietly admitted that at least some of the allegations in their original filings were not aligned with the evidence they cited. The admission will almost certainly raise additional doubts about the plaintiffs’ case, which has come under increased scrutiny after a series of embarrassing missteps.

The cities of Oakland and San Francisco filed amended complaints this week after a disastrous appearance in federal court on March 21. The new filing tones down a section about the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), an entity that was active in the 1990s and which the plaintiffs have used as evidence of an industry conspiracy to suppress climate science.

Read the full post on EIDClimate.org.

The post Under Scrutiny from Federal Judge, Climate Litigants Backtrack on Conspiracy Claim appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

VIDEO: Attorney Admitted Press Coverage ‘Might Be More Important’ than Winning Climate Lawsuits

An environmental attorney involved in a multi-year campaign to “bring down” energy companies suggested lawsuits targeting those companies over climate change may be more of a media strategy than a legitimate legal pursuit, according to a recently resurfaced video. The comments were made more than a year before several California municipalities and New York City filed lawsuits against fossil fuel producers seeking financial damages from global warming.

Richard Ayres is a lawyer who participated in the infamous 2012 conference in La Jolla, Calif., where activists developed their playbook for using litigation and the press to blame energy companies for global warming. Ayres made the remarks during a panel discussion in February 2016 hosted by the American Constitution Society, which uploaded the video to YouTube under the title “Combatting Climate Change in the Courts.”

Watch the video and read the full post on EIDClimate.org.

The post VIDEO: Attorney Admitted Press Coverage ‘Might Be More Important’ than Winning Climate Lawsuits appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

VIDEO: Attorney Admitted Press Coverage ‘Might Be More Important’ than Winning Climate Lawsuits

An environmental attorney involved in a multi-year campaign to “bring down” energy companies suggested lawsuits targeting those companies over climate change may be more of a media strategy than a legitimate legal pursuit, according to a recently resurfaced video. The comments were made more than a year before several California municipalities and New York City filed lawsuits against fossil fuel producers seeking financial damages from global warming.

Richard Ayres is a lawyer who participated in the infamous 2012 conference in La Jolla, Calif., where activists developed their playbook for using litigation and the press to blame energy companies for global warming. Ayres made the remarks during a panel discussion in February 2016 hosted by the American Constitution Society, which uploaded the video to YouTube under the title “Combatting Climate Change in the Courts.”

Watch the video and read the full post on EIDClimate.org.

The post VIDEO: Attorney Admitted Press Coverage ‘Might Be More Important’ than Winning Climate Lawsuits appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about a proposed Potter Co, Pa., wastewater treatment facility that a small business from Pittsburgh has designed to support shale development in the region. And unfortunately, an outburst by an anti-fracking activist during a meeting Monday night kept the company that is proposing the new facility from dispelling this misinformation in front of a packed house.

Monday’s meeting had to be cut short after activist filmmaker Josh Pribanic threw a temper tantrum over the order of speakers at the meeting. Pribanic wanted to speak last and threw a fit when he was called to speak sooner, leading to profanities being yelled at the Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA). You can watch part of the exchange in the following video, but WARNING: The language gets very colorful near the end.

Listen to the full exchange:


Pribanic’s outburst ultimately denied the company that has proposed the new facility, Epiphany Water Solutions, the opportunity to give CAMA updates on the project and address misinformation that continues to circulate. With that in mind, here are the facts on the project.

What the Wastewater Treatment Facility Will and Will Not Do

The proposal is for a $1 million facility that will serve as a centralized location to treat production water from the shale development process. The facility will use a two-step process involving metal precipitation and distillation to treat the water to easily meet and do far better than safe drinking water standards.

The completion of the treatment process will ultimately result in distilled water, salt and other solids – all of which can potentially be recycled for other uses. Epiphany has volunteered to recycle water back to industry while testing confirms the facility is working as promised.  Only after testing shows the plant works as intended, would Epiphany send any water, not needed for well development activities in the field, to CAMA.

Water Treatment and Recycling Isn’t New In Pa.

One of the oft-repeated claims Monday night was that, because this facility is an improvement on existing technology, it would be turning the region into an “experiment.” It’s important to note that the treatment of produced and flowback water is not new in Pennsylvania. Following a voluntary initiative that began in 2011, the majority of shale waste water in the Commonwealth is treated on site or at centralized facilities to be recycled and reused in future operations or released back into the hydrological cycle.

In fact, just a short distance away in Lycoming County, Eureka Resources has been safely pretreating, recycling and disposing of shale waste water – including distillation – at a centralized facility since 2008. The company has been so successful in handling this water that it has added two additional facilities in Williamsport and one in Bradford County, and is looking to expand into West Virginia and Ohio.

It’s also not a new concept for Epiphany. The company received funding in 2009 from Innovation Works, a partner of the Ben Franklin Institute that holds an annual innovation contest in the Appalachian Basin, to create onsite water treatment units that use concentrated solar energy for distillation. Those units have been used on well sites in the region, including in Potter County, since 2014. This project simply takes the technology Epiphany has already successfully used and builds it a scale needed to meet the needs of local producers, typically less than 15 miles from the facility.

Concerns About Radioactivity

The biggest concern expressed Monday night seems to surround the potential for radioactive materials to be on site at the facility or released into the environment. But the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study in 2015 that found that “there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.” In particular, the study found, “There is little potential for radiation exposure to workers and the public at facilities that treat O&G wastes.” This part of the analysis, which the Epiphany project would fall under, included Publicly Owned Treatment Works, Centralized Waste Treatment, and Zero Liquid Discharge facilities.

Retired licensed drinking water operator and chemistry instructor Peter Palumbo wrote a letter to the Olean Times Herald recently to correct some of the misinformation about this:

“The difference in these brines is in the proportion of chemical elements that make up the salt. All brine in Pennsylvania and New York contains some radium ions. The deeper the brine source, the more radium ions in the salt. The percentage of ‘good’ salt or ‘bad’ salt does not matter.

Distillation removes all salts, regardless if the salt is radioactive or not. The nuclear properties of radium does not prevent it from either being precipitated out of solution or being left behind by distillation. The Epiphany plant will actually use a two-step process which essentially removes the poisonous heavy metals from the sodium and potassium salts. This results in a reduction in the bulk waste of solids to be hauled away to disposal sites. (emphasis added)

Andy Lombardo, senior vice president of Perma-Fix Environmental Services, spoke at both meetings to explain that the two-step process being proposed is “the best [he’s] ever seen” and that frequent testing will occur for traces of radioactivity in the effluent (water), salt and metal cakes. As Salamanca Press reported,

Lombardo said the risk has been overblown by some opponents.

“‘There’s no getting away from radioactivity,’ he said, with sources of ionizing radiation coming from space and from underground at all times — even the scale inside of a hot water tank is radioactive on low levels. ‘We live in a radioactive world.’

At similar facilities in the state, Lombardo said he has never seen a facility with released radioactivity issues.” (emphasis added)

Conclusion

Source: Alchetron

Multiple members of the Seneca Nation said Monday night that they will accept no risk and “no levels of contaminants in water.” “Zero risk” is not a realistic approach to anything in life, including the oil and gas industry. And supporting shale development or the Epiphany project certainly does not mean that a person does not also love the environment or want to protect it. Whether you call God’s Country home, have fond memories of childhood visits as many of us do, or have only seen it in pictures, it’s easy to see why it is not only aptly named, but why people in this part of the state are so protective of it. But there is no either-or choice here. As Upper Alleghany Watershed Association President Frank Weeks said during his DEP testimony in January,

“Water quality is number one in Potter County in importance. This is a biggie for us… If Epiphany can deliver what they say they’re going to deliver, this is going to be a win for this watershed.”

And as Trout Unlimited – God’s Country Chapter President Dr. Peter Ryan said during the same DEP hearing,

“Epiphany has a solution. I’ve heard their presentation now four times. And I have a background in education, chemistry and biology, and the process makes sense to return the distilled water back to the industry in a truck, to take it back to the well…that’s one of the options is to recycle that back to the well, and the other is to return it to the river from which this water first came. That’s a win-win.”

The post Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about a proposed Potter Co, Pa., wastewater treatment facility that a small business from Pittsburgh has designed to support shale development in the region. And unfortunately, an outburst by an anti-fracking activist during a meeting Monday night kept the company that is proposing the new facility from dispelling this misinformation in front of a packed house.

Monday’s meeting had to be cut short after activist filmmaker Josh Pribanic threw a temper tantrum over the order of speakers at the meeting. Pribanic wanted to speak last and threw a fit when he was called to speak sooner, leading to profanities being yelled at the Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA). You can watch part of the exchange in the following video, but WARNING: The language gets very colorful near the end.

Listen to the full exchange:


Pribanic’s outburst ultimately denied the company that has proposed the new facility, Epiphany Water Solutions, the opportunity to give CAMA updates on the project and address misinformation that continues to circulate. With that in mind, here are the facts on the project.

What the Wastewater Treatment Facility Will and Will Not Do

The proposal is for a $1 million facility that will serve as a centralized location to treat production water from the shale development process. The facility will use a two-step process involving metal precipitation and distillation to treat the water to exceed drinking water standards.

The completion of the treatment process will ultimately result in distilled water, salt and other solids – all of which can potentially be recycled for other uses. Epiphany has volunteered to recycle water back to industry while testing confirms the facility is working as promised.  Only after testing shows the plant works as intended, would Epiphany send any water, not needed for well development activities in the field, to CAMA.

Water Treatment and Recycling Isn’t New In Pa.

One of the oft-repeated claims Monday night was that, because this facility is an improvement on existing technology, it would be turning the region into an “experiment.” It’s important to note that the treatment of produced and flowback water is not new in Pennsylvania. Following a voluntary initiative that began in 2011, the majority of shale waste water in the Commonwealth is treated on site or at centralized facilities to be recycled and reused in future operations or released back into the hydrological cycle.

In fact, just a short distance away in Lycoming County, Eureka Resources has been safely pretreating, recycling and disposing of shale waste water – including distillation – at a centralized facility since 2008. The company has been so successful in handling this water that it has added two additional facilities in Williamsport and one in Bradford County, and is looking to expand into West Virginia and Ohio.

It’s also not a new concept for Epiphany. The company received funding in 2009 from Innovation Works, a partner of the Ben Franklin Institute that holds an annual innovation contest in the Appalachian Basin, to create onsite water treatment units that use concentrated solar energy for distillation. Those units have been used on well sites in the region, including in Potter County, since 2014. This project simply takes the technology Epiphany has already successfully used and builds it in on a grander scale at a centralized location.

Concerns About Radioactivity

The biggest concern expressed Monday night seems to surround the potential for radioactive materials to be on site at the facility or released into the environment. But the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study in 2015 that found that “there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.” In particular, the study found, “There is little potential for radiation exposure to workers and the public at facilities that treat O&G wastes.” This part of the analysis, which the Epiphany project would fall under, included Publicly Owned Treatment Works, Centralized Waste Treatment, and Zero Liquid Discharge facilities.

Retired licensed drinking water operator and chemistry instructor Peter Palumbo wrote a letter to the Olean Times Herald recently to correct some of the misinformation about this:

“The difference in these brines is in the proportion of chemical elements that make up the salt. All brine in Pennsylvania and New York contains some radium ions. The deeper the brine source, the more radium ions in the salt. The percentage of ‘good’ salt or ‘bad’ salt does not matter.

Distillation removes all salts, regardless if the salt is radioactive or not. The nuclear properties of radium does not prevent it from either being precipitated out of solution or being left behind by distillation. The Epiphany plant will actually use a two-step process which essentially removes the poisonous heavy metals from the sodium and potassium salts. This results in a reduction in the bulk waste of solids to be hauled away to disposal sites. (emphasis added)

Andy Lombardo, senior vice president of Perma-Fix Environmental Services, spoke at both meetings to explain that the two-step process being proposed is “the best [he’s] ever seen” and that frequent testing will occur for traces of radioactivity in the effluent (water), salt and metal cakes. As Salamanca Press reported,

Lombardo said the risk has been overblown by some opponents.

“‘There’s no getting away from radioactivity,’ he said, with sources of ionizing radiation coming from space and from underground at all times — even the scale inside of a hot water tank is radioactive on low levels. ‘We live in a radioactive world.’

At similar facilities in the state, Lombardo said he has never seen a facility with released radioactivity issues.” (emphasis added)

Conclusion

Source: Alchetron

Multiple members of the Seneca Nation said Monday night that they will accept no risk and “no levels of contaminants in water.” “Zero risk” is not a realistic approach to anything in life, including the oil and gas industry. And supporting shale development or the Epiphany project certainly does not mean that a person does not also love the environment or want to protect it. Whether you call God’s Country home, have fond memories of childhood visits as many of us do, or have only seen it in pictures, it’s easy to see why it is not only aptly named, but why people in this part of the state are so protective of it. But there is no either-or choice here. As Upper Alleghany Watershed Association President Frank Weeks said during his DEP testimony in January,

“Water quality is number one in Potter County in importance. This is a biggie for us… If Epiphany can deliver what they say they’re going to deliver, this is going to be a win for this watershed.”

And as Trout Unlimited – God’s Country Chapter President Dr. Peter Ryan said during the same DEP hearing,

“Epiphany has a solution. I’ve heard their presentation now four times. And I have a background in education, chemistry and biology, and the process makes sense to return the distilled water back to the industry in a truck, to take it back to the well…that’s one of the options is to recycle that back to the well, and the other is to return it to the river from which this water first came. That’s a win-win.”

The post Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth

 

Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about a proposed Potter Co, Pa., wastewater treatment facility that a small business from Pittsburgh has designed to support shale development in the region. And unfortunately, an outburst by an anti-fracking activist during a meeting Monday night kept the company that is proposing the new facility from dispelling this misinformation in front of a packed house.

Monday’s meeting had to be cut short after activist filmmaker Josh Pribanic threw a temper tantrum over the order of speakers at the meeting. Pribanic wanted to speak last and threw a fit when he was called to speak sooner, leading to profanities being yelled at the Coudersport Area Municipal Authority (CAMA). You can watch part of the exchange in the following video, but WARNING: The language gets very colorful near the end.

Listen to the full exchange:


Pribanic’s outburst ultimately denied the company that has proposed the new facility, Epiphany Water Solutions, the opportunity to give CAMA updates on the project and address misinformation that continues to circulate. With that in mind, here are the facts on the project.

What the Wastewater Treatment Facility Will and Will Not Do

The proposal is for a $1 million facility that will serve as a centralized location to treat production water from the shale development process. The facility will use a two-step process involving metal precipitation and distillation to treat the water to exceed drinking water standards.

The completion of the treatment process will ultimately result in distilled water, salt and other solids – all of which can potentially be recycled for other uses. Epiphany has volunteered to recycle water back to industry while testing confirms the facility is working as promised.  Only after testing shows the plant works as intended, would Epiphany send any water, not needed for well development activities in the field, to CAMA.

Water Treatment and Recycling Isn’t New In Pa.

One of the oft-repeated claims Monday night was that, because this facility is an improvement on existing technology, it would be turning the region into an “experiment.” It’s important to note that the treatment of produced and flowback water is not new in Pennsylvania. Following a voluntary initiative that began in 2011, the majority of shale waste water in the Commonwealth is treated on site or at centralized facilities to be recycled and reused in future operations or released back into the hydrological cycle.

In fact, just a short distance away in Lycoming County, Eureka Resources has been safely pretreating, recycling and disposing of shale waste water – including distillation – at a centralized facility since 2008. The company has been so successful in handling this water that it has added two additional facilities in Williamsport and one in Bradford County, and is looking to expand into West Virginia and Ohio.

It’s also not a new concept for Epiphany. The company received funding in 2009 from Innovation Works, a partner of the Ben Franklin Institute that holds an annual innovation contest in the Appalachian Basin, to create onsite water treatment units that use concentrated solar energy for distillation. Those units have been used on well sites in the region, including in Potter County, since 2014. This project simply takes the technology Epiphany has already successfully used and builds it in on a grander scale at a centralized location.

Concerns About Radioactivity

The biggest concern expressed Monday night seems to surround the potential for radioactive materials to be on site at the facility or released into the environment. But the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study in 2015 that found that “there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.” In particular, the study found, “There is little potential for radiation exposure to workers and the public at facilities that treat O&G wastes.” This part of the analysis, which the Epiphany project would fall under, included Publicly Owned Treatment Works, Centralized Waste Treatment, and Zero Liquid Discharge facilities.

Retired licensed drinking water operator and chemistry instructor Peter Palumbo wrote a letter to the Olean Times Herald recently to correct some of the misinformation about this:

“The difference in these brines is in the proportion of chemical elements that make up the salt. All brine in Pennsylvania and New York contains some radium ions. The deeper the brine source, the more radium ions in the salt. The percentage of ‘good’ salt or ‘bad’ salt does not matter.

Distillation removes all salts, regardless if the salt is radioactive or not. The nuclear properties of radium does not prevent it from either being precipitated out of solution or being left behind by distillation. The Epiphany plant will actually use a two-step process which essentially removes the poisonous heavy metals from the sodium and potassium salts. This results in a reduction in the bulk waste of solids to be hauled away to disposal sites. (emphasis added)

Andy Lombardo, senior vice president of Perma-Fix Environmental Services, spoke at both meetings to explain that the two-step process being proposed is “the best [he’s] ever seen” and that frequent testing will occur for traces of radioactivity in the effluent (water), salt and metal cakes. As Salamanca Press reported,

Lombardo said the risk has been overblown by some opponents.

“‘There’s no getting away from radioactivity,’ he said, with sources of ionizing radiation coming from space and from underground at all times — even the scale inside of a hot water tank is radioactive on low levels. ‘We live in a radioactive world.’

At similar facilities in the state, Lombardo said he has never seen a facility with released radioactivity issues.” (emphasis added)

Conclusion

Source: Alchetron

Multiple members of the Seneca Nation said Monday night that they will accept no risk and “no levels of contaminants in water.” “Zero risk” is not a realistic approach to anything in life, including the oil and gas industry. And supporting shale development or the Epiphany project certainly does not mean that a person does not also love the environment or want to protect it. Whether you call God’s Country home, have fond memories of childhood visits as many of us do, or have only seen it in pictures, it’s easy to see why it is not only aptly named, but why people in this part of the state are so protective of it. But there is no either-or choice here. As Upper Alleghany Watershed Association President Frank Weeks said during his DEP testimony in January,

“Water quality is number one in Potter County in importance. This is a biggie for us… If Epiphany can deliver what they say they’re going to deliver, this is going to be a win for this watershed.”

And as Trout Unlimited – God’s Country Chapter President Dr. Peter Ryan said during the same DEP hearing,

“Epiphany has a solution. I’ve heard their presentation now four times. And I have a background in education, chemistry and biology, and the process makes sense to return the distilled water back to the industry in a truck, to take it back to the well…that’s one of the options is to recycle that back to the well, and the other is to return it to the river from which this water first came. That’s a win-win.”

The post Contrary to Activists’ Claims, Proposed Water Treatment Facility Will Purify Shale Wastewater appeared first on Energy In Depth.

Source: Energy In Depth