Manorhamilton households spend more than €2 million every year on transport and other energy uses. This is the startling total determined through an Energy Audit carried out by GEAI and Love Leitrim volunteers. The study calculates that the 563 households in the town spend over €500,000 on electricity and over €600,000 on other fuels (oil, gas and solid fuels), an average of €2,200 per household. A total of €1 million is also spent on petrol and diesel, an average of €1,600 per car owner. “What this means is that over €1.5 million of Manorhamilton’s disposable income is spent on imported fossil fuels every year and therefore lost to the economy!” said GEAI Director, Aedín McLoughlin. “People don’t realise the very real potential of renewable energies to reduce imports, generate income and jobs for local communities and provide energy security for the future. The Manorhamilton community, having turned its back on fracking, is now looking at alternatives and is finding out that renewable energies, as well as lowering carbon emissions, can also benefit the health and economic growth of its town.” The survey is part of the “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” event taking place on 24th June in the Bee Park Centre, Manorhamilton. It will be a day of presentations, workshops and discussions with many interesting speakers and topics of discussion. Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Trust (Scotland) and Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader will be the main speakers, but this is not going to be the usual conference where local people simply listen to experts. The aim is that everyone attending will get a chance to speak and be heard.
Sustainable Energy – without the hot air
The following is an extract of the synopsis of the excellent book by Professor David McKay
We have an addiction to fossil fuels, and it’s not sustainable. The developed world gets 80% of its energy from fossil fuels; Britain, 90%. And this is unsustainable for three reasons.
- First, easily-accessible fossil fuels will at some point run out, so we’ll eventually have to get our energy from someplace else.
- Second, burning fossil fuels is having a measurable and very-probably dangerous effect on the climate. Avoiding dangerous climate change motivates an immediate change from our current use of fossil fuels.
- Third, even if we don’t care about climate change, a drastic reduction in Britain’s fossil fuel consumption would seem a wise move if we care about security of supply: continued rapid use of the North Sea oil and gas reserves will otherwise soon force fossil-addicted Britain to depend on imports.
How can we get off our fossil fuel addiction?
There’s no shortage of advice on how to “make a difference,” but the public is confused, uncertain whether these schemes are fixes or fig leaves. People are rightly suspicious when companies tell us that buying their “green” product means we’ve “done our bit.” They are equally uneasy about national energy strategy. Are “decentralization” and “combined heat and power,” green enough, for example? The government would have us think so. But would these technologies really discharge Britain’s duties regarding climate change? Are windfarms “merely a gesture to prove our leaders’ environmental credentials”? Is nuclear power essential?
We need a plan that adds up. The good news is that such plans can be made. The bad news is that implementing them will not be easy…
David McKay is Professor of Physics, Cambridge University.
How big is the fracking industry?
Environment America have produced a report which gives a startling picture of the extent of fracking in US and some of the impacts caused by this industry. [Download report] “Fracking by the Numbers” needs wide circulation – the scale of the industry and its use of land, water and chemicals is not realised; neither is the scale of the impacts of fracking on water use and contamination as well as air emissions. The following is a synopsis:
National Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Fracking
• Fracking Wells since 2005 82,000
• Toxic Wastewater Produced in 2012 (billion gallons) 280
• Water Used since 2005 (billion gallons) 250
• Chemicals Used since 2005 (billion gallons) 2
• Air Pollution in One Year (tons) 450,000
• Land Directly Damaged since 2005 (acres) 360,000
Fracking produces enormous volumes of toxic wastewater—often containing cancer-causing and even radioactive material. Once brought to the surface, this toxic waste poses hazards for drinking water, air quality and public safety:
- Fracking wells nationwide produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012.
- This toxic wastewater often contains cancer-causing and even radioactive materials, and has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. In New Mexico alone, waste pits from all oil and gas drilling have contaminated groundwater on more than 400 occasions.
- Scientists have linked underground injection of wastewater to earthquakes.
Fracking requires huge volumes of water for each well.
- Fracking operations have used at least 250 billion gallons of water since 2005.
- While most industrial uses of water return it to the water cycle for further use, fracking converts clean water into toxic wastewater, much of which must then be permanently disposed of, taking billions of gallons out of the water supply annually.
- Farmers are particularly impacted by fracking water use as they compete with the deep-pocketed oil and gas industry for water, especially in drought-stricken regions of the country.
Fracking uses a wide range of chemicals, many of them toxic.
- Operators have hauled more than 2 billion gallons of chemicals to thousands of fracking sites around the country.
- In addition to other health threats, many of these chemicals have the potential to cause cancer.
- These toxics can enter drinking water supplies from leaks and spills, through well blowouts, and through the failure of disposal wells receiving fracking wastewater.
Fracking-related activities release thousands of tons of health-threatening air pollution.
- Nationally, fracking released 450,000 tons of pollutants into the air that can have immediate health impacts.
- Air pollution from fracking contributes to the formation of ozone “smog,” which reduces lung function among healthy people, triggers asthma attacks, and has been linked to increases in school absences, hospital visits and premature death. Other air pollutants from fracking and the fossil-fuel-fired machinery used in fracking have been linked to cancer and other serious health effects.
Global warming pollution:
Fracking produces significant volumes of global warming pollution.
- Methane, which is a global warming pollutant 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is released at multiple steps during fracking, including during hydraulic fracturing and well completion, and in the processing and transport of gas to end users.
- Global warming emissions from completion of fracking wells since 2005 total an estimated 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Damage to our natural heritage:
Well pads, new access roads, pipelines and other infrastructure turn forests and rural landscapes into industrial zones.
- Infrastructure to support fracking has damaged 360,000 acres of land for drilling sites, roads and pipelines since 2005.
- Forests and farmland have been replaced by well pads, roads, pipelines and other gas infrastructure, resulting in the loss of wildlife habitat and fragmentation of remaining wild areas. In Colorado, fracking has already damaged 57,000 acres of land, equal to one-third of the acreage in the state’s park system.
- The oil and gas industry is seeking to bring fracking into our national forests, around several of our national parks, and in watersheds that supply drinking water to millions of Americans.
Fracking has additional impacts not quantified here
—including contamination of residential water wells by fracking fluids and methane leaks; vehicle and workplace accidents, earthquakes and other public safety risks; and economic and social damage including ruined roads and damage to nearby farms.
To address the environmental and public health threats from fracking across the nation:
• States should prohibit fracking. Given the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts, constructing a regulatory regime sufficient to protect the environment and public health from dirty drilling—much less enforcing such safeguards at more than 80,000 wells, plus processing and waste disposal sites across the country—seems implausible. In states where fracking is already underway, an immediate moratorium is in order. In all other states, banning fracking is the prudent and necessary course to protect the environment and public health.
• Given the drilling damage that state officials have allowed fracking to incur thus far, at a minimum, federal policymakers must step in and close the loopholes exempting fracking from key provisions of our nation’s environmental laws.
• Federal officials should also protect America’s natural heritage by keeping fracking away from our national parks, national forests, and sources of drinking water for millions of Americans.
• To ensure that the oil and gas industry—rather than taxpayers, communities or families—pays the costs of fracking damage, policymakers should require robust financial assurance from fracking operators at every well site.
• More complete data on fracking should be collected and made available to the public, enabling us to understand the full extent of the harm that fracking causes to our environment and health.
In this report, when we refer to the impacts of “fracking,” we include impacts resulting from all of the activities needed to bring a shale gas or oil well into production using high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracturing operations that use at least 100,000 gallons of water), to operate that well, and to deliver the gas or oil produced from that well to market. The oil and gas industry often uses a more restrictive definition of “fracking” that includes only the actual moment in the extraction process when rock is fractured—a definition that obscures the broad changes to environmental, health and community conditions that result from the use of fracking in oil and gas extraction.
Deborah Rogers – Founder of EnergyPolicyForum and critic of Fracking
Deborah Rogers is an expert in the economics of shale gas and an advisor to the Obama administration. Speaking at the 2030 Vision conference in Carrick-on-Shannon this month, she made it clear that the shale gas industry in the US is now in deep trouble. The basic reason for this is that initially it was assumed that shale gas wells would behave much like conventional wells (tapping into an underground reservoir of gas) with a lifetime of 20 years. All production and cash projections were based on this assumption, which turned out to be hopelessly optimistic. In fact, the average productive shale gas well has a lifetime of 3 – 5 years only.
Based on those initial projections, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and some leasing companies made fortunes. Drilling companies went into huge debt, encouraged by investment banks that made millions in fees. Initially easily accessible gas was produced. However, the wells started drying up far sooner than anticipated and the companies continued to drill more and more wells to meet their production targets, motivated by the cost of loans taken out. They cannot stop, resulting in a glut of gas and the price has plummeted. The selling price of gas at present is roughly half the cost of production, so all shale gas companies are losing money.
“The whole thing doesn’t make sense”, said Ms Rogers. “Many of the big players have written down their assets, including BP, Encana and Chesapeake. The Marcellus shale gas reserve estimates are down by 80%. The recovery efficiency for the five major shale gas plays averages 6.5% compared with 75–80% for conventional gas fields. The biggest companies, e.g. Exxon-Mobil, are now selling their assets. Is the shale gas bubble soon going to deflate?”
“In the meantime, the drilling frenzy continues with collateral damage in the form of air pollution, ground water depletion, road damages and potential aquifer ruination”, she continued. “This is immense and will only continue to rise as more and more wells need to be drilled. None of these impacts are at present covered financially by the gas companies – in other words, profits are to be privatized while costs and negative impacts will be borne by the people. “
“2030 Vision – The Future of Energy in Ireland” conference was organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) to look at the choices of energy sources that Ireland has to make in the future. Speakers included Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, who gave an inspirational talk on the potential of renewable energy sources, in particular wind energy, to substitute for hydrocarbons. The conference was part-funded by Leitrim County Council through the Agenda 21 programme.
Link to Deborah Roger’s presentation at 2030 Vision Conference: http://bit.ly/GJjt2Q
Profile of Deborah Rogers
Deborah Rogers lives in Texas, US. She has worked as a financial consultant for several major Wall Street firms, including Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. Ms Rogers was appointed as a primary member to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior, in 2013 for a three year term. In May 2013, she was invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas. In June of 2012, she was invited to speak in Rio de Janeiro at the International Society for Ecological Economics in conjunction with the United Nations Rio+20 world summit
UPDATE – ANOTHER WEEK TO LOBBY !
It was announced that the MEP rapporteur had to yield to the pressure made by the conservatives. As a consequence, he accepted to:
– postpone the vote and reschedule it to 11th July.
– take out the compromise amendment on unconventional fossil fuels.
In other words, it means that:
There won’t be any compromise amendment on shale gas, gathering suggestions from socialist and green MEPs.
As a consequence, the deal with the Socialists and the Greens doesn’t exist anymore
We need to call MEPs to support the Amendment 50 instead which is the initial proposal made by the MEP rapporteur follow our recommendations