Fracking for Natural Gas, Is It Energy Salvation or a Polluting Mirage?

Is natural gas the answer to the looming world energy crisis?

Nuclear energy had become the darling alternative of environmentalist to coal and oil based energy until Fukushima.

Turmoil in the Middle East and booming economies of China and India have pushed the price of a barrel of oil to its highest point in two and a half years.

Enter natural gas. Recent discoveries of natural gas under New York and Pennsylvania have some energy experts describing the United States as the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.
In the April 11, 2011 issue of Time Magazine , an article called the Gas Dilemma written by Bryan Walsh explores the question of whether natural gas could be the solution to the United States and perhaps the world’s energy crisis. In this article, Mr. Walsh reports that estimates of the supply of natural gas in the Marcellus fields under Pennsylvania and New York hold the energy equivalent of 86 billion barrels of oil.

But as with oil, coal and nuclear energy, there is an environmental downside. To extract this mother load of gas, a vertical well must be driven several thousand feet below the earth’s surface. When the well reaches the shale rock layer where the gas is embedded, it bends and burrows horizontally for as much as a mile. Explosions are set off in the horizontal pipe that pierce the concrete well and open up micro fractures in the shale. Millions of gallons of highly pressurized water with sand and “fracking” chemicals are pumped down the well to widening the shale fractures. Natural pressure then forces the liquids bask up the will and gas rushes from the fractures into the pipe.

Many environmentalist worry that this flow- back of water with its “fracking” chemicals could contaminate nearby groundwater. Adding their concerns is that when the fracking fluid mixes with the shale rock, it may also become contaminated with highly radioactive materials that are known to exist in the Marcellus shale rock.
Mr. Walsh contends that little if any federal regulation exists for the hydraulic fracturing process, leaving states to do the regulating.

With the enormous amount of money currently being paid to landowners for gas leases, an easy comparison can be made to the poor regulation of offshore oil drilling that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20. 2010.

So, is natural gas really the answer to the world’s energy dilemma?

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Secotan: An Alternative Energy Novel
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The crude awakening returns.

Today in the Wall Street Journal I read the article Remember crude? Commentary: Global petroleum demand earns fresh scrutiny

I read this today. China is leading the way back to the oil prices we knew in 2008 before the crash. And then there is India, Vietnam, Mexico and all of the rest of the world’s popululation who want to drive cars, have air conditioning and all the other amenities that we take for granted. As our economy recovers, so will our own demand increase to compete with the world’s demand for this diminishing recource. Is there an obvious message here?

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Secotan: An Alternative Energy Novel
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$20 per Gallon – a book everyone should read

Christopher Steiner, a writer for Forbes and an engineer by training has published a new book, $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better.

20-gallon

In the summer of 2008 we all experienced $4.00 a gallon oil and the impacts that price increase had on our lives. To many of us it was a shock that we quickly let fade away as the prices dropped. Now Chris is here to remind us that it will indeed get to those price levels again and higher and the impact that will have on our lives for the better. This price increase will obviously affect the way we drive, heat our homes, the products we buy, the way we use products, and he details many other ways our lives will be changed. As you read this your realization awakens and expands as to how far reaching the effects of oil prices are. I am reading this book myself right now and recommend it.

The LA times did an article on this book – see it here.

Read what Google Books has to say – about Chris and his book.

You may also want to check it out or purchase it on Amazon – $20 per Gallon.

www.henrygorham.com
Secotan: An Alternative Energy Novel
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Henry Gorham Author of Secotan Copyright © 2009 Henry Gorham www.henrygorham.com