During Natural Gas Production, Up To 9% Of The Methane Is Farted Into The Atmosphere.

Pulling my own finger methane releasing natural gas wells.Just as we were breaking up with dirty coal and starting a new cleaner relationship with natural gas comes news of a gas problem. It turns out the process of capturing natural gas is not as efficient as we thought and that 4-9% of the methane we fracture from the ground is released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide. From Nature:

“The researchers, who hold joint appointments with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, first sparked concern in February 2012 with a study suggesting that up to 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere.

Industry officials and some scientists contested the claim, but at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, California, last month, the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.”

How do we fix the gas problem? According to the Nature article, the EPA issued standards in April 2012 to reduce the amount of air pollution created during the natural gas extraction process. What can you do now? Consume less. [Nature via e360]

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China Wants To Frack Like The US. For China’s Groundwater It’s Going To Get Fracking Ugly.

Fracking in China.China doesn’t have the best reputation for choosing environmental concerns over economic benefits and that is why its citizens should be worried about expanded fracking. The problem with fracking is that it occurs out-of-sight and underground, without enforced protections, and the gain of capturing natural gas is so huge for the power hungry nation. The Guardian posted “China planning ‘huge fracking industry'” that discusses why the move toward less polluting natural gas and away from coal is so important for China and how the move will adversely impact groundwater.

Currently, China generates 70% of their electricity from coal. Replacing coal and fracking up natural gas would cut China’s greenhouse gas emissions in half but there is still a hidden cost. Here’s a quote from the article:

“An unidentified source at China’s Ministry of Land Resources told Caixin that as shale gas development accelerates the government will likely introduce specific environmental policies to address fracking, such as groundwater protection. But these are not likely to be legally binding, an industry source told the publication.”

Pre-fracked groundwater in 57 percent of China’s 660 cities has already been declared polluted and it’s only going to get worse. The economy holds sway over the environment and it’s too easy to conceal the groundwater contaminating effects of fracking fluids. [The Guardian]

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Fracking = Enema For The Earth. So Does Super-Fracking = Two-Handed Prostate Exam For The Earth?

Super-Fracking

If critics already think fracking is bad, theoretically, super fracking would be super bad,”
Kirk Sherr, President of Regester Larkin Energy NA

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique that sends a high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the earth in order to break apart petroleum-saturated rock.Fracking Graphic/Illustration by Al Granberg - click to enlarge. As the rocks crack, fossil fuels are released at a rate that is greater than by drilling alone. Fracking’s foes have pointed out the negative environmental impact of the technique on ground water, air quality and as the possible cause of local earthquakes.

Now we’ve got super-fracking to look forward to. It’s basically the same idea as fracking except when it’s super, it involves deeper blasting and/or the creation of wider pathways in order to extract harder to reach fossil fuels. Two companies leading this effort are Baker Hughes Inc. and Schlumberger Ltd. and their new fracking methods are called DirectConnect (deeper) and HiWay (wider) respectively.

So earth-damaging fracking might be replaced by a new even more powerful anti-hero, super-fracking. This could be the only bizarro comic book story where the villain is who we’re rooting for. [Bloomberg]

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