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James Stafford

James Stafford

James Stafford is the Editor of Oilprice.com

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This Week in Energy: The Fracking Media Circus

A new study from Stanford University scientists finds no direct evidence of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in Wyoming, but points out concerns that some fracking is being undertaken at very shallow depths, and sometimes through underground sources of drinking water.

As generally happens with independent studies—or any ‘significant’ body of literature from the beginning of time—those with black and white polarization tendencies, espoused through the media, can skew the study to one or the other side of the fracking debate, which has taken on circus-like proportions, much like the climate change debate.

Most recently, Colorado state senator Randy Baumgardner, a Republican, told media that based on his knowledge obtained from “a lot of fracking seminars”, methane gas—a potent, highly flammable greenhouse gas released during fracking operations—did not pose a risk to water supplies, as proven by its ancient use by Native American Indians.

“They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other,” Baumgardner was quoted as saying, “but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the burning waters. And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime. So a lot of people, if they just trace back the history, they’ll know how a lot of this is propaganda.”

At the same time, environmental watchdogs are hitting back with reports that energy companies are illicitly using thousands of gallons of diesel in fracking processes, skipping the federally required permit process.

According to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, from 2010 to 2014, oil and gas companies used diesel for fracking 351 wells in 12 states without the proper permits.

Far from the fracking debacle, another drama is intensifying over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed new carbon emissions rules, which has polarized states into those who have too much coal—and thus will have to make uncomfortably expensive emissions cuts—and those who don’t rely on coal and will find the new rules much less painful.

Around a dozen states of the former category are suing the EPA in an attempt to head off the new legislation that will place tough limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The lawsuit was filed late last week in the D.C. Circuit Court, with the following ‘coal states’ signing on: West Virginia, Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and Indiana.

In the meantime, we are looking at the rise of a new oil producing state, or caliphate, across parts of Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State (IS), which has swooped in—armed by age-old foreign policy wisdom of “my enemies enemy is my friend’—to take control over seven oil fields that produce around $8 million in oil per day. It’s not OPEC by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an eerily looming threat. It also sets a clear new trend that jihadists will certainly latch onto more in the future: control the oil, and you might just make yourself some new friends.

By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com


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