New Book Proposes Safety Measures for Fracking

Written by Wall Street Journal energy reporter Russell Gold, the new book offers three recommendations that should be acceptable to all parties, from fracking's strongest supporters to its most ardent opponents.

2 minute read

April 10, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

The three recommendations found in "The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World", were formulated after Gold spoke with "hundreds of engineers, executives, academics and environmentalists." The goal of the three measures is to make fracking "safer for people and the planet,"  

Gold has written on many aspects of the energy industry, more than a few posted here. Some have an urban as well as energy perspective, such as his piece on Midland, Texas (and posted here).

  • Fix the Leaks: Methane Leakage is so serious that some critics have said it makes it worse than burning coal from a greenhouse gas perspective. Others disagree. Good news: "It's a plumbing problem", states Hal Harvey, chief executive of Energy Innovations LLC, a policy and technology consultant. 
    • "If you want to argue that gas is part of the climate solution, you have to deal with methane leakage," says Harvey. The good news, he adds: "It's a plumbing problem. It's not thermodynamics." Making a power plant twice as efficient is difficult engineering; cutting methane leakage in half isn't. You just find the leaks and plug them."
  • Get better data: "The Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a joint effort of major operators, environmental groups and foundations, says that it is critical to test groundwater before drilling begins and then for at least a year afterward."
  • Build better wells: "Faulty cement doomed the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico and led to the death of 11 men and the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history."

As much as some may oppose this type of oil drilling, "U.S. energy companies are drilling and fracking about 100 wells every day across much of the country," he writes. It has become embedded in our economy and is key to the nation's energy security. Notwithstanding serious methane leakage, it has been instrumental in reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1992 levels.

So why not take the measures he recommends to make it safer for people and planet? You can access major book vending websites and read reviews from Gold's website on "The Boom".

Friday, April 4, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal

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