Climate Change and the Ohio River Basin

Climate Change and the Ohio River Basin

SOURCES: DeSmog Blog, Courier Journal, Army Corps of Engineers Report DATE: February 6, 2018 SNIP: From DeSmog Blog: Over the past year, oil and gas industry plans to build a petrochemical refining and storage hub along the Ohio River have steadily gaining traction. Proponents hope this potential hub, which would straddle Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, could someday rival the industrial corridor found along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana. Those plans center around creating what is known as the Appalachian Storage Hub, which received a major boost on November 9 during a trade mission to China attended by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. At that trade mission, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the China Energy Investment Corp. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to invest $83.7 billion into the planned storage hub over 20 years. For comparison, West Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $72.9 billion. Though called the Appalachian Storage Hub as a broad-sweeping term, in practice the hub could encompass natural gas liquids storage, a market trading index center, a key pipeline feeding epicenter, and a petrochemical refinery row. Its prospective development has been spurred by the current construction of a $6 billion petrochemical refining facility in Pennsylvania owned by Shell Oil. A “major concern we have about the whole complex is that it will encourage a second or third wave of gas fracking in our region, from the Marcellus, the Utica, and the Rogersville field, which is a much deeper layer of shale gas and oil and has been recently tested...
Sparrows in the oilpatch are changing their love songs

Sparrows in the oilpatch are changing their love songs

SOURCE: National Observer DATE: January 24, 2018 SNIP: Some birds have been forced to change their tune as a result of noise pollution from oil and gas drilling, new research from the University of Manitoba has found. The study, published in this month’s edition of The Condor: Ornithological Applications, suggests that the din of industrial activity drowns out important parts of their songs, which may include such vital details as a bird’s ‘name’ or how fit it is for mating. Researchers studied the effects of oil and gas infrastructure, including compressor stations, pump jacks, and oil well screw pumps on the melodic musings of Savannah sparrows, and compared them with the tunes produced on quiet control sites. They examined 76 birds over a two-year period in Alberta, and recorded them at the height of the singing season — six weeks between May and June. Sparrows living in and around the oilpatch had modified their frequencies, syllables and tones near generator-powered screw pump sites — the loudest form of infrastructure examined, said report co-author Nicola Koper, a terrestrial ecologist at the university’s Natural Resources...
‘Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise

‘Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise

SOURCE: High Country News DATE: January 16, 2018 SNIP: The 50 or so wells Atom left behind comprise Colorado’s largest-ever “orphaned well” case, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. But it’s not an isolated problem. Companies that go out of business, become bankrupt, or, like Atom, simply ignore the rules, tend to skip out on cleanup and land restoration. And since bond amounts set by states and the federal government rarely if ever cover real-world cleanup costs, it can be cheaper for a company to forfeit a bond than to follow reclamation rules. Orphaned wells are more likely than properly plugged “abandoned” wells to leak pollutants, including methane gas, which can contaminate groundwater and even trigger explosions. So it’s troubling that the number of such wells in the West has soared. A downturn in energy prices starting back in 2008 has led energy companies to orphan thousands of wells across Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. States are struggling even to tally them, let alone remediate them. Officially, Colorado has 244 orphaned wells on its books, but state officials estimate another 400 have yet to be located. And with a new drilling boom tapping deep shale formations along Colorado’s urban Front Range, some worry that the next bust will saddle the public with thousands more. According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, there are currently 63 financially “distressed” operators in the state, who collectively own almost 4,000 wells. These companies have either missed required safety tests or aren’t producing much, signs that they may be running out of money and therefore more likely to abandon...
The Interior Department Scrubs Climate Change From Its Strategic Plan

The Interior Department Scrubs Climate Change From Its Strategic Plan

SOURCE: The Nation DATE: October 25, 2017 SNIP: In the next five years, millions of acres of America’s public lands and waters, including some national monuments and relatively pristine coastal regions, could be auctioned off for oil and gas development, with little thought for environmental consequences. That’s according to a leaked draft, obtained by The Nation, of the Department of the Interior’s strategic vision: It states that the DOI is committed to achieving “American energy dominance” through the exploitation of “vast amounts” of untapped energy reserves on public lands. Alarmingly, the policy blueprint—a 50-page document—does not once mention climate change or climate science. EPA websites have also been scrubbed of most references to climate change. At Interior and the Department of Energy, scientists have been discouraged from referring to climate change in grant proposals or press releases. While disregarding climate change, the 2018–2022 strategic plan places a premium on facilitating oil and gas development. Not surprisingly, one of the DOI’s key performance indicators for the next five years will be the number of acres of public lands made available for oil and natural-gas...
Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables

Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables

SOURCE: National Observer and BP DATE: September 20, 2017 SNIP: I read lots of articles these days pointing to the rapid expansion of renewable energy as a reason to be hopeful about our unfolding climate crisis. Unfortunately, the climate doesn’t care how many solar panels and wind farms we build. What determines our climate fate is how much climate-polluting fossil fuels we decide to burn. Renewables are great but only if they actually replace oil, gas, or coal. Sadly, rising renewables haven’t stopped our fossil fuel burn, or our atmosphere’s CO2 from continuing to rise. Instead, the new business-as-usual is one in which we keep expanding both renewables and fossil fuels at the same time. The best available science says we need climate pollution “reductions of 90 per cent or more between 2040 and 2070.” (see International Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment report.) But the latest energy data clearly shows we aren’t reducing fossil fuel burn. Just the opposite. We keep cranking the tap open wider every year. [T]he last decade’s increase in fossil fuels was so huge that it single-handedly exceeds all the renewable energy supply we’ve ever...