fracking

2018 Was a Rough Election Year for Climate and Anti-fracking Measures

Read time: 6 mins
Solar panels and oil pumpjacks

Around the U.S., many states and municipalities were voting in the U.S. midterms on races with implications for limiting the environmental and public health impacts of fossil fuels, particularly drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). On cue, however, the oil and gas industry responded by spending massive amounts of money to defeat these initiatives and elect their preferred candidates, with plenty of success. 

In just three of those states, energy and fossil fuel companies reportedly spent almost $100 million fighting a price on carbon, a ban on new fracking and drilling near homes, and a more ambitious state renewable energy requirement.

Peak Shale: Is the US Fracking Industry Already in Decline?

Read time: 7 mins
Fracking well sites from the air, in Jonah, Wyoming

In 2016, lower oil prices led to an overall drop in production for shale companies, which use horizontal drilling and fracking to extract oil and gas from shale formations such as the Marcellus and Permian. This was one of the few relatively positive financial periods for an industry plagued by high costs and low returns (although it still lost money in 2016).

But the industry shouldn't get complacent, warned Robert Clarke of energy industry research and consulting group Wood Mackenzie. Cracks already are starting to emerge in the optimistic forecasts of how much these shale formations can produce, which is a bad sign for turning around the industry's struggling finances.

A Field Guide to the Petrochemical and Plastics Industry

Read time: 13 mins
Petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia

The shale gas industry has been trying to build demand for fossil fuels from its fracked oil and gas wells by promoting the construction of a new petrochemical corridor in America's Rust Belt and expanding the corridor on the Gulf Coast. To help demystify terms like “natural gas liquids” and “cracker plants,” DeSmog has begun building a guide to some of the equipment and terms used in the plastics and petrochemical industries.

This guide, which will expand over time, is intended to serve as an informal glossary of sorts and an introduction to what happens to fossil fuels that are transformed into chemicals, plastics, vinyl, Styrofoam and a variety of other materials.

Why Plans to Turn America’s Rust Belt into a New Plastics Belt Are Bad News for the Climate

Read time: 12 mins
Pipes from the former Bethlehem Steel Plant in Pennsylvania

The petrochemical industry anticipates spending a total of over $200 billion on factories, pipelines, and other infrastructure in the U.S. that will rely on shale gas, the American Chemistry Council announced in September. Construction is already underway at many sites.

This building spree would dramatically expand the Gulf Coast’s petrochemical corridor (known locally as “Cancer Alley”) — and establish a new plastics and petrochemical belt across states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

TigerSwan, County Sheriff Sued Over Road Blockade During Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

Read time: 6 mins
National Guard checkpoint

On October 18, two Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and a pastor for an Episcopal Church on the reservation filed a class action civil lawsuit against state, county, and private law enforcement in the latest chapter of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) saga. 

The plaintiffs allege that these groups were involved in a prolonged effort to blockade North Dakota State Highway 1806 to opponents of the controversial oil pipeline during the most heated protests from late October 2016 through early 2017.

Big Oil Cheers Trump's 'New NAFTA' But Mexico Could Complicate Things

Read time: 5 mins
NAFTA logo

While the oil and gas industry has lauded the new trade deal that may soon replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a provision added by Mexico, along with its new president's plan to ban fracking, could complicate the industry's rising ambitions there.

US Oil Exports Are Exceeding Almost All Predictions—Thanks to Fracking

Read time: 5 mins
Oil tanker in the Houston ship channel

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in September that crude oil exports are continuing to set records, mostly due to the fracking boom in the Permian Basin, in Texas and New Mexico. June exports hit a record 2.2 million barrels per day, while the monthly average was up almost 80 percent for the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

And crude oil exports are supposed to double by 2020, according to the San Antonio News-Express. That’s a lot of oil — and almost all of it is fracked.

Milwaukee Bucks Owner Building LNG Export Fast Track on Rails in Florida

Read time: 8 mins
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker

Although Wesley Edens is perhaps best known as the co-owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team, the Milwaukee Bucks, his company Fortress Investment Group is now taking up a decidedly different sport. Thanks in part to rule changes underway in the Trump administration, Fortress has quietly positioned itself to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped via rail — in refrigerated, high-pressure tank cars — through heavily populated areas in Florida. 

A major Democratic donor, Edens founded New Fortress Energy, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group. Multiple news reports and documents reviewed by DeSmog confirm that New Fortress Energy formerly owned a rail line and currently owns a planned LNG export terminal which together would send so-called “small-scale” LNG tankers to the Caribbean.

In July Trump's Department of Energy (DOE) crafted a regulation which says all shipments of small-scale LNG export tankers from the U.S. automatically fall within the legal definition of the “public interest” under the Natural Gas Act, expediting their permitting. Similarly, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced just two months earlier in May that it is reviewing a January 17, 2017 petition for rulemaking submitted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) — just three days before President Donald Trump took office — which would allow shipping LNG by rail across the country.

Don't Frack so Close to me: Colorado Voters Will Weigh in on Drilling Distances From Homes and Schools

Read time: 6 mins
Flare at a fracking site near a house in Colorado
By Tara Opsal and Stephanie Malin, Colorado State University

Coloradans will vote on a ballot initiative in November that requires new oil and gas projects to be set back at least 2,500 feet from occupied buildings. If approved, the measure — known as both Initiative 97 and Proposition 112 — would mark a major change from their state’s current limits: 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.

As sociologists who have researched oil and gas drilling in the communities that host it for the past seven years, we think this measure would provide local governments and Coloradans more say over where drilling occurs and enhance the rights of those who live near these sites.

The Fracking Industry’s Water Nightmare

Read time: 7 mins
Sign reading "hot water"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has clearly documented the multiple risks — despite repeated dismissals from the oil and gas industry — that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) poses to drinking water supplies. However, the tables may be turning: Water itself now poses a risk to the already failing financial model of the American fracking industry, and that is something the industry won’t be able to ignore.

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