Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/13/14)

October 13th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/13/14).

  1. NPR reports, “an investigation by Houston Public Media and the Houston Chronicle shows Texas highways have become the nation’s deadliest amid a fracking boom.”
  2. According to Midwest Energy News, “Commercial enterprises, homeowners and nonprofits lined up in great numbers to take advantage of a Minnesota program designed to spur the domestic manufacture of solar panels and increase adoption of photovoltaic (PV) solar through aggressive incentives.”
  3. Bloomberg reports, “Renewable energy will satisfy much of Africa’s expanding power needs by 2040 as the continent unlocks vast hydropower resources, the International Energy Agency said.”
  4. Renewable Energy World highlights “5 Breweries Embracing Renewable Energy.”
  5. Bloomberg reports, “Scotland [Friday] gave the go-ahead to four sea-based wind farms with a potential 2.3 gigawatts capacity, enough for 1.4 million homes, the Scottish government said in a statement.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/10/14)

October 10th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/10/14).

  1. Greentech Media writes about “Utility and Consumer Data: A New Source of Power in the Energy Internet of Things.”
  2. Mother Jones asks: “Walmart Is the Biggest Corporate Solar User. Why Are Its Owners Funding Groups That Oppose Solar?”
  3. InsideClimate News reports on a new study which shows that shifting to a low-carbon economy “could free up $1.8 trillion,” in part “by avoiding the high operating costs of using fossil fuels—coal and natural gas—to generate power.”
  4. Joe Romm of Climate Progress writes about “The Vast Benefits of Energy Efficiency,” and how a “New York Times Op-Ed Confuses the Facts.”
  5. RenewEconomy reports, “The surprise decision by China to impose tariffs on coal imports from Australia has raised the prospect of tit-for-tat action that could impact on the multi-billion solar industry in Australia.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/9/14)

October 9th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/9/14).

  1. NRDC’s Switchboard blog writes: “Offshore wind power isn’t usually associated with lower-cost energy, at least not in the public imagination. But it turns out that installing 54 gigawatts of offshore wind power off America’s coasts can cut the cost of electricity in the U.S. by an astounding $7.68 billion a year. That’s right: $7.68 billion annually.”
  2. Bloomberg reports on “The Keystone Killer the Enviros Didn’t See Coming.”
  3. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Lego man won’t be filling up at the Shell station much longer.”
  4. The New York Times reports: “Many Texans have long held the oil and gas industry as dear to their hearts as a prairie range full of feeding cattle. Now suddenly that love is being tested here in a local election, where a grass-roots campaign against gas producers has pushed the industry into a corner.”
  5. According to The Desert Sun: “As policymakers have pushed California to transition to renewable energy, a potentially serious obstacle has emerged: The state’s major electric utilities don’t have comprehensive plans for taking advantage of the solar panels that residents across the Coachella Valley and the rest of the state are putting on their rooftops.”

PR Campaign to Make Fracking a “Good Word” Again Confronts Fracking’s Ugly Reality

October 8th, 2014

My first impression of this article was that it was an Onion-style joke. But apparently, it’s serious.

In the PR battle over natural gas, the antidrilling “fracktivists” have held the linguistic upper hand since “fracking” carries negative connotations, and even sounds a bit obscene. But rather than avoiding the term, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, has decided to embrace it.

A new ad campaign sponsored by the coalition seeks to rebrand the term, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported late last month. “Fracking is a good word,” says one actor in a commercial. A girl adds, “Fracking rocks.”

Is “fracking” salvageable? A 2011 study by the Pennsylvania public relations firm Gregory FCA Communications found that “fracking” had such a bad rap that the industry would be better off abandoning it. “A better, more positive term is warranted,”wrote the firm’s president, Greg Matusky. “The industry needs to identify negatively charged words and replace them with positive language.”

Unfortunately, a couple huge problems with the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s strategy jump out at us. First, given the widespread, negative connotations associated with the word “fracking,” it’s going to take an awful lot of money for the frackers to reclaim the term.

Second, even if they have the money and are willing to spend it on this seemingly uphill battle, the other problem is the real killer: just like with other absurd PR efforts, like the laughable “clean coal” campaign, the frackers simply have reality working against them. That includes the fact that fracking contaminates water supplies, pollutes the air, uses huge amounts of (increasingly scarce) water, releases the potent greenhouse gas methane, contaminates the soil, destroys forests and wildlife habitats, and even triggers earthquakes.  With all those problems, none of which can be glossed over by a slick PR campaign, this oil and gas extraction technology is simply not a pretty picture to behold. And that’s going to be the case no matter how much money the frackers spend on trying to make fracking seem like is a “good word” or that it “rocks.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (10/8/14)

October 8th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (10/8/14).

  1. Bloomberg reports, “Shale Boom Tested as Sub-$90 Oil Threatens U.S. Drillers.”
  2. David Roberts of Grist explains how a “Radical judge kneecaps clean electricity under cover of boringness.”
  3. Renewable Energy World reports, “According to some estimates, wind farm operations and maintenance is growing by 40 GW per year and is expected to reach 555 GW by 2023 making it an exciting and lucrative industry.”
  4. Greentech Media addresses the question, “Why Are Institutional Investors Still Hesitating on Solar?”
  5. According to the Center for Biological Diversity: “Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to state documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity. The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants.”