Tag Archives: Department of Energy

New PNAS study finds fracking emissions far lower than EPA estimates

From Investors Business Daily. Before you read the article, you should know that “fracking” is short for hydraulic fracturing. This is a technique for extracting shale oil by creating fractures in rocks.

Excerpt:

Whether naturally occurring or not, environmentalists claim that fracking would release huge amounts of what they consider the most potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas, far outweighing the value of producing huge quantities of clean-burning natural gas.

Now comes a study, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — and co-financed by one of the highest-profile environmentalists in the country — that shows much smaller amounts of methane emissions associated with fracking, far less than environmentalists and the Environmental Protection Agency have contended.

[…]The study, billed as the first to measure the actual emissions of methane from natural gas wells, finds these emissions were, in some cases, only about 2% of the most recent national estimate by the EPA in 2011. An upcoming EPA rule, effective January 2015, requires all methane to be captured when liquids are removed after drilling.

Seen by many as an attempt to stop fracking, which has boosted the economy through its ability to tap previously inaccessible oil and gas riches, the rule might be redundant. Two-thirds of the wells studied already were capturing or controlling the methane to reduce emissions.

“For those wells with methane capture or control, 99% of the potential emissions were captured or controlled,” the study notes.

This proves once again there is no problem technology can’t solve and that when decisions are made based on technology, rather than ideology, good things happen.

An interesting aspect of the study is that it was funded in part by Tom Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist who has become highly active in national politics in the past year, backing environmentalist Democrats such as Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Steyer’s support for the University of Texas came by way of the Environmental Defense Fund, which helped finance the study. He and his wife Kat Taylor are listed among individuals who provided “major funding for the EDF’s 30-month methane research series, including their portion of the University of Texas study.”

[…]Thanks in large part to fracking, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were the lowest in the U.S. since 1994, at 5.3 billion metric tons. With the exception of 2010, emissions have declined every year since 2007.

Back in May 2013, Associated Press reported that the EPA had already lowered their estimates before this study completed.

Excerpt:

The new EPA data is “kind of an earthquake” in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. “This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks.”

The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.

So there’s no harm to the environment, but about the economics benefits of fracking? Well, when states have embraced fracking, their economies have greatly benefited.

Here’s what happened when North Dakota lowered its regulatory barriers to energy development.

This:

North Dakota had the highest payroll-to-population rate (P2P) and the lowest underemployment rate in 2012, thanks mostly to the state’s booming oil & gas industry.

According to Gallup’s “State of the States” analysis released today, North Dakota ranked number one among the lower 48 states, with a payroll to population rate of 53.6 percent.

Gallup said it measured each state’s P2P rate by the percentage of the adult population aged 18 and older employed full-time by an employer for at least 30 hours per week.

The analysis noted that the numbers are not seasonably adjusted and variations across states reflect a number of factors, including the overall employment situation for each state as well as the demographic composition of that state’s population. P2P rates in Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia were not considered in the analysis.

Factoring in the most recent unemployment data is key to the Gallup analysis. North Dakota reported just a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, well below the national average unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number one ranking should not come as much of a surprise given the Peace Garden state’s rise in oil and gas production and the subsequent rise in jobs over the past few years.

According to North Dakota Jobs Service data from 2011, the most recent available, the number of oil and gas jobs in North Dakota has risen 57.5 percent since 2010 – going from 10,660 jobs in 2010 to 16,786 jobs in 2011, with the oil and gas payroll nearly doubling — going from $852 million in 2010 up to $1.5 billion in 2011.

North Dakota now produces more oil than any other state, including Alaska, which ranked number one in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In New York, Chesapeake Energy just decided to pull up stakes and leave the state.

Excerpt:

After more than five years of a fracking moratorium, a leading energy company walks away from its leases, leaving New York, its natural gas riches — and the jobs and wealth they could generate — unrealized.

In 2000, people from Chesapeake Energy began arriving in Broome County, New York, a few miles north of the Pennsylvania border. Broome had seen better economic days but was lucky to be sitting right atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches through much of the Northeast.

[…]Interestingly, New York’s very own Department of Environmental Conservation website on Marcellus drilling says, “No known instances of groundwater contamination have occurred from previous horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing projects in New York.”

A recent Department of Energy study has concluded that fracking chemicals do not taint drinking water.

After a year of monitoring wells in western Pennsylvania, researchers found these fluids stayed thousands of feet below the areas that supply drinking water.

A 2010 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection report concluded that “no groundwater pollution or disruption of underground sources of drinking water have been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas formations.”

But Pennsylvania allows fracking, and they are seeing the same economic boom as North Dakota:

A recent study by the Manhattan Institute highlighted the economic impact of fracking in New York’s neighbor to the south, Pennsylvania, which has had 5,000 wells fracked since 2002.

The data are compelling, as counties with more than 200 wells, drilled between 2007 and 2011, saw a 19% increase in per-capita incomes, versus just 8% income growth for those with no wells fracked.

Further, the number of county jobs grew by 7% in those with more than 200 wells fracked, against a 3% contraction in counties with no wells drilled.

According to the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth, “Income of residents in the 28 New York counties above the Marcellus Shale has the potential to expand by 15% or more over the next four years if the state’s moratorium is lifted.”

In Pennsylvania, according to the report, each well in the Marcellus Shale formation creates $5.5 million in direct economic benefits and 62 jobs, and the wells endanger no one. Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry estimates that fracking in its part of the Marcellus created 72,000 jobs from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011, as New York’s job- and growth-killing moratorium got underway.

Now tell me again why progressives are supposedly smarter than conservatives.

Ohio coal mine closes because of Obama administration environmental policies

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

A stop not scheduled during the president’s third visit to the battleground state in four weeks was a coal-mining operation near Brilliant, Ohio, run by Ohio American Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corp. The operation employed 239 workers at its peak but will be closing as the result of President Obama’s environmental policies.

Regulatory actions by President Obama and his appointees and followers were cited as the entire reason in the press release that announced the closing. “Mr. Obama has already destroyed 83,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation in America,” said Michael T.W. Carey, vice president of government affairs for Murray Energy. “Electric prices in the recent PJM Interconnection monthly auction were bid up 800% for 2015-16 because of this,” he added.

PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states, including Ohio, recently held its 2015 capacity auction. This gave the first real indication of just how drastic the effects of Obama’s war on coal will be. The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity was $136 per megawatt.

That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In Pennsylvania, the new market price is $167 per megawatt — 10 times higher. In northern Ohio, which is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, the 2015 price is an astounding $357 per megawatt.

This is one campaign promise President Obama has kept. In 2008, candidate Obama promised a system under which “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

I’m sure that some of the people who lost their jobs voted for Obama. Maybe they were even familiar with that quote of his. But they just didn’t put two and two together to make four. Will you do that in November? I think that the one thing you want to do in life is to NOT hurt yourself with your own actions. Never vote to take away your own job.

Obama administration blocks oil production in Ohio: 200,000 jobs lost

Cost of renewable wind and solar energy
Cost of renewable wind and solar energy

The Heritage Foundation explains Obama’s latest effort to appease the environmentalist cult.

Excerpt:

First, it was 20,000 jobs the Obama Administration delayed by punting a decision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada into the United States. Multiply that number by 10 and you have the amount of jobs the President is putting on hold by delaying a mineral lease sale in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest for oil and gas drilling. This decision kills jobs and denies Americans access to affordable energy.

The Washington Examiner reports that Wayne National Forest already has 1,300 oil and gas wells in operation, but access to Utica’s shale gas reserves would require hydraulic fracturing. The United States Department of Agriculture announced a six-month delay in the leasing of 3,000 acres in the forest to study the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing. This decision not only delays access to the jobs and energy that Americans need now, but it blocks an important revenue source for federal and state governments. The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program estimated that:

Natural gas and crude oil industry could help create and support more than 200,000 Ohio-based jobs from the leasing, royalties, exploration, drilling, production and pipeline construction activities for the Utica shale reserve. The state could experience an overall wage and personal-income boost of $12 billion by 2015 from industry spending.

The study also projects royalty payments to landowners, schools, businesses and communities could increase to as much as $1.6 billion by 2015—a number that exceeds the total amount of royalties distributed by Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil industry in the last decade. Total tax revenue from oil and gas exploration and development in the Utica shale formation from 2011 until 2015, including severance, commercial activity, ad valorem (property), federal, state and local taxes, is projected to be approximately $479 billion. Industry expenditures related to Utica shale development could generate approximately $12.3 billion in gross state product and result in a statewide output or sales of more than $23 billion.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” is a long-proven process by which producers inject a fluid (composed of 99 percent water) and sand into wells to free oil and gas trapped in rock formations. Used in over 1 million wells in the United States over more than six decades, fracking has been successfully used to retrieve over 7 billion barrels of oil and over 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Spencer Hunt of the Columbus Dispatch reports that “Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said shale well drilling would be less harmful to the forest than conventional drilling because as many as six shale wells can be drilled on a single pad.”

Fracking is subject to both federal and state regulations, and there have been no instances of contamination to drinking water. Groundwater aquifers sit thousands of feet above where fracking takes place, and studies by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Council, and other agencies have found no evidence of groundwater contamination. Where there have been unwanted environmental outcomes—such as gas migration—they were the result of poor well construction or problems with the concrete and steel casings around the well bore. Those instances have been rare, and they were not a result of the fracking process itself.

Hydraulic fracturing will be a critical process in developing energy supplies in the future. The National Petroleum Council estimates that fracking will allow 60–80 percent of all domestically drilled wells in the next 10 years to remain viable.

You can study the effects of hydraulic fracturing for six more months, but the facts are going to remain the same. Fracking is a long-proven process that can help access our nation’s abundant oil and gas reserves. Delaying lease sales is delaying the creation of much-needed jobs.

So let me get this straight. If Obama isn’t handing out $535 million of taxpayer dollars to Solyndra and $1.4 billion of taxpayer dollars to BruightSource, then he’s busy blocking oil drilling in the Gulf and blocking oil drilling in Ohio and blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s no wonder we have a 9% unemployment rate – this man doesn’t want to create jobs. He wants to reward the people who got him elected by handing out millions and billions of taxpayer dollars to millionaires and billionaires – in effect, transferring wealth from the middle class to rich Democrat fundraisers. I find it very surprising that labor unions back this man in elections. What sense does that make?

Global warming alarmism is nothing but a religion. Why do we have to have so much religion in politics? I understand if environmentalists want to practice their religion in their own homes and in the churches, but why do we have to give them taxpayer money for their environmentalist devotions? And why to we have to put our economy on hold just so that we are compliant with their religious beliefs? Why did we elect a President for believes in forcing a religious ideology onto the rest of us? Why do we have to have our freedom and prosperity – our right to produce goods and our right to purchase goods – limited by a religious ideology?

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Obama administration gives Democrat-connected BrightSource Energy $1.4 billion loan

Obama Economic Record November 2011
Obama Economic Record November 2011

Big Government explains the latest example of the Obama administration handing out billions of taxpayer dollars to their cronies in the green energy racket.

Excerpt:

President John F. Kennedy’s nephew, Robert Kennedy, Jr., netted a $1.4 billion bailout for his company, BrightSource, through a loan guarantee issued by a former employee-turned Department of Energy official.

[…]The details of how BrightSource managed to land its ten-figure taxpayer bailout have yet to emerge fully. However, one clue might be found in the person of Sanjay Wagle.

Wagle was one of the principals in Kennedy’s firm who raised money for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. When Obama won the White House, Wagle was installed at the Department of Energy (DOE), advising on energy grants.

From an objective vantage point, investing taxpayer monies in BrightSource was a risky proposition at the time. In 2010, BrightSource, whose largest shareholder is Kennedy’s VantagePoint Partners, was up to its eyes in $1.8 billion of debt obligations and had lost $71.6 million on its paltry $13.5 million of revenue.

Even before BrightSource rattled its tin cup in front of Obama’s DOE, the company made it known publicly that its survival hinged on successfully completing the Ivanpah Solar Electrical System, which would become the largest solar plant in the world, on federal lands in California.

In its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, BrightSource further underscored the risky nature of the Ivanpah venture and, more broadly, the company’s viability:

Our future success depends on our ability to construct Ivanpah, our first utility-scale solar thermal power project, in a cost-effective and timely manner… Our ability to complete Ivanpah and the planning, development and construction of all three phases are subject to significant risk and uncertainty.

Ironically, in 2008, Kennedy wrote a CNN article praising Obama as reminiscent of his famous father and uncle.  The article, titled “Obama’s Energy Plan Would Create a Green Gold Rush,” proved prophetic. However, the “green gold rush” came in the form of $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money flowing into the pet projects of rich venture capital investors like Kennedy, not average citizens.

What’s more, BrightSource touted the Ivanpah project as a green jobs creator.  Yet as its own website reveals, the thermal solar plant will only create 1,400 jobs at its peak construction and 650 jobs annually thereafter. Even using the peak estimate of 1,400 jobs, that works out to a cost to taxpayers of $1 million per job created.

These revelations and more are described in the forthcoming book “Throw Them All Out” by Peter Schweizer. This could be a game-breaker.

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Obama urged Solyndra to delay layoff announcements until after 2010 elections

Obama Economic Record November 2011
Obama Economic Record November 2011

From the left-wing Washington Post. (H/T PJ Media)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show.

Solyndra, the now-shuttered California company, had been a poster child of President Obama’s initiative to invest in clean energies and received the administration’s first energy loan of $535 million. But a year ago, in October 2010, the solar panel manufacturer was quickly running out of money and had warned the Energy Department it would need emergency cash to avoid having to shut down.

The new e-mails about the layoff announcement were released Tuesday morning as part of a House Energy and Commerce committee memo, provided in advance of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s scheduled testimony before the investigative committee Thursday.

Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.

But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

PJ Media notes:

It’s worth waybacking a bit to see how things were going inside Solyndra. To many on the staff, the place never seemed like it was being run as a serious business. It had spectacular facilities, a lavish conference room, and inventory piled up with no plan to ever sell it. There was no market for its product. One worker says that after the DoE loan came in, the company just went on a “sloppy” spending spree. Around that same time, Solyndra was telling Congress that its financial future was bright, even while in the background it was desperately scrambling for more money to keep going.

And it’s against that backdrop that we find the Obama Dept. of Energy pressuring Solyndra, a company that seems to have gotten its massive federal loan chiefly because billionaire George Kaiser donates massively to Democrats and Obama, to politicize its layoffs. Half a billion taxpayer dollars, up in smoke. But you can rest assured that Kaiser’s personal fortune remains untouched and Obama’s campaign coffers are stuffed to bursting.

The only losers are the taxpayers – the ones Obama claims to be protecting from “millionaires and billionaires”.

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