Today’s Essential Reads
Most of the attention about the drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania has focused on job creation or the suspected negative impact on water from hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or on air quality from released natural gas, as well as the stress on roads from trucks hauling water to and from well pads.
In this video series by Julia Van Wagenen, an assortment of Athens area residents speak out about plans for extensive oil well development in Athens County, using horizontal wells with hydraulic fracturing. This issue has dominated local news for the past year, and many Athens Countians feel strongly about it, on one side or the other.
One side points to videos of people setting their tap water on fire. The other looks to an economic boom in Pennsylvania. But New Yorkers in general are mostly split on whether to lift a moratorium on hydrofracking in the state, and the debate over the decision is likely to continue well into 2012.
Every year, the world produces and consumes about 115 trillion cubit feet of natural gas, generating about 117 quintillion Btus (British thermal units) of energy, this according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
BP OIL SPILL:
“U.S. prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP PLC employees stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history,” The Wall Street Journal reports this morning, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Courtroom wrangling continues over who is legally culpable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but history is already making its own judgments. In the new book “Drilling Down, the Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma,” co-written by Dr. Tad Patzek, the disaster is examined through the lens of a culture that seeks out oil from ever more remote locations. Patzek is Chair of the University of Texas at Austin’s department of Petroleum and Geosystems engineering.
The money allowed seven area tourism bureaus to try promotions they could never have afforded otherwise, and it has propelled the Panhandle’s visitor counts to record numbers this year following a disastrous season right after the spill. The question now is what happens when the BP money dries up, most likely next April. The grants doubled and tripled the tourism-promotion budgets in these Panhandle counties, and officials worry the boost in visitors may prove fleeting.
It began as a landlord-tenant dispute, Louisiana style. The tenant was Texaco; the landlord the Broussard family, heirs of a Cajun rancher, who claimed that Texaco’s operation of a gas plant on their property had left the land contaminated. The lawsuit, of a kind not all that rare in these industry-heavy parts, had dragged on so long that 13 of the heirs had died.
Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether seals are being killed by radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.