Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who does the burden of proof lie with?

There are many assertions regarding the safety of the additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process. With varying opinions and differing views, it will soon become apparent that there needs to be a go to agency where communities can put their trust into, to be able to set the threshold margin of safety.  
The recently published NYT article provides the kind of conspiracy-style information that frightens, fascinates and entertains. These are the stories that drive the wedges between the public and any authoritative entity/agency. So, where should the public go for answers: the press? Who should set the bar for safety standards? Is it up to the natural gas industry to prove their ability to be good environmental stewards or is it up the communities to prove unsafe practices or it it up to some public entity? If the public is made to believe that authoritative agencies are not to be trusted then who is responsible for ensuring the public’s safety?
On one hand, this story gives and inside glimpse into the workings of natural gas well
New York Times also recently printed this article. UPS is switching their fleets to Liquefied Natural Gas. My question, exactly where will this *green* natural gas come from, if opponents continue to ban ANY type of natural gas extraction?
“The final frontier for alternative motor fuels, powering big tractor-trailers, has been crossed”.

UPS will add 48 trucks to their fleets... and the march goes on

Friday, February 25, 2011

EPA hydraulic fracturing study

For more information about the EPA hydraulic Fracturing Study, here is a PowerPoint presentation that walks you through what they plan to do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Proprietary Ingredients

There are reasons why certain ingredients are proprietary. It gives the industry/person that discovered the ingredient an edge over their competition. Coca Cola for many years maintained proprietary ingredients in their beverages. So proprietary that a while back when someone tried to sell the formula… well you know the rest.
Proprietary doesn’t necessarily mean bad, all it means is: “my secret ingredient/weapon”. Many medications, herbal remedies cosmetics, and beauty products contain proprietary ingredients. With all these proprietary ingredients floating around, who monitors what they are? Is the industry asking us to trust them? No! Most of the proprietary ingredients are still ingredients and have to meet the approval of the overseeing agency. The FDA maintains a database of all the proprietary compounds used in medications and other food products. The herbal industry… that’s another story.
The NYSDEC maintains a list of all the proprietary ingredients found in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Yes, we have a right to know what they are. So, what the DEC did was release a list of all the compounds found in frac fluids used in NYS. It can be found in the dsGEIS. If you are really curious, you can study the MSDSs of a frac job, then do some chemistry and back pedal the reaction and/or cross reference with the DEC list and to try and figure out which ingredients were used as proprietary. At some point, we have to believe that the DEC or the EPA reviewed the list along with its intended use and decided that for the use given the proprietary chemicals were safe to use. 
Turns out that among the BIG mysterious secret ingredients are surfactants- like the ones used in shampoo, that run down our drains day in and day out.

Question about Proppants.

If you have any questions, please free to send an email to load it as a comment.

Question: What will happen to the "sand" when the out flow water will get filtered?  Will the sand clog filters?  Will the "sand" that Gastem uses be reusable? I know that the "sand" is not sand but a plastic material.  Martha

Proppants or "sand" are the particles that are suspended in the fracturing fluid during hydraulic fracturing. They are used to hold the fractures open to create a pathway for the gas and fluids to flow through. Proppants can be sand grains or ceramic material.
When the well in Maryland was hydraulically fractured, the flowback fluid (the fluid that returned to the surface after the pressure applied during hydraulic fracturing is reversed) flowed back to surface. It contained some proppants ( Gastem used ultra-lightweight sand).

The proppants were removed using a dewatering system and disposed of at an approved landfill.  The system used filter cloth. Woodchips were used to adsorb the proppants and also used as a weight to hold the proppants down to the cloth. 

Proppants are usually re-used.

Dish, Texas- Mayor's House may be Bought?

Mayor to move out of Dish, citing natural gas drilling operations
Now this is an interesting turn of events.  Mayor Tillman’s house has a buyer; this despite the fact that Dish, Texas is the center of a huge controversy. He required potential buyers to watch Gasland; seems like he really did not want the house to sell by using scare tactics. However, that being said, the odds are that the buyers who bought the house are probably making a statement.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Some Headlines from Feb 21,2011

Natural gas big, thriving and growing across W.Va. By Mannix Porterfield Register-Herald Reporter The Register-Herald Mon Feb 21, 2011, 12:01 AM EST CHARLESTON — Marcellus shale is hogging the limelight in this legislative session, eclipsing a thriving and growing natural gas industry across all of West Virginia.
Apparently, WVa sends most of its natural gas out of state.

Chesapeake Energy sells assets to BHP for $4.75B Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it's agreed to sell all of its assets in a massive natural gas field to BHP Billiton Ltd. for $4.75 billion in cash.
Chesapeake is going to focusing on Oil.
Grays Harbor County natural gas-fired power plant OK to expand Chicago-based Invenergy LLC can move forward with plans to double the capacity of a natural gas-fired power plant in Grays Harbor County.
Developing Natural Gas plants to phase out coal.
Strip mining and Hydraulic fracturing a Comparison: would make an interesting topic for discussion. Which has a larger impact?

About the Science: USEPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study

People who only hear negative rhetoric may not know that there is science involved in the process of hydraulic fracturing. It is that science that sometimes makes processes vulnerable to critique and conjecture.

Hydraulic Fracturing Study.
The USEPA recently released their Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan design document. The 140 page document outlines the goal of the agency's HF study which in a nutshell, is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and ambient water resources.
As a part of the process the EPA has organized a series of workshops to help the agency in their overall study plan. The first workshop of the series starts on Thursday February 24. A group of scientists will assemble and present information about Chemical and Analytical Methods. This will include subtopics in fracture fluid chemistry, fingerprinting, and field and analytical challenges. The presentation based on Gastem's procedures will be included the fingerprinting theme. The presentation is generally about the design of Gastem's water quality program and the explanation behind the choice of chemicals to use asflowback tracers.

Gastem uses introduced tracers, which means that the company tests residential wells for specific chemical constituents that are not normally found in groundwater in elevated concentrations. Other presenters (from academia, natural gas industry, government agencies) will be discussing the possibility of using isotopes, concentration ratios and naturally occurring chemicals as fingerprints for flowback. It will be extremely interesting to see what other people are working on.

Compressed Natural Gas powered car named the "greenest" car for 2011

The Honda Civic GX (CNG-compressed natural gas) leads the list of the greenest car for 2011. This list put out by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. So, how can go greener without natural gas resources, if some see a natural gas powered car as the greenest?
 Find more information about the Honda Civic GX here.
NYC transport department understands the importance of being environmentally friendly.
“The Jackie Gleason Depot converted to 100 percent compressed natural gas (CNG) operations in 1999. The West Farms Depot opened in 2003; today, half its fleet is CNG buses. NYC Transit has 486 CNG buses; MTA Bus Company has 290, and MTA Long Island Bus has 336;  that’s a total of 1, 112 CNG buses operated by MTA agencies as of summer 2009.” NYC MTA website

Maybe it is time for our county to get on board and switch to CNG for transportation operations. If natural gas is available locally, this process would definitely be more efficient. Transport fleet includes snow removal trucks, commuter and school buses. The benefits in dollar value would be immense.

How about this article about a city that partnered with UPS to build a Compressed Natural Gas Station to supply CNG to the UPS fleet. How about partnerships with FEDEX? Or any other company that uses fleet vehicles (grocery stores, Wal-Mart) the list is endless. Oneonta could find themselves in a sustainable commercial venture with a local gas supply!

How about those tourists who come to Cooperstown during the summer? Aren’t they type that would be driving CNG cars? How about targeting them? Where is the nearest non-government CNG station in our region? Albany? Syracuse?  


Getting the Word Out

I read something online the other day “courtesy” of the one special interest group. It had to do with conflict management.
On the website they talk about special interest groups whose objective is to increase OUTRAGE among other members of the community, encouraging them to take up causes against what they (the special interest group) perceives as dangerous. They champion their causes by spreading fear and misinformation and driving the point “Not In My Backyard.”   
The biggest complaint about this type of solution is that it is an end to all means. It makes the assumption that the community cannot think for itself (if presented with both sides of the information required) and forces people to align with these group or else! Usually the or else is something that is akin to a doomsday scenario. Who wouldn’t be AFRAID and ANGRY if you were told that industry was going to end in the destruction of everything that you know.
Most people are reasonable and are willing to listen to both sides of an argument and form their own opinion. Most of the chatter on the internet unfortunately is not a good source of unbiased information. It is best to visit some of the EPA websites and learn more about what research is being done to protect communities from the perceived dangers. However or unfortunately, when the government and other entities who are interested in finding out what is really happening are brandished as greedy/big business/un-understanding/in the pocket of; then the situation quickly dissolves into us versus them/those people. History shows that conflicts cannot be resolved this way.  It is time for meaningful dialogue.