DON’T FRACK NEW YORK: Dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing

Josh Fox‘s new movie vividly dramatizes the dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing. The other month I saw a screening of the movie in upstate New York – at once ground central for proposed Gas and New York’s main aquifer – and it makes for grim viewing.

Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

What is the Halliburton Loophole?

In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.

What is the FRAC Act?

The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

How deep do natural gas wells go?

The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

How much water is used during the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

What fluids are used in the fracking process?

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?

The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

What is done with the wastewater?

Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

What is a well’s potential to cause air pollution?

As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

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Creativity: Out of Print Clothing

I love second hand book shops, and I am also a fan of graphic tees (depasse I know). That’s why I was intrigued by Out of Print Clothing.
With Out of Print Clothing, you can proudly wear some of the world’s great books. Each tee-shirt depicts an iconic or out-of-print book cover ranging from classic to long forgotten covers, yet all are strong images that speak for themselves. (Reminds me of the various Penguin artifacts I own). The company works closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in their collections. Like a well-read book, each shirt’s quality is made to feel soft and worn.

Out of Print T-Shirts (coolhunting.com)

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Eco Friendly is the New Luxury

‘Eco-Friendly’ Replacing Luxury as New Status Symbol
More than twice as many global consumers say they would rather drive an eco-friendly car (67%) than a luxury car (33%), and an even larger percentage would prefer to live in an eco-friendly house (70%) vs. merely a big house (30%), according to results from this year’s goodpurpose study, conducted by PR firm Edelman.These results, Edelman said, indicate that the global tide of conspicuous consumption is turning away from traditional status symbols of the past and moving toward products and brands that support sustainability. Protecting the environment, improving healthcare and reducing poverty are the causes that global consumers care about most:

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Help John Grant Edit His New Book

Help John Grant Edit His New Book “Co-Opportunity”
My old planning-pal John Grant’s new book Co-opportunity is contracted for publication with John Wiley & Sons, scheduled for January 2010.

john grant co-opportunity

Says John:

My new book, Co-opportunity is based on the growing realization that sustainability is going to require nothing less than a wholesale shift to more co-operative social systems. It’s not just about shaving off energy, waste or carbon emissions – nor about ‘band aid’ approaches to poverty. It’s about a new way of organizing society for the common good. Many people have described this shift. Prince Charles in a recent speech described it as a move to a joined up society. Bill Drayton describes it as a shift to an equitable model of parallel co-operation. These ideas will be as familiar to those working with web 2.0 and social production as in the ‘eco’ field. And numerous examples in the book are using social media for social good. Some but not all – there are just as many grounded in local community… My publisher, Wiley, has been quite broad-minded in allowing me to share the near completed draft in this public way, for free. I’d ask you to please be respectful of that and for instance don’t circulate all or part of the manuscript. Also by Wiley’s request only one section of the book with be available for download at any one time. If you or a colleague has missed an earlier section, you can always email me at thejohngrant@btinternet.com.

You can read John Grant’s blog here, and download the introduction [pdf] here.

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Green: Chevy Volt, Future Bikes

The Chevy Volt Gets 230 MPG. So What?
GM announced Tuesday that the much-ballyhooed plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt will get 230 mpg. At first glance, that’s a mind-blowingly high rating, and GM knows it. That’s why the automaker’s early marketing campaign for the car touts the number. But what does it actually mean?

2007 Chevrolet Volt Concept

An Olympic cyclist puts together some of the coolest bike-tech out there to create a vision for the next-generation urban two-wheeler.
chris boardman bike


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Carbon War Room

One Planet Seven Theatres … Carbon War Room
The Carbon War Room is a global philanthropic initiative, founded to harness the resource and skills of the Planet’s entrepreneurs and institutions to urgently deliver solutions that enable humanity to prosper beyond the carbon economy. Our Founders include some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and institutions who are passionate about solving this problem.

carbon

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Green Marketing: Starwood Chargepoints, Tesco Allotments, ReBurbia

Element Lexington Tells Hybrid Drivers to Plug It In
Starwood has partnered with Carbon Day Automotive to install a ChargePoint™ Networked Charging Station at Element Lexington. Hybrid-driving guests and travelers alike can charge their vehicles via the unobtrusive station, equipped with a universal plug-in for all kinds of electric vehicles, including cars, buses, Segway scooters, and bikes. Drivers can use Google maps to locate the station and determine whether it’s unoccupied.

Tesco has stepped up its commitment to environmental issues by announcing plans to create allotments for recession-hit customers who want to grow their own vegetables. The supermarket giant has applied for planning permission for the 30 allotments on land next to its Southport store in Lancashire which, if granted, will see the sites rented out from next spring.

tesco allotment

Calling all future-forward architects, urban designers, renegade planners and imaginative engineers:
Show us how you would re-invent the suburbs! What would a McMansion become if it weren’t a single-family dwelling? How could a vacant big box store be retrofitted for agriculture? What sort of design solutions can you come up with to facilitate car-free mobility, ‘burb-grown food, and local, renewable energy generation? We want to see how you’d design future-proof spaces and systems using the suburban structures of the present, from small-scale retrofits to large-scale restoration—the wilder the better!
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