A rig contracted by Apache Corp drills a horizontal well in a search for oil and natural gas in the Wolfcamp shale located in the Permian Basin in West Texas. A successful petition in Denton could bring fracking bans to communities around the state.
Come elections in November, the city of Denton could be split between two very different futures.
The Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG) recently got enough signatures on a petition to place an ordinance banning fracking within city limits on local ballots. Though other communities in Texas have passed restrictions on fracking, a moratorium on drilling activity within Denton could spur the rise of similar legislation across the state.
If the ban passes it will likely provoke a precedent-setting legal battle that would help clarify the authority of local governments over oil and gas operations in Texas. Continue Reading →
Russell Gold, author of a new book on fracking, says that this drilling revolution is "transforming the United States."
If you ever talk about the surge in oil and gas drilling in Texas and the rest of the country by calling it a “boom,” you might upset someone in the oil and gas industry. That’s because if you call it a “boom,” that means at some point there’s going to be a “bust.”
“This revolution is transforming the United States,” Gold writes. “To a remarkable extent, this once-obscure oil-field technique defines the nation’s economic and environmental future.” A hundred new wells are drilled and fracked every day, he writes.
Gold sat down with David Brown of KUT’s Texas Standard to talk about why this boom is different, and some lessons for the oil and gas industry going forward. Take a listen:
‘The Boom’ hits bookshelves (both virtual and real) this week.
Now, with a minimum investment of $80,000, one Texas company is offering you your very own oil well. Oil Boom USA, a subsidiary of Texas oil and gas company Nakoma Petroleum, is inviting investors into the oil well game. Why? Because it’s an “unequaled tax shelter” and “exciting and fun,” according to the company’s website.
But opening up drilling to more than just oil and gas companies could signal trouble for the industry. As Michael Webber, Deputy Director at the University of Texas’s Energy Institute, explains to KUT’s Texas Standard host David Brown, oil well investing is “pretty good on the way up, but it could be pretty bad on the way down.” Continue Reading →
Update 10 p.m. Tuesday: The Fort Worth City Council has delayed for one week a vote to permanently restrict outdoor watering to twice a week.
Council member W. B. Zimmerman asked for the additional time to educate the public about proposed conservation plans.
Sal Espino, who represents District 2, was opposed to the delay. He said: “I would be in favor of moving forward with this ordinance, imperfect as it may seem to some, and then later changing it or tweaking, because we’ve already been doing twice per week watering.”
Original story: Since last June, Fort Worth has been restricting outdoor watering to twice a week because of drought conditions. Those measures may become permanent if the City Council adopts a proposed water ordinance Tuesday night.
Cooling towers of a nuclear power plant in Grohnde, Germany. Texas Governor Rick Perry says he wants the state to come up with a solution for disposing of or storing spent nuclear fuel.
The storage and disposal of high-level radioactive waste is a tricky process, both from a safety and political point of view. As a result, that waste is now piling up around the country with nowhere to go. And Texas Governor Rick Perry is wondering if perhaps the Lone Star State could give it a home.
In a letter to the leaders of the state Senate and House, which you can read below, Perry says that Texas has “no choice but to begin looking for a safe and secure solution for HLW [high-level radioactive waste] in Texas.” Perry attached a 49-page report he commissioned from a state environmental agency that says that a facility for waste in Texas is “not only feasible but could be highly successful.”
The letter, first reported by Asher Price in the Austin American-Statesman today, lays out what have become familiar arguments from those hoping to make Texas a home for the nation’s unwanted isotopes: the federal government isn’t following through on its promise to take care of it, states paid the feds to fulfill that promise and got cheated, and Texas can do it safely (and, it would follow, profitably). Continue Reading →
Patterson’s fear is about what are called reserve pits. The earthen pits are dug on the site of a drilling rig. Into the pits go thousands of barrels-worth of drilling waste. The waste comes back up out of the well as the drill cuts thousand of feet down into the earth. The waste can be a muddy, oily mix of saltwater, sand, and drilling fluids and can contain chemicals and diesel fuel.
This species of Little Brown Bat was once common in the Northeast, but has been devastated by white-nose syndrome.
If you’ve ever tried to evict an unwelcome bat from your home, you know it can be tricky. If you haven’t, imagine trying to coax an agile mouse into a laundry basket. Now imagine that mouse has wings. Now imagine it has wings and sonar.
Chris Corben, a bat expert, doesn’t like the “mice with wings” analogy. He says bats are more like elephants (they have very low birth rates, he explains). But he agrees that they are difficult to catch, and it’s because of that “sonar.”
“You can’t just put a trap up in a field and expect to get anything,” says Corben. “Because of the bats’ echolocation system, they’re remarkably good at avoiding the traps.”
That “echolocation” is the way bats get around. They’re active mostly at night, when they can’t rely on their eyesight. So they send out a little “chirp.” Then they wait for that sound to bounce back at them. It tells them what’s nearby, or where they might find a tasty bug to eat. Continue Reading →
Wind turbines in West Texas help produce record amounts of electricity for the state.
Another record was set for wind power generation this week, according to the group that manages much of the state’s power. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says Wednesday evening, wind power generation on the grid reached10,296 megawatts (MW), or enough to power 5 million Texas homes during times of regular demand. That beat the previous record of actual generation by 600 megawatts, roughly the equivalent of a medium-sized fossil fuel power plant.
A few hours later, early Thursday morning, almost a third of the power on the grid also came from wind power, primarily from turbines in the Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast. It’s the third time this month that wind generation broke previous records.
ERCOT credits both a breezy week and the recent addition of a transmission line project known as the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) that was designed to bring wind power from West Texas and the Panhandle to consumers in Central and North Texas. Continue Reading →
Photo by Al Hicks, NY Dept of Environ. Conservation.
A little brown bat found in a New York cave exhibits fungal growth on its muzzle, ears and wings.
Before Winifred Frick enters a bat cave in Wisconsin, she and her colleagues strip to their underwear and wipe themselves down with Lysol. When they leave, they bag everything up and wash it with Lysol as well.
“Spores can definitely get on peoples’ boots or pants or whatever, so it’s been really important that cavers, as well as researchers, do decontamination,” Frick, a bat researcher and adjunct professor at UC Santa Cruz, says.
She’s talking about the spores of a fungus that’s responsible for the deaths of millions of bats. It’s the cause of “white-nose syndrome,” so-called because of the white growth that appears on the noses of infected hibernating bats.
Researchers are still unclear about how the fungus kills bats, but it appears to wake them from hibernation, leaving them malnourished. Continue Reading →
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