Justin Mikulka's blog

How an Application for Propane Fracking Attempts to Circumvent New York’s Fracking Ban

Read time: 6 mins
Anti-fracking protesters in New York

Four years after New York announced the state was banning hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Tioga Energy Partners, LLC has filed an application with the state to frack for natural gas, but there's a catch. The company is proposing to swap propane into the industry standard mix that usually calls for water.

Environmental advocates consider this application to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and specifically a propane gel, an attempt to circumvent New York's 2015 ban on fracking for fossil fuels.

Bleak Financial Outlook for US Fracking Industry

Read time: 5 mins
Drilling rig at twilight

In early 2018 when major financial publications like the Wall Street Journal were predicting a bright and profitable future for the fracking industry, DeSmog began a series detailing the failing business model of fracking shale deposits for oil and gas in America.

Over a year later, the fracking industry is having to reckon with many of the issues DeSmog highlighted, in addition to one new issue — investors are finally giving up on the industry.

Fracking's Dirty Water Problem Is Getting Much Bigger

Read time: 8 mins
Fracking and agriculture compete for land and water near Denver City, Texas. 

While fracking for oil and gas in the U.S. has contributed to record levels of fossil fuel production, a critical part of that story also involves water. An ongoing battle for this precious resource has emerged in dry areas of the U.S. where much of the oil and gas production is occurring. In addition, once the oil and gas industry is finished with the water involved in pumping out fossil fuels, disposing of or treating that toxic wastewater, known as produced water, becomes yet another problem.

These water woes represent a daunting challenge for the U.S. fracking industry, which has been a financial disaster, something even a former shale gas CEO has admitted. And its financial prospects aren't looking any rosier: The industry is facing another round of bankruptcies as producers are overwhelmed by debt they are unable to repay.

Hard Times in the Climate Denial Business for the Heartland Institute

Read time: 7 mins
Heartland Institute's climate science denial conference

Last week, the Heartland Institute was again trumpeting climate science denial at its 13th “International Conference on Climate Change” at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. But by a number of measures, the Chicago-based free market think tank's science denial doesn't exactly seem to be a growing — or cohesive — movement at this point.

North Dakota, Montana Launch New Fight Over Moving Volatile Bakken Oil by Rail

Read time: 6 mins
Firefighters try to put out fires on oil train that leveled downtown Lac-Megantic, Quebec

The oil industry in North Dakota and Montana — home to the prolific Bakken Shale Formation — faces an “impossible choice.” That's according to a new petition to federal regulators from the attorneys general of North Dakota and Montana, in response to a Washington state law that aims to prevent trains hauling oil through the state from derailing and exploding.

That choice is to either remove the volatile components, such as butane, from Bakken crude oil before being loaded into rail tank cars, or send the volatile oil to other, harder-to-reach markets because — as the petition argues — removing the butane would cut into oil producers' profits, and almost 60 percent of the crude leaving North Dakota by rail goes to Washington refineries.

America’s Big Bet on Selling Fracked Gas to China and the World

Read time: 8 mins
LNG carrier ship

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is getting a lot of attention these days, with U.S. producers making major investments in the infrastructure to produce and export LNG to China and the rest of the world for the next several decades.

That's despite LNG looking like a big bet that may not ever pay off. 

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