Today’s Essential Reads
Despite the risks, natural gas fracking is booming. Most recently, Shell Oil Co. is finalizing where the company will build a new refinery to drill into gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale. The reserves run underneath New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and parts of other states in the Appalachians.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation says an updated version of its environmental impact study on natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region is ready to be released for public comment.
My granddaughter did a science report on the “hydraulic fracturing process” used for developing natural gas sources. Her research uncovered many pros and cons about “fracking” and one alarming fact, which became a question to state Rep. Tina Davis: “Why is Pennsylvania the only state to not tax the fracturing process?”
Fracking has been linked to a wide variety of nasty side effects. Gas has been known to seep into drinking water, famously causing flammable tap water. The mixture of chemicals used in fracking is, to this point, unknown and has been linked to hexavalent chromium contamination. Hexavalent chromium is really nasty stuff that is generally associated with high level nuclear waste or that movie “Erin Brokovich,” but it has been found in high concentrations in Midland, Texas near large oil and gas fields. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Barnett Shale feature in North Texas, one of the most lucrative fracking regions in the state, has the highest rates of invasive breast cancer in Texas.
BP OIL SPILL:
Officials in Alabama say tar balls that have been washing up on the state’s prime tourist beaches will be sent to Auburn University for testing.
BP, Europe’s second-largest oil company by market capitalization, has struggled since President Barack Obama banned drilling in the Gulf from late May to mid-October last year after BP’s deepwater Macondo well ruptured and spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the basin.
Comedian-activist Dick Gregory, along with a handful of protesters, recently demonstrated outside the Northwest offices of settlement attorney Ken Feinberg, accusing him of dragging his feet in resolving the more than 10,000 compensation claims brought by victims’ families and survivors of the April 2010 British Petroleum (BP) Gulf Coast oil spill.
Ready or not, the Obama administration has announced plans to hold the first sale of offshore oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico since last year’s disastrous BP oil spill. Environmentalists voiced legitimate concerns after the Aug. 19 announcement, pointing out that the full impacts of the BP spill — and of the efforts to contain it — are still unknown.
The meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant has led to an ongoing crisis in Japan. Nature Video provides an update on efforts to stabilize the reactors, and the consequences of the emergency for Japan and nuclear power worldwide.