As coal continues to run out, natural gas is becoming an interim solution to provide fuel for energy production. Michigan is home to a plentiful supply of natural gas.
As this video illustrates, drilling for natural gas is a complicated process. If there is an operator, equipment, or construction material failure at any stage of drilling, risks are presented to the environment.
Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan | A RESOURCE GUIDE
Hydraulic fracturing or "frac'ing" in the industry (and recently, "fracking" by the media) is a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks. Hydraulic fracturing for stimulation of oil and natural gas wells was first used in the United States in 1947, in more than one million wells. An estimated 90% of the natural gas wells in the U.S. use hydraulic fracturing to increase production.
On the other hand, high-volume horizontal slick-water Hydraulic Fracturing is a recent phenomenon. This fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations to enhance oil and natural gas recovery. Hydraulic fractures are extended by applying extremely high internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to grow into the rock. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped. Some of the chemicals used in some of the processes are toxic and extremely hazardous.
The primary environmental and human health concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing include the mishandling of toxic waste, a deterioration in air quality, the contamination of ground water, as well as the unintended migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals into water tables and to the surface. The risk to animal and human health from frac'ing fluids are becoming increasingly significant and alarming. Each frac in Michigan is believed to use/pollute about 5-million gallons of fresh water, and each well can have mulitple fracs. The Jobs and Energy Group believes that fresh water and clean air protection are the primary issues that we must address around the production of natural gas.
Fracking chemicals are toxic and can leak into drinking water when injected or contaminate water from spills or accidents.
Fracking produces hazardous wastewater, which can contain radioactive substances as well as toxic chemicals, making disposal difficult and dangerous.
Fracking requires miillions of gallons of water, which can deplete local water supplies.
Fracking can cause natural gas to migrate into drinking water sources, which can cause houses and wells to explode. There have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites
Fracking Reports Released
Researchers at the University of Michigan are looking at possible impacts from hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for oil and gas in the state. They’ve published a series of technical reports that look at everything from geology to human health to ecology. Fracking forces much more fresh water into wells that go much deeper than those drilled in the past. John Callewaert, who oversees the study at U of M, says the different scale of activity raises new questions.
Quality of life Canadian firm plans fracking campaign that could require 4 billion gallons of Michigan water
KALKASKA — A Canadian firm has laid out plans to drill 500 new natural gas wells in Northern Michigan, using a technique that could consume more than 4 billion gallons of groundwater — or about as much water as Traverse City uses in two years. The firm, Encana Corp., will rely on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a technique cloaked in controversy that requires large amounts of water, mixed with chemicals and other elements, to break down rock formations and release natural gas. Encana, for example, used 8.5 million gallons of groundwater earlier this month to frack a single gas well, the Westerman in Kalkaska County, east of Traverse City.
Fracking's More Dangerous Bedfellow: Acidizing
Acidizing, also referred to as "matrix acidization," typically involves the injection of high volumes of hydrofluoric acid, a powerful solvent, (abbreviated as "HF") into the oil well to dissolve rock deep underground and allow oil to flow up through the well. Conventional fracking, in which water and other chemicals are pumped at high pressure to create fissures in the rocks, reportedly does not work well in many parts of the Monterey Shale - a rock formation known for its complexity and low permeability, which makes fracking less effective.
Fracking Sand May Pose Health Hazard To Workers, Residents
"At frack sites, silica gets into the air and you get these huge plumes of dust that can be breathed in by workers and anybody nearby, downwind," said Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires blasting large volumes of water, chemicals and silica sand into bedrock. Up to 4 million pounds of the sand is used per well to prop open the newly created fractures in the rock and release natural gas. The recent rapid expansion of natural gas production has saved Americans billions of dollars in energy costs, according to one recent study, but it has raised health concerns ranging from toxic metals contaminating drinking water to large quantities of diesel exhaust pumped into the air.
Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas
“Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas. This is part of the difficulty with the public and the media in understanding that 95% of greenhouse gases are water vapour. The public understand it, in that if you get a fall evening or spring evening and the sky is clear the heat will escape and the temperature will drop and you get frost. If there is a cloud cover, the heat is trapped by water vapour as a greenhouse gas and the temperature stays quite warm. If you go to In Salah in southern Algeria, they recorded at one point a daytime or noon high of 52 degrees Celsius – by midnight that night it was -3.6 degree Celsius. […] That was caused because there is no, or very little, water vapour in the atmosphere and it is a demonstration of water vapour as the most important greenhouse gas.”
Yoko Ono and Son Launch Anti-Fracking Coalition
Abundant Natural Gas and Oil Are Putting the Kibosh on Clean Energy
Since the 1950s, the US has had a perverse approach to energy. In effect we have maximized demand by building bigger, hungrier cars, homes, and lifestyles and minimized supply by limiting oil drilling, coal mining, and nuclear development. And how do we make up the difference? We buy oil from the people who hate us most. Flipping the supply-demand relationship is having some unexpected consequences. Chief among them is that, as fossil fuels become more abundant—and we consume less of them—the incentives to develop clean, renewable energy drop dramatically. As a result, we may no longer be looking at an age of increasing solar, wind, and nuclear power. Instead we are likely moving into a new hydrocarbon era. And that’s very bad news for climate change.
In Gas We’ll Trust / Wired, September 2012 Issue pg. 92 [print only]
The threat of climate change, high fuel prices, and the geopolitical ramifications of relying on Middle Eastern oil have made us all realize the need for greater energy efficiency. Advances in technology are making alternative sources more accessible, but there are unexpected consequences of America’s evolving energy landscape. America’s energy future was supposed to be wind, solar and nuclear. Abundant natural gas, gains in efficiency and new sources of oil are putting an end to that.
Insiders Sound an Alarm
Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States. But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells. “I think we have a big problem,” states Deborah Rogers, a member of the advisory committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves.
Energy Committee Evaluating Dangerous Gas Drilling Practice Is Stacked With 'Experts' on Industry Payroll All but one member of the group has financial ties to the oil and gas industry. Thanks to Dick Cheney and something known as the "Halliburton loophole," fracking is exempt from major environmental laws that protect our water and our health even though fracking can pose serious risks.
Fracking has resulted in over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination, yet companies are allowed to keep the chemicals they use a secret. We believe that the best science should be done first to determine whether increased unconventional natural gas production is sufficiently safe -- from the individual water well to climate impact -- and that policy should follow.
Michigan fracking regulations called inadequate
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies the impact of natural gas hydrofracking, states are left to regulate the practice on their own. In Michigan conservationists warn that current rules do not adequately protect the state’s enormous water resources from the controversial drilling technique.
Fracking Chemicals Cited in Congressional Report
April 18, 2011 | A report released Saturday confirmed details about what many already knew was happening: gas drillers have injected millions of gallons of fluids containing toxic or carcinogenic chemicals into the ground in recent years. The report, by congressional Democrats, lists 750 chemicals and compounds used by 14 oil and gas service companies from 2005 to 2009 to help extract natural gas from the ground in a process called hydraulic fracturing. That list includes 29 chemicals that are either known or possible carcinogens or are regulated by the federal government because of other risks to human health. Up to 80% of the toxic fluids now used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," are left underground when drilling ends. The report notes that while the fate of these fluids "is not entirely predictable," in most cases, "the permanent underground injection of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency."
Whistle Blower Documents: Natural Gas's Toxic Waste
Over the past nine months, The Times reviewed more than 30,000 pages of documents obtained through open records requests of state and federal agencies and by visiting various regional offices that oversee drilling in Pennsylvania. Some of the documents were leaked by state or federal officials.
Oil and Gas Drilling Information Resources for Where You Live | LINK TO MICHIGAN DEQ
Permits have been issued for over 56,000 oil and gas wells in the state. Their activities include permit application reviews, field reviews, compliance inspections, enforcement, and spill response. The Division has implemented a computerized system that allows the electronic entry and tracking of oil and gas well applications, field inspection activities, compliance cases, and production information.
Friends of the Jordan River: Ban Horizontal Fracking in Michigan
Horizontal fracking has recently come to Michigan in the form of a 10,000 foot well drilled into the Utica/Collingwood shale near Lake City in Missaukee County. Drilled by the Canadian Encana Corporation. Already, issues have arisen. The one-time use of 5.5 million gallons of water for fracking the Pioneer Well came from both a freshwater aquifer at the site, and from water hauled in by trucks. This withdrawal exceeded the extraction limits of the Michigan Great Lakes Preservation Act
Investors seek better hydrofracking practices
01.21.11 | A group of institutional investors has filed shareholder resolutions with some of the largest oil and gas companies in the nation asking for stronger action to prevent environmental damage from the hydrofracking those companies deploy to mine natural gas.
CAMPAIGN by Robynn James Good friends of Northern Michigan | READ THIS LETTER AND LEARN WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
If you're reading this it's because I know you love Northern Michigan and do not want to see it meet with the fate of communities featured in the film Gasland. Some of you know that recently I've been able to learn from inside sources some critical information on the activities of Chesapeake Energy and Halliburton in Kalkaska County. If we fail to act now to stop the onslaught of Halliburton-developed hydraulic fracturing the entire Northern Michigan water table, and possibly even the Great Lakes, face peril. CLICK HERE
When Truth Is Scarier Than Fiction
Many people who have been impacted by hydraulic fracturing have been forced to keep silent, signing nondisclosure agreements in order to receive small settlements—or even just deliveries of drinkable water. But the stories that have come to light don’t paint a rosy picture of the gas industry. Last year in Louisiana, sixteen cows dropped dead within hours of drinking from puddles tainted with a mysterious green fluid in a pasture next to a fracking well site. Chesapeake Energy, the company that owned the rig, refused to identify the chemicals in the fluid. In 2008, a woman who briefly came into contact with fracturing fluids nearly died from acute liver, heart, and respiratory failure.
Toxic Chemicals on Tap: How Natural Gas Drilling Threatens Drinking Water
Humans need very few things to survive: air, shelter, food, and water. Fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) pollute the air with smog, soot and global warming pollution, but their effect on water is often overlooked. Natural gas, which the industry touts as the “cleanest of all fossil fuels,” threatens to dirty drinking water with toxic chemicals used in drilling.i Rivers, lakes and groundwater already face threats from industrial pollution, agricultural runoff, and overdevelopment. Adding an unnecessary threat to one of the most valuable resources is dangerous. The government must act to safeguard drinking water. In light of the increased pressure to drill for more natural gas in states across the country, this report focuses on the dangers to drinking water from gas drilling. In particular, we examined hydraulic fracturing (often called “fracking”), a commonly used process gas companies employ to extract natural gas or oil reserves. Natural gas exists in bubbles underground, much like bubbles in carbonated soda. Getting to these pockets of gas requires injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground in order to crack open these bubbles in the rock to allow natural gas to flow to the surface.
A list of toxic chemicals commonly used in Hydrofracing for Natural Gas | VIEW LIST
June 29, 2010 ELMIRA (WENY) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is planning to release a complete list of chemicals used in hydrofacing. The list contains every day substances ranging from sugar and table salt to more toxic ones like formaldehyde. Some of the chemical compounds are associated with neurological problems and other health issues - environmental advocates are worried the chemicals are poisoning underground drinking water. It’s believed to be the first complete catalog of natural gas drilling chemicals used to drill in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. This DEP list only mentions about 85 chemicals. We crosschecked this with list of known chemicals from New York State, which has about 200 more chemicals on it. We’re working with experts to break these lists down for you, and find out why the lists vary so much from state to state.
Michigan DNRE Powerpoint presentation
This presentation provides a clearer insight into drilling (and hydraulic fracturing) into the Collingwood Shale under Michigan in pursuit of natural gas.
Our Natural Gas and Methane Resources in the U.S.
The following maps were developed using GIS softwaret. Most of the maps are large format (60 inches X 36 inches, for example) because they were intended for printing on a wide-bed printer. To clearly view them on your monitor you will have to zoom in and then scroll through the map. They will also take more than just a couple of seconds to load owing to their complexity.
Fracking Panel Warns Shale Gas Drilling Industry To Clean Up Their Act
If the industry and regulators cannot assure the public that drilling is safe, the report says, business will suffer. "Absent effective control, public opposition will grow, thus putting continued production at risk," the report says. As an example, Deutch cited the nuclear accidents of the 1970s that stalled nuclear power expansion for a generation. The panel backs some elements of state regulation and voluntary compliance, such as a program called STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations), in which environmentalists, industry representatives and fellow regulators examine the regulatory programs of states that volunteer for review. But the report says too few states volunteer and recommends more government financial support.
Maryland AG Threatens to Sue Company Responsible for Pennsylvania Fracking Spill
May 4, 2011 | The Maryland Attorney General's office is going after a giant player in the Marcellus Shale fracking industry, saying it will sue Chesapeake Energy for potential ground and water contamination resulting from its Pennsylvania fracking operations. "Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health," said Gansler. "We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.
Natural Gas Well Blowout Spills Thousands Of Gallons Of Drilling Fluid
The well blew near the surface, spilling thousands and thousands of gallons of frack fluid over containment walls, through fields, personal property and farms, even where cattle continue to graze. he chemicals used in fracking fluids have been a contentious subject, as many energy companies have long guarded them as a "trade secret." A recent report released by three House Democrats says that millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals and known carcinogens, such as methanol, have been injected into wells across the country by energy companies using the controversial fracking method. Developing reports of the fracking spill in Pennsylvania come at a time when the fossil fuel industry is facing intense public scrutiny, as today marks the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill
'Fracking' Disposal Sites Suspended, Linked To Earthquakes
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Two natural gas companies have agreed to temporarily suspend use of injection wells in central Arkansas where earthquakes keep occurring. The commission says there is likely a link between the wells and the earthquakes. There have been more than 800 quakes in the area in the past six months and a magnitude 4.7 quake – the strongest in Arkansas in 35 years.
Politics Limits Environmental Protection as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas
March 3, 2011| When Congress considered whether to regulate more closely the handling of wastes from oil and gas drilling in the 1980s, it turned to the Environmental Protection Agency to research the matter. E.P.A. researchers concluded that some of the drillers’ waste was hazardous and should be tightly controlled. “It was like the science didn’t matter,” Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, said in a recent interview. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.” More than a quarter century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope, and important findings have been removed.
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers
The New York Times Wells for extracting natural gas, like these in Colorado, are a growing source of energy but can also pose hazards. The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas. The relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. The relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks.
Over the course of two days, a panel of EPA officials heard four hundred two-minute presentations by members of the public who had come to advise the agency on how it should design a scientific study. As ordered by Congress, this study will investigate the risks to drinking water posed by the Johnny-come-lately technology known as high-volume slick water horizontal hydrofracturing, which does to shale bedrock what mountaintop removal does to an Appalachian mountaintop: blows it up to get at a carbon-rich fossil fuel trapped inside.
Leak at Benzie natural gas well may bring drilling regulations review
JOYFIELD TOWNSHIP (AP) — A leak that forced the shutdown of operations at a more than 1,000-footdeep natural gas well that was being drilled in Michigan’s northwestern Lower Peninsula with a technique called hydraulic fracturing likely will lead to a review of some drilling regulations, the state said Thursday. The leak at the well in Benzie County’s Joyfield Township, about 25 miles southwest of Traverse City, was detected late Monday
Gas Drilling Technique Is Labeled Violation
January 31, 2011 | Oil and gas service companies injected tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel into onshore wells in more than a dozen states from 2005 to 2009, Congressional investigators have charged. Those injections appear to have violated the Safe Water Drinking Act, the investigators said in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday. The diesel fuel was used by drillers as part of a contentious process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives — including diesel fuel — into rock formations deep underground. The process, which has opened up vast new deposits of natural gas to drilling, creates and props open fissures in the rock to ease the release of oil and gas.
Have Public Servants Charged with Protecting Drinking Water Sold Out to the Gas Drilling Industry?
January 23, 2011 | Over the past decade, 34 states have succumbed to the hazardous and largely unregulated hydraulic fracturing (widely known as "fracking") of deep shale formations to extract natural gas. This radical drilling method, blasting its way from Texas and the Rockies, through Louisiana and Arkansas to the east, has wreaked havoc, turning large swathes of the nation sitting above shale formations into industrial zones, degrading landscapes, economies, land values, air quality, and perhaps most importantly, water.
Pittsburgh Bans Fracking (and Corporate Personhood)
November 16, 2010 | In a historic vote, the City of Pittsburgh today adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling in the city. Fracking has been demonstrated to be a threat to surface and groundwater, and has been blamed for fatal explosions, the contamination of drinking water, rivers, and streams. Because it disturbs rock that’s laced not only with methane, but with carcinogens like benzene and radioactive ores like uranium, forcing the mix to the surface adds to the dangers.
The Delusional People Who Want to Frack This Country Up
There are large deposits of methane gas locked into shale deposits roughly following the Appalachian mountain chain from New York State through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, into Ohio, but also hot spots out west. It's hard to get at. You have to basically blow up the shale rock deep underground with high pressure water that is loaded up with chemicals and sand particles to keep the rock fragments separated once they are blown apart. Chesapeake Energy specializes in this rock fracturing (or "fracking") method for drilling. You can get gas out of the ground this way. The question is how much, over what time period, at what cost.
Science Says Methane in Pennsylvania Water Is from Drilling, Not Natural Causes
Scientists have tested the molecular composition of the methane found in Dimock and determined that it came from the Devonian layer of shale, thousands of feet below the surface. In geologic geek-speak, it's called "thermogenic," meaning it is essentially the same kind of gas that the energy companies are drilling for.
Shocking Negligence: Gas Companies Drilling in Pennsylvania Have Committed Nearly 1,500 Environmental Violations in Just Two Years
August 5, 2010—Since 2008, Pennsylvanians whose property sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation have suffered through enough environmental problems to clutter an encyclopedia: A is for arsenic, found in soil at concentrations of 2,600 times what's recommended. M is for methane -- enough to blow up a concrete well. X is for the toxin xylene. Et cetera. Sometimes troubles like these occur naturally. But more and more often, they have become the M.O. of an increasingly reckless natural gas industry -- one that's been exempt from nearly a dozen important environmental laws since 2005. A report published Monday by Pennsylvania Land Trust vividly illustrates the breadth of the gas industry's complicity in drilling accidents across the state. According to the findings, 43 gas companies operating in Pennsylvania were responsible for nearly 1,500 environmental violations between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 25, 2010.
Broad Scope of EPA’s Fracturing Study Raises Ire of Gas Industry
A federal study of hydraulic fracturing is expected to provide the most expansive look yet at how the natural gas drilling process can affect drinking water supplies, according to interviews with EPA officials and a set of documents outlining the scope of the project. The research will take a substantial step beyond previous studies and focus on how a broad range of ancillary activity – not just the act of injecting fluids under pressure – may affect drinking water quality. The oil and gas industry strongly opposes this new approach. The findings could affect Congress’ decision whether to repeal an exemption that shields the fracturing process from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
What does drilling of Michigan's underground natural resources mean for the environment?
As interest in Michigan’s underground natural resources increases, so do concerns over what drilling could mean for the environment. While there are a lot of unknowns as to what effect drilling would have in the long term, most concerns rise over the possibility of contamination of the water supply. “My biggest concern is the groundwater, always,” said Susan Topp, a Gaylord attorney who has specialized in mineral rights leases since 1992. “Ground water is our most precious resource. Whenever you put contaminates in a mud pit, truck or pipeline, there will be a spill eventually.” According to the DNRE office of geological survey, hydraulic fracturing has been used extensively for many years in Michigan in both deep shale formations and in the relatively shallow, Antrim shale formation. There are currently about 10,000 Antrim shale wells in Michigan that produce natural gas at depths of 500 to 2,000 feet and hydraulic fracturing has been used in almost every one.
Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?
In July, a hydrologist dropped a plastic sampling pipe 300 feet down a water well in rural Sublette County, Wyo., and pulled up a load of brown oily water with a foul smell. Tests showed it contained benzene, a chemical believed to cause aplastic anemia and leukemia, in a concentration 1,500 times the level safe for people. The results sent shockwaves through the energy industry and state and federal regulatory agencies. Sublette County is the home of one of the nation's largest natural gas fields, and many of its 6,000 wells have undergone a process pioneered by Halliburton called hydraulic fracturing, which shoots vast amounts of water, sand and chemicals several miles underground to break apart rock and release the gas. The process has been considered safe since a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that it posed no risk to drinking water. After that study, Congress even exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Today fracturing is used in nine out of ten natural gas wells in the United States. More than 1,000 cases of contamination have been documented by courts and state and local governments in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania. [Editor: I have been assured that hydrofracing for natural gas in the Collingwood shale layer in Michigan's lower peninsula is protected by so many other geological rocky layer/barriers that the risk of fresh water contamination from hyrdrofracturing is low. The safe use and disposal of dangerous fracking fluids is another matter that warrants discussion and improved environmental protection laws and better policies.]
Natural Gas as Panacea: Dubious Path to a Green Future | Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
For several years, many voices, including Texas energy baron T. Boone Pickens, have been touting natural gas as the best energy source to form a bridge between the current fossil-fuel economy and a renewable energy future. Proponents contend that not only is natural gas a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, producing lower greenhouse gas emissions, but that reserves of natural gas are far greater than previously believed because of vast reserves trapped throughout the U.S — and around the world — in huge underground formations of shale. Earlier this month, Britain’s New Scientist magazine published an article about shale gas entitled, “Wonderfuel: Welcome to the Age of Unconventional Gas.” Last month, the Wall Street Journal ran its own op-ed ode to shale gas: “Shale Gas Will Rock the World.” The author, Amy Myers Jaffe — a fellow in energy studies at Rice University — wrote, “I am convinced that shale gas will revolutionize the industry — and change the world — in the coming decades.” She even suggested that the abundance of natural gas in shale deposits worldwide will slow the transition to a renewable energy future.
Shale Gas Costing 2/3 Less Than OPEC Oil Incites Water Concern
May 25 (Bloomberg) -- When Victoria Switzer awoke on a cold night in March, her dog was staring out the window at the flame roaring from a natural-gas-drilling rig 2,000 feet behind her house. She remembers trees silhouetted in a demonic dance as the plume burned off gas that had been building up under her land. She discovered later that such flaring can occur when Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and dozens more companies drill for gas trapped in shale rock. The deposits, stretching from Texas to New York, and as far away as Australia and China, represent what may be the biggest energy bonanza in decades -- one that Switzer, 57, recalls thinking the Earth isn’t surrendering without a fight
Blowin’ in the Wind: Coupling wind power & natural gas may provide answer to region’s energy search
The Stoney Corners wind farm is the brainchild of Marty Lagina, founder of Heritage Sustainable Energy, which plans to install wind farms across the state. A commercial wind pioneer, his wind field is Northern Michigan’s largest and will grow to 19 wind turbines by the end of this year. But even he concedes that wind power can’t provide “base” or continual 24/7 energy. Turbines only deliver electricity when the wind is blowing, and storage technologies are currently too expensive or impractical. Lagina’s solution: combine wind with a “smart” natural gas plant, which—when invented—could detect wind when it’s blowing or not blowing and then make up the shortfall. The beauty of this energy partnership, said Lagina, is that the resultant air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from such a “hybrid” plant would be a small fraction of other alternate base load plants (such as coal, oil, and biomass.)
EPA to study whether fracking poses water risk
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will do a detailed study of hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to extract natural gas from dense shale formations, to determine whether it poses risks to surface and ground water. The study has been expected for some time but the EPA formally announced its plans today, saying it has $1.9 million set aside for the study this year with more funds possible next year. "Our research will be designed to answer questions about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment," said Dr. Paul T. Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Hydraulic fracturing is not subject to federal drinking water laws but is regulated by state laws. The disposal and storage of all water and fracturing fluids that come back out of a gas well — called produced water — is covered by federal law.
The Next Drilling Disaster?
A broad coalition of energy analysts and government officials have embraced domestic natural gas as a promising "bridge fuel" that could help smooth the transition from more carbon-intensive fossil fuels like oil and coal to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. The catch, though, is that the natural gas industry shares the same history as other energy industries operating in the United States. A string of recent disasters—including the TVA coal ash spill, the Massey coal mine explosion and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill—have demonstrated all too vividly that failure to regulate and oversee resource extraction can lead to catastrophe. Some fear that Dimock is the first natural gas casualty, an early warning of what could happen on a much larger scale if fracking spreads unchecked to other residential areas in the Marcellus region and across the country. After a stray drill bit banged four wells in 2008, Switzer says, weird things started happening to people's water: some flushed black, some orange, some turned bubbly. One well exploded, the result of methane migration, and residents say elevated metal and toluene levels have ruined twelve others.
Council of Scientific Society Presidents Letter to Washington
On May 4, 2010, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) sent a letter to senior administrators and legislators in Washington, noting the urgency of addressing global climate disruption, and calling for better use of science in developing policies as the nation moves foward. The CSSP cautioned that some energy systems promoted to help with global climate change have not received adequate scientific scrutiny, and may aggravate global warming and pollute the environment to a greater extent that commonly appreciated. The CSSP letter specifically mentioned the nation's biofuel policy and the development of diffuse natural gas sources in shale formations such as the Marcellus Shale as examples where energy policy has moved ahead without an adequate base in objective science.
Preliminary Assessment of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Natural Gas obtained by Hydraulic Fracturing
Natural gas is being widely advertised and promoted as a clean burning fuel that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than coal when burned. While it is true that less carbon dioxide is emitted from burning natural gas than from burning coal per unit of energy generated, the combustion emissions are only part of story and the comparison is quite misleading. A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than oil and not significantly better than coal in terms of the consequences for global warming.
Collingwood-Utica Gas Play – Michigan
Friday, May 7th—Encana Corporation reports that they acquired a quarter million acres in Cheboygan, Kalkaska, and Missaukee Counties, Michigan for about $150/acre. They are reporting production from the Collingwood Shale (2.5 million cubic feet per day from one well), the rock unit immediately below the Utica and immediately above the Trenton.
Combined Cycle Power Plant (CCPP)
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Convert Michigan "Peaking" Plants to Provide Baseload Energy
We are writing to bring to MDEQ’s attention Wolverine’s recent agreement to acquire the 340 MW Sumpter plant from FirstEnergy Corp. This natural gas peaking plant can be converted to a combined cycle plant to meet Wolverine’s future baseload energy needs, at a smaller economic and environmental cost to Wolverine’s customers and Michigan residents than the proposed coal plant. We continue to believe that Wolverine can offset or meet a significant portion of future demand through more aggressive energy efficiency measures and increased investment in renewable resources (as set forth in our previous comments on Wolverine’s Energy Generation Alternatives Analysis). However, the Sumpter plant acquisition reinforces that Wolverine has failed to meet its duty under MEPA, as it has failed to demonstrate the need for, or lack of cleaner alternatives to, 600 MW of new coalfired generating capacity. [Editor: Traverse City has a peaking plant in Kalkaska that the ratepayers are already paying for that could be converted more reasonably, than to build their proposed biomass plants.]
Wolverine purchases the 340-Megawatt Sumpter Natural Gas Fueled Power Plant
FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) today announced that its FirstEnergy Generation Corp. subsidiary has reached an agreement in principle to sell its 340-megawatt (MW) Sumpter Plant in Sumpter, Michigan, to Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., for an undisclosed amount. The sale is expected to close in first quarter of 2010. The plant, built in 2002 by FirstEnergy Generation Corp., consists of four 85-MW natural gas combustion turbines.
Electric Generation Using Natural Gas
Natural gas, because of its clean burning nature, has become a very popular fuel for the generation of electricity. Due to economic, environmental, and technological changes, natural gas has become the fuel of choice for new power plants. Natural gas fired electricity generation is expected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years, as all of the new capacity that is currently being constructed comes online. New technology has allowed natural gas to play an increasingly important role in the clean generation of electricity. Click on the link for more information on the environmental benefits of natural gas, including its role as a clean energy source for the generation of electricity.
Michigan Has a Large Supply of Natural Gas
Michigan imports 97 percent of its petroleum needs, 80 percent of its natural gas and 100 percent of coal and nuclear fuel from other states and nations. These imports account for about 70 cents of every dollar spent for energy by Michigan's citizens and businesses. Michigan spent a total of $37 billion on all forms of energy in 2007 and of that amount $26 billion was for the energy resources imported from other states and nations. Michigan has substantial natural gas reserves - more than any other State in the Great Lakes region. The State's Antrim natural gas fields in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula are among the largest gas producing geological formations of this type in the United States. About 80 percent of Michigan households use natural gas as their primary energy source for home heating.
Is Natural Gas The New Oil?
This week, Exxon acquired XTO Energy, one of the largest domestic producers of natural gas. Natural gas is considered a cheaper and greener form of energy due to its somewhat lower carbon footprint... but the companies who may own the natural gas market may wind up being the same oil giants we already know.
Ada Cogeneration LP
Covert Generating Project
Dearborn Industrial Generation
Kinder Morgan Power Jackson Facility
Michigan Power LP
Midland Cogeneration Venture
University of Michigan
Traverse City (peaker plant)
In Push for Coal, Utilities Ignore Gas-Fired Plants
Michigan—As two utilities push for state permission to build two new, coal-fired power plants in Michigan, a nationally known energy expert says that natural gas—and not coal—is the key to helping the country, including Michigan, move to a clean-energy, fossil-fuel-free economy. The report lists eight largely idle natural gas plants in Michigan (Please see chart to the right) whose combined unused generating capacity far exceeds that of the two proposed new coal plants. It makes no sense to be building new coal plants right now. [It makes no sense to be building biomass plants right now!] We have all of these underutilized natural gas power plants, and we’ve already spent most of the money to build them. For a very small extra cost, perhaps half a cent to a penny per kilowatt-hour, you could dramatically reduce U.S greenhouse gas emissions. That is one key role for natural gas in the next 10 to 15 years in replacing coal.” [Editor: Traverse City Light & Power, and others, could upgrade their natural gas powered plant by adding steam turbines to create a "combined cycle" power plant, increasing their output and getting more energy out of them. Peaker power plants are often retrofited after the fact with "combined cycle" technology that uses the waste steam to create energy.]
Conversion of combined cycle power plant to compressed air energy storage power plant
Convert a power generation combined cycle (CC) power plant to a load management compressed air energy storage (CAES) power plant. At least one compressor supplies the air storage with compressed air so that off peak energy can be converted to compressed air energy stored in the air storage. Compressed air from the storage is received by the HRSG and the HRSG provides heat to compressed air received from the air storage. The steam turbine receives heated compressed air from the HRSG and expands the heated compressed air to produce power.
New Questions as State Mulls Wolverine Coal Permit
In recent years coal prices and financing costs have soared while natural gas prices have fallen, making new coal plants a bad financial bet. “Wolverine’s plans have apparently remained unchanged while the world changed around them,” he observed. “For a very small extra cost, perhaps half a cent to a penny per kilowatt-hour,” Mr. Romm said, comparing the price of gas power to existing coal power, “you could dramatically reduce U.S greenhouse gas emissions. That is one key role for natural gas in the next 10 to 15 years in replacing coal.” Mr. Romm sees natural gas as a very important “bridge fuel” to get off coal. Increasingly, other utility executives are agreeing with that assessment.
Microturbines are scaled down versions of industrial gas turbines. As their name suggests, these generating units are very small, and typically have a relatively small electric output. These types of distributed generation systems have the capacity to produce from 25 to 500 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, and are best suited for residential or small scale commercial units. Advantages to microturbines include a very compact size (about the same size as a refrigerator), a small number of moving parts, light-weight, low-cost, and increased efficiency. Using new waste heat recovery techniques, microturbines can achieve energy efficiencies of up to 80 percent.
Move over coal, it's natural gas
As power plants that run on coal begin to approach the end of their lifespans, natural gas is the logical successor. "The cheapest alternative that we see today for replacing coal-fired power is natural gas combined cycle," Hal Kvisle said. "That's going to be the economic best answer in the near term."
It's true that natural gas is not petroleum, but is it true that gas is a radical improvement over oil for our climate? In theory, natural gas emits somewhat less carbon dioxide than oil for the same energy produced. But when fugitive emissions, or leaks, are counted, the difference is slim to none. For the climate, natural gas is at best an incremental improvement over oil, and at worst a distraction from the real challenge of moving our societies away from fossil fuels.
Capitol Power Plant Should Switch to 100 Percent Natural Gas
February 26th, 2009—Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter to the Acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers, asking that the Capitol Power Plant (CPP) use 100 percent natural gas for its operations. They write, “the switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide…We strongly encourage you to move forward aggressively with us on a comprehensive set of policies for the entire Capitol complex and the entire Legislative Branch to quickly reduce emissions and petroleum consumption through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean alternative fuels.”
It’s not the Copenhagen dream of carbon-free energy. But its promoters say it could be a far-cleaner-than-coal bridge to that future: a vast ocean of natural gas, deep underground, trapped in shale — in this country. America could be the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, they say. New technology — hydraulic fracturing — makes it possible, accessible. But it also means shooting a river of chemicals up and down through our water table. The water we drink.
Natural gas in Michigan
Natural gas consumption numbers for Michigan: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_cons_sum_dcu_SMI_a.htm
Natural gas used for the generation of electric power: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3045mi2a.htm
Our local gas comes from the Antrim formation. Here are those numbers: http://www.dleg.state.mi.us/mpsc/gas/production/2009sum.pdf
Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat
Some of the chemicals and compounds used in hydraulic fracturing for Natural Gas: