What the Frack?

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Below, I’ve pasted introductory quotes and links to several articles about the environmental impacts of natural-gas production and storage. The first article discusses some of the arguments among environmentalists over the costs and benefits of fracking; the second looks at the impact of fracking on Florida’s drinking water; the third covers fracking-induced earthquakes; the fourth calls the leak from a natural-gas storage facility in Los Angeles “the worst accidental discharge of greenhouse gases in U.S. history”; while the fifth says, hold on a minute, the massive methane leaks from Texas’s fracking sites are worse than California’s.

Between the lines, the articles hint at why fracking is likely to continue despite the high environmental costs.

*       *       *       *       *

 

Fracking Is Killing Coal. So Why Do So Many Environmentalists Hate It?

By Brad Plumer, April 8, 2015

Few things have inspired angst among green groups and climate advocates like the question of how to deal with fracking…. Here’s a very rough breakdown of the debate: Supporters of fracking point out that the US natural-gas boom, driven by hydraulic fracturing, has actually been one of the big environmental success stories of the past decade. Electric utilities are now using more cheap gas and less dirty coal to generate power. Since gas burns more cleanly, that curbs air pollution…. On the “anti” side, meanwhile, are a large and growing set of environmentalists who now argue that the problems with fracking outweigh the benefits…. They don’t see gas as helping us move away from coal. They see cheap gas as hampering the transition to renewable sources like wind and solar.

http://www.vox.com/2015/4/8/8370401/fracking-debate-environmentalists

 

Unlikely Battle Over Fracking Intensifies in Florida

By Lizette Alvarez, Feb 23, 2016

With geology akin to a wet sponge and fragile underground aquifers that supply almost all its drinking water, Florida has never been considered part of the agitated battle over fracking as a technology for extracting oil and gas. But that began to change two years ago when a Texas-based oil and gas company was found to have been using hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and matrix acidizing, a fracking-like method that dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid. Neither residents nor local governments knew about it because well stimulation, the catch-all term for both techniques, does not require a separate permit and is not regulated.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/24/us/in-florida-an-unlikely-battle-over-fracking-intensifies.html?partner=IFTTT

 

Erin Brockovich on Oklahoma Earthquakes: ‘It’s Fracking, Let’s Just be Honest’

By Lorraine Chow, February 24, 2016

Oklahoma experiences more earthquakes than anywhere in the world. Before 2009, Oklahoma had two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater each year, but now there are two a day…. Despite mounting scientific consensus against the oil and gas sector, certain politicians such as pro-business state Gov. Mary Fallin have been slow to change their tune about the link between fracking wastewater disposal and earthquakes. State scientists and regulators have also been reportedly silenced by industry-linked state officials.

 

http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/24/erin-brockovich-oklahoma-earthquakes/

 

California Gas Leak Was the Worst Man-Made Greenhouse-Gas Disaster in U.S. History, Study Says

By Joby Warrick, February 25, 2016

The massive leak that vented millions of pounds of natural gas from a Los Angeles storage facility now appears to have been the worst accidental discharge of greenhouse gases in U.S. history, scientists concluded in an analysis released Thursday…. “The climate impact is the largest on a record” for any single incident in the United States, said Stephen Conley, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California at Davis and one of six scientists involved in the study.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/25/california-gas-leak-was-the-worst-man-made-greenhouse-gas-disaster-in-u-s-history-study-says/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_green

 

Massive Methane Leaks From Texas Fracking Sites Even More Significant Than Infamous Porter Ranch Gas Leak

By Claire Bernish,  February 23, 2016

Texas is dealing with a comparable disaster [to the one in L.A.] that has been overlooked by officials and the media, in part, because the state’s methane emanates from a powerful industry’s infrastructure…. “Every hour, natural gas facilities in North Texas’ Barnett Shale region emit thousands of tons of methane—a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide—and a slate of noxious pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and benzene.The [Los Angeles] leak was big. The Barnett leaks, combined, are even bigger.”

http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/23/methane-leaks-texas/

 

 

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