Essential Reads: 5/12/2011
While witnesses from Texas testified in Washington against a federal study of the method central to unlocking oil and gas from shale formations, the Texas House passed a bill that would require producers to disclose chemicals used in the process.
In a hearing on Capitol Hill today, Republican members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee struggled to make the case against an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into the controversial gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) – a process in which oil and gas companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to extract the gas from underground deposits.
The French Parliament has voted 287-146 to ban hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a crucial part of the shale gas extraction process that activists say is harmful to the environment, according to France24. The bill will be voted on by the Senate on June 1 before it becomes a law.
Fracking is being hailed by its supporters as a clean solution to our energy needs. Its critics say it is just a chance to make big bucks at the expense of our health and safety. A lack of available data means that little is known for sure.
BP OIL SPILL:
Right now, the oil and gas industry is holding its breath as the approval of two major tar sands pipelines hang in the balance. The $13 billion Keystone XL pipeline would significantly increase the Canadian export of of dirty tar sands bitumen to the U.S. by as much as 510,000 barrels a day. And, on this side of the border, the ferociously debated $5.5 billion, 1,170 kilometre Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline would carry dirty tar sands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be loaded onto supertankers bound for growing energy markets in Asia.
There’s a parallel universe in the Gulf these days. In one, the water’s clear, the beaches clean and the seafood’s as sublime as ever. The other is the one I witnessed last month, a world many fear may be closer to the truth.
With the oil industry under the national spotlight, environmental advocates are pointing to a pair of recent oil spills to bolster their campaign against a much-disputed Alberta-to-Texas tar sands pipeline that could win U.S. approval by the end of the year.
JAPAN NUCLEAR CRISIS:
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said today that renewable energy will be a key pillar of Japan’s energy policy after the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years and that its nuclear policy must be reviewed from scratch.
Japan (Officially) Sours on Nuclear Power
Nearly two months to the day since Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident began, the country’s head of state has announced that the country is scuttling plans to build more nuclear power plants.