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But I feel a bit confused about shale gas. One side says it's perfectly ok environmentally speaking, while the other claim it's horrible. Does anyone actually have any facts and numbers on this thing? It's not like this would be the first time the fossil fuel companies in the US screw over the environment and the locals, but on the other hand it wouldn't be the first time whining greenies blow everything completely out of proportion either.

So, uh, does anyone around here actually have a grip on this issue? I'd love to hear more about it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri May 27th, 2011 at 03:16:57 PM EST
As one supremely shitty brand of beer once claimed, "It's the water."

Shale gas is released from the rock matrix by the process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", in which various chemicals are pumped in at high pressure.

Aside from being more expensive/energy intensive than conventional NG, the major catch seems to be what goes down must come up: the chemicals leach back to/near the surface, for enormous pollution potential.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat May 28th, 2011 at 03:10:22 PM EST
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Indeed, but can this be managed in a reasonable way? Many useful industries utilize potentially hazardous chemicals and substances, and are able to deal with them in a safe and reasonable way.

By the way, this is a fascinating quote: "State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers."

Is this how things are done in the US? Everything is legal, except what is forbidden? Around here, any and all potentially polluting activities need to get permits before they are initiated. They are not allowed to start helter skelter and then regulated in hindsight.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat May 28th, 2011 at 06:49:10 PM EST
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Starvid:
Many useful industries utilize potentially hazardous chemicals and substances, and are able to deal with them in a safe and reasonable way.

If you're designing a closed industrial plant, then full containment is possible 99.5% of the time. But in this case you're pumping chemicals into an unbounded geological matrix ("real world") that is only understood on a very general level.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun May 29th, 2011 at 04:36:46 AM EST
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By the way, this is a fascinating quote: "State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers."

Is this how things are done in the US? Everything is legal, except what is forbidden?

Yes, that's true, but what the quote refers to is "grandfathering in". New regulations often exempt existing things.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 29th, 2011 at 06:40:09 AM EST
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Many useful industries utilize potentially hazardous chemicals and substances, and are able to deal with them in a safe and reasonable way.

But not by themselves. They have to be regulated:

The aim of REACH is to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances. At the same time, REACH aims to enhance innovation and competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. The benefits of the REACH system will come gradually, as more and more substances are phased into REACH.


Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun May 29th, 2011 at 06:43:32 AM EST
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Not at the current prices.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Tue May 31st, 2011 at 11:01:34 AM EST
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