Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fracking and Elkader Iowa



A really interesting week. A One Two Three continues to stumble and caused a lab explosion and injury to a lab technician with a battery they sent to General Motors for testing. I will not dwell on this company that is a thermodynamic joke. Bright Source the other heavily funded DOE DOA company decided to pull their IPO as they simply could not get the share price they needed. That says to me investors have smartened up and won’t fork out bucks like they did on AONE, KIOR, AMRS and other want to be green companies. The Chinese continue to manufacture polysilicon and sell the starting material for many solar cells at cash production costs. I guess when your government funds you it is possible to even sell your products below cash production costs. Solar Millennium who gave up on thermal solar in favor of PV have now simply given up completely on the US projects they intended to develop and the US DOE intended to fund. I guess we will have to wait till the third millennium for them to reappear. So the Green Machine was spot on and the second law of thermo arrested these fake-outs who were going to make our lives carbon neutral. I guess we all go back to natural gas that is now very affordable and the companies that are involved in this industry have seen their share prices soar rather than tank. Such companies are WPRT, CLNE, LNG, and GTLS. I am not making any stock recommendation just simply pointing out these companies are on the right side of the second law of thermodynamics.

The President signed an executive order to set up a Whitehouse based oversight committee for the streamlined oversight of fracking reserves for production of hydrocarbons. Finally in this election year the administration wants a coordinated approach to the single industry that actually created jobs, brought down costs, helped displace coal and hence lower carbon emissions, and may provide the US with a product we can actually export. Below I have copied an article from the Washington Times that reported on this landmark event. The person chairing the oversight committee is Heather Zichal. No doubt a very intelligent fairly young woman who never studied thermodynamics but let’s give her a chance as she was born in Iowa and I was educated in thermodynamics at Iowa State. Heather now is your chance to shine unlike the PV and green energy companies the department of entropy funded. It is quite amazing that a 36 year old person who came from Elkader Iowa may actually play a larger role in real energy policy than the winners of the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Peace. I looked up Elkader and it is the county seat of Clayton County. Very interestingly back in 1846 when the town was founded it was named after an Algerian Leader of the time. Wiki lists the following: The city is named after Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri. When the community was platted in 1846, the founders, Timothy Davis, John Thompson, and Chester Sage decided to name it for the young Algerian who was leading his people in resisting the French colonial takeover of Algeria. Heather let’s hope you are not an Al Qadaffi when it comes to energy policy. Please God your town was not named after Al Qaeda but I have to say the pronunciation is bloody close. If I was mayor of Elkader Iowa I would think about a name change to Frackville Iowa.

By Ben Wolfgang

-

The Washington Times

Friday, April 13, 2012

In a move that immediately drew praise from across the energy industry, President Obama on Friday issued an executive order to better coordinate federal oversight of “fracking,” the popular but controversial natural gas extraction method.

The order establishes an “interagency working group” consisting of members from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, Energy Department, National Economic Council and other bodies. At least 10 federal departments or agencies are currently mulling new regulations of the gas industry, or have commissioned studies of its environmental impact.

The sheer number of potential rulemakers has caused many industry insiders to fear confusing or overlapping guidelines, which, some analysts say, could greatly hamper domestic oil and gas production. The new working group, Mr. Obama said, is designed to “ensure coordination among the appropriate federal entities.”

“By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels,” the order reads in part. “It is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural gas and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.”

Mr. Obama’s announcement comes just as the November presidential election kicks into high gear, with energy policy, and the administration’s perceived antagonism toward fossil fuels, shaping up to be a key issue in the race. It also comes as the fracking boom has produced stocks of natural gas so large that prices are now hitting record lows.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has lately made increased American energy production a focal point during campaign speeches, and has accused the administration of seeking to limit U.S. research and production. Many Republicans in Congress have painted the administration’s EPA as the determined enemy of natural gas, with some members accusing Mr. Obama of waging a war on the industry.

Friday’s olive branch, which could help to reduce tension between the administration and the oil and gas sector, was met with enthusiasm from industry leaders.

“We’re pleased the White House recognizes the need to coordinate the efforts of 10 federal agencies that are reviewing, studying or proposing new regulations on natural gas development and [fracking],” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute. “We have called on the White House to rein in these uncoordinated activities to avoid unncecessary and overlapping federal regulatory efforts and are pleased to see forward progress.”

Barry Russell, president and CEO of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in a statement that the order “has a very good intent,” and he hopes the revamped regulatory framework “provides the administration with a more comprehensive understanding of the federal government’s increasing regulatory grasp on the industry.”

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents drilling firms in Pennsylvania and other areas of the Marcellus, one of the richest known gas deposits in the world, is offering to work closely with the administration in the coming months.

“We remain eager to provide real-time, on-the-ground insight in an effort to ensure that common-sense regulations are in place, which is essential to leveraging the countless benefits of America’s natural gas resources,” said coalition President Kathryn Klaber.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the move lessens the potential impact of looming federal rules. Later this year, the EPA will release a long-awaited report on the environmental safety of fracking, the use of water, sand and chemicals to crack underground rock and release vast quantities of fuel. Many industry analysts expect the report to call for sharp new restraints on drilling.

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