Friday, November 11, 2011

U.S. coal, oil and gas going overseas: How does that bring us 'Energy Independence'?

Report: ‘Energy Independence’ thwarted as U.S. oil and gas heads overseas

November 7, 2011 By Neil Shader
Credit: Lens Envy, flickr creative commons
These days the phrase ‘energy independence’ has become code for drilling  our wild public lands. But what some may not realize is that oil and gas from our wildlands is not staying in the United States.
As it turns out, the oil, gas, and coal that is drilled and mined from right here in the U.S. is actually leaving American shores to fuel cars and furnaces in places like Europe, China, and India.
A new Wilderness Society report titled Exporting America’s Heritage details just how high the exports have risen.
Among the stats revealed:
  • The U.S. currently exports more than 690,000 barrels refined petroleum products per day like kerosene.
  • Gasoline exports have more than doubled since 2007 and are on pace this year to exceed 150 million barrels, triple the amount in 2007—even as gas prices remain high.
  • In the first quarter of 2010, the United States exported more than 17.8 million short tons of coal. American coal exports increased by nearly 50% in the first quarter of 2011.
  • Two permits for natural gas export terminals have been approved, with several more proposed to send gas from the Marcellus Shale overseas.
Meanwhile American taxpayers are subsidizing the oil companies’ huge profits to the tune of billions per year. In essence we’re spending billions of dollars every year to allow multinational oil and gas corporations to plunder American lands. The profits from sales on the world market go to energy companies and Americans foot the bill. 
The report comes out just as the hugely controversial Keystone XL Pipeline continues to unfold this month.
The Keystone XL Pipeline would take oil dug up from Canadian forests and shipped across the American heartland – threatening communities from Montana to Louisiana. Much of the tar sands oil that would come from Canada through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline isn’t earmarked for domestic U.S. consumption.  The companies at the end of the pipeline are intending to ship much of it to South America, Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, American communities would be ones on the hook for dealing with the aftereffects of a pipeline spill or burst – like the one that threatened the Yellowstone River earlier this year.
So much for energy independence.
It is clear that the fossil fuel companies don’t need the money American taxpayers are giving them in the form of subsidies – especially if they are then just going to ship much of the oil, gas, and coal to Europe and Asia.  It is time to bury the ancient and unnecessary fossil fuel subsidies and instead encourage the development of clean energy that will stay right here at home—and ultimately lead to the energy independence we seek.
A good step in that direction is to prevent the destructive Keystone XL Pipeline from being built. Tell President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline!

Tags: coal, energy exports, gas, Keystone XL pipeline, oil, oil subsidies, solar, wind, Energy

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  • Dryad50 2 comments collapsed Collapse Expand
    Man is not the only species on this planet.... but our past actions in regards to the welfare of other species, their habitat and stewardship of this planet has been abysmal.  There has been a few well placed farsighted individuals in our history that have managed to pass laws and establish protected wildlands for the future.  When the wild areas are gone, so will mankind.... we are all connected and without clean air, water and protected environments life as we know it now will cease to exist and in fact life will not be worth living. 
    The human race has been functioning as a plague of locusts consuming resources rapidly due to greed and being concerned only with what we need with little regard for the other life forms that share the planet with us.  All are valuable and are interconnected to our very own existance.  Mankind is the only species on this planet that has the ability to adversely affect this planet and we've done a bang up job of destroying it piece by piece. At the rate we are going we will create a sparse rock devoid of beauty, with its water polluted beyond redemption, the air fouled and the spark of life extinguished,spinning in space with little to commend it and nothing left of what had been vital and teeming with diverse rich life and all that remains is a gargantuan garbage heap of human discards.
    We need to take steps and leaps to protect and perserve what we have. We need to become better at being stewards of this planet. We need to look outside of ourselves and reconnnect with the life around us, it depends on us, our planet depends on us, our very survival depends on us.  As each life form becomes extinct without notice, as wild habitats disappear in the pursuit of finite fossil fuel resources such as oil, coal and gas with little importance given to alternate cleaner energy sources by our politicians who are have the oil/gas industries padding their campaign pockets.... is our own extinction  so very far behind?

  • Lenticular 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I could not agree with you more.  We are 7 billion people on this planet.  That, in itself, is enough to make a person cringe.  I can envision a planet of automation, little or no wildlife, barren soil, thick and polluted air, oceans and waterways fouled with oil and toxins and humans packed together like sardines in a tin.  Our chance to save this planet is slipping by and still the politicians, big oil corporations and money mongers run the show.  This is a horrible preview of our immediate future and I cannot suggest strongly enough ---  WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!  LOOK AND SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR WORLD RIGHT NOW!!!

  • Avery Leinova 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    It's time to stop relying on fossil fuels altogether.  We have so many other options:  wind, solar, hydroelectric power, to fuel our home, business and cars.Discontinuing use of fossil fuels would not only be healthier for the planet, but it would contribute hundreds of thousands of jobs, converting infrastructure and creating new buildings and cars.

  • Denis 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We import crude and export refined product. I wouldn't mind this practice if it improved our balance of trade deficit. Since the cost of oil is set on the world market it's irrelevant where it's drilled. However having said this, I do not support fossil fuels as a basic energy source. We definitely have to move towards renewable energy.

  • earthcrying 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I wouldnt mind subsidizing them as long as they stopped this and used it for projects like solar power and wind farms.  As a 60 year old, i feel for the future generations that will pay the price for what we are doing to the planet now and in the past.  very sad

  • Pj1fwb 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We must move forward and stop this continued use of fossil fuels! I live in Florida and the people in Tallahassee should have put into place a solar bill concerning  new homes! I work in the construction industry here and it just makes me so mad to see a new home being built without solar hot water heating! There is no excuse for it! We have the technology ,but the mind-set is still in the 50"s! I hope the next generation will see the error and correct it!

  • SandyK46 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    This makes my blood boil.  What will it take for most Americans to do something !!!!

  • Bob 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Multinational corporations have are continuing to ruin this country. They buy politicians and get votes that they need to continue doing this sort of thing. Huge tax breaks or worse no tax's at all at the end of the day. As a country we should stop this kind of thing now.

  • P.F. Bruns, I'm a voice guy. 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    And if we're supposed to be "energy independent," how about we force the oil and gas companies to stop artificially raising demand for petroleum products by exporting them and by running existing refineries below capacity?

  • luckypuck 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The real shame and crime here is that the global oil markets have been using this process for decades, but notwithstanding, we have parroted the mind-numbing mantra of "energy independence" for almost as long.

  • Shoseysr 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    The oil industry doesn't deserve any more breaks!

  • Elsivs69 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Enough is enough already! We need to go the clean energy way so the future generation can have a planet they can live on healthy and happy. Worse case scenario, we have oil reserves here in this country that we should be taping which could help the economy by creating more jobs and reducing the cost of energy for those who live right here in the USA.

  • Michael Kish 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    You folks complain about big oil and yet many of you will still drive your cars to work? Watch TV tonight? Sitting on your computer? Own an iPhone or iPad? All of these things are compliments of big oil.

    I love scenic areas. I love wilderness. I love being in the wilderness. I'm blessed to make a living photographing wild places. But I also understand that we currently NEED oil. My camera, computer, and printer are all made of plastic. You simply can't eliminate oil from the picture (pun intended). Some say stop all drilling and others will say drill everything to hell.....neither approach is right. We have to strike a balance.

  • Mdeycaza 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Nationalize the oil companies and use the profits for health and education like many other countries do.

  • Chisholm 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    We need help in Wisconsin. Big Oil has invaded farms and forests mining "frack sand", waging war against farmers and land owners with the help of Real Estate Ageents urging land owners to sell or lease their properties.  This is the first step in fracking and fracturing the viscera, deep in the earth to release the oil and gas.  Watch  "Gaslands." Shall I send  photos of the processing plants and the deep wounds in Mother Earth? We have been fighting the invasion and losing for more than three years. I have not heard anything from The Wilderness Society . this is the home of Also Leopold. The Land Ethic is meaningless to Big Oil or the farmers whose ancestors tilled the soil, the cut over the and burned top soil after all the Pine was dicimated.

  • mdmonahan, Just another tall good looking Irishman. 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    I appreciate the information.  Puts the lie to much of the jaw flapping about "energy independence".  Just code words for "energy company freedom to increase profits" at the expense of the American tax payer.

  • Teresa Weeks 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    If we spent more time and energy taking care of our own first, we would be more able to share with the rest of the world

  • deb 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Keep the stuff here!  who do I vote for to keep it here????

  • Fernando 1 comment collapsed Collapse Expand
    Then the G20 talks about "fiscal paradise" and threatens countries listed as a fiscal paradise; However, the biggest fiscal paradises are most of the members of the G20.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

ADEQ allows higher pollution level in Arkansas case

Ark. panel allows mining firm more water discharge
By: L. Lamor Williams | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | 08/27/11 1:30 PM

A mining company on Friday won permission from state environmental regulators to continue discharging treated stormwater into Wilson Creek at current levels after abandoning a request to have the stream stripped of its drinking water designation.

As part of reclaiming its defunct 500-acre vanadium mine at 4367 Malvern Road in Hot Springs, UMETCO Minerals Corp. collects and treats stormwater in a retention pond, which in turn flows into Wilson Creek.

UMETCO asked the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission for the change because the amount of minerals it has been discharging into the stream exceeds standards. The company's permit gave it until September, 2010, to comply with old standards that it has said are impossible to meet.

The new standards of 500 milligrams per liter for total dissolved solids; 56 mg/L for chlorides; and 250 mg/L for sulfates, more closely mirror the federal Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water regulations.

Al Eckert, an attorney for the company, said to meet the previous state standard - 142 for total dissolved solids, or TDS; 15 mg/L for chlorides and 20 mg/L for sulfates - would have required UMETCO to invest in expensive treatment options, including some that would produce waste that could not be discharged.

According to the Department, the level of total dissolved solids in Wilson Creek hovers around 500 milligrams per liter.

The state Department of Environmental Quality, the commission's enforcement agency, is finalizing the terms of a consent administrative order - including a fine - for the time the company has been out of compliance with the old standards. On Friday, Teresa Marks, director for the department, said that the amount of the fine has not been determined.

While the standards have been changed, the creek will still meet the state's secondary drinking water standards, said Ryan Benefield, deputy director of the department.

The department opposed removing the designation from Wilson Creek, prompting UMETCO to withdraw that part of the request which would have raised the discharge of total dissolved solids to around 540 mg/L. Secondary drinking water sources cannot exceed 500.

"That's not a technical issue. It's more of a policy issue," Benefield said. "We thought it would be bad policy to remove the drinking water designation and we also thought that they could modify their treatment system to slightly lower their numbers to meet the drinking water designation."

UMETCO is a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corp. Its Hot Springs vanadium mine opened in 1960 and was closed in 1986. Since that time, the company claims to have spent about $40 million on reclaiming the site.

While Wilson Creek is not a drinking-water source, it feeds into Lake Catherine and eventually the Ouachita River, which are drinking-water sources for cities such as Hot Springs and Arkadelphia.

Area residents have sought to block the change fearing the deterioration of their drinking water quality. In July, a joint legislative committee on public health called on the state Environmental Quality Department to find money for a comprehensive study on Lake Catherine's water quality.

After the vote, Mary Bournival, District 4 Justice of the Peace in Garland County, said she was deeply disappointed by the commission's decision.

"The people of the county feel defeated," she said. "We were not heard."

A UMETCO spokesman was pleased with the outcome.

"Clearly, ADEQ and the commission have seen the results of our continued efforts at the Wilson Creek reclamation site," said Lucius Boudreaux.

State Sen. Mike Fletcher, who's District 27 includes Lake Catherine and Wilson Creek said when he was a boy he swam in Lake Catherine.

"I won't swim in that lake anymore," he said. "I ask you if your drinking water came from that lake, would you vote in favor of changing the standard?"

Joe Nix, a concerned resident of the area and former Ouachita Baptist University chemist who's studied the lake, told the committee that it would probably cost about $300,000 for such a study.

Marks has said the Environmental Quality Department doesn't have the financial resources or manpower to perform such a sweeping study but noted that the agency has been taking water samples.

On Friday, Nix repeated his call for the study and noted that he was sad about the pending decision the commission had to make.

"Unfortunately, I see no other option but for the commission to approve the request," he said, noting that earlier studies don't support the commission denying the request on grounds of environmental harm. "That's not easy for me to say."

Nix's comments comes on the heels of an Arkansas Department of Health study that concluded that the discharges into the creek posed little if any risk to the water quality in Lake Catherine.

The Health Department originally had concerns about the proposed standard change, but withdrew them once it became clear that the new rule would not change the amount of minerals discharged into Wilson Creek.

The Health Department study dated July 29 said "that there is currently no evidence of potential off-site human exposure to UMETCO site-related contaminants through public drinking water sources."

The study further concluded that drinking the water or getting it on one's skin "at or near the UMETCO site is not expected to harm people's health because ... levels of chlorides, sulfates, total dissolved solids, cadmium, chromium, and/or vanadium are below levels of public health concern. Also, there is no evidence of elevated cancer rates and/or cases associated with this site."

After the vote to approve the change, the commission tabled a second motion calling for a resolution stating its intent to have a comprehensive study done of the lake and its waterways.

Bournival was not impressed.

"Personally, I doubt that study will ever be done," she said.

Action on a new study was tabled to give an administrative law judge time to properly research and word such a resolution. The commissioners suggested that the resolution be sent to the governor, legislature and other environmental agencies, such as the Arkansas Game and Fish, Natural Resources and Forestry commissions, to ask them to help fund the study.

Leaders of these agencies sit on the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission.

"There are trees around the lake," Commissioner William Thompson said, jokingly aiming his comment at John Shannon, head of the Forestry Commission. "Maybe the Forestry Commission has some money."


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Van Buren County Gas Advisory Board wants public input on fracking!

Dear All. 
We have received a large volume of responses to the Public Input Survey
inserted in the V.B. County Democrat last month. We also displayed the
survey titled "Have You Got Gas?" in banks, senior centers, quick picks,
etc. But we need more, many more to get a better reading of public
sentiment(pro and con) around the issue of gas drilling in the
Fayetteville Shale Play. If you don't have a survey you can download it
or fill out online at The Van Buren County Advisory
Board wants your input on the pro's and con's of gas drilling if you
live in the Fayetteville Shale Play. Your opinion matters to us, your
elected officials and to the entire community. Speak out. 
Thanks. tom e. kimmons, member VBCGAB.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Arkansas blog on the evils of hydro-fracking to produce natural gas in the KARST state of Arkansas

Fracking blog
Thanks to Sky Blaylock for supplying this link on Facebook.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Drilling Through Caves and Aquifers

All of northwest Arkansas is karst. The National Cave Association website describes karst as a geological term for an area characterized by the presence of caves, sinkholes, aquifers, and disappearing streams. According to tour guides at War Eagle Cavern there are over 2000 documented caves in north Arkansas alone with over 10,000 documented caves throughout all of Arkansas.

There is a river in Missouri that disappears and then reappears in Arkansas at Mammoth Springs. Determining where water flows underground in northwest Arkansas requires dumping dye into the water at one location then searching for springs and searching for that dye by educated guess work. The dye can be found surprising numbers of miles away.

For a better understanding of aquifers look at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) under Water Science for Schools.

Consider watersheds in general. How can puncturing the ground a mile deep in multiple places not make bedrock permeable?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Important broadcasts and publications on FRACKIN!

 Joyce Hale reports:
I just received this alert from a PA friend.

"NPR's This American Life is doing a show this weekend called "Gamechanger," and it's all about Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale. We know it will be in part about Washington County, PA, and in part about dueling academic institutions. Sarah Koenig - a producer on the show who lives in State College - came to PA Clean Water Action Director, Myron Arnowitt, first to talk about how the show should cover the story. He helped her brainstorm, find sources and understand what's at stake.    

Myron also spent a lot of time helping The New York Times Magazine put together a story that we think will come out this weekend. Lastly (we had nothing to do with this), 60 Minutes is rebroadcasting Shaleionaires, as well. While they give Chesapeake's CEO a lot of air time, the story does a decent job of also showing what has people so scared. So if you missed it the first time, look for Leslie Stahl's story this weekend. 

We haven't heard it, of course, but the promo sounds good! Check it out here:

I'm excited about both of the new pieces reaching people across the country, because they both take the issue nationally and may hit people on a more emotional level. TheyNYT's "Drilling Down" series has been important, but I hope these new journalists who have entered the fray will really help the country feel this issue. Like you and I do."        
Check your local NPR station for time.  I know KUAF in Fayetteville airs This American Life two times:  6:00 am Saturday and 10:00 am Sunday.  It is good to see so much being written and broadcast on drilling now.
Joyce Hale


Game Changer

Originally aired 07.08.2011
A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, and the result blows his mind. The numbers say that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to lead a revolution in how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. The story of two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences.
Photo: Copyright (c), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2011, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.