Author Archive

What’s in Your Frac Fluid? U.S. Doctors Want to Know

Houston Chronicle: U.S. doctors want more information about the ingredients of the chemical compounds pumped underground during hydraulic fracturing operations at oil and gas wells nationwide. The chemical disclosure request came in the form of a policy plank adopted by the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates during the group’s annual meeting Tuesday. The AMA said in a statement that the group is concerned about the inability to effectively monitor and track the possible long-term public health...

Texas Gov. Abbott Signs Bill Restricting Local Fracking Regulations

Houston Chronicle: Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to prevent communities from banning energy practices including fracking in their areas, cementing a victory for the oil and gas industry. Abbott's signature is the culmination of a marker he set down in January, when he took aim at local regulations affecting not only fracking but tree cutting and plastic bags. He said local regulations were leading to Texas being the "California-ized." Critics pointed out that Abbott and other top Republicans often take umbrage...

Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Rules on Uncertain Timetable

Houston Chronicle: The federal government is still wading through more than a million public comments filed on its plan to tighten standards for drilling on public lands, with “no date certain” for finalizing those mandates, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Thursday. Although it would apply only on public land under the Interior Department’s control, the proposal would be the first major federal rule governing the hydraulic fracturing technology now being used to harvest natural gas and oil across the United States....

Hold the water: Some firms fracking without it

Houston Chronicle: The use of one precious fluid - water - to recover another - oil - chafes in dry country. Rivers and groundwater are receding in Texas for lack of rain and over-pumping just when the demand for water in new oil and gas fields is growing. Now one exploration and production company in San Antonio is fracturing its wells mostly without water, using gas liquids instead, in a practice that`s beginning to spread. Fracturing, or fracking, refers to using fluid under pressure to create fissures held...

Study finds Greenland’s ice may not be as vulnerable to climate change as scientists feared

Houston Chronicle: New research suggests that Greenland`s vast ice sheet isn`t as fragile as some climate scientists feared. The work, published in Nature this week (see abstract), indicates the majority of ice on Greenland could remain intact for hundreds of years even if the planet warms considerably. The study used ice cores to study conditions during a period of natural global warming that occurred between 115,000 and 130,000 years ago, when temperatures were about 14.5 Fahrenheit degrees higher than they...

Keystone XL Protesters Arrested After Chaining Themselves to Tanker Trucks

Houston Chronicle: Two environmental activists were arrested Thursday after locking themselves to oil tanker trucks near the Houston Ship Channel, organizers said. The protesters were acting in coordination with the Tar Sands Blockade group that has staged a series of demonstrations throughout Texas to inspire opposition to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which is currently under construction. The controversial pipeline would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast and bring 700,000 barrels of oil to Gulf Coast...

As temperatures rise, so does public concern about climate

Houston Chronicle: There`s weather (today`s temperature, this week`s forecast for Houston) and there`s climate (the average U.S. temperature in 2006, average global temperature in 2100). Scientists, generally, are careful not to mix the two. For example, a hotter-than-normal summer in Houston cannot entirely be blamed on climate change, any more than a cold February can be used to disprove climate change. But the public does not see matters so clearly. And in the United States, it`s been hot of late. And as we`ll...

Texas wildfires: More evidence of climate change

Houston Chronicle: Although it`s too soon to determine the total amount of insured property losses caused by Texas wildfires, 2011 is projected to be the worst in state history according to a spokesperson of the Insurance Council of Texas. The cost may exceed $150 million. The previous cost record was set in 2009, when fires caused more than $100 million in insured property damages statewide. In fact, Texas is currently dealing with its third yearlong wildfire season since 2005 -- and its most severe. Others were in...