Energy

Energy Storage: The Necessary Link between Renewable Energy and the Grid

As global warming coupled with resource depletion becomes a greater concern, renewable energies, especially solar and wind, are gaining the spotlight as the ultimate energy source of the future. Currently, as most people are aware, there are limitations to renewable energies that make them less desirable – limitations such as high cost, quantity of generation, and unreliable energy output. The reason that the quantity and reliability of renewable energy generation is important is because the renewables must generate this electricity to be sent to the grid in real time, meaning that the renewables must meet the current demand at any time while the production itself from these is highly variable, as seen in the form of wind power generation in Figure 1.

wind

Figure 1. Wind Power Generation 

All in all, this sheds some light on the inherent issues behind renewable energies. Fortunately, there is the possibility of closing these gaps in energy production through energy storage, mostly electrochemically. The NREL created a report that essentially presented what impacts energy storage would have in regards to renewable electricity generation. The NREL categorizes energy storage into three different classes: power quality, bridging power, and energy management. These three only differ in the amount of time it takes to discharge the energy stored in the devices. Figure 2 shows most of the batteries and storage technologies used for larger energy storage along with their discharge times.

Systems

Figure 2. Devices used for large energy storage

Typically, batteries are very expensive for use in any industrial process. The two energy storage techniques with the largest storage capacity, compressed air and pumped hydro, use similar techniques in that they both force air or water to a higher energy level and then run a turbine to get the energy back out of the substance. Both, however, require specific geological scenarios to be effectively economical without having to recreate ideal settings. Notice that neither of these are electrochemical storage devices. Because of the need for energy storage for renewables, NREL has seen a dramatic increase in energy storage research since the 1970s.

One emerging electrochemical storage device that came out of research is something called the liquid battery, created in Dr. Donald Sadoway’s lab at MIT. Sadoway and a post-doc created a company, now known as Ambri, to further research with the hopes of commercialization. As seen in Sadoway’s TED talk, the liquid battery would be made out of common metals, making it economical, and has proven to be scalable to meet energy capacity needs.

liquid-battery

Figure 3. The simplified liquid battery

If they can pull this off, it would essentially revolutionize the argument for renewables.

What is your experience with energy storage techniques? Would better energy storage make us turn to renewable energy faster? Could energy storage benefit other industries? Have you ever heard of the Liquid Battery? What do you think the consequences would be if Ambri succeeds in creating an affordable, scalable energy storage device?

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Alternative Energy, Energy

Could Wind Power Be The True Answer To The Energy Crisis?

With the growing fear of fossil fuel depletion and that fossil fuels are destroying our planet, many people have been trying to determine a easy, safe alternative that can be as reliable as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels not only destroy our environment when burnt, but also can lead to pollution when extracting them. Specifically, offshore drilling for oil is a practice that has already shown can lead to catastrophic leaks into our oceans. What many people do not think about that can also be harvested offshore with no risk to our environment is wind power.

We have all heard about the wonders of creating renewable energy from wind. The idea of wind power is pretty amazing and it is a resource that will never run out. The one major draw back of wind power is that you can only generate power when you have wind. So this technology can only be utilized in places that are in fact very windy. This is the major set back of this technology that has kept it from being a major source of power for our country.

With many of the oil crisis’ that have occurred in our country, a push towards renewable energy has occurred from our government. Many market-based incentives, such as business and residential tax credits, created a market for non-utility-produced electric power through the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in 1978. There were also many acts passed that supported the further expansion and use of wind energy, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Like I said earlier, the use of offshore wind power could help reduce our use of oil and other fossil fuels. On the Atlantic Coast alone, offshore wind has the potential to produce almost 30 percent more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources combined. The only problem with the offshore wind power is that it can be intermittent and unpredictable. Scientists at MIT may have found a solution for this problem called Ocean Renewable Energy Storage system or ORES. This system is essentially an underwater pumped hydraulic system. The key point of this system is the placement of concrete spheres on the seafloor under the wind turbines. These spheres can act as both an anchor and a storage device for the energy generated. Whenever the turbines produce more power than is needed at the time, the power is diverted to a pump which pumps seawater from the sphere. When the power is needed later, water is then allowed to flow back into the sphere through a turbine attached to a generator, and the electricity generated can be sent back to shore. One thousand of these spheres could replace a conventional on-shore coal or nuclear power plant.

What are your views on wind power? Do you think that it would be advantageous to utilize wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean? Have you ever heard of ORES? What do you think the disadvantages of these ORES systems or wind power overall? If not for wind, do you think that the technology for the ORES system would be advantageous to use with other forms of renewables?

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Alternative Energy, Energy

Energy in the current?

Over the past few years, there has been a major push towards transitioning to a renewable energy source that can keep this country going. The main renewable ideas that have been highly publicized include solar, wind and minimally biofuels, but there are still multiple options that are still available.

One of these new innovative and renewable energy resources being investigated is within the currents of the ocean. We already know that the globe is covered with 70% of water, and there has already been research into using water for mills and other hydroelectricity technologies, but this is vastly different. This technique is Hydrokinetic Energy, and is just as it sounds; it harnesses the kinetic energy from the water. Deep in the ocean, as well as within other water sources, there is a natural flow, or current, moving the water. That current is constantly flowing, and although it is affected by many different variables, the currents are relatively consistent and flow in one direction. This new kind of energy source being studied could be very renewable and reliable, as we have water sources all around the globe that can reach almost everyone. It was estimated by the BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) that harnessing only 1/1000th of the energy available within the currents would supply 35% of Florida’s electrical needs.

Image

Major Ocean Surface Currents (Source: NOAA)

One of the first techniques that has been researched to harness this energy is using a turbine system; placing these turbines deep in the ocean and letting the current do the work. These turbines require 5 knots of energy, or 5 mph of current, to get the blades moving in order to start the energy creation. As with all renewable resources, there are controversies. One of the main problems that has risen with these turbines is possible biological build-up as well as the potential to change to the marine ecosystems by creating a disturbance within natural lifecycles within the ocean.

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Water turbines (Source Institute of Marine Affairs)

Ocean current has also been studied by the University of Michigan, but in a different way. They have created a “device that acts like a fish that turns the potentially destructive vibrations in water into clean, renewable energy.” What is so innovative about their design, named VIVACE (vortex induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy), is that it can create water in flowing water moving slower that two knots or two miles per hour, whereas the turbines already investigated need five to six knots. This is very ground breaking, as this device can be placed in oceans as well as rivers and other smaller water sources since it needs only a low speed of moving water.

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VIVACE device (Source: University of Michigan; photo by Omar Jamil)

Although this device does not actually look like a fish, the horizontal cylinders placed in the current will “cause alternating vortices” which will “push and pull the passive cylinder up and down on its springs, creating mechanical energy. Then, the machine converts the mechanical energy into electricity.” Michael Bernitsas, a professor at the University of Michigan, stated that “if we could harness 0.1 percent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people.”

Since 2004, ORPC (Ocean Renewable Power Company) has been involved in this newer source option by developing technology that uses “ocean and river currents to produce clean, predictable electricity to power our homes and businesses while protecting our environment.” The company includes local communities, universities, environmental agencies, fishing industry groups, and other major stakeholders in their work during each project. A major project this company has created was ORPC’s Maine Tidal Energy Project.  Starting in 2006, this project has brought in more than $21 million into the state’s economy and has created or helped retain more than 100 jobs in 13 Maine counties. This company has worked on projects in other places including Nova Scotia, Florida, and Alaska.

Have you heard about this potential source before? What do you think about Hydrokinetic energy versus hydroelectricity? Do you think this is something that could, after more research, become a potential energy source we will rely on?

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Alternative Energy, Energy

Green Crude

**SHAWNEEMCHENRY’S POST

The global oil supply has been a topic of heated debate in recent years. On one hand, there is the concern that oil reserves are being depleted and we will be without a heavily relied on resource in the near future. On the other hand, there is the notion that we must continue to seek additional oil reserves and to refine every last drop from current ones. According to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the global oil supply has increased since 2010. This statistics doesn’t amount to much, though, because “at today’s consumption rates, the world has proved reserves sufficient to meet current production for 54 years for oil.” (BP) The underlying issue of a dependency on a nonrenewable resource still remains. George W. Bush summed it up perfectly when he said, “America is addicted to oil.” The solution to this addiction isn’t to exhaust our efforts and bank accounts until we can deplete the last reserve, but rather to curb our dependency from a nonrenewable source to one that is more renewable and sustainable.

Sapphire Energy essentially mimics those natural processes that produced crude oil millions of years ago. This mimicry can occur in four different methods.At Sapphire Energy, numerous open algae ponds line the facility grounds. Algae absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide and through high temperatures and high pressures, oil is extracted. The chemical composition of algal oil is so similar to crude oil that it does not render existing infrastructure obsolete.

      Green Crude

Sapphire Energy is most recognized by the supportive role they played in Josh Tickell’s effort to educate the public about greener fuels. Josh Tickell is a proponent of alternative fuels, particularly in the transportation sector. He was first known for his nonprofit educational program, the Veggie Van Organization, as well as for his 2008 Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary, Fuel (2008).

Fuel

In his film, Tickell travelled across the globe in his van that ran off of fryer oil. He is more recently known for his modified Toyota Prius known as Algaeus. Algaeus is a hybrid that runs off of electricity and algal biofuel from Sapphire Energy. The vehicle made it from coast to coast on 25 gallons of algal biofuel, averaging about 52 mpg. Tickell’s modified Prius challenged the largest concern of alternative fuel based vehicles, short range anxiety.

algaeus

There have been numerous analyses performed on the efficiency and feasibility of algal biofuel production. According to a study published in Bioresource Technology journal, carbon dioxide emissions from algae fuel were capable of being 50-70% lower than emissions from oil. As is often the case with renewable or alternative energies, there is no practicality involved. The United States Department of Energy determined that only 30,000 square kilometers, or an area about half of the state of South Carolina, would be required to replace petroleum in the United States. This seems like a substantial amount of land; however, a study conducted at the Pacific Northwest National Lab concluded that algal production could be implemented in 14% of the United States, or an area the size of Texas and New Mexico.

There are current policies in place that already acknowledge algae. Two said policies are the Department of Energy’s Biomass Program in 2010 and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

Algal biofuels are a seemingly appropriate alternative to our current fuel resources, so it doesn’t make sense as to why they haven’t been widely accepted. A few concerns that still remain revolve around cost and need for further research. Should we also be concerned about relying on particular strands of algae? Is it possible that these strands could eventually evolve and render the costly operation invalid? More importantly, will algal biofuels ever take off? Will these groundbreaking technologies and breakthroughs disappear like the EV did? Is it fair that the government is funding and supplementing algae programs and farmers? Should algae production be included in any other federal policies, such as the Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act?

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Alternative Energy, Energy

Electricity- Can we do it without coal, when can we do it, and what do we do in the meantime?

I believe that carbon pollution is a problem, and I believe we are running out of time. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration for August 2013 was 395.15 ppm.  Atmospheric CO2 was 392.41 ppm in August 2012 and 390.19 ppm in August 2011.  These results are not surprising, it is common knowledge that atmospheric CO2 levels are and have been rising.  The big question that many have is, “Is that normal or are we causing that?” Those who do not believe in global warming can see by the global average temperature increases (here) that it is happening. What is not entirely understood is the cause and timeframe. Is it occurring over thousands of years or since the industrial revolution? Playing it safe, the likely answer is since the industrial revolution. If the data and research are accurate and atmospheric CO2 elevations are anthropogenic, then harsh realities for us and generations to follow may be approaching quickly.

There are many consequences and threats from elevated atmospheric CO2 levels that we hear about. Many of these threats have strong supporting evidence. Warming that causes ice cap melting results in sea level rise. This same warming results in ocean water density increase which contributes to more sea level rise. Sea level rise causes many problems, just to name a few: flooded cities, salt water intrusion to fresh water aquifers, and disruption of ocean currents which are crucial components to marine life, the climate, and fisheries that many countries depend on for food and income (not to say there aren’t a whole different set of environmental problems with the fishing industry). Increased atmospheric CO2 will also lead to a decrease in ocean pH (ocean acidification). This ocean acidification can result in destruction in coral reefs and ultimately extreme harm to the vast biodiversity found within coral reefs (not to mention the tourism aspect of the coral reefs which local economies depend on). Another issue with the ocean acidification is the disruption of the breakdown of ocean deposits that contain calcium ions necessary for ocean waters to absorb atmospheric CO2. In short, there are a lot of detrimental consequences to elevated atmospheric CO2.

With the aforementioned details on elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, this blog post will primarily discuss carbon dioxide emissions associated with the power generation industry. The image below is of Plant Bowen, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in North America with a capacity of over 3000 Megawatts (MW). It is a coal-fired power plant located near Cartersville, GA. According to the Energy Information Administration the U.S. burns approximately 50,000,000 tons of coal for electricity generation each year in these kinds of facilities.  Plants like Bowen consume 1-3 train loads of coal a day; these train loads are 1-2 miles long with 10-15 thousand tons of coal on each. I have included this image to point out a few details that are typically misunderstood by the general public. The shorter (approximately 400 feet tall) parabolic-shaped towers are the cooling towers; the vapor rising from these towers is water. Most of the vapor sent to the cooling towers is condensed; what is seen rising from the towers is the fraction that does not condense. The shorter two stacks (the wet stacks) that have vapor leaving the chimneys are the only stacks being used. The vapor leaving these stacks is mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor; it is what remains from flue gas after the environmental controls  such as electrostatic precipitators and scrubbers have done their part. The two taller stacks (the dry stacks- approximately 1000 feet tall) are no longer used. Not all coal-fired power plants are like this. Some do not have the shorter wet-stacks and do not scrub sulfur oxides out of flue gas. Plant Bowen has been doing this since 2007. With the addition of these environmental controls, Plant Bowen and other plants with this technology are able to remove over approximately 95% of sulfur oxides from flu gas. This is just one example of a drastic improvement associated with coal-fired power generation. It is not an example given to try to show that this is a ‘clean’ plant or an argument for the advocacy for coal. It is an example meant to show that improvements…substantial improvements…are possible.

Plant Bowen Pic

According to the Energy Information Administration, the electric power sector emitted 2,039 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012. This is about 39% of the total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions related to energy. Of this 39%, coal fired power plants generated 1,514 million metric tons, or 74% of the carbon dioxide.

Many of these figures only concern the United States. What about the entire world? There is much concern with the possibility of the United States implementing laws and regulations on carbon emissions. People worry, for good reason, that we could jeopardize our national security and the health of our economy while global carbon pollution continues.

Perhaps other less-regulated countries would follow suit to carbon pollution control. If the United States were to work towards carbon capture and sequestration and find a way to make it economically feasible, maybe other countries (with push from international governmental agencies) would also be inclined to move towards reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology could be a way to help coal-fired power generation be a viable option in a diverse power generation portfolio. Even if coal is on its way out, carbon capture and storage may be able to help slow the increase in atmospheric CO2 in the meantime. Perhaps research and developments in CCS technology in the electricity generation industry could lead to efforts in the manufacturing and transportation industry which are other significant carbon dioxide emitting industries.  Look here.

What are we supposed to do in the meantime before renewables, nuclear, and natural gas can completely take over? What if hydraulic fracturing proves to be unsafe and is banned? What if nuclear powered electricity generation is shut down because of public and governmental concern? What will happen if coal is removed from the puzzle before renewables have enough time to be developed into a solution that can generate all of the world’s electricity? According to the International Energy Agency and the Institute for Energy Research , in 2012 only 12% of electricity generated in the U.S. came from renewable resources. Data showing electricity generation quantities from different sources can be found in Table 945 here .  With population increase, cost of technology, available methods, and the sluggish decision making in the United States, how quickly can renewable energy cover that separation?

Final Thoughts and Questions
There is no doubt that coal is dirty. It’s dirtier than natural gas, but natural gas extraction methods are controversial. Depending on who you ask, coal-fired electricity generation is better or worse than nuclear power generation. Renewable energy sources on a large scale will likely require vast amounts of land area and rare materials. Those are negative aspects of renewables, but they certainly could prove to be much less negative than current generation methods.

What can we do to bridge the gap between electricity generation sources now and a time where electricity is generated primarily by renewable sources? Will/should that time include nuclear power generation? Do you think that carbon capture and sequestration should be aggressively pursued and implemented on a national and/or international scale?

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Energy

Nuclear Energy: A Dangerous Energy Solution for Our Future?

In the 2012 Presidential election, one issue about energy was surprisingly supported by both Republicans and Democrats alike: the use of nuclear energy. As a matter of fact, in Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Speech he stated that by 2035 he hoped for 80% of the energy generated in the U.S. to be from “clean” energy sources, among them being wind, solar, natural gas, “clean coal,” and nuclear energy. In 2005, under George W. Bush’s Energy Policy Act, an $18.5 billion loan program was started to help with the construction of new reactor plants, and Obama followed that up with another loan program in 2012 to build new nuclear reactors, two of which are set to be built in Augusta, Georgia at Plant Vogtle.  (An interesting side story is that Obama’s home state of Illinois has the most nuclear reactors of any state in the U.S., but whether that has any affect on his support of nuclear energy is another story/debate.) In the past, because of its seemingly dangerous reputation, nuclear energy has served the role as the “odd man out” in the environmental debate concerning possible solutions to our future’s growing energy needs. Nevertheless, just last year, nuclear energy supplied over 21% of America’s electricity. In addition, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, the United States produces the most nuclear energy of any country in the world, producing approximately 769 billion kWh in 2012. To put this discrepancy in perspective, the country with the second highest nuclear production was France with about 405 billion kWh. Note, however, that France is much more dependent on nuclear energy for production as nearly 80% of their energy is supplied via nuclear energy. As of 2012, 31 U.S. states were home to the 61 total nuclear reactor plants (2 plants in Georgia). A major environmental benefit of nuclear energy is that it has no harmful carbon emissions like coal. Furthermore, it is not as “location dependent” as wind and solar panels which require a significant amount of land along with a constant supply of either wind or sun. So why is nuclear power not used even more than it is now if there are no harmful air emissions and if location is not a problem?

Nuclear Sites in US

 Source: CNN

Nuclear energy is generated by nuclear fission, a process in which the nuclei of atoms (primarily uranium) are split by shooting neutrons at them and producing essentially a chain reaction of neutrons splitting. Nuclear reactors then harness the heat that is produced from these reactions into a usable form of energy. There are additional positives associated with nuclear energy other than the ones mentioned previously. Nuclear energy is actually said to cost less per kilowatt than either wind, solar, or coal according to a report by the Nuclear Energy Institute. As a matter of fact, when comparing nuclear energy’s life cycle assessment to other energy sources’, the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded, “Collectively, life-cycle assessment literature shows that nuclear power is similar to other renewables and much lower than fossil fuel in total life-cycle GHG emissions.” Land size is another positive as the average nuclear reactor facility takes up on average 300 acres as opposed to a typical wind farm that uses up around 165,000 acres while a solar photovoltaic park uses up about 54,000 acres, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Finally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration asserts that nuclear energy was the most efficient source of electricity for 2012, reaching an efficiency of 86%, followed by natural gas with an efficiency of 56%, coal with a 55% efficiency, wind power at a 31% efficiency, and finally solar power with a 27% efficiency.

Capture

Source: Ventyx Velocity Suite

The negative connotation with nuclear energy is undoubtedly safety in regards to potential explosions and radiation. According to a study by the World Nuclear Association, though, the Three Mile Island accident in the U.S. in 1979, the Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine in 1986, the Fukushima Accident of Japan of 2011 have been the only three reported widespread catastrophes  in “14,000 cumulative reactor-years of commercial operation in 32 countries.” Another major issue with nuclear energy revolves around how radioactive waste should be disposed of from the reactor plants since it is not biodegradable. This waste is hazardous to humans and the environment and requires adequate storage time in concrete steel-lined basins for it to be considered safe. The timeframe of storage depends upon if the waste is deemed high level or low level waste, and many studies have been completed to find better solutions to this issue. Another negative associated with nuclear energy is the continual need for uranium for the nuclear fission process. Currently, the U.S. imports around 80 to 90% of its uranium from other countries such as Russia and Canada as reported by the Energy Justice Network. Finally, the high initial cost of construction for these nuclear reactor plants (as evidence by all of the government funding that is needed for these reactors) puts a stranglehold on nuclear plants being constructed widespread across the U.S.

Source: World Nuclear Association

The major issue that continues to be debated upon even today with nuclear reactors is safety. Proponents of nuclear energy insist that nuclear reactors are still collectively safer than both coal and natural gas. Patrick Moore, who is both an ambassador of nuclear industry and an environmentalist, is persistent that nuclear energy is not dangerous, especially in comparison to other fuel types, stating, “In the United States, for example — 104 nuclear reactors operating now for 50 years — no member of the public has ever been harmed by them. You can’t say that about oil or gas or coal.” Still, the aftermath of nuclear plant disasters, especially one that just occurred two years ago in Japan, still remains with many environmentalist groups who are still dissatisfied with nuclear power plants. Jim Riccio, a nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace USA, is critical of nuclear energy saying, “We’ve always believed that it’s an inherently dangerous technology that should be phased out and replaced…there are many cheaper, easier and less dangerous ways to generate electricity that don’t threaten our families, homes and communities.” In a recent poll conducted by Bisconti Research in February of 2013, around 68% of Americans are in support of nuclear energy. Maybe Americans do not think nuclear power plants are all that dangerous after all.

Source: Herve Lenain/Corbis

A few questions I want to ask you: How much do you know about nuclear energy? Do you have any connections with a nuclear plant facility (do you live near one or do you have family that works at one, etc.)? Do you think that safety would be an aspect that would keep nuclear energy from growing even further, or do you think the risks of nuclear energy are overblown because of the media? How would you compare nuclear energy against coal, renewables, and natural gas? In other words, in your opinion, which of these sources is the most viable for the future  for America (and more specifically the state of Georgia)?

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Energy

The Policies (or Lack Thereof) of Hydraulic Fracturing

In recent years, hydraulic fracturing has been the source of much enthusiasm and heated debate because of the energy it ultimately provides and the environmental impacts that come along with it. The history of hydraulic fracturing can be traced back to the 1940s, but it did not become prominent until 2003 when large resource companies began exploring huge deposits (called plays) of a type of natural gas called shale gas.

Shale Play MapSource: Energy Information Administration

Natural gas is primarily composed of methane and burns cleaner than oil or coal.  Ultimately, it releases lower amounts of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Sounds good, right? Cleaner fuel, less greenhouse gases- it’s what we want. However, the process of removing shale gas, hydraulic fracturing, may be doing more harm than good- because of policy reasons.

Fracking SiteSource: ProPublica

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a relatively simple process (see figure below). In recent years, the most controversial part of this process is the chemical mixing. Many are concerned that this water mixture may contaminate groundwater sources when it is injected into the ground, and rightly so. In this report by the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Minority Staff, they state that “more than 2500” products were used in mixing, including “750 chemicals and other components”. However, recent studies (here, here, and here) have shown that it is not the chemicals that are contaminating groundwater but methane from gas leaks in the wells.

Fracking CycleSource: ProPublica

In 1947, The Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) was passed and the EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program was created. UIC regulates injection wells to prevent contamination of underground drinking water sources. If there are already regulations in place to prevent such contamination, why do we have so much contamination from fracking? It is because fracking was specifically exempt from the EPA’s authority and regulations in 2005 when the Energy Policy Act was passed (except when diesel fuels are used). Why? The EPA conducted a study in 2004 to analyze the risk of hydraulic fracturing for coalbed methane production on drinking water sources. They “reported that the risk was small, except where diesel was used” and stated that “regulation was not needed”.

Today, we are starting to see how wrong they were. The 112th Congress introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (FRAC Act) in 2011 for the second time. The FRAC Act would repeal the exemption of fracking from the EPAct and would amend the term “underground injection” to include the liquid mixtures used specifically in hydraulic fracturing. The 2011 Act went nowhere, but there is still hope for groundwater everywhere. The FRAC Act was reintroduced for a third time on June 11, 2013.

A few questions: How familiar are you with fracking? Have you ever seen a fracking site? Did you know about the groundwater contamination issues from fracking, or do you know someone who has dealt with them personally? Do you use natural gas in your home or some area of your life? Do you think the EPA’s study for coalbed methane was capable of judging the impacts of fracking natural gas? What do you think about the FRAC Act?

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