Tag Archives | fracking

Fracking may be blocked in California, judge rules BLM permits illegal

BLM said the effects of fracking were unknown when it granted four permits in California in 2011. A judge has ruled “this is precisely why proper investigation was so crucial in this case” as says the permits are illegal.

Fracking opponents in California have won what may be their first victory in court, with a federal magistrate’s ruling that federal authorities broke the law when they leased land in Monterey and Fresno counties to oil drillers without studying the possible risks of hydraulic fracturing.

Gov. Jerry Brown hearts fracking, hates environmental regulations

Not only is California Governor Jerry Brown, along with the federal government, intent on paving over the Mojave Desert with photovoltaic solar farms, Brown is also deliberately ignoring laws protectING  the environment so more fracking can occur.

Did I say “paving over the Mojave”? Why, yes I did. The feds have offered incentives on 285,000 acres of Mojave desert for solar energy plants and opened up 19 million more acres. That’s not a typo, it really is 19 million acres. The desert tortoise, the habitat, concerns about increased water usage by concentrated solar power plants, dust from the hundreds of roads that will be built with heavy trucks on them, well, all that can take a hike says the federal government and Jerry Brown.

Not only is Brown encouraging fracking, he’s outspokenly ignoring existing law by granting exemptions so fracking can occur.

Despite major complaints by farmers and environmentalists in Kern County, state regulators have waived environmental review for dozens of controversial new gas and oil drilling operations. The drilling permit issue has highlighted Gov. Jerry Brown’s open hostility to the California Environmental Quality Act. “I have never seen a CEQA exemption I didn’t like,” the governor said last summer.

That came after Brown fired two officials of the Department of Conservation who had been slow to grant waivers. Their replacements have since handed out more than two dozen drilling permits with scarcely any environmental review.

The renewable energy bubble has burst

RENIXX tracks the 30 biggest renewable energy companies by market cap. Credit:

The renewable energy bubble was just another sector to be exploited by financial interests who had had no real interest in the companies themselves. This is made worse by the viciously mercenary renewed interest in natural gas, oil, and fracking, which is also hurting development of grid-scale renewable energy. Between money leaving renewable energy and ultra-cheap natural gas, green energy is hurting.

Greentechmedia explains that too often venture capital was simply looking for the next big thing, and wishes they’d been thinking long-term instead. So do I.

As one major LP [Limited Partner] told me a few years back, the major reason for LPs to put any money into venture capital at all, with its sub-par risk-reward performance over the past decade, is in the hopes of getting in ahead of the next great bubble… and he hoped that cleantech might become that.

So really, all the LP wanted was a bubble to make a quick buck.

Cleantech venture capital was supposed to save the world. This was supposed to be a feel-good story. Do well by doing good, and all that. But in the meantime bigger resource shifts (namely, natural gas abundance in the US) have led to reduced carbon emissions while also lowering the competitive price targets emerging energy technologies have to beat in order to look attractive. So again, what’s the point?

The point is trying to stop climate change and generate our own energy internally. Switching from coal to natural gas does reduce emissions but not nearly enough and is no solution at all, especially considering the hideous environmental damage caused by fracking.

The Market Oracle in the UK explains how a renewable energy bubble formed, because this time was different and there was no risk. But of course, there was risk. Many renewable energy programs get big subsidies. So does big oil, of course. But a distrubution network already exists for oil and gas. It doesn’t for renewable energy like offshore wind farms. The current grid can’t handle it and a new grid takes many years to build. This assumes that we have the will to build a new grid to replace our aging, inadequate grid. But we don’t.

For instance, the available grid capacity in Ontario (Canada) was oversubscribed in the launch period the the FIT programme. Ambitious grid expansion plans are planned, but over a period of decades. Even if we were not facing financial crisis, the financing for specific projects would have long since disappeared before the projects could expect to receive at FIT contract. Similarly in Europe, the grid connections necessary to build out off-shore wind on a large scale simply do not exist, and cannot be brought into existence in less than several decades time. Time is a major factor for high tech investors used to a rapid, or even explosive pace of development:

Time is also a major factor is doing something about climate change. Now that the renewable energy bubble has burst, cleantech will be out of favor by investors for too many years to come.

Damn the risks. Full fracking ahead!

World Shale Gas Resources: An Initial Assessment of 14 Regions Outside the United States. EIA via

The mad rush to extract oil and gas from shale by fracking is on. Fears of earthquakes or contaminated water are ridiculed. Let the Bull Moose in Heat rampaging towards shale deposits begin. And all those Greenies with their dreams of a renewable energy future can go suck eggs.

Nigel Lawson, Sec of Energy under Thatcher, explains how fracking works, pretends that risks do not exist, and shows how newly found enormous deposits of shale oil in the US and elsewhere will provide much cheaper natural gas and oil and change the balance of power forever.

For decades, the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, has had to shape, and sometimes arguably to misshape, its foreign policy in the light of its dependence on Middle East oil and gas. No longer: that era is now over.

The US quite possibly could become a net exporter of oil and gas, ending dependence of foreign sources. Yes, this will be a momentous change. It will also almost certainly bring increased chance of earthquakes and contaminated water. While it does appear to be possible to do fracking and avoid these dangers, does any rational person believe that the oil companies will be models of good citizenry and studiously avoid such perils? Hah! I hope you like your water flammable.

 More fracking tragedies for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota

Recently I blogged about the Schilke ranch in the Bakken shale, which has 32 oil wells within three miles of it. The Schilkes have sick cattle and pets, and the Schilkes themselves report they are seriously ill.

The Schlikes are not alone. Others have become physically sick from the fracking. Shale oil deposits are everywhere. This does not bode well for the future of the planet.

Imagine there’s no fracking

Sign the petition at Artists Against Fracking asking Gov. Cuomo not approve a fracking bill that will allow 50,000-100,000 gas wells in New York, something which will almost certainly harm the water supply.

Why is fracking dangerous?

Aquifer. To drill down to the shale, one must drill through the aquifer. These drills are known to leak and sometimes even explode, releasing chemicals into this precious source of water.

Chemicals. The 2011 U.S. House of Representatives investigative report states that out of 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products, more than 650 contain chemicals that are known carcinogens. One would think that the Safe Drinking Water Act – a Federal law – would make such willful contamination illegal, but it is not being applied to Fracking.

Also, most of these chemicals are not biodegradable. Once they are introduced to the aquifer, they will remain there forever.

Wastewater. Each gas well requires 1-8 million gallons of fresh water. The used water is one of the most hazardous wastes in the U.S., containing carcinogenic Fracking chemicals,remnant oil and hydrocarbons, biocides, as well as naturally occurring radioactive materials, like radon, which is heavier than air and sinks into the communities where people work and live.

Air Pollution. There are air emissions associated with Fracking, which include methane leaks originating from wells, as well as emissions from the diesel or natural gas-powered equipment such as compressors, drilling rigs, pumps etc..