Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted November 15, 2013
Huffington Post (Andrew Browning): In the past few years, the use of the technology of hydraulic fracturing to produce oil and natural gas has dominated national energy policy discussions. Much of the discourse has been fraught with fear, misunderstanding and, in some cases, misinformation. However, in some cases, dispute is slowly being replaced by reasoned debate, acceptance and increasingly responsible regulation and use of this technology.
The reason for the change of tone is rather simple, the increased use of this technology has allowed our nation to produce tremendous amounts of natural gas that is cleaning our environment and reinvigorating our communities and our national economy. At the same time, as more individuals gain experience with the process they are seeing that the worst case scenario's outlined by the most polarizing voices in this discussion have largely failed to materialize.
Of course as with any political discussion, some groups will continue to advance discussion points that fit their view or brings more donations to their particular cause. However as more credible voices and scientific data are unveiled, it's becoming easier to understand that the benefits of this technology far are significant and that the choice that is currently being offered to the public - economic development vs. maintaining a healthy environment - is a false one.
Posted November 6, 2013
They’re at it again. The ethanol lobby’s biggest voice, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), issued a press release last week trying to defend E15, the controversial fuel blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol. Only in this case, RFA was defending against an imaginary argument.
RFA claims the development of new vehicle models that can withstand E15 – which research has shown could damage enginesand fuel systems in models that weren’t designed to use it – “shines a bright light on Big Oil’s long-sustained, detrimental resistance to infrastructure build out.”
It’s an imaginary argument because no one opposed the increasing availability of E15-compatible cars. The problem with E15 is the 95 percent of the vehicle fleet that isn’t built to handle E15 and the retroactive nature of the E15 partial waiver.
Posted October 7, 2013
It lurks on every car or truck dashboard, the little indicator light that indicates potentially big problems with your vehicle’s engine. If you’re like me, a glowing “check engine” light elicits a groan, a facepalm and maybe some choice words – if not instant fear that the engine might conk out right then and there. In any case a visit to the repair shop is in my future. There, my mechanic will try to figure out what the heck could be causing the “Malfunction Indicator Light” (MIL), to come on. It might be a problem, or it might be a false alarm, in which case you’re still out the time and inconvenience of a wasted trip to the mechanic.
Things to keep in mind as we revisit the issue of E15 fuel and falsely illuminating MILs, because research indicates that fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol could cause check engine lights to falsely illuminate.
Posted October 2, 2013
California Can Protect the Environment While Sharing in a Financial Bonanza
The Globe and Mail: Hydraulic fracturing — fracking — has been used to extract oil and natural gas from shale rock for decades. But technological improvements in recent years have made the process far more efficient. It’s expanded use in states like North Dakota, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado has sparked an energy revolution that is pushing the United States toward energy independence. It has also sparked major controversy over environmental concerns, nowhere more so than in California. On Sept. 20, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation regulating fracking. In this essay below, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, like Brown an environmentally oriented Democrat, makes the case that energy development and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive.
A 21st-century oil and natural gas industry in Colorado is recognizing that more rigorous regulations translate into broader citizen acceptance. This evolution, and the joining of innovations like horizontal drilling with long-accepted practices like hydraulic fracturing, is moving America toward energy independence.
In the process, we are improving the quality of the air, as well as beginning to fight back against climate change. Colorado has a proud history of leadership and innovation in the deployment of clean energy technologies. We have laws in place that require utilities to produce as much as 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Read more: http://bit.ly/GzZbrG
Posted September 20, 2013
Encouraging words on shale development via hydraulic fracturing this week from former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
First Salazar, who as Interior boss was the lead federal official on access to U.S. onshore and offshore oil and natural gas reserves. From coverage of Salazar at the Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces, N.M., by the Las Cruces Sun-News:
"(Hydraulic fracturing) is creating an energy revolution in the United States alone," Salazar said. He recognized the concerns many environmentalists have with the process, often called fracking, that pumps high-pressured water into holes drilled in the ground to extract gas and oil. Environmentalists are concerned the process contaminates water and air quality, along with other environmental impacts. "I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe," Salazar said.
Posted September 13, 2013
Posted August 29, 2013
With the proviso that we’re still evaluating proposed new federal standards for offshore oil and natural gas production systems announced last week, the incorporation of a number of industry standards in the proposal is encouraging.
The 149-page proposal from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) would update standards that haven’t been changed much since they were first published in 1988.
Posted July 4, 2013
Petroleum products are everywhere – from the time your iPhone alarm rings in the morning to the time you turn off the lights at night, oil and natural gas impacts almost every aspect of life. And it’s not just electronics – from toothpaste to medicines, to clothing to the roof over your head, when you stop to think about it, the oil and natural gas industry is an integral part of the American way of life.
Oil and natural gas contribute to our health and well-being through a myriad of medicines, medical supplies and health and safety products. Aspirin is synthesized from petroleum byproducts, and advanced medical devices such as heart valves and artificial limbs are made of plastic. Kevlar®, a lightweight fiber that’s five times stronger than steel helps keep our armed forces safe and our police forces protected – and it all began with oil and natural gas.
Posted June 25, 2013
An article of faith with the anti-oil sands crowd is that the crude from Canada is dangerous because it’s more corrosive to pipelines than other crudes and therefore more prone to cause pipeline failures, leaks, spills and … you know the rest. You can sample some of that rhetoric here and here. But then consider something so much more authoritative than rhetoric: science.
A new study finds that Alberta oil sands crude is, well, oil and just as safe to transport via pipeline as other types of crudes. From the report of an expert panel formed by the National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences):
The committee does not find any causes of pipeline failure unique to the transportation of diluted bitumen. Furthermore, the committee does not find evidence of chemical or physical properties of diluted bitumen that are outside the range of other crude oils or any other aspect of its transportation by transmission pipeline that would make diluted bitumen more likely than other crude oils to cause releases.
Posted May 2, 2013
“I think the biggest misconception is that not much has been done, when there has been a tremendous amount of effort by the industry and by regulators in moving this forward. … There has been more collaboration, cooperation and improvement in working together to make things better than I think we have ever done before.”