Post Carbon Institute – Fracking

Here is a video of interest to us because, while it is about the economics of shale fracking, it contains a very timely and important reference to the pipelines. The purpose of this video is to provide valid information for the many activist groups who are working against fracking all over the country.

Particularly interesting are the presentation and comments of economist Deborah Rogers (from Fort Worth) that begin at 29:44 minutes.

A – The data are very good now (she talks about them in detail), we need to distribute this information into the common discussions. You can get summaries from Postcarbon Institute and the publications of Deborah Rogers and Richard Heinberg and they name two others, I missed.

B – The industry is losing money, and that is why they are so dedicated to these pipelines. Their goal now (interesting parallel to what they have been doing in underdeveloped countries) is to take out our oil and gas in the US and sell it somewhere else that will pay approx twice as much. In other words, the destruction of our world, our air, water, climate and soils is paying for the big oil companies to make profits off-shore in a time when we will run out of fossil fuels fairly soon anyhow and should be working to grow a sustainable culture that does not destroy the Life of Earth as we know it.

So get out there and carry on the pipeline fights.

Figures are also given relative to job creation (no more than is being created by the alternative energy projects) and, for example in Arkansas, the money paid for roads by the oil companies is much less than the cost of the damage they actually do. Local administrators often “don’t care about health effects” because they aren’t part of their responsibility, but the data relative to health effects are also good.

Bare Bones Biology 170 – Coming Home

Down here in the canyon the air is fresh (Bare Bones Biology 007B) and breathable. When I step outside and take that first deep morning breath, I can feel all the little alveoli in my lungs and all those sinus spaces in my head open up and ask for another hit. It used to be like that in Bryan, but now the air in Bryan challenges all the delicate membranes of the body, and they swell up and churn out mucus to protect themselves.

130918-Simple Life-ASC_6056RLSs copySo I’m still looking for a place to really live in, and I would invest in this place fully, as I did in Bryan, if I thought it would last. Even though it’s not easy.

Over most of last week I had no email communication, no way to drive out of the canyon three miles to a main road, and my cell phone only halfway works, so I got jammed up with messages that I couldn’t receive or answer. Or call anyone if there had been an emergency. The last time I drove out, the day was fine and clear but when I drove back in I could see a an oddly creative cloud in shades of gray, I said I wonder if that is over the canyon. I drove down through the first four water crossings, sun shining, I said I wonder where that thing was? And in the quarter mile to the next crossing the river had risen about 5 feet that no sensible person would cross. I stopped to rescue the neighbors’ dogs that had gotten themselves on the wrong side of the river, but when I came to the last two crossings with a half mile yet to go, I left the Big Red pickup on the road and hiked over the mountain, to stay on my side of the river so I could go home.

130919-Simple Life-ASC_6132RLSs copyIt turned out to be two mountains with a big ravine between. I don’t recommend the elk trails; they go straight up and down in the rain-slick clay. But we made it home, Bitsy and I, and we piled under layers of comforters, and slept for another really long night.

In the morning – there is nothing in our world to compare with that first breath of pure outdoor air. And another, and yet another. And with it God’s creation bestows the joy of living.

130918-Simple Life-ASC_6059RSs copyI have to wonder if most of my friends have ever experienced the sense of joy that comes from breathing fresh air. I remember when everyone had that opportunity. A friend who lives here reports that, when he visited relatives in Wash DC, what he mostly felt the whole time was an overpowering listlessness. Y E S. And then food cravings and once you get past that, if you are more than usually sensitive to chemical contamination, it becomes more violent upsets of the digestive system. And if our chemical atmosphere does that to us humans, plus asthma and mood disorders for the young, emphysema in midlife, and alzheimers at the end, it’s no wonder the whole biosystem is suffering, trying to change back to a healthy balanced Life system.

So here’s the bad news. Last time we made it to town, I learned that there was a big gathering of oil men in Chama, having lunch in a private room at High Country Café. And what I know is that this place too will be destroyed if all the people don’t care about the welfare of all the people enough to:

130902-SimpleLife-ASC_5828RLSs copy 2(a) if you are an oil man, take your leadership skills to the welfare of the community – and don’t fake it – study it:

(b) if you are not an oil man, insist that your communities uphold the spirit and rule of the laws of this country and the traditions of the reservations that are meant to benefit the welfare of our communities. Not the profits, not even the jobs, but the welfare of the future when all these resources are long gone and the oil men have left this town behind, soaking in pollution, and there are no profits and no more jobs for the children of today.

Our Choice, Al Gore – He’s got the biology right, and spells out the solutions

Bare Bones Biology 158 – Fracking the Reservation

It’s doubly ironic, what I’ve been told is happening on the Jicarilla Apache reservation that is my neighbor. This situation is a small example of the decisions we all face, in fulfilling our responsibility to the future. We have the option to use our knowledge to respond to the challenge of supporting the health of the Biosystem — or not. The Biosystem does not care about our reasons. If we do not act, it will make the choices for us. The bottom line choice is between accepting the jobs that are now offered by the corposystem — or facing the fact that many of these jobs now are gained by destroying the ability of our Biosystem to provide Life (earth, air, energy, water) for our future generations.

Here is the story. images

The Apache Nations had a sustainable culture nourished by their knowledge of the Biosystem. The Biosystem is all of Life on earth that is able to sustain life by maintaining the balance among all its parts – the soil, water, food energy and air – everything we organisms need to stay alive.

The cultural wisdom of the Apache Nations was gained by centuries of experience and observation. Early people lived sustainably within the Biosystem without destroying the resources that gave them life. Chief Garfield

The Apaches (and the other First Nations) were defeated in war by the new arrivals. The newcomers stripped them, as much as possible, of the power of their traditional wisdom and gave them a part of this Biosystem that was thought to be of no value. The newcomers do not have a traditional wisdom. They are growing a new system that is based on the power of technology to make money.

It’s hard to remember, because things have changed so fast, that all this happened not so very long ago. After that time, the newcomers learned more and more to use the power of technology and corporations to make money. In fact, they have grown a new little bubble of a Corposystem within the Biosystem of Life. This subsystem of Life cannot maintain itself without the soil, air, water and energy from plants that are made by the living Biosystem.

Time passed, and the people of the Apache Nation admired the power of the newcomers and began to exchange their own sustainable wisdom for the newcomers’ unsustainable financial greed. They began to believe that the Corposystem is more powerful than the Ecosystem. They learned how to “make” money and began to buy back the land that had been taken from them. So the Apache Nation started to become richer, and started using the money to buy land. Land is good. If properly nurtured, land gives us what we need for life. Earth, air, fire (food energy) and water. Only the Biosystem can make these things, and only if the biosystem remains balanced among all its parts, including us. Buy the land and nurture it; a fine plan.

But now the Apache Nation is (comparatively) rich, what is their plan for their lands? Apparently (I haven’t asked them directly) they want to use the land to become more rich – to be like the newcomers. They want to frack the land for money rather than nurture the land to support their own future. It sounds to me like they have been doubled-conned by the newcomers – first to lose their home on the lands and then as they gain it back, to lose it again by fracking away its good water, air and soil for an energy source that is only good for making money.

130627-Shodo-ASC_3952sThere are other options than either of these two. Life is not a choice between Biosystem and Corposystem. Life is our responsibility to nurture the future of Life. There is nothing to stop us from choosing the best of both systems, rather than the worst. Except perhaps an ego based in greed, rather than an ego based in wisdom.

And if we do decide to choose the welfare of the future Biosystem — over our perks of today – it is then our obligation to discover what the Biosystem really does need to be healthy — not what is our personal opinion of what it should need. The Biosystem does not care about our opinions – but we need to learn how the cycle really functions to maintain the soil, energy from photosynthesis, breathable air and drinkable water – and we need to stop destroying the balance of the Biosystem it on the basis of personal opinions or corposystem propaganda.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of KEOS 89.1 FM Bryan, TX, and A podcast can be downloaded at:

(image of Chief Garfield)

Eagle Ford Shale

I just received about 200 clicks on Eagle Ford Shale, and a message the maps do not exist. The Eagle Ford Shale is in Texas. Look on the lower right of the home page of this blog and you will see Texas Gas/Water Maps. Three maps below that heading, I was able to download all three.

These maps are from last year, and a very large amount of fracking has been done since they were made. If anybody has updated maps, please send them and I will put them up for everyone to share. These maps are the second most common reason that people come to this web site, so spread the word.

The first most common is photosynthesis, which is a subject that everyone should understand who is interested in oil, oil wells or fracking.

Peach Clubhouse Flashletter

1- Letter from the Benicia arm of our Peach Clubhouse.
2- And then stay tuned below the letter and commentary is my answer to Ellen’s question about technical reports that claim “safe levels.” Of course you know EVERYTHING can be harmful if it upsets the balance of your body or of the ecosystem. What is safe?

Howdy readers: As life proceeds, I find that I cannot make a Peach Clubhouse Newsletter every month and do justice to the background information that is the core of the Peach Clubhouse Newsletter. So I have switched to every other month. Next is due first of July or thereafter. However, there are times when it seems important to publish some short bit of news, and today is one of those times, so see below.

I want also to say that nobody is required to live a lifestyle of “fixing” things. In fact, there are strong arguments for just loving life, as one person said “right down to the last molecule” — and not fixing. Most of the modern human ills arise from human fixing. All that is required of us in life is to appreciate what we have been given, which is – life – and not to cause harm or suffering, if we can avoid it. However, if you are not a fixer, please do not be an excuser or a blamer because it interferes with the work of those who are trying to help, and some people just can’t stop trying to help.

If you are a fixer PLEASE be very careful of what you fix and whom you believe in this modern world. Most people mean well, but we must remember that it is what we do that makes up our collective future, not our intention. That’s why we are responsible to act on good information and consider the long-term results of what we do. I would say that the good intentions of many or most fixers are now being manipulated by our culture into harmful channels of behavior.

James Hansen is not. He is one of our entirely credible witnesses on the subject of climate change. This I know. President Obama, I believe, is doing as well as can be expected in the clutches of the corposystem, and better than most, but he does make excuses. Blaming Canada for our plan to build a pipeline to Texas is one of the worst excuses I have ever heard. High-school level. No. Actually grammar school. Well, you who have children and grandchildren know better than I.


1 – Global Warming is not a Prediction (Also it is not a theory).

TO: Loved Ones All,
You’ve heard my concerns before about what we humans are doing to the Earth ecosystem.
Here I go again.
This recent article by James Hansen is plain and simple.
I think he is a credible witness, and we can well afford to pay attention to what he says.
FROM: Larry, Dad, Poppy, Grandpa, etc.

May 9, 2012
Game Over for the Climate
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.

The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events – they were caused by human-induced climate change.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising – and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon – 240 gigatons – to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. – a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.

We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.

But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.

President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public – which yearns for open, honest discussion – explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.

The science of the situation is clear – it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait – we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”


2 – From Janis and Ellen
The question was how to evaluate technical reports that claim levels of exposure are safe. Here is my answer. Most of these difficult questions come from believing false premises. The false premise of the entire corposystem is that growth is good. Not true – balance is good. The primary false premise of most technical evaluations is that nothing else is happening except what they are measuring. If they say, for example, that the level of carbon dioxide, or gas emissions, or pollution of our waters is “safe” – well, the short answer is they don’t know. Why they don’t know? They are assuming that nothing else is going on in the same space (let’s say the Brazos Valley), and the fact is that everything is going on at the same time in the ecosystem. The second false assumption is that they do not give a time frame. If you do this for a week it is OK? If you do it for a year, does the exposure go away or does it stay until it is no longer a safe level? No it does not go away. Everything that happens in the ecosystem stays in the ecosystem.

This, my dear friends, has already happened both in the Brazos Valley and in the world. There is no longer ANY safe level of adding foreign chemicals to our environment. If there were, I would not have been forced out of my home. And do not be confused by the term “natural,” that the corposystem applies to unsafe chemicals. Natural means, really, anything that exists on earth. When I say foreign, I refer to substances that were manipulated by humans and therefore have the potential (whether or not we understand it) to unbalance the ecosystem that has evolved as a healthy life form. Just as these fracking chemicals added to your water might not kill you, just as the sick air might not kill the children, that does not mean we are healthy. I am still taking antihistamines from time to time to counteract the symptoms – not of any illness, but of pollution. I never saw asthma among my childhood playmates. You see the cycle. The corposystem does something they may honestly believe is helpful; a) first destroying the earth to get energy; b) this reduces the available clean water and food; c) and then we treat the human symptoms that result from the destruction and claim there are technologies to deal with food production. We fixers must be very careful not to “fix” in that way, without at the same time reducing the root cause of the cycle. There is no debate about how much is safe. If you want to be healthy do not expose yourself to ANY foreign substances (and of course many natural substances are poisonous as well). The third false assumption that I find in every level of human endeavor, even sometimes in basic science (and always of course in technology) is that we humans know how to fix (anything). We do not, and what I see from this article below is the obvious result of acting as though we do by making assumptions based in human data without regard to the fact that we do NOT know what is going on underground and we have made no effort to find out before messing up the reality.

At the root of this spiral of suffering is overpopulation of humans on this earth. This too, is a fact, not an opinion or a hypothesis. To deny this fact does not solve the problem, even as we compassionately try to treat the symptoms. The earth cannot grow. That is the relevant fact.

The challenge we face is to fix our overpopulation problem without causing more suffering piled on top of all the other causes of suffering. Nothing goes away in the ecosystem. To fix any problem we must recognize and deal with the cause, or the symptoms will simply pile higher and deeper. If you are not a fixer, do not moan and groan and blame – appreciate what you have been given. If you are a fixer do not moan and groan and blame – but do not make it worse by treating the symptoms while ignoring the root cause. It is not possible for humans to “fix” the ecosystem. It was already incredible before we arrived. What we CAN do is to let the ecosystem fix itself by not behaving in ways that unbalance it.

Below is one of the references from Janis that generated the above teaching.
Check for a summary of publications being collected at

New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years
Published on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 by ProPublica

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica

A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.

More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment. But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

“Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an independent hydrogeologist whose clients include the federal government and environmental groups. (of course they are not impermeable, and there are things living down there – anyone should know that before assuming otherwise – LL) “The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability,” he said. “Fluids could move from most any injection process.”

The research for the study was paid for by Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Park Foundation, two upstate New York organizations that have opposed gas drilling and fracking in the Marcellus.
Much of the debate about the environmental risks of gas drilling has centered on the risk that spills could pollute surface water or that structural failures would cause wells to leak. Though some scientists believed it was possible for fracking to contaminate underground water supplies, those risks have been considered secondary. The study in Ground Water is the first peer-reviewed research evaluating this possibility. The study did not use sampling or case histories to assess contamination risks. Rather, it used software and computer modeling to predict how fracking fluids would move over time. The simulations sought to account for the natural fractures and faults in the underground rock formations and the effects of fracking.

The models predict that fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids traveled distances within 100 years that would take tens of thousands of years under natural conditions. And when the models factored in the Marcellus’ natural faults and fractures, fluids could move 10 times as fast as that.
Where man-made fractures intersect with natural faults, or break out of the Marcellus layer into the stone layer above it, the study found, “contaminants could reach the surface areas in tens of years, or less.” The study also concluded that the force that fracking exerts does not immediately let up when the process ends. It can take nearly a year to ease. As a result, chemicals left underground are still being pushed away from the drill site long after drilling is finished. It can take five or six years before the natural balance of pressure in the underground system is fully restored, the study found.

Myers’ research focused exclusively on the Marcellus, but he said his findings may have broader relevance. Many regions where oil and gas is being drilled have more permeable underground environments than the one he analyzed, he said.

“One would have to say that the possible travel times for a similar thing in Arkansas or Northeast Texas is probably faster than what I’ve come up with,” Myers said.

Ground Water is the journal of the National Ground Water Association, a non-profit group that represents scientists, engineers and businesses in the groundwater industry. Several scientists called Myers’ approach unsophisticated and said that the assumptions he used for his models didn’t reflect what they knew about the geology of the Marcellus Shale. If fluids could flow as quickly as Myers asserts, said Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University who has been a proponent of shale development, fracking wouldn’t be necessary to open up the gas deposits.

“This would be a huge fracture porosity,” Engelder said. “So I read this and I say, ‘Golly, does this guy really understand anything about what these shales look like?’ The concern then arises from using a model rather than observations.”

Myers likened the shale to a cracked window, saying that samples showing it didn’t contain fractures were small in size and were akin to only examining an intact section of glass, while a broader, scaled out view would capture the faults and fractures that could leak. Both scientists agreed that direct evidence of fluid migration is needed, but little sampling has been done to analyze where fracking fluids go after being injected underground. Myers says monitoring systems could be installed around gas well sites to measure for changes in water quality, a measure required for some gold mines, for example. Until that happens, Myers said, theoretical modeling has to substitute for hard data.
“We were trying to use the basic concepts of groundwater and hydrology and geology and say can this happen?” he said. “And that had basically never been done.” © 2012 ProPublica

Comment by Glenn, regarding his method for fixing (Oh, oops, words are important the definition of carbon fixation would be in this case to get the carbon dioxide out of the air and converted into proteins in the bodies of living things) excess carbon and other compounds in the living earth: “I am very encouraged. It’s not just what we are emitting or will emit, but what has already been emitted that is already damaging and will escalate due to warming that is built-in, unless a lot of atmospheric carbon finds a new home as life in and on the earth.” Because the carbon cycle is well understood, this kind of work it can reasonably be expected to be helpful; this is NOT similar to the fracking technology which any biologist could reasonably expect to be harmful, and nobody should do because the relevant information is unknown.


My search for a smog-free environment-

It aint Santa Fe, that is already apparent, although I am not actually sick from pollution here, and that is a huge relief. But I don’t expect it will get better over the next ten years.

If you thought Texans were polite, I told you already about the lady who moved her car so Bitsy could park in the shade. Yesterday a woman pulled out a little too far on a difficult corner, so I stopped to wait for her to get organized, then we both moved into the traffic stream and when I came alongside she rolled down her window and apologized. There are all kinds of environment, but the one that makes us sick is the one tells us to move on as soon as our lease is up. Where should I try next?


Thanks to Janis for this one.

“Vermont is poised to become the first U.S. state to ban the natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The Vermont legislature has sent a measure imposing the ban to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign it into law. “ Democracy Now, May 10, 2012.

Vermont is famous for being responsible to the needs of the citizens, but that cannot happen unless the citizens are willing to study the issues and make wise decisions, discuss them without playing “games,” of power or denial or dismissal — and then back up the decisions via their elected officials. Anyone can participate in this process, and if we don’t we need to avoid thinking of ourselves as good citizens of a free and progressive America.


People who believe that nobody in Texas is concerned about fracking. I have the three maps of the Eagle Ford Shale (and the aquifers) available on my blog. Yesterday those maps were the top hit on my blog, and ever since I put them up, they have nearly always been second only to Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, which is always a winner during finals. y’all remind me of a former candidate for Governor, whose statement about women lost him the election to Ann Richards.

No more bees, no more fruits, no more happy dreams of the future.