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Fracking Wastewater Spikes 1,440% in Half Decade, Adding to Dry Regions’ Water Woes

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Source:  desmogblog

Shale drilling and fracking often occurs in areas already suffering from water stress. Credit: Duke University.

By Sharon Kelly 

Between 2011 and 2016, fracked oil and gas wells in the U.S. pumped out record-breaking amounts of wastewater, which is laced with toxic and radioactive materials, a new Duke University study concludes. The amount of wastewater from fracking rose 1,440 percent during that period.

Over the same time, the total amount of water used for fracking rose roughly half as much, 770 percent, according to the paper published today in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data from the early years of fracking,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement. “After more than a decade of fracking operation, we now have more years of data to draw upon from multiple verifiable sources.”

The researchers predict that spike in water use will continue to climb.

And over the next dozen years, they say the amount of water used could grow up to 50 times higher when fracking for shale gas and 20 times higher when fracking for oil — should prices rise. The paper, titled “The Intensification of the Water Footprint of Hydraulic Fracturing,” was based on a study conducted with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Even if prices and drilling rates remain at current levels, our models still predict a large increase by 2030 in both water use and wastewater production,” said Andrew J. Kondash, a PhD student in Vengosh’s lab who was lead author of the paper.

More Water than Oil

The shale industry has been heavily focused on amping up the amount of fossil fuels it can pump per well by drilling longer horizontal well bores and using more sand, water, and chemicals when fracking (which raises the costs per well and, as DeSmog recently reported, raises risks of water pollution).

But the water use and wastewater production per well have been growing even faster than the per-well fossil fuel production, the researchers found, labeling the water demand and wastewater growth “much higher” than the oil or gas increases.

The researchers studied data from over 12,000 oil and gas wells representing each of the major shale-producing regions in the U.S.

Their findings are particularly troubling news for arid areas like the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, where underground water supplies are already taxed by residential and agricultural demand, and where fights over water use are brewing.

On average, a Permian Basin well used 10.3 million gallons of water in 2016, according to a San Antonio Express-News investigation earlier this year — more than double the average per-well demand just a few years ago.

A Waterfall of Waste

The wastewater problem has attracted the eye of industry analysts, particularly in the Permian.

One of the biggest risks facing operators today is the issue of produced water,” wrote Ryan Duman, a Wood Mackenzie senior energy analyst, describing how in parts of Texas and New Mexico, wells can produce up to 10 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of crude oil. “The sheer volume of water is unprecedented.”  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

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Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests

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Under a new Wyoming law, could journalists or documentary filmmakers who might document any future protests be charged under “aids or abets” with any “favorable” coverage of the group protesting, like the Standing Rock Sioux?  What about new laws to charge oil companies who contaminate water with “ecoterrorism?”

Source:  desmogblog

By Steve Horn

On the heels of Iowa and Ohio, Wyoming has become the third state to introduce a bill criminalizing the type of activities undertaken by past oil and gas pipeline protesters.

One of the Wyoming bill’s co-sponsors even says it was inspired by the protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access pipeline, and a sheriff involved in policing those protests testified in support of the bill at a recent hearing. Wyoming’s bill is essentially a copy-paste version of template legislation produced by the conservative, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

At the organization’s December meeting, ALEC members voted on the model bill, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which afterward was introduced in both Iowa and Ohio.

Like the ALEC version, Wyoming’s Senate File 74 makes “impeding critical infrastructure … a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), or both.” Two of the bill sponsors of SF 74, Republican Sens. Eli Bebout and Nathan Winters, are ALEC membersSF 74 has passed unanimously out of its Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves onto the full floor.

ALEC‘s model bill, in turn, was based on two Oklahoma bills, HB 1123 and HB 2128. The Sooner State bills, now official state law, likewise impose felony sentencing, 10 years in prison, and/or a $100,000 fine on individuals who “willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, or tamper with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility.” As DeSmog has reported, the Iowa bill has the lobbying support of Energy Transfer Partners — the owner of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) which runs through the state — as well as that of the American Petroleum Institute and other oil and gas industry companies.

ALEC brings together primarily Republican Party state legislators and lobbyists to enact and vote on “model” legislation at its meetings, which take place several times a year. Within different task forces at these meetings, corporate lobbyists can voice their support or critiques of bills, while also getting a vote. Those bills often then are introduced as legislation in statehouses nationwide, as in this latest example in Wyoming.

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in Wyoming has helped the state vastly increase its natural gas production and spurred pipeline build-out. However, multiple studies in recent years have also linked fracking-related activities around the small town of Pavilion to groundwater contamination.

Credit: Center for Media and Democracy        (click on image to enlarge)

Targeting ‘Ecoterrorism’

Wyoming’s bill, like the ALEC model bill and one of the Oklahoma bills, includes language implicating any organization “found to be a conspirator” and lobbing a $1 million fine on any group which “aids, abets, solicits, encourages, hires, conspires, commands, or procures a person to commit the crime of impeding critical infrastructure.”

State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leland Christensen, a Republican and one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said when he introduced the bill that legislative language was needed to hold accountable those “organizations that sponsor this kind of ecoterrorism.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Lissa Lucas Dragged Out of West Virginia House Judiciary Hearing For Listing Oil and Gas Contributions

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Source:  Counterpunch.org

Lissa Lucas traveled the 100 miles from her home in Cairo, West Virginia to the state capitol in Charleston yesterday to testify against an oil and gas industry sponsored bill (HB 4268) that would allow companies to drill on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.

Lucas began to testify to the House Judiciary Committee, but a few minutes in, her microphone was turned off.

And Lucas was dragged out of the room.

Lucas is running for the House of Delegates from Ritchie County, which has been overrun by the fracking industry.

“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers,” Lucas said. “Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

China Is Financing a Petrochemical Hub in Appalachia. Meet its Powerful Backers.

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Source: desmogblog

by Steve Horn

Over the past year, oil and gas industry plans to build a petrochemical refining and storage hub along the Ohio River have steadily gained traction. Proponents hope this potential hub, which would straddle Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, could someday rival the industrial corridor found along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.

Those plans center around creating what is known as the Appalachian Storage Hub, which received a major boost on November 9 during a trade mission to China attended by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. At that trade mission, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the China Energy Investment Corp. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to invest $83.7 billion into the planned storage hub over 20 years. For comparison, West Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $72.9 billion.

Though called the Appalachian Storage Hub as a broad-sweeping term, in practice the hub could encompass natural gas liquids storage, a market trading index center, a key pipeline feeding epicenter, and a petrochemical refinery row. Its prospective development has been spurred by the current construction of a $6 billion petrochemical refining facility in Pennsylvania owned by Shell Oil.

The proposed hub has come under fire from grassroots groups. But this proposal also has a powerful set of backers, including West Virginia’s five-member congressional delegation, the state’s Governor and Secretary of Commerce, West Virginia University, the chemical industry’s trade association, Shell Oil, and the Trump administration, among others.

Miles of river (Ohio and Kanawha) that will be impacted by the proposed Appalachian Storage Hub and it’s Petrochemical Intermediate and Raw Material Infrastructure. This will potentially impact 50 counties in the Tri-State are of WV, PA, and OH. The total square miles of the impacted area is yet to be determined.

386 miles total down the Ohio River from Beaver, PA, to Catlettsburg, KY, with 68 miles down the Kanawha River from Point Pleasant, WV, to Charleston.

*Map source…  

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Detractors of the planned petrochemical hub believe that its construction would buoy the oil and gas industry in its efforts to further develop drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) projects in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale and Ohio’s Utica Shale basins.
READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

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