US set to open nearly 200 power plants

US set to open nearly 200 power plants

SOURCE: USA Today [I don’t like to link to USA Today but it’s an exclusive report from them. Tread carefully; they are an extremely biased source.] DATE: September 9, 2019 SNIP: Utilities and energy companies are continuing to invest heavily in carbon-polluting natural gas. An exclusive analysis by USA TODAY finds that across the United States there are as many as 177 natural gas power plants currently planned, under construction or announced. There are close to 2,000 now in service. All that natural gas is “a ticking time bomb for our planet,” says Michael Brune, president of the Sierra Club. “If we are to prevent runaway climate change, these new plants can’t be built.” An analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute published Monday [also take this with a huge grain of salt: there is no such thing as “clean” energy] looked at 88 gas-fired power plants scheduled to begin operation by 2025. They would emit 100 million tons of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to 5% of current annual emissions from the U.S. power sector. USA TODAY compiled its own list of 177 planned and proposed natural gas plants through August, using data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks power plants that have been officially announced, and the Sierra Club, which tracks proposed plants. Of those, 152 have a scheduled opening date of between 2019 and 2033, though only 130 have specific locations chosen. An additional 25 are part of companies’ long-term planning processes and don’t have estimated opening dates yet. The plants are a mix of large-scale installations meant to provide lots of electricity much of...
Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal

Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: July 2, 2019 SNIP: The booming liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry will play at least as big a role as new coal investments in bringing on a climate crisis if all planned projects go ahead, US-based energy analysts and campaigners say. The Global Energy Monitor, formerly known as CoalSwarm, is a US-based research and advocacy group that tracks fossil fuel development. It found there were US$1.3tn in planned LNG investments across the globe, including nearly $38bn in Australia, putting it fourth on a list behind the US, Canada and Russia. Ted Nace, the group’s executive director, said the proposed tripling of global LNG capacity risked introducing decades of emissions of methane, a potent and difficult-to-monitor greenhouse gas, at odds with the Paris climate agreement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year estimated methane emissions would need to be reduced by 35% between 2010 and 2050 to meet the Paris goals. Natural gas is at times described as a transition fuel in the response to the climate crisis as it has about half the carbon dioxide emissions of black coal when burned to generate electricity. That argument has been rejected by the head of the International Energy Agency and science bodies warning the world needs to rapidly move to clean energy and industries. Nace said it was difficult to compare emissions from coal and gas given their different nature. Gas has lower CO2 emissions than black coal when burned for electricity, but LNG developments also leak methane, which is a relatively short-lived gas that lasts in the atmosphere about 12 years but still has a...
EPA wants to let frackers dump chemical-laden water into rivers

EPA wants to let frackers dump chemical-laden water into rivers

SOURCE: RawStory DATE: June 11, 2019 SNIP: The EPA recently released the draft of a study of options to dispose of “produced water” from drilling for gas and oil that could include irrigation and discharging it into rivers and streams. The water, sometimes 10 times saltier than seawater and laced with chemicals such as ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, traditionally has been injected underground, but that practice has been linked to hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma and other oil-producing states in the last decade. Fracking can produce as much as 10 gallons of water for every gallon of oil. The amount of wastewater new wells produce during their first year has increased by up to 1,440%. In 2016, the EPA banned public sewage plants from accepting wastewater from fracking, but the EPA later extended the deadline for complying until August. The water was so corrosive it was damaging factory machinery downstream. People living near the Monongahela River in western Pennsylvania were advised to drink bottled water. The EPA identified 692 different ingredients used in fracking that can end up in produced water, including acids, gels and sand. The water can also be radioactive. Little research has been done about treating waste from drilling for oil and gas, and there are no federal regulations about the radioactive waste produced by drilling for...
EPA Decides Not to Regulate Fracking Wastewater as Pennsylvania Study Reveals Recent Spike

EPA Decides Not to Regulate Fracking Wastewater as Pennsylvania Study Reveals Recent Spike

SOURCE: DeSmog Blog DATE: April 25, 2019 SNIP: On April 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told two environmental groups that it had decided it was “not necessary” to update the federal standards handling toxic waste from oil and gas wells, including the waste produced by fracking. State regulators have repeatedly proved unable to prevent the industry’s toxic waste from entering America’s drinking water supplies, including both private wells and the rivers from which public drinking water supplies are drawn, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a 2017 national study. The corrosive salt-laden wastewater from fracked wells has been spread on roads as a de-icer. It’s been sprayed into the air in the hopes of evaporating the water — a practice that spreads its blend of volatile chemicals into the air instead. Oil industry wastewater has even been used to irrigate crops — in California, where state regulators haven’t set rules to keep dangerous chemicals like the carcinogen benzene out of irrigation water. If equally contaminated waste came from other industries, it would usually be designated hazardous waste and subject to strict tracking and disposal rules designed to keep the public safe from industrial pollution. But in July 1988, after burying clear warnings from its own scientists about the hazards of oilfield waste, the EPA offered the oil and gas industry a broad exemption from hazardous waste handling laws. The decision comes as a new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment, calls attention to the oil and gas waste produced in Pennsylvania for nearly that entire time. The oil and gas industry has...
A Fracking-Driven Industrial Boom Renews Pollution Concerns in Pittsburgh

A Fracking-Driven Industrial Boom Renews Pollution Concerns in Pittsburgh

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: March 21, 2019 SNIP: Pittsburgh is a city on the upswing, rebounding this century from its rustbelt past by developing more innovative sectors such as health care, education, and technology. Uber is testing its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon University is home to a world-renowned Robotics Institute. And the city made an aggressive bid for Amazon’s HQ2, which the mayor viewed as key to moving the Steel City beyond its roots in heavy industry. Progress toward a cleaner, post-industrial future is not linear, however. Although the air in Pittsburgh has dramatically improved from the days when it was one of America’s most polluted cities, it still contains high levels of hazardous pollutants. The rise of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, now more than a decade old, has exacerbated regional air quality problems. Now, Pittsburgh and the surrounding area are embracing a new wave of industry tied to the fracking boom in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Nothing better embodies this surge than a massive, $6 billion ethane cracker currently being built 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh by Shell Chemical Appalachia, a subsidiary of the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell. The facility will process huge quantities of natural gas and natural gas liquids from the prolific Marcellus and Utica shales and turn them into the building blocks of plastic. The plastic pellets produced by “cracking” ethane molecules will then be sold to manufacturers producing consumer and industrial products such as plastic bags, packaging, automotive parts, and furniture. When it comes online in 2021, Shell’s ethane cracker will also add significantly to air pollution in...