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...
B.C. left holding massive bill for hundreds of orphan gas wells as frack companies go belly-up

B.C. left holding massive bill for hundreds of orphan gas wells as frack companies go belly-up

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: March 12, 2019 SNIP: Nearly 400 kilometres north of Fort St. John is a large, leaking fracking pond owned by Ranch Energy Corporation, a Calgary-based company that went into receivership last year leaving 700 gas wells in B.C. and a sea of debt. The storage pond is filled with 113,000 cubic metres of sludge and water that may be contaminating soil and groundwater through a documented leak in its outer lining, according to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Twenty months ago, the commission issued an order to Predator Oil BC Ltd., the company that sold Ranch the wells, to empty the pond and test for contamination. But nothing has been done. Ranch’s receiver, Ernst & Young, says it’s an expense the estate cannot afford. The story of Ranch — pieced together by The Narwhal from a review of receivership documents and B.C. Oil and Gas Commission documents — highlights some of the mounting financial and environmental problems created by B.C.’s fracking industry. And that’s even before a fracking blitz gets underway in the province’s Peace region, already covered by thousands of wells, to supply gas for the $40 billion LNG Canada project that will ship liquefied natural gas overseas. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves the injection of large amounts of water and proprietary chemicals into the ground to release gas. When companies like Ranch become insolvent, the provincial government is left holding much of the substantial clean-up bill for the industry equivalent of a dine and dash. 300 to 500 Ranch wells could still be designated as orphans, leaving the commission responsible for additional...