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Natural Gas

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Too little, too late? Some Democrats seek investigations of gas industry claims

A group of energy companies -- like, say, the natural gas industry -- would never, ever mislead the public and politicians about how profitable it could be over the long-term. Obviously, we should just believe the natural gas industry's financial projections, which promise that any negative environmental impacts will be worth the jobs, the profits, and the energy security that come with the promised national gas boom. That's basically been the stance of most legislators in Washington when it comes to natural gas. The picture the industry painted of huge supplies of low-carbon fuel proved really compelling. But now a …

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In the worst drought in Texas history, 13.5 billion gallons of water used for fracking

Texas is experiencing the driest eight-month period in its recorded history. But in 2010, natural gas companies used 13.5 billion gallons of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, and that could more than double by 2020. Where's all this water coming from? Oh, it was just lying around, in these aquifers! You guys weren't using it to drink or irrigate or anything, right? Guys? Crockett County, Tx., near San Angelo (which you probably also haven't heard of, but it's not near much else), has gotten less than two inches of rain since October. But water for fracking could soon make up …

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Natural gas, war of words

These bumper stickers have proliferated on cars of those opposed to LNG terminals on Passamaquoddy Bay in Maine.Photo: Erik HoffnerA dramatic environmental justice and cultural survival campaign led by a band of Passamaquoddy tribal elders and members in northern Maine ended in 2010 in favor of indigenous activists. A massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal, proposed for this coastal reservation by an Oklahoma energy company encouraged by the Cheney Energy Task Force's bullish policy pushing this fuel, was defeated, but only after a five year battle revealed the inadvisability of Quoddy Bay LNG on economic, technical, and legal grounds. …

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Taking sides in the latest natural gas battle

Sure, it's pretty, but what the frack do we know? Photo: Vermin Inc.The New York Times has been running a series on natural gas, turning an appropriately critical eye toward the utopian claims of today's natural gas boosters. Two of the biggest boosters have been industry analysts and the Energy Information Administration (EIA), but the two latest NYT pieces show that some industry insiders have their doubts, as do some people inside the EIA. I am not an expert on natural gas market dynamics, nor on fracking. Both are complex and confusing topics and from what I've seen most people …

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Critical List: ‘Irrational exuberance’ about shale gas; doubling fuel economy in the U.S

The New York Times obtained government documents that call natural gas companies' enthusiasm about shale gas and hydrofracking "irrational exuberance.” That exuberance has convinced some lawmakers, though. Nine of them are writing to President Obama to ask him to push for more gas drilling. In other technology-that’s-not-actually-going-to-save-us news, China's building a $1.5 billion clean coal plant, the first commercial clean coal plant of this size. European countries are ditching even the tiniest of cars in favor of public transportation, because -- surprise! -- global treaties matter and EU countries need to cut carbon in some way to meet their Kyoto …

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GE’s ironic new slogan: 'Natural gas. It’s hot stuff.'

So I'm reading The Washington Post today and come across a full-page ad for natural gas from the marketing geniuses at General Electric: Click for a larger version. Apparently nobody involved with the new ad campaign understands the unintentional irony, that natural gas is one of the most potent heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This, as we've seen, is something a lot of people aren't clear on. Even when it is burned completely, natural gas is still "hot stuff." As an exclusive 2009 analysis I published from climatologist Ken Caldeira explained, "the burning of organic carbon warms the Earth about 100,000 times …

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Drilling company's coloring book sells fracking to kids

Kids! Are you worried about natural gas companies pumping mysterious chemicals into the rocks near your house, leaking methane gas, poisoning cattle, and making your water flammable? Well, don't be! A coloring book from Talisman Energy says everything will be fine, and afterwards there will be deer and rainbows.  The book is written in Comic Sans and narrated by Terry the Fracosaurus, a hard-hat-wearing dinosaur/Fraggle hybrid who wants you to know that natural gas is "one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources." Terry mentions that fossil fuels are made from "organic materials," and kids can color in an …

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Texas' fracking disclosure law has huge omissions

Yesterday we told you about Texas governor Rick Perry doing something right for once -- he passed of a law forcing drillers to disclose the chemicals used in the controversial and environmentally destructive practice of hydraulic fracturing. Turns out the law has a bunch of loopholes that corporations are duty-bound to exploit in accordance with their legal obligation to maximize shareholder value, even if doing so threatens people’s health. Maybe you've heard this story before? Four states in addition to Texas -- Wyoming, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Michigan -- are working on laws to require disclosure of fracking chemicals, but none …

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The small-c conservatism of U.S. power companies

Photo: Gerry BaldingLast week I put up a piece on "what the U.S. power industry thinks about the future of the U.S. power industry," reposting results from a survey of U.S. power utility managers and executives. Just in case you're not inclined to read through hundreds of words of survey results and charts (what's wrong with you?!), I thought I'd pull out a few take-home lessons. The main lesson -- the meta-lesson, if you will -- is that the U.S. power sector remains, on average, extremely conservative. I don't mean ideologically conservative, but small-c conservative: biased in favor of the …

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Rick Perry signs weirdly reasonable fracking disclosure law

Rick Perry must have a secret plan to recapture George W. Bush's long-squandered image as an aisle-crossing Texas governor and run for president to the left of the Tea Party-addled Republican field. Or maybe he just decided to something right for a change. Whatever his motivation, the Texas guv signed into law a bill that requires natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they're pumping into ground during hydrofracking. The new law makes Texas the first state in the country to require companies to give up this information. In the past, drilling companies have argued that asking them to reveal …