Saturday, April 14, 2012

Obama's Exec. Order on Unconventional Gas => it's BAD

President Obama's new executive order:
Looks like American Petroleum Institute wrote it.

The full text with highlights is first,
then my analysis follows:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 13, 2012

Executive Order -- Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources



By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to coordinate the efforts of Federal agencies responsible for overseeing the safe and responsible development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources and associated infrastructure and to help reduce our dependence on oil, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1Policy.  In 2011, natural gas provided 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States.  Its production creates jobs and provides economic benefits to the entire domestic production supply chain, as well as to chemical and other manufacturers, who benefit from lower feedstock and energy costs.  By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on oil.  And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels.

For these reasons, it is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.

While natural gas production is carried out by private firms, and States are the primary regulators of onshore oil and gas activities, the Federal Government has an important role to play by regulating oil and gas activities on public and Indian trust lands, encouraging greater use of natural gas in transportation, supporting research and development aimed at improving the safety of natural gas development and transportation activities, and setting sensible, cost-effective public health and environmental standards to implement Federal law and augment State safeguards.

Because efforts to promote safe, responsible, and efficient development of unconventional domestic natural gas resources are underway at a number of executive departments and agencies (agencies), close interagency coordination is important for effective implementation of these programs and activities.  To formalize and promote ongoing interagency coordination, this order establishes a high-level, interagency working group that will facilitate coordinated Administration policy efforts to support safe and responsible unconventional domestic natural gas development.

Sec. 2Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.  There is established an Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources (Working Group), to be chaired by the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, or a designated representative.

(a)  Membership.  In addition to the Chair, the Working Group shall include deputy-level representatives or equivalent officials, designated by the head of the respective agency or office, from:

(i) the Department of Defense;

(ii) the Department of the Interior;

(iii) the Department of Agriculture;

(iv) the Department of Commerce;

(v) the Department of Health and Human Services;

(vi) the Department of Transportation;

(vii) the Department of Energy;

(viii) the Department of Homeland Security;

(ix) the Environmental Protection Agency;

(x) the Council on Environmental Quality;

(xi) the Office of Science and Technology Policy;

(xii) the Office of Management and Budget;

(xiii) the National Economic Council; and

(xiv) such other agencies or offices as the Chair may invite to participate.

(b)  Functions.  Consistent with the authorities and responsibilities of participating agencies and offices, the Working Group shall support the safe and responsible production of domestic unconventional natural gas by performing the following functions:

(i) coordinate agency policy activities, ensuring their efficient and effective operation and facilitating cooperation among agencies, as appropriate;

(ii) coordinate among agencies the sharing of scientific, environmental, and related technical and economic information;

(iii) engage in long-term planning and ensure coordination among the appropriate Federal entities with respect to such issues as research, natural resource assessment, and the development of infrastructure; 

(iv) promote interagency communication with stakeholders; and

(v) consult with other agencies and offices as appropriate.

Sec. 3General Provisions.  (a)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.



          April 13, 2012.

(Has anyone else noticed that Executive Orders are no longer numbered?)

Got a lot of press yesterday.

Released Friday the 13th => bad luck day.
Wow, and it's bad.

Reads like a Gas Industry Public Relations Press Release.

Same old stuff, right out of the Energy In Depth playbook:

  • "Natural Gas" => 15 mentions
    whereas "Unconventional" => only gets 8 mentions.
    Aren't "natural" and "unconventional" mutually exclusive?

  • "Safe" (8), "Safety" (2), or "Safeguards" (2) => total 12 mentions

  • "Safe and Responsible Development" => 5 mentions
  • "Reduce our dependence on oil" => 2 mentions
  • "Cleaner source of energy"
  • "Creates Jobs and Economic Benefits"
  • etc
  • Shale => 0 mentions
  • Hydrofracking => 0 mentions
  • Dirty energy => 0 mentions
  • Groundwater pollution => 0
  • Methane Migration => 0
  • Endocrine Disruption, Cancer => 0
  • Forest segmentation and habitat destruction => 0
  • "Risk", "Impact", "Danger" or "Threat" => all missing.

    ... OK, you get the idea...

While the only mention of public health and environmental standards
is that they will be "cost effective" and "sensible"

will be "appropriate" and can provide a
"cleaner source of energy" than other fossil fuels.

What seems like a promise that

"natural and cultural resources, air and water quality,
and public health and safety will not be compromised",

...which has an engineering and regulatory enforcement solution...

... is really only that the White House will be

"giving American families and communities confidence"

...which has a public relations solution.

  • "Cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels"
    => refuted by Ingraffea/Howarth considering life cycle over 20 year time horizon
  • "Jobs and Economic Benefits"
    => refuted by Janette Barth, Deborah Rogers, and Chip Northrup

  • "Reducing our dependence on oil"
    => NOTE this does not say "reducing our dependence on foreign oil"
    => So why is swapping dependence on one dirty fuel for another desirable?
    => sorta like Oil=Heroin, while Natural Gas=Methadone?
    A kinder-gentler form of dirty energy addiction?
Last word on "Safe development of Natural Gas"...

Bridges and airplanes are designed with extremely high safety standards.
  • Commercial airliners => tens of millions of passenger flight hours between catastrophic failures
  • Bridges => tens of millions of passenger crossings between catastrophic failures
So what is the actual safety record of the Gas industry?
  • 1 failure in 10,000,000?   (safety standard for bridges and airplanes) NO
  • 1 failure in 1,000,000?    NO
  • 1 failure in 100,000?    NO
  • 1 failure in 10,000    NO!!
  • 1 failure in 1,000   It's WORSE!
  • 1 failure in 100 ?   Still WORSE!!

  • The Gas industry's actual rate of INITIAL well casing failure is
    1 failure in 16

  • Over 20 years,
    3 of 5 wells will fail => 60%.
This data is from Dr. Ingraffea, citing sources from Schlumberger and PA DEP.
(watch 14 min. starting at 39m:45s)
  • So, assuming 70,000 Marcellus wells just for New York, this will mean that
    there will be
  • 4,000 NY Marcellus wells which fail initially and cause methane migration
  • 40,000 wells will fail over 20 years. 
Assuming 1 pad per sq. mi., and 4 wells per pad, it will be IMPOSSIBLE
to be anywhere in the NY Marcellus region without being within a stone's throw
from a failed well. THEY WILL BE EVERYWHERE.

Unconventional gas development in shale CANNOT BE DONE SAFELY.


As for our messaging and strategies:

  • "Withdraw the draft" => WTF does that mean?
  • Local bans are great! YES!
     => ultimately not good enough, could be overturned by next corrupt legislators
  • Criminalization => YES! Now we're talking,
    => but ultimately not good enough for the same reason.
We need to ban and criminalize this unsafe industry
by a Constitutional Amendment, which is not
easy to be overturned by either a court, or a corrupt legislature.

But first, we need a GROUNDSWELL.

Have you attended any NVDA trainings lately?
Time to get busy, folks.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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