Natural Gas Matters

I was driving through Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon this past week, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the show Natural Gas Matters on 590 AM. If you are in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you tune in on Fridays at 3:15 p.m. This show helps answer the common questions and concerns that people have about natural gas. You can read more about it here.

The Facts About Fracking

The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

From the Wall Street Journal
The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don’t mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.

Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).

The resulting boom is transforming America’s energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America’s gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports. Continue reading

Will New York Ever Allow Hydraulic Fracturing?

The New York Post asks a good question today about hydraulic fracturing:

Will hydraulic fracturing ever come to New York?

And if it does, will it be sufficiently commonplace to actually boost Upstate’s sadly dilapidated economy?

These are fair questions — given that the Cuomo administration has slowed the approval process for the controversial natural-gas-extraction method to a crawl.

And now comes word, via a careful leak to The New York Times, that Team Cuomo is pushing a plan that would severely limit both the number of drilling permits and their location to just a few counties.

And even that assumes that the process itself is approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation — which is still a mighty big if.

The article notes rightly that many depressed counties are missing out on a huge economic boom that would almost certainly result from the dwilling of wells, “Meanwhile, Upstate remains in desperate need of the economic revival that a vigorous fracking effort would bring.”
You can read the full article here.

Read more:

Economic Impact of the Fayetteville Shale

The report says Fayetteville Shale activities of the oil and gas industry have been important to Arkansas because:

  • Average annual pay in the oil and gas extraction industry was $74,555 in 2010, twice the average pay of all industries in the state.
  • Mineral leases and royalty payments provide additional income to Arkansas residents. The study says that over the 2008-2011 period more than $1.2 billion in mineral
  • Continue reading

T. Boone Pickens preaches his energy “gospel”

T. Boone Pickens is preaching the benefits of natural gas. Here’s a little bit of what he says:

“Natural gas will do everything we want it to do,” he says. “It’s 130-octane fuel, it’s 25 percent cleaner than oil — and we have an abundance of it. It doesn’t require refining; it comes out of ground at 130 octane; run it through a separator and it’s ready to use. It will be very simple for us to make this transition.”

While natural gas-powered vehicles are nothing new — people have been converting vehicles for decades — Pickens says booming supplies of U.S. natural gas and falling prices make it ideal for the backbone of the nation’s transportation fleet: trucks.

“Wind, nuclear, and solar are fine, but if we’re going to do anything about our dependency on foreign oil, we have to address transportation.”

There are 18 million 18-wheelers in the U.S., he says. If converted to natural gas, the industry’s carbon emissions would drop by 30 percent, fuel costs would drop, and imports of OPEC oil would be slashed by 60 percent. Continue reading

Vermont obtains dubious distinction of being the 1st state to ban hydraulic fracturing

The Houston Chronicle reports that Vermont has become the 1st state to ban hydraulic fracturing:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s first ban on a hotly debated natural gas drilling technique that involves blasting chemical-laced water deep into the ground.

The Democrat, surrounded at a Statehouse ceremony by environmentalists and Twinfield Union School students who pushed for the ban, said the law may help Vermont set an example for other states. The ban may be largely symbolic, though, because there is believed to be little to no natural gas or oil beneath the surface in Vermont.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin gave the reasoning behind the bill:

Shumlin said the increased amounts of natural gas obtainable through hydraulic fracturing were not worth the risk to drinking water supplies.

In the coming generation or two, “drinking water will be more valuable than oil or natural gas,” Shumlin said. Continue reading

The Clean Energy Shell Game

In the past, environmentalists considered natural gas to be a clean energy. Robert Bryce explains in his recent article on National Review “The Sierra Club Opposes Clean Energy”:

. . . the Sierra Club supported natural gas because, as Michael Brune, the group’s executive director, put it, the group’s leaders believed at the time that this fuel could “play a necessary role in helping us reach the clean energy future our children deserve.” But in February of this year, the Sierra Club changed its direction on natural gas and Brune declared that the “only safe, smart, and responsible” way to address America’s energy needs is to look beyond coal, oil, and natural gas and to focus on “sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.”

Bryce notes that even new coal plants are meeting and exceeding EPA Standards on “dirty” emissions:

The Prairie State Energy Campus, a $5 billion state-of-the-art coal-fired plant located in southwestern Illinois, will soon begin generating electricity. The 1,600-megawatt facility, the biggest coal-fired power plant to be built in in the U.S. in many years, will produce 0.182 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 0.07 pounds of nitrogen oxide per megawatt-hour. That’s about half the allowable levels of those pollutants under the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which is scheduled to take effect in 2014.

So, why is there so much opposition to coal and even more so to natural gas? Bryce notes the real reason: “The promotion of ‘clean energy’ is not really about eliminating traditional pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and ozone; it’s aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions.”

So, what is it? “Dirty” energy is now defined as carbon dioxide, a gas which makes our soda and our beer bubbly, and which every animal exhales with each breath. Anything that is asserted to contribute to global warming is now a “dirty” energy: Continue reading