By on July 2, 2011

For a long time, taxis, trucks, delivery vans have been on the bottle. On a bottle of CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas.  Now, “major automakers like General Motors and Chrysler are gearing up to invest in companies that make engines and parts for vehicles that run on the fuel,” says Reuters.

Actually, it doesn’t take much to make an ICE run on CNG. The biggest challenges are where to place the tank and how to get the EPA certification. A retrofitted tank takes up valuable trunk space while that gasoline tank stays empty (or filled, for bi-fuel systems popular in Europe.) Factory-built vehicles get around these challenges. CNG produces significantly less pollutants. CNG costs about half of the equivalent amount of gasoline. And most of all, says Reuters:

“The United States has more natural gas than it knows what to do with – up to 100 years of supply, experts say.”

Actually, experts said that in 2009 U.S. reserves of natural gas were estimated as 2,074 trillion cubic feet (59 trillion cubic meters). That may have been a wrong number. The CIA has a lower figure of 244 trillion cubic feet (6.9 trillion cubic meters.) Why the difference of opinion? A drilling technique called “fracking” can release huge reserves of natural gas trapped in shale rock, but that process is not without its fracking enemies.

CNG could give ye olde ICE a few years more. No wonder that GM and Chrysler are warming up to the idea. The question is: What took them so long? It’s no bleeding edge technology. The all knowing Wikipedia says that by 2009, there were 11.2 million CNG powered vehicles on the roads of this planet. They are popular in Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil and the Iran. CNG tanks are a common sight in taxis in Tokyo, Hong Kong, the limo that took me from Detroit airport to Bricktown was on the bottle.

In the U.S., there is a small cottage industry of CNG conversions. The Honda Civic GX, an ex factory CNG car that will be available to the public next year, claims a range of  225 to 250 miles on a full tank of gas. Then there are the Chinese.

It is more than likely that you could fill a CNG car at home. The U.S. sits on a massive infrastructure of natural gas pipes, fueling stoves and heaters across the nation. A home refueling appliance can compress gas into the cylinder. It costs about $3,500 uninstalled and uses 800 watts of power when running.  Without gas at home, you need a CNG filling station. They are surprisingly plenty, crossing the continent on CNG would still be a challenge.

Let’s ask the CIA what they think about CNG. The natural gas reserves of the U.S. are the sixth largest in the world, ranking between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  Good.  China has less than half of the U.S. reserves. No wonder they like EVs. Tiny Qatar has roughly four times the reserves of the U.S. and eight times the reserves of China. Expect that peninsula to be liberated by pro-democracy forces before China buys it.

The kings of gas are Russia and Iran. Ooops.

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40 Comments on “Will Your Next Car Run On Fracking Gas?...”


  • avatar
    50merc

    Sad to see TTAC lending space to the environuts’ hysteria over hydraulic fracturing. Fracking (or fra(c)cing as the experts spell it) has been used for many decades. Even the zealot EPA administrator had to admit there isn’t one documented instance of proper fracking ruining water sources.

    Here in Oklahoma, where we are better acquainted with drilling for oil and gas, we know the risks of mineral production are manageable.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      “Environut” sets the tone from what to expect from your post. Any invasive procedure like fracking has potential problems. The question is do the side effects render the end product worthwhile or not? If the process takes place in a remote, benign area, it may well be worthwhile (to the public in general, not just the few who profit from it). However, for example, we are talking about the potential contamination of NYC’s upstate water supply, the clear answer is no, it is not worth it. The economic loss alone (if that is all you care about) from rendering NYC’s water supply useless would be staggering. What would Wall St drink? Here’s a list of the chemicals used: http://www.earthworksaction.org/fracfluidslarge.cfm.

      The fact that is comes from an “environut” website is meaningless; The source of the list is from the EPA. Don’t know about you, but this is not the stuff that made Poland Spring famous.

      • 0 avatar
        vww12

        We see here that the environut ignored the correct statement:

        «Even the zealot EPA administrator had to admit there isn’t one documented instance of proper fracking ruining water sources.»

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Actually, other than the snark at Wall Street, my post is pretty well balanced; hardly the stuff of a Greenpeace activist. However, to your statement about no instance of contaminating water supplies: Has any fracking project been done in such close proximity to an irreplaceable source of drinking water where the geology is similar (a key component of this problem)….the answer is no. In my example case the potential for human/economic/environmental loss is far too high to take the risk at this time. There just isn’t enough data to support the no-risk stance. Not when you consider the damage. We’re not talking about Piping Plovers, we are talking about the sole source of drinking water for 8.4 million people. NY’s securities industry alone netted $61 billion (2010 from the NYT) in profit. Sorry, there is too much on the line. Maybe this will all be proven wrong but until then the risk far outweighs the gain. And no, I don’t live in NYC.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        The problem is that the guy who did the documentary on fracking got there first. He, from what I have read, threw everything against the wall against fracking in hopes that some things would stick. I saw an article that supposedly debunked most if not all of his claims. I didn’t have time to read it then and haven’t got back to it since. But for the most part I’m willing to put more trust in people who do it for a living than in an already predisposed to be against it film maker. His so-called experts were for the most part Luddites who are reflexively against anything that may provide cheap, clean energy for the masses.

      • 0 avatar
        Ian Anderson

        “Even the zealot EPA administrator had to admit there isn’t one documented instance of proper fracking ruining water sources.”

        I guess people in upstate Pennsylvania turning on their kitchen faucets for a drink and having flammable gas come out doesn’t count?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      “Even the zealot EPA administrator had to admit there isn’t one documented instance of proper fracking ruining water sources.”

      I see a couple of weasel words here. The lack of a documented instance doesn’t mean that there aren’t instances as yet undocumented, and the limitation to ‘proper fracking’ leaves open the question of improper fracking. With proper oversight I have no problem with fracking. I’m just worried about rapid expansion of the practice with the current mood of hostility to regulation of business.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Where is the mood of hostility to regulation of business? The executive branch is run by, to use a leading phrase, a bunch of anti-business zeolots who try to regulate everyone who doesn’t pay them off. There is no hostility to regulation of business when the Democrats own the executive branch, half the Congress and are very well represented in the courts. You need to provide some examples.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Seriously? You’re going to try to make the case that there is NO hostility to regulation? Congress seeks to defund the EPA and limit its’ powers, the SC voids the class action sex discrimination suit against Walmart and voids the VT law banning sale of prescription records while the US Chamber of Commerce all but declares war on Obama (not all power rests with govt). Now please provide specific examples of the exec branch anti-business zealots who try to regulate everyone who don’t pay them off.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Example one banning incandescent light bulbs to benefit GE, example two, bailing out the UAW and tangentially GM and Chrysler. Those are easy examples that come to mind without any thought.

        Now you tell me how the EPA’s threat to impose carbon restrictions unilaterally without Congressional approval. How about the threat to bankrupt the coal industry? I can go on forever but you won’t listen. Facts mean nothing to you, you’re mired in the progressive mindset and can’t give up one of your preconceptions without the whole thing coming down around your ears.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Let me add the worst example of all: the NLRB vs. Boeing. What is that? Is it a company gone wild being restrained by wise government regulation? Come on, you shouldn’t even be arguing that point with me.

      • 0 avatar

        I see a couple of weasel words here. The lack of a documented instance doesn’t mean that there aren’t instances as yet undocumented, and the limitation to ‘proper fracking’ leaves open the question of improper fracking. With proper oversight I have no problem with fracking. I’m just worried about rapid expansion of the practice with the current mood of hostility to regulation of business.

        Fracking is already in widespread use. Over 100,000 wells have already been drilled. This is only an issue because of the development of the Marcellus shale formation in the US east. Those who are opposed to the development of US energy resources sees this as an opportunity to get some traction. It’s one thing for the Bakken formation out in the Dakotas to be developed. The Marcellus formation is under a much more highly populated region. Natural gas is much cleaner burning than petro distillates. Environmentalists should applaud its use. Instead it appears that environmentalists really don’t want abundant clean energy. Believe me, in time the environmentalists will oppose wind and solar power just as they oppose hydro and fossil fuels.

        The term “proper fracking” could more accurately be described as “proper well casing construction” because the problems of contaminating drinking water can happen with any kind of extractive drilling. The problem isn’t fracking, the problem is when well casings fail. The actual fracking is done at much lower levels than the water aquifers, so the problem isn’t when they frack, it’s when the gas and other extractives are pumped up through the well. This can happen with conventional natural gas and petroleum wells also.

        As for flammable water, there are already many cases of naturally occurring methane contamination of water wells.

        AS for the “current mood of hostility to regulation of business”, perhaps you haven’t noticed but we have a left of center Democratic president in the White House, whose administration seems intent on using every regulatory power it has to stymy business (except for that of cronies).

        The Democrats are in power by you are worried about the current mood of hostility to business regulation. Would you rather that we were all good sheep marching to the beat of The One, Kvitzach HaDerech, Barack Obama? The Democrats control the White House and the Senate but its the Republicans fault that nothing can get done. Okee dokee.

        A while back I wrote a piece for Pajamas Media called Who Killed the Hybrid Electric Car? about Victor Wouk, the father of the modern hybrid car and how an EPA administrator killed his project. This was in the early 1970s when the EPA was young. The administrator in question has been quoted as saying (paraphrasing here), “we were regulators and this was our first chance to regulate, so regulate we did”. The current administration and the people working for it in the executive agencies have that exact mindset. The are ideologically predisposed to think business and capitalism are evil and that they themselves are on the side of angels.

        So, to use but one example, Shell Oil, which already has the permitting in place to drill in the Arctic, can’t drill because the EPA has decided that the icebreaker which Shell will be using to clear the shipping lanes that will be used by ships tendering the Shell platform (shipping lanes already in widescale use by commercial shipping) has not filed the proper environmental impact statement. Never mind that there are already scores of ships plying those same shipping lanes.

        The administration is using all sorts of picayune regulations like that to impede business development. It’s certainly trying to suppress development of fossil energy sources. Development of those energy resources would create many, many jobs and just maybe cut the price of fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Actually Ronnie, environmentalists have already come out against solar and wind. Solar in California because it spoils the desert and wind because the blades kill birds. No matter the source of the energy, they’re going ot be against it. They want a perfect world that they can afford to enjoy while everyone else has to go native for their entertainment.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …Actually Ronnie, environmentalists have already come out against solar and wind. Solar in California because it spoils the desert and wind because the blades kill birds. No matter the source of the energy, they’re going ot be against it. They want a perfect world that they can afford to enjoy while everyone else has to go native for their entertainment…

        Afford to enjoy? Let us compare what a climatologist for Environmental Defense makes and compare it to a climatologist for any corporation or oil company makes. Sheesh. That’s like comparing a Corolla to a Veyron. Mainstream environmentalists recognize the need for energy just like anybody else. They just want responsible energy production that has concern for the land that provides it. That is too boring for the media, who always gravitate to idiots that chain themselves to the Valdez or do other stupid stunts. While they may have their hearts in the right place, it turns off most people even if they share the same ideals.

      • 0 avatar
        Abdul_Alhazred

        MikeAR, I’m even giving you footnotes and citations.

        Example one banning incandescent light bulbs to benefit GE, example two, bailing out the UAW and tangentially GM and Chrysler. Those are easy examples that come to mind without any thought.

        I don’t agree that those are good examples of “a bunch of anti-business zeolots (sic) who try to regulate everyone who doesn’t pay them off” considering how much more money GE has given Republican candidates than Democrats. (1)

        Now you tell me how the EPA’s threat to impose carbon restrictions unilaterally without Congressional approval.

        Actually this is pretty interesting. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Clean Air Act. Well, in 1990 the then president (whom I’m sure I don’t need to name) signed an addendum to the CAA that gave the EPA leeway in regulating “pollutants dangerous to the public health”. In a 2007 case, Mass. v. EPA, SCOTUS ruled that carbon is indeed a pollutant that the EPA can regulate without Congressional approval (2). I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how stacked the SCOTUS was/is with right-leaning justices.

        How about the threat to bankrupt the coal industry?

        Hyperbole spread through a disingenuous media establishment to stroke public backlash. Worked like a charm, I think.

        I can go on forever but you won’t listen. Facts mean nothing to you, you’re mired in the progressive mindset and can’t give up one of your preconceptions without the whole thing coming down around your ears.

        Pot, Kettle, black, etc.

        (1) http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000125
        (2) http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2006/2006_05_1120/

      • 0 avatar
        Abdul_Alhazred

        Ronnie, once more a wall of text.

        Fracking is already in widespread use. Over 100,000 wells have already been drilled. This is only an issue because of the development of the Marcellus shale formation in the US east. Those who are opposed to the development of US energy resources sees this as an opportunity to get some traction.

        Geez, Ronnie, and who might ‘those’ people be? ‘Those’ horrible people who keep fighting to keep the US energy market beholden to OPEC? I know it can’t be the liebural menace because I’m a card-carrying member of that particular conspiracy and I and many like me have fought in your brushfire wars.

        It’s one thing for the Bakken formation out in the Dakotas to be developed. The Marcellus formation is under a much more highly populated region.

        I…think that might be one of the issues, that and how I’m sure not anyone really knows what’ll happen when you dump a few hundred million gallons of super-toxic crap into the drinking water supplies of a good portion of the US.

        Natural gas is much cleaner burning than petro distillates. Environmentalists should applaud its use.

        And we do. Well that was easy, thank you. Wait…is this a set-up to call anyone to the left of Ngo Dinh Diem ‘unamerican’?

        Instead it appears that environmentalists really don’t want abundant clean energy.

        Yeah, because that makes perfect sense.

        Believe me, in time the environmentalists will oppose wind and solar power just as they oppose hydro and fossil fuels.

        See above.

        The term “proper fracking” could more accurately be described as “proper well casing construction” because the problems of contaminating drinking water can happen with any kind of extractive drilling. The problem isn’t fracking, the problem is when well casings fail. The actual fracking is done at much lower levels than the water aquifers, so the problem isn’t when they frack, it’s when the gas and other extractives are pumped up through the well. This can happen with conventional natural gas and petroleum wells also.

        For the most part this sounds reasonable. Could use more citations, though.

        AS for the “current mood of hostility to regulation of business”, perhaps you haven’t noticed but we have a left of center Democratic president in the White House, whose administration seems intent on using every regulatory power it has to stymy business (except for that of cronies).

        And now we get to the nitty gritty, the part of every Ronnie-Schreiber-Great-Wall-O-Text© post, where we feel the need to rip into anyone who doesn’t agree with our politics, no matter what/where we do it. Who are the cronies, btw? Citations! (those’re important)?

        The Democrats are in power by you are worried about the current mood of hostility to business regulation. Would you rather that we were all good sheep marching to the beat of The One, Kvitzach HaDerech, Barack Obama? The Democrats control the White House and the Senate but its the Republicans fault that nothing can get done. Okee dokee.

        L
        O
        L

        0/10, see me after class

        A while back I wrote a piece for Pajamas Media (again, LOL) called Who Killed the Hybrid Electric Car? about Victor Wouk, the father of the modern hybrid car and how an EPA administrator killed his project. This was in the early 1970s when the EPA was young. The administrator in question has been quoted as saying (paraphrasing here), “we were regulators and this was our first chance to regulate, so regulate we did”.

        Early seventies…Then the EPA head would’ve been William Doyle Ruckelshaus, a pretty staunchly-republican dude appointed by a pretty staunchly-republican president. Republican regulators? It’s more likely than you think..

        The current administration and the people working for it in the executive agencies have that exact mindset. The are ideologically predisposed to think business and capitalism are evil and that they themselves are on the side of angels.

        It’s just like that Ruckleshaus and Nixon to crap on bu-bu-bu-business’ parade!

        So, to use but one example, Shell Oil, which already has the permitting in place to drill in the Arctic, can’t drill because the EPA has decided that the icebreaker which Shell will be using to clear the shipping lanes that will be used by ships tendering the Shell platform (shipping lanes already in widescale use by commercial shipping) has not filed the proper environmental impact statement. Never mind that there are already scores of ships plying those same shipping lanes.

        Okay, the only reference to that I can find (using the search string “shell oil icebreaker EPA”) that isn’t plastered on some right-wing blog is (1), which does nothing but tell me that the permit wasn’t approved because Shell didn’t feel like it had to properly file the proper paperwork. They didn’t cross all their T’s and dot their I’s, this kind of stuff happens all the time no matter which political party happens to hold power. Get over it. Not to mention, the EPA doesn’t have the power to regulate any ship that isn’t US chartered or in US territorial waters. That would be silly.

        The administration is using all sorts of picayune regulations like that to impede business development. It’s certainly trying to suppress development of fossil energy sources. Development of those energy resources would create many, many jobs and just maybe cut the price of fuel.

        Again, perfect sense.

        Ronnie, I love your photography. In some of the shots you take, man, I feel the emotion you put into them and it’s all great stuff. I value what you do here, but dude, leave the chip on your shoulder at the door.

        (1)http://www.polarprince.com/0-24285-shell-scraps-oil-drilling-efforts-because-of-epa-rules.html

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Abdul, again twisting numbers to suit your agenda. You at least try to cite real numbers, that’s better than most around here. But you don’t go far enough. Historically GE has given more to Democrats, it’s in the tables you cite. You cherry pick the 09-10 election cycle where GE could read the results well in advance and donations tended to go to the winners. Except Chris Dodd that was payment for services rendered. You don’t say anything about GE’s ownership at the time of MSNBC which is an organ of the Democratic Party. How can you quantify that contribution except to say that it is huge, dwarfing even the monetary contributions. Also there is Jeffery Immelt’s services to the Obama Adminstration. His expertise in outsourcing is very useful advising the adminstration on how to increase employment, I’m sure. So once again you fail, in fact you proved my point.

        You really perform some gymnastics saying the Supremes are conservative. Or maybe not, it seems like anyone to the right of Stalin might to conservative to you. The Court now is 4-4-1, conservative, liberal and swing now, at the very best. Again, facts don’t get in the way for you.

        And most amazingly, you saying that an unfriendly to Obama media establishment distorted what Obama said about the coal industry is laughable. He said it, he meant it and his butt has been covered by a lapdog media since day one. I don’r have time or space to go through all the stupid things he has said and never been called out on.

        Lastly, very would-be intellectual of you using (sic) when I misspelled zealot. I’m glad you caught that, sometimes I type too fast. But for someone who is such a spelling xealot, you sure screwed up liebural, didn’t you? For further reference it’s spelled liberal. Although maybe it’s Fruedian that you spelled it lie. After all that’s what they do. Liebural what a laugh.

      • 0 avatar
        Abdul_Alhazred

        Abdul, again twisting numbers to suit your agenda. You at least try to cite real numbers, that’s better than most around here. But you don’t go far enough. Historically GE has given more to Democrats, it’s in the tables you cite. You cherry pick the 09-10 election cycle where GE could read the results well in advance and donations tended to go to the winners. Except Chris Dodd that was payment for services rendered. You don’t say anything about GE’s ownership at the time of MSNBC which is an organ of the Democratic Party. How can you quantify that contribution except to say that it is huge, dwarfing even the monetary contributions. Also there is Jeffery Immelt’s services to the Obama Adminstration. His expertise in outsourcing is very useful advising the adminstration on how to increase employment, I’m sure. So once again you fail, in fact you proved my point.

        Okay, you raise me MSNBC and a republican CEO put in place by an idiot in a doomed effort to look ‘bipartisan’. I’ll raise you FOX News and Rove’s SuperPAC. …unless I missed your point, here.

        You really perform some gymnastics saying the Supremes are conservative. Or maybe not, it seems like anyone to the right of Stalin might to conservative to you. The Court now is 4-4-1, conservative, liberal and swing now, at the very best. Again, facts don’t get in the way for you.

        Stalin, a conservative? You said it, not I. Does make sense though; a center-right leaning provincial who stripped workers of their rights, kept wages artificially low, used prison labor. Hmm. Anyway, about SCOTUS; this was 2007. Let’s take a look at the justices..:

        Alito: ’nuff said
        Thomas: above
        Souter: above, though he did side with Mass. in the case we’re discussing.
        Kennedy: That one is a wildcard, though he tends to lean to the right when it comes to business. Not always, but usually. I like him though, he tends to keep politicking out of the Justice business. I wish more would do the same.
        Scalia: Need I say more?
        Well, there’s five-out-of-nine, though two of the above were pretty damn good about keeping their crappy beliefs out of the court.

        And most amazingly, you saying that an unfriendly to Obama media establishment distorted what Obama said about the coal industry is laughable. He said it, he meant it and his butt has been covered by a lapdog media since day one. I don’r have time or space to go through all the stupid things he has said and never been called out on.

        Okay, fair enough. Just do me one thing; show me where Obama says that he wants ‘to destroy the coal industry’.

        Lastly, very would-be intellectual of you using (sic) when I misspelled zealot. I’m glad you caught that, sometimes I type too fast. But for someone who is such a spelling xealot, you sure screwed up liebural, didn’t you? For further reference it’s spelled liberal. Although maybe it’s Fruedian that you spelled it lie. After all that’s what they do. Liebural what a laugh.

        I’ll have to take a mulligan on this one; I used to be a reporter for my school paper, and nobody around here can spell so I got pretty used to placing a thousand ‘sics’ a week I swear to god. No offense intended, mate. We’re all friends here. And you’re going to tell me that you’ve never heard ‘liebural’ before? with a straight face? Come on.

    • 0 avatar

      There certainly are instances of contaminated water supplies due to fracking, as I report in the current Environmental Health Perspectives
      http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.119-a289

      The other problem with fracking is that it requires a hell of a lot of water. If we go all out on fracking, it will seriously stretch our water supplies.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Let me get this straight. You were published for writing an article concluding that natural gas(methane) was found in high concentration near large natural gas deposits? That’s quite a threshold of proof that fracking pollutes ground water, particularly when no fracking fluids were found. It is a good thing our students don’t learn to think in our schools, or they might be upset that there are people using any means at their disposal to make energy a luxury good.

      • 0 avatar

        @cjinsd

        read the article a bit more carefully. methane found in peoples’ residential well water in much higher concentrations–levels deemed “actionable” or hazardous were much more common close to fracking sites than further away (within a km vs at greater distance than that).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I live in San Diego. Our drinking water travels hundreds of miles. Are you suggesting that if your suppositions are actually evidence of a causal conclusion we should exclude a source of affordable energy rather than pipe in drinking water from a kilometer away? That’s what it sounds like, but surely that’s not the case.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    NZ had conversion kits to run cars on CNG but none now only LPG

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Like all human endeavors, fracking can be done responsibly or irresponsibly. And like all human enterprises, without proper oversight and regulation there are market pressures to ignore long-term and/or long distance consequences in an effort to maximize profits. We would be foolish to prohibit fracking because it’s possible to do it irresponsibly, and equally foolish to assume that drillers will act responsibly without careful oversight.

    I could get more excited about NG vehicles if someone offered an engine designed and optimized for NG, not just converted from gasoline. Is there such a vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Those sorts of engines are in the works. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/gm-westport-deal-hints-at-natural-gas/

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, smart oil and gas companies know that bad casing designs mean less oil and gas pumped from the wells, so they have a strong incentive to use proper designs to maximize profits.

      I suppose, after two generations of educators, Hollywood and the TV industry using capitalists as bad guys (ignoring the massive ecocide in the former USSR and the widespread serious environmental damage in China) it’s not surprising that people naturally think that a typical CEO is more likely to be evil than, let’s say, a lifelong politician by the name of Barack.

      Let’s be honest and use the Rick Wagoner scale of success and failure to measure how President Obama has done with the economy. Unemployment is significantly higher than in every other post WWII recession, and the recovery is taking much longer to cycle through, despite Pres. Obama getting everything he’s asked for in terms of things that affect the economy like his health care reform bill, and his stimulus bill (which continued the same tax breaks on corporate jets – not subsidies but taking less of companies’ money – that Obama now demagogues on as he flies from political speech to political fundraiser on Air Force One).

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie,

        It is the Republicans, led by Grover Norquist, who are trying to prevent tax loopholes from being closed, because doing so would be tantamount to “raising taxes.” I’m sure that if it hadn’t been for this sort of opposition (and kudos to those republicans who are beginning to oppose it) those tax breaks on corporate jets would have been dumped in the stimulus package.

        Obama is not a lifelong politician. He was a community organizer before he became a politician.

        You need to remember that we had huge budget surpluses when President Clinton left office, and that we had huge deficits when Obama became president. WHO is responsible for that? I don’t think Obama is going to be remembered as a great president (and I have really big bones to pick with him over his continued efforts on amnesty for illegal immigrants) but the Republican party has been intransigent.

        And the problem with oil and gas companies is that most of them are not smart in the sense you use the word. Otherwise there would have been no BP spill. Norway has much firmer regulations on drilling, and the likelihood of a spill is far less than it is in the US. If we had those regs, or if the companies voluntarily adhered to them, we’d be in much better shape.

        And I don’t know if you lump coal companies with oil and gas companies, but Massey Energy basically murdered the 29 miners who died last year in one of its mines. go here:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/us/30mine.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=massey%20energy&st=cse
        This sort of thing happens because there are a lot of H. sapiens who are simply amoral, and out for themselves. And many of them–a significant percentage of whom apparently are psychopaths–reach the higher echelons of Corporate America (or Corporate anywhere in the world). This is not because they are right wing or left wing, although people on both sides of hte political spectrum may want to believe it is always the other who is bad. And I hasten to add, I’m not saying that everyone, or even most people in the corporate world are amoral, or that those who populate the high echelons of the corporate world are worse than those who populate the high echelons of the political world, or, you name it.

        ***Things just aren’t nearly so black and white most of the time.*** To restate it: the human condition is painted in shades of gray, not black and white. And in that vein, it’s true that environmentalists have opposed wind and solar. The late Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Kerry, and a bunch of other Mass dems opposed Cape Wind, mainly because some wealthy people on Nantucket sound thought the wind turbines would ruin their view, and I am disgusted by that behavior.

        But a lot of Massachusetts environmentalists also supported Cape Wind, including me. Environmentalists are not all a bunch of nutcases who march in lockstep in opposition to all energy sources except for mules and other quadrupeds.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        David, has anyone here cited Grover Norquist to defend the tax code? The answer is yes, one of your bretheren did. He assumed that just because those of us on the other side are stupid and easily led, that we would all just march in lockstep to whatever Grover Norquist says. News to you I’m sure but Norquist has no standing in the conservative ranks at all. In fact he is as credible as Barack Obama to 99% of conservatives. He has more support on your side because he is an ardednt supporter of jihad and wants to see Isreal destroyed.

        Secondly, accusing Obama of not being a professional politician because he was a community organizer is laughable. I’d like to know, did you have a flicker of guilt for writing something so obviously a joke or an untruth?

        I read your little article, it’s not very credible. You do no studies yourself just cite others’ work. Should I believe that you were an unbiased reporter or that you started with an agenda and made your story fit that agenda? We all now how science has been prostituted to fit the green agenda over tha last 40-50 years. Your article fits that template.

      • 0 avatar

        Uh, MikeAR,

        I guess you don’t understand the journalism profession. The people who write news are not the same people who do the studies. If they were, they would have an incentive to bias the story towards their own studies’ results. What we actually do is report the news (in this case the PNAS study) and then put it in the context of what else is known about the subject. Does that make sense to you?

        Most of the Republicans seem to be marching in lockstep to Norquist. Norquist is the guy who more than anyone else has made it impossible for Republicans to support raising any new taxes no matter what. That’s a major part of the reason why the United States can’t pass a gas tax or a carbon tax, although it would be greatly in our interest to do so. Fortunately, some Republicans are now moving away from him at least on loopholes.

        And, no, I sure don’t have any guilt about the statement about Obama. By the way, you are misrepresenting what I said about Obama. I didn’t say he was not a professional politician. I said he was not a lifelong politician. There is a big difference. Ronald Reagan was a professional politician but he was not a lifelong politician.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Like all human endeavors, fracking can be done responsibly or irresponsibly.
      Absolutely.

      But, there’s a lot of senseless paranoia about fracking pimped by scientifically illiterate journo-saurs. Anecdotes about contaminated water, burning water, and Elvis in the water are often taken from enviro-Luddites as gospel. Lacking, almost always, are analyses by certified labs of before and after fracking water samples.

      Can mining and drilling companies be irresponsible? Yes. But let’s not throw out the baby out with the bathwater here.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Assuming all this gas is as easy and cheap to get to as it’s backers claim, I can’t see how it won’t affect the composition of car engines in a big way.

    A few possible ifs, though:

    Pretty much all players in the frac space, are loudly touting the above plenty and cheapness in presentations aimed at outside investors. Aggressively enough that it’s hard not to wonder if the whole thing is just another racket aimed at extracting cash from the gullible; like a dot com or real estate boom. Considering how the management class in contemporary America consists largely of people with financial huckster backgrounds, rather than actual engineers, I have some doubts about how realistic all these frac plays really are. A federal government and central bank very well aware that the only way to kick the can down the road is to blow another bubble or ten, doesn’t exactly increase my confidence in projections, either.

    As far as externalities like the environment goes, it is pretty much a law of nature that they show up over time. Almost everything looks good for awhile, until unforeseen consequences make themselves known. And it’s a law of human nature, that the first to bet their careers on a new technology, are the ones who are the least critical of it. Hence, until a bit more is learned, I would again be wary of putting too much faith in projections derived from pilot projects and early adopters.

    Of course, on the other hand, one could buy an awful lot of water filters for the price of cutting America’s gas tab in half or more…..

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Well, I learned from that video that the dangerous chemicals contained in the frac fluid include boric acid(eyewash) and sodium bicarbonate (OTC anti-indigestion nostrums like Tums). Some of the other chemicals mentioned may not break down in a timely manner, but including eyewash and Tums in the list sort of weakens the argument being made. Vertical separation between gas pay zones and shallower aquifers should protect water supplies, provided, as Ronnie pointed out, proper casing and cementing is done to keep the well shut in and under control. If BP’s Gulf folly didn’t show the need for proper oversight, nothing did. Cutting corners, Gulf Coast or East Coast onshore, is a great way to get a wonderful domestic energy resource shut down. The question is, given their abysmal performance re: BP, is government up to the task? Will their regulation be effective and only as intrusive as necessary. Stay tuned.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    David Holzman

    The study you link to found zero evidence of fracking chemicals (many of them harmless BTW) ending up in drinking water. Just about any hydrologist will tell you that pumping 99.5% water and sand thousands of feet below impervious layers will not affect drinking water. And studies back this up.

    This study *did* find elevated levels of methane in drinking water, but this study did not take measurements before-the-frack. As other posts have mentioned, *any* gas well can contaminate water with methane. Just to be safe lets just shut down all domestic natural gas production.

    Are there problems with franking? Sure, many things can go wrong with franking, and they are all bad. In other words just like coal-mining, making tofu, or running a pet-grooming salon. Overall it is a technology that has been shown to be relatively safe and much, muchly-much more benign than realistic alternatives such as coal.

    I’m gonna put on my tin-foil hat and go conspiracy. The countries “leading” newspaper, the NT Times, wrote not just one but a whole long series of articles on how bad fracking is. Ten years ago the US was ‘sposed to be running low on natural gas, and we were looking at terminals to import liquified gas. Now we might become an exporter. US ingenuity has found a way to unlock huge supplies of one of our cleanest fuels, possibly enabling an industrial renaissance (google “nucor natural gas”). Some environmentalists don’t want to hear this good news.

    But who knows? We don’t know *all* the risks, we should wait another year – and why not another year? No regulation is perfect why take any chances? :Sure franking has a reasonable record, but what is someone gets running over by a franking fluid truck? Why don’t we just shut down our oil and coal while we’re at it?

    • 0 avatar

      thx_zetec:

      You’re not contradicting my article. But I did mention at the end a study which found fracking contaminants in 2% of wells.

      One of the biggest problems with fracking though is that it requires huge amounts of water.

      Now, I’m not saying fracking shouldn’t be done. It would be great if we turned out to have a huge resource of natural gas. But the fracking better be done carefully. And again, I worry greatly about the water problems. And, unfortunately, we may not have the huge natural gas supply that’s been talked up of late:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/us/27gas.html?scp=1&sq=fracking%20doubts&st=cse

      • 0 avatar
        MoeGardner

        David

        The direct quote from your article is: “…estimates nearly 2% of such gas wells may end up contaminating groundwater with fracking fluids”. This statement is referenced to the Bishop article. This is not a study and has not been peer reviewed. Furthermore, it relies heavily on supposition.

        The study you reference by Osborn et. al. – which appears to be a decent piece of research – states: “we found no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids”.

  • avatar

    I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t been brought up yet that the film “Gasland” was financed by the Sanders family and ProPublica. The Sanders have extensive interests in…

    wait for it…

    Oil.

    As long as drillers are held to the law and go about their business responsibly, fracking is safe. And it’s providing new jobs to areas that desperately need them. Like the area I live in.

  • avatar
    shaker

    The demand for natural gas is low, and the price is flat.

    The Marcellus Shale media blitz and “gold rush” mentality means that rapid deployment of wells is meant to beat impending regulations (NJ has banned fracking).

    Unless demand is increased massively and quickly, (CNG cars ain’t going to do it) there is no economic scenario that makes sense EXCEPT – we sell the NG to China.

    The fact that Exxon/Mobil are getting interested leads me to believe that the next great exploitation is about to begin, and that water contamination is the last thing on their minds. They will use the standard toolbox (lobbyists, ad campaigns, promises of prosperity to farmers to dupe them into letting them drill on their land), and decry any sort of regulation as “job killing”.

    At present, WE DON’T NEED the natural gas – but China does.

    They’ll probably find a way to pipe it to Canada, who already sells NG to China, who knows.

    I just don’t trust the bastards, what can I say?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    And most of all, says Reuters: “The United States has more natural gas than it knows what to do with”

    Er, the US imports natural gas. During 2010, 15% of US consumption came from abroad. During 2005, when the economy was in a growth stage of the cycle, 20% of the gas was imported.

    The world’s largest reserves are in Russia and Iran. Last I checked, we don’t trade with Iran and Russia isn’t exactly our best friend. You may as well advocate switching from a cocaine habit to heroin addiction as a solution to one’s drug problems.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      To clarify this, net imports equaled 11% of US consumption during 2010, and 17% during 2005, respectively. (The prior figures are for imports and they are correct, but they do not account for exports over the same periods.) Still, the US is a net importer of gas.


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