The National Journal posting “The U.S. Has Much, Much More Gas and Oil Than We Thought” relates that the Interior Department says that the Bakken and Three Forks formations in North and South Dakota and Montana have twice as much oil and three times as much gas as previously estimated in 2008. The USGS now believes that these two formations hold 7.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This is good news and surely there will be more upward valuations of US oil and natural gas reserves in other formations.
The Interior Department Secretary, Sally Jewell also notes that sometime in the next two weeks draft rules requiring stricter regulations on hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations will be released. These regulations are applicable to oil and gas fracking on Federal lands. But Interior hopes that the States will adopt these stricter rules and suggest that new legislation could create Federal Standards for fracking. Ugh. Currently the Feds are unable to regulate State and Private lands. They want to control domestic energy and the fossil fuel growth area is not on Federal Lands.
They will tell us that the environment is going to hell in a handbasket and they must save us. Methane appears to be the horse they plan to ride. But facts suggests that methane may not be a good choice. Look at the following:
Fugitive methane, or methane that escapes into the atmosphere while drilling for natural gas and oil, has been a main point of contention for environmentalists. Because methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, some environmentalists criticize natural gas drilling. But new estimates from the EPA show that not only are methane levels lower than they previously thought, but they are dropping by millions of metric tons each year.
Fuel Fix breaks down the numbers:
“[The EPA] now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.”
And read this one:
WPX Energy was sued by Mr and Mrs Manning alleging that fracking had contaminated the ground water in a region of Susquenanna County Pennsylvania. The Mannings had leased land to WPX Energy for drilling but said that high levels of methane leaked into the groundwater. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced the completion of a 16 month study which shows that drilling had no affect on water quality in the region. They said that methane in the Manning’s drinking water is naturally occurring and probably came from nearby Salt Springs State Park which seems to have the similar water chemistry.
So the Fed EPA says that fugitive methane emissions are dropping by millions of metric tons each years at the same time that fracking of shale has been growing at an accelerated rate. This would not suggest that fracking is causing a problem. And State of Pennsylvania EPA has once again found that fracking is not contaminating groundwater.
But keep tuned, the Administration will be working to see that these facts are ignored.