shale gas

China Is Financing a Petrochemical Hub in Appalachia. Meet its Powerful Backers.

U.S. President Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and West Virginia Commerce Sec. Thrasher join in the Great Hall in Beijing for MOU signing for the Appalachian Development Hub  in November 2017

Over the past year, oil and gas industry plans to build a petrochemical refining and storage hub along the Ohio River have steadily gained traction. Proponents hope this potential hub, which would straddle Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, could someday rival the industrial corridor found along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana.

Those plans center around creating what is known as the Appalachian Storage Hub, which received a major boost on November 9 during a trade mission to China attended by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. At that trade mission, also attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the China Energy Investment Corp. announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to invest $83.7 billion into the planned storage hub over 20 years. For comparison, West Virginia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 was $72.9 billion.

Though called the Appalachian Storage Hub as a broad-sweeping term, in practice the hub could encompass natural gas liquids storage, a market trading index center, a key pipeline feeding epicenter, and a petrochemical refinery row. Its prospective development has been spurred by the current construction of a $6 billion petrochemical refining facility in Pennsylvania owned by Shell Oil.

This Vigilante Scientist Trekked Over 10,000 Kilometres to Reveal B.C.’s Leaking Gas Wells

John Werring in the field

If you’d met John Werring four years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you what an abandoned gas well looked like.

We had no idea whether they were even accessible,” said the registered professional biologist.

That was before the summer of 2014, when he headed up to Fort St. John, B.C., on a reconnaissance mission. At that time, much was known about leaking gas wells in the United States, but there was very little data on Canada.

All Werring had to work with was a map of abandoned wells provided by B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission. Armed with a gas monitor and a metal detector, he headed into what the gas industry calls the “Montney formation,” one of the largest shale gas resources in the world. Shale gas is primarily accessed via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Most of these places, there’s nobody in the field,” Werring said. “You won’t see anybody for miles and miles. Just well after well after well.”

Obama Alums Are Pushing Fracked Gas Exports. That’s Exactly What Trump Wants.

Obama speaking in front of pipeline parts in Cushing, Oklahoma

During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump exclaimed that the “war on American Energy” had ended and that “we are now an exporter of energy to the world.”

What Trump did not say, though, is that several former senior energy officials from the Obama administration — the one Trump said had declared a “war on American Energy” — now either lobby or work as executives for companies making his “energy dominance” agenda possible. At least five of these Obama officials now work for natural gas export companies, four of them for Cheniere and another for Tellurian.

New NASA Study Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil and Gas

Global map of percent changes in acres burning

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

But new peer-reviewed research adds to the growing evidence that the shift from coal to gas isn't necessarily good news for the climate.

A team led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the largest share of the world's rising methane emissions, which are a major factor in climate change — and in the process the researchers resolved one of the mysteries that has plagued climate scientists over the past several years.

Study: Babies With Low Birth Weights More Likely Near Pennsylvania Fracking Sites

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has concluded that babies born within two miles of sites of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin are more likely to have low birth weights.

Researchers from Princeton, the University of Chicago, and UCLA analyzed a decade of Pennsylvania birth data from 2004 to 2013 — reviewing 1.1 million birth certificates — and concluded that those babies born to mothers living in close proximity to fracking sites are more likely to weigh under 5.5 pounds at birth. Specifically, the study concluded that babies born within a kilometer (just over half a mile) of fracking sites are 25 percent more at risk of low birth weights, which comes with other health effects.

While we know pollution from hydraulic fracturing impacts our health, we do not yet know where that pollution is coming from — from the air or water, from chemicals onsite, or an increase in traffic,” said UCLA researcher Katherine Meckel in a press release

These Unsigned Comments Supporting a Gas Exports Rule Are Recycled Industry Copy-Pastes

Copy machine

A review of the comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to fast-track the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) shows that roughly two dozen of of the 89 comments were directly copy-pasted from either industry itself or else pro-industry materials written by the DOE or Congress.

Furthermore, all of those copy-pasted comments are anonymous, a hint that the oil and gas industry may be behind an astroturf-style comment-submitting campaign for this rule. Only one letter favoring the proposed rule, written by the American Petroleum Institute and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, has the industry's name on it. Three other comments supporting the rule have actual names of individuals, a law school student, a college student, and an individual who DeSmog confirmed wrote the comment out of personal interest and for a public policy course at his university. 

Sean Spicer's Next Act? Fracking Industry's Chosen Keynote Speaker

Sean Spicer at Shale Insight 2017

Sean Spicer might be among the least trusted public figures in the U.S.

After he lost his job as White House press secretary, all five major TV news networks — including both Fox News and CNN, as well as CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News — declined to hire Spicer as a paid contributor, with network insiders reportedly telling NBC News, Spicer had a “lack of credibility.”

His attempt to rehabilitate his reputation with a September 17 Emmys appearance earned him a massive backlash.

Less than two weeks later, Spicer made another, somewhat less-reported public appearance — as the keynote for the Marcellus Shale Coalition's 2017 Shale Insight conference.

Rover Pipeline Owner Disputing Millions Owed After Razing Historic Ohio Home

Rover pipeline about to be laid underground next to a home in Ohio

After taking heat last fall for destroying sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the owner of the Dakota Access pipeline finds itself embattled anew over the preservation of historic sites, this time in Ohio.

Documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that Energy Transfer Partners is in the midst of a dispute with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office over a $1.5 million annual payment owed to the state agency as part of a five-year agreement signed in February.

Energy Transfer Partners was set to pay the preservation office in exchange for bulldozing the Stoneman House, a historic home built in 1843 in Dennison, Ohio, whose razing occurred duing construction of the Rover pipeline. Rover is set to carry natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale — up to 14 percent of it — through the state of Ohio. The pipeline owner initially bulldozed the historic home, located near a compressor station, without notifying FERC, as the law requires.

Ex-NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg: 'Clean Coal' Is BS, but Feds Should 'Stay Out of the Way' on Climate

Center, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg

At a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) summit in New York City this week, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was blunt about the prospects for so-called “clean coal.”

“Carbon capture is total bullshit,” he told the crowd of several hundred top energy industry executives and financiers. “This is a figment of imagination.”

New Lawsuit Filed in Next Chapter of Dimock, Pennsylvania, Fracking Water Pollution Saga

Ray Kemble

On April 12, Dimock, Pennsylvania resident Ray Kemble filed a nuisance and negligence lawsuit against Marcellus Shale drilling company Cabot Oil and Gas for alleged contamination of his groundwater and air. Kemble lives around the corner from the embattled Carter Road, where his neighbors have been struggling for years with a similar water pollution suit against Cabot.

Filed in U.S. District Court, Kemble's case is somewhat of a companion to the civil lawsuit brought by the Ely and Hubert families living on Carter Road. Their case began in 2009 and in March 2016, a jury awarded them a $4.24 million unanimous verdict for damages. However, the judge in their case recently overturned the verdict amid an ongoing dispute over the legality of evidence the families' attorney referenced during the trial.

Kemble, who has lived in his home since 1992, said in his complaint that he noticed “a change in his drinking water, including but not limited to discoloration and sediment build up” soon after Cabot began drilling near his property in 2008.

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