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Climate researchers issue stern warning on natural gas

”  … It is the total quantity of CO2 from the energy system that matters to the climate.”

Shale gas deposits around the world. Map courtesy Energy Information Administration.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change have finally called the hoopla surrounding natural gas for what it is — mostly fossil fuel propaganda.

“The proponents of shale gas have always claimed that it is a lower carbon alternative to coal,” said Chris Shearlock, sustainable development manager at The Co-operative, an institutional investor in oil firms. “However, this is only true if the coal it displaces remains in the ground and isn’t just burnt elsewhere. Without a cap on global carbon emissions, shale gas is burnt in addition to other fossil fuels, increasing total emissions.”

The Tyndall report points out that, while U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have dropped by 8.6 percent since 2005, more than half of the recent emissions reductions in the power sector may be displaced overseas by the trade in coal. Continue reading

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Environment: EPA to regulate water impacts from gas-drilling

National rule-making will include input from industry, public

Colorado's surface and groundwater may get more protection from natural gas drilling impacts as the EPA plans to develop new rules on wastewater discharge from drilling operations.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In what could turn out to be a big win for Colorado communities and the environment, the EPA announced it will develop a regulatory framework for wastewater discharges produced by natural gas extraction from underground coalbed and shale formations.

Information reviewed by EPA, including state-supplied wastewater sampling data, have documented elevated levels of pollutants entering surface waters as a result of inadequate treatment at facilities.

Some of the chemicals in fracking fluids are known carcinogens and the health effects of many additives are not fully understood, in large part because industry officials have refused to disclose precisely what they are using.

Tisha Schuller, President and CEO, Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said wastewater disposal is covered under state regulations.

“We are looking over EPA’s information. In the meantime, we want our communities to know that in Colorado, all oil and gas wastewater is handled in accordance with state regulation,” Schuller said.  “While there are not federal standards, there are strict state standards through both Colorado Oil and Gas Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for handling and disposal of wastewaters.”

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Federal report calls for full disclosure of fracking chemicals

Draft study acknowledges public concern about environmental impacts of shale gas development but falls short of offering legal protection for communities, according to Colorado Congressman Jared Polis

Map of shale gas plays in United States

Shale-gas drilling is growing dramatically in many parts of the country.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A draft report on shale-gas drilling released this week by a federal advisory board calls for increased regulation and more disclosure, but still falls short of offering strong legal measures to ensure communities are protected from environmental impacts, including water and air pollution, said Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).

Polis said unless the gas industry and federal regulators convert voluntary recommendations to legal requirements, communities won’t be protected from potential impacts.

“The subcommittee’s recommendations, and its acknowledgement that changes need to be made, are certainly a step in the right direction,” Polis said in a statement reacting to the draft report. “However, until legal shortcomings are fixed, and voluntary recommendations become actual requirements, communities will remain without real assurance that their air, water and health are adequately protected.”

The report comes from the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board Natural Gas Subcommittee, which was directed by President Obama to identify any immediate steps that can improve the safety and environmental performance of shale gas drilling. One of the recommendations targets a key concern among environmental advocates by calling for full disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. Continue reading

U.S. shale gas boom could tilt global ‘petro-power’ balance

Conservative think tank advocates for responsible development of  domestic resources, saying increased U.S. production could curb Russia’s petro-power

U.S. natural gas production could quadruple in the next 30 years.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In Colorado, the debate over natural gas production from shale formations like those in the northwestern part of the state often focuses on environmental impacts, including the growing fragmentation of wildlife habitat and concerns about air and water quality from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

But there’s also a geopolitical dimension dimension to the rising tide of U.S. gas production. By some recent estimates, shale-gas production will quadruple by 2040, to more than 40 billion cubic feet per day. And that level of production has the potential to affect Russia’s ability to wield an “energy weapon” over its European customers, according to a recent study by the Baker institute. Continue reading

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