The variety of environmental issues that appear in the news covering the oil and gas industry is a reflection of how im- portant environmental concerns have become to the public. News articles range from climate change to power plant emissions through technologies to remediate oil and brine spills on soil and vegetation to new EPA regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
New EPA standards for Power Plant Emissions
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed national standards for levels of mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from electrical power plants. The proposal was made in March 2011, after several years of debate and the final ruling must be com- pleted by November 2011. EPA claims that the reduction in toxic metals could prevent up to 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks per year. Implementing the new rules could provide up to 31,000 short term construction jobs and 9,000 long term utility jobs. However, groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers are skeptical about the economic impact on manufacturers and major users of electrical power. Coal- fired power plants emit 99% of all mercury contamination, a major contributor to neuro- logical damage, particularly in children. EPA notes that more than half the coal-fired power plants already implement pollution control technologies that would meet the standards. The goal is to ensure that the remaining power plants conform to the standards.
Excerpted from “EPA Proposes New Emission Standards for Power Plants,” The American Oil & Gas Reporter, April 2011, p. 24, 26.
EPA Draft Study on Hydraulic Fracturing
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft of its study on hydraulic fracturing for public comment in February. Oil and gas operators and service companies will be impacted by any regulations coming from the study. EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) composed of a group of independent scientists were asked to review the hydraulic fracturing plan. In accord with Congressional requirements, EPA had announced in March 2010 the plan to review hydraulic fracturing practices in the U.S. EPA has held a series of public meetings and gathered extensive data on all aspects of hydraulic fracturing from water availability, chemical use, fracturing practices, and management of flowback and
produced water and final disposal options. The public will be allowed to submit ques- tions and comments to SAB during their review of the hydraulic fracturing plan. Results from the initial study and SAB recom- mendations will be made public in 2012, with additional research and a final report in 2014. A copy of EPA’s draft plan is available from http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct
. nsf/02ad90b136fc21ef85256eba00436459/ d3483ab445ae61418525775900603e79!Op enDocument&TableRow=2.1#2. For more information on hydraulic fracturing visit EPAs website www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing
Based on an EPA Press release, “EPA Submits Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan to Independent Scientists for Review / The draft plan is open to public comment,” February 8, 2011.
Climate Change Website
A petroleum geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, Hannes Leetaru, has started a website to track all information on climate change. The goal is to provide a database of information on all sides of the cli- mate change controversy. The project started in 2006 when Leetaru and his son Kalev, presented a poster at the Annual Conference on Carbon Capture and Sequestration. Their first finding based on a data-mining Google search was that news coverage of global warming and climate change peaked in sum- mer months when it was hot, and the news is increasing each year. Leetaru decided to expand his research into an interactive website with maps, timelines and ranking of individuals making the news both nationally and interna- tionally. The emphasis is to show what global discourse is available—not to advocate a specific viewpoint. Leetaru says that there needs to be transpar- ency in the data to show how forecasts and quantifications are made. One noticeable trend is the use of “climate change” instead of “global warming” in recent reports. Scientists tend to write technical reports for other scientists, so the goal of the website is better communication between scientists, the public and policymakers. Scientists have done a very poor job of communicating their work to the general public and the website hopes to make more sci-
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entific data available to a wide public through the website, www.carboncapturereport.org
Excerpted from “What Did They Say About Climate Change?” AAPG Explorer, May 2011, p. 28-29.
Remediation and Restoration Workshops
A series of one-day workshops of Remedia- tion and Restoration of hydrocarbon and brine contaminated soils is offered by Sublette Consulting and the University of Tulsa. The instructor Dr. Kerry Sublette has been con- ducting these practical workshops for several years. The workshop teaches hydrocarbon and brine assessment techniques and how to remediate soils contaminated by hydrocarbon and brine spills. Information is useful to oil companies, service companies, environment groups, state and federal employees, agricul- tural extension agents and particularly to land owners. Instructions on how to design plan and implement full-scale soil remediation projects and reestablish vegetation to restore sites will be provided. The most recent workshop was held in Cadillac, Michigan on June 21 and the next workshop will be available in Casper, Wyoming on July 13. Cost for the one day workshop is $325. For more information con- tact Sublette Consulting, Inc at 918-691-0639.
Excerpted from the Soil Remediation Work- shop circular, Sublette Consulting, Inc., email@example.com
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