Monthly Archives: October 2010

Natural gas drilling: Problems and solutions

Yesterday I was interviewed on an energy-related television show about natural gas drilling in the U.S. and some viewers thought I was too pro-drilling, others thought I was too anti-drilling. My reaction to that is: PERFECT! That was precisely my intention – to be a balanced voice in the discussion of hydraulic fracturing (HF). HF may be an important process to extract what may be a cleaner-burning fuel source for our country; but if it is developed, adverse impacts for gas drilling must be reduced to assure public safety and to protect the environment.

Currently, the environmental impact of natural gas development is unacceptably high. From polluted water wells in Pennsylvania to an exploding home in Ohio, there are numerous recent examples of environmental disasters from natural gas production.

I said in the interview that HF can be used safely “IF” it is regulated more closely and companies are more transparent about the fluids they use. Regulation may be done state by state, but if states aren’t up to the task, it will need to be regulated at the federal level. So industry needs to step up to the plate and improve its practices. While there are issues with HF, many of the problems with gas are more widespread. A framework is needed that focuses on well construction and operation that goes beyond even HF to broader well construction issues and cementing. Additional issues that must be addressed include getting the cement and pipes right in the wells, and proper management of pressure. Additionally, for hydraulically fractured wells it is important to be sure wells are situated beneath a satisfactory cap rock — one or more layers of rock that’s sufficient to prevent toxic chemicals from migrating into drinking water. Some areas are so important, such as drinking supplies for cities, that they need to be off-limits for fracking.

If natural gas is to fulfill its potential, we need much cleaner drilling practices. Results will be gauged by the improved health and safety of citizens and the earth in the short and long term. Stay tuned for more discussion on this vital topic.

Posted in Natural Gas, Texas / Read 3 Responses

Helping Minority-Serving Institutions Improve Energy Efficiency, Save Money

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is widely recognized for our innovative private sector partnerships with business in projects like EDF Climate Corps.  Now we’re helping the public sector reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency.  Join us for a video review of our new work with minority-serving institutions, or MSIs.  “Promoting Diversity in Environmental Leadership” will also introduce you to the success of EDF Climate Corps Public Sector.

EDF has been working with MSIs in North Carolina since 2009.  MBA students specially trained by EDF Climate Corps Public Sector showed two campuses how to save $14 million in energy costs in five years.  The program will expand to Texas and New York in 2011.  Plans call for the program to expand to other states in 2012.

MSIs include historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.

Posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Equity / Comments are closed