Plenty of Challenges With Shale Drilling & Fracking

by S. Tom Bond on January 31, 2018

Environmental Management,
July 2014

Part 1. Shale gas is not a sustainable way to produce energy

Essay by S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

Remember the days when “natural gas is a bridge to the future” was a big advertising gimmick?  It has gone the way of the revived gas light sentimentality a few years before that.  People were encouraged to put out their gas lights because of a gas shortage almost before the gas lights were paid for.

Now the “bridge to the future” is going where Finian’s Rainbow and Uncle Remus have gone.  The fracked gas guys have the idea they ARE the future, never mind all the problems: high cost of recovery; environmental damages; health and safety problems; providing few, well paid but terrible jobs; and the ever present threat of global extinction of the human race.

Signs of its demise are everywhere.  Most  recently, in November. “closure of Siemens and GE’s gas turbine-making capacities. Just to recap for those that missed it, first Siemens, the giant European champion of the electric power revolution, laid off 7,000 workers. It reported that it had a capacity to make 400 of the 100 MW gas turbines annually but only had received orders for 110 in 2017. Ouch. Retrain!

“And then GE: Two weeks later, it laid off 20,000 workers in its gas-related business, including turbine-making teams around the world. Remember,  just about five years ago Siemens and GE battled for the gas business of Alstom, the French descendent of the same companies GE came out of in the early 20th century. GE paid $10 billion for it and declared a coup.”   Oopsie daisy!

The disinvestment campaign has been going very well.  New York City is taking its money out of the hydrocarbon pool.  The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund announced in December it would no longer fund upstream (production) projects.  California, the sixth largest economy in the world, is moving that way.  Stanford  University dropped its gas investments and went all solar.  Then Palo Alto did the same and offered to rebate people who changed from gas to electrical appliances.  The California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission —  the two agencies pretty much designing and approving the state’s energy assets —  is saying  they no longer need natural gas in their tool kits.

Admittedly this is a drop in the bucket, but it points to the use of hydrocarbons as a moral issue.  On the other hand, solar and wind are in an exponential rise.  Due to politics (more below) the new energy era is coming in the less developed world.  The following quote is from Adam Vaughan, Environmental editor of the Guardian.

“Last year, for the first time, renewable energy accounted for more than half of new power generation worldwide, as we report today. China is expected to build more than twice that global amount in the next five years, driven by its thirst for more electricity capacity, public anxiety over air pollution and the need to fulfill its climate change pledges.

“The world is changing, and Europe is no longer the big driver of green energy growth that it once was. “In the next five years, the People’s Republic of China and India alone will account for almost half of global renewable capacity additions,” says the IEA in a new report.

“But even with all this growth, renewables are only forecast to provide just over a quarter of the world’s electricity by 2021. There’s still a long way to go.”

A quarter of the world’s energy will be renewable in four years – sounds pretty important to me.  Far beyond what most Americans would guess.

To be Continued as Part 2.  See also:  Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance

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