Monday, June 18th, 2012
Coal bed methane is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an important source of energy in United States, Canada, and other countries. The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called sweet gas because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known from its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk for miners. Water from coal-bed natural gas production may contain sodium bicarbonate at concentrations that can harm aquatic life, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and US EPA. An increase in the production of coal-bed natural gas has occurred throughout the nation. The results of this aquatic study may help resource managers achieve a balance between beneficial use of water resources (such as irrigation) and the protection of aquatic life throughout the nation and abroad. The study area included the Tongue and Powder Rivers in Montana and Wyoming, where several types of experiments and assessments were used for 13 aquatic species.
Coal bed methane is currently expanding in the Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana. Seven percent of the natural gas (methane) currently produced in the United States comes from such extraction. Methane from coal bed reservoirs can be recovered economically, but disposal of water is a potential environmental concern.
Sodium bicarbonate, which is also celled baking soda, is a commonly used chemical that people and animals are often exposed to in food and household products. So it is not considered highly toxic. However, it is a simple salt and enough salt to make fresh water salty water which can be harmful to freshwater fish.
The water extracted along with coal-bed natural gas is called produced water. Produced water is a by-product of the coal-bed natural gas extraction. Companies may dispose of produced water in several ways— discharging it directly into watersheds; treating and then discharging it; injecting it into deep wells; discharging it to drip irrigation systems; or capturing it in evaporation ponds. Produced water is not the same as water injected during hydraulic fracturing.
The aquatic species tested had difficulty surviving in waters in which sodium bicarbonate was found at levels from about 1,120 to greater than 8,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium bicarbonate per liter. Results varied across species and depended upon the age of the organism. Chronic toxicity was observed at concentrations that ranged from 450 to 800mg of sodium bicarbonate per liter. The specific concentration depended on the sensitivity of the four species of invertebrates and fish exposed. The Tongue River, for example, has a natural baseline of approximately 280mg of sodium bicarbonate per liter.
Deionization treatment practices employed in the Tongue and Powder River watersheds appear to reduce the concentrations of sodium bicarbonate and reduce the toxicity of untreated effluent water. Areas with concentrations likely to cause significant mortality in the Tongue and Powder River Basins appear to be limited to tributaries and parts of mixing zones with considerable additions of untreated discharge.
Conventional and unconventional (including hydraulic fracturing) oil and gas extraction practices often result in large volumes of produced water that contain elevated salts and dissolved solids from naturally occurring sources. The addition of sulfates and bicarbonates to surface waters may also result from the disturbances associated with mountain top removal mining. The current data can also be used to separate effects of saline discharges from those potentially posed by other constituents.
Article appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.
Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
A surge in investment in renewable energy in India, coupled with strong green energy growth in the U.S. and China, led to a 17 percent global surge in alternative energy investments last year, according to reports by the United Nations Environment Program and another organization. (more…)
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Economics, politics, grid constraints, and a fair amount of luck have set in motion an awkward relationship between the natural gas and cleantech industries that could be characterized as “frenemies with benefits.” My colleagues Kerry-Ann Adamson and Mackinnon Lawrence have already shared their views on this complex dynamic, and their outlooks (more…)
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
A surge in natural gas supplies worldwide could halt any meaningful growth in the renewable energy sector over the next two decades if governments don’t take action, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns.
New technologies to extract natural gas, primarily (more…)
Friday, May 25th, 2012
Global carbon dioxide emissions reached record levels in 2011, driven largely by a 9.3-percent increase in Chinese emissions, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). According to preliminary estimates, worldwide carbon emissions climbed to 31.6 gigatonnes in 2011, a 3.2-percent increase from 2010. (more…)
Friday, May 18th, 2012
Talk to any financial adviser, and they’ll tell you diversity within your portfolio is important for long-term growth and sustainability. Diversity helps you adapt to changing markets and weather short-term storms to achieve your goals.
The same can be said about energy. Diversity is a (more…)
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
A new study conducted by the University of Buffalo has found that state regulation helped reduce environmental problems associated with unconventional forms of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania since 2008.
In an analysis of 2,988 violations at nearly 4,000 Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing drill sites, university (more…)
Friday, May 11th, 2012
The United Arab Emirates, much like some of the other countries throughout the Middle East, is doing what it can to ensure it becomes much more energy efficient and starts using more renewable sources of energy. Dubai, much like its neighbor Abu Dhabi, is doing what it can to ensure the entire state becomes much more clean technology friendly. This includes (more…)
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved this week a major natural gas project in Utah’s Uinta Basin that could develop more than 3,600 new wells over the next decade. The project will support up to 4,300 jobs during development.
By signing the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Greater Natural Buttes Project, proposed by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Secretary Salazar approved up to 3,675 new gas wells in an existing gas producing area in Uintah County, Utah. The decision follows a landmark comprehensive public consultation and conservation stakeholder involvement effort that resulted in a balanced approach to energy production and environmental protection that will boost America’s energy economy.
The project encompasses approximately 163,000 acres — but will bring new surface disturbance to just five percent of that area (approximately 8,100 acres) as a result of the 1,484 well pads approved in the ROD, which would be drilled over a period of 10 years.
The ROD was signed at a ceremony at the Kern River Compressor Station in Salt Lake City. Secretary Salazar and Director Abbey were joined by BLM Utah Director Juan Palma and representatives of Anadarko, the Wilderness Society and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
The BLM prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) or the project in coordination with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Uintah County, which participated as formal cooperating agencies during the EIS process. The BLM also closely coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure their concerns were addressed.
As a result of a collaborative process among federal, state, local and tribal governments, Anadarko and the Utah conservation community, the project will implement best management practices in the project area to safeguard air quality and protect crucial big game winter range, sage-grouse and sage-grouse habitat, sensitive soils, visual effects and recreational use.
Article by Roger Greenway, appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.
Monday, May 7th, 2012
Ever since the introduction of the Tesla Roadster in 2008, compressed natural gas (CNG) has taken a back seat as an alternative fuel in the U.S. retail automotive market. Despite heavily financed advocacy campaigns, the technology has suffered from a lack of model availability, infrastructure, and public interest. Recent announcements from both (more…)