Engineering Genius

Radical environmental activists have often sought to portray shale energy production as a dangerous and reckless activity that is poorly understood by even those who work in the energy sector. Anyone who has seen shale energy production firsthand knows that this is not the case, as Brian Robson explains in a post on Breaking Energy.

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Texas Oil and Gas Taxes Surge in 2014

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Cooperating to Protect Valuable Water Resources

Energy companies in Texas are driving the development of technologies that reduce water usage in the production of our shale energy resources. The Associated Press reported this week that energy "companies using hydraulic fracturing in Texas say they are recycling more water than ever before."
 
The AP cited recent testimony by Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick explaining that these successes were due, in part, to recent moves by the Texas Legislature to encourage industry led water conservation efforts. Craddick noted that the recent rule change brought about a cooperative approach intended to allow companies to "be innovative" in their approach to water conservation. This approach has resulted in significant gains in water conservation.

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Debunking Methane Myths - Take Two!

Several weeks ago we examined the new set of talking points that anti-shale activists have used to attack the strong environmental record of shale gas. As we noted then, activists are now claiming methane emissions from shale gas production operations mean that these energy resources are much more harmful than previously thought.

The fact that activists settled on this issue as their latest angle to attack American shale energy was no coincidence. Natural gas is a low carbon fuel and this fact does not sit well with many professional supporters of other more expensive forms of energy. Media outlets were quick to seize on the issue as the "fracking’s Achilles’ heel."

Unfortunately for these handwringing activists and their media cheerleaders, these claims are now coming unraveled. While the idea that natural gas is somehow a climate menace always rang a little hollow, new research is demonstrating just how off base these claims are.

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Showing Shale Energy the Love

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, now is the perfect time to show a little love for the overlooked and underappreciated sources of energy that make our modern lives tick. 

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby did just that in his "valentine for fossil fuels" this week. Contrary to the calls by some radical climate activists for Americans "to sever our ties with the fossil fuel industry" through divestment and other measures, Jacoby presents a compelling case that we should celebrate the contributions of the energy industry to our daily lives.

Jacoby points out that "the rise of fossil fuels has led to dramatic gains in human progress — whether that progress is measured in terms of life expectancy, income, education, health, sanitation, transportation, or leisure. Nearly everything that is comfortable and convenient about modern civilization depends on the ready availability of energy." Even the most radical activists understand this, as they "know better than to push people to give up electricity, air travel, computers, or central heating — all of which would vanish without the fossil fuel industry."

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Inoculating Against Shale Energy Ignorance

An interesting connection was made this week by Forbes contributor Bill Tucker in his article "Its Not The Fracking Making Trouble in Texas". Tucker zeroes in on the anti-vaccination movement and explains that there are common threads among this and other anti-science movements that have taken root in communities across the United States.

According to Tucker, the "anti-vaxxer crowd has on its side nothing except bad science and a lot of emotion…What does that debate have to do with energy? Bad science just keeps appearing everywhere propelled by powerful emotions."

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Manufacturing a Stronger America

A robust manufacturing sector has been a key component of the American economic recovery in recent years. A closer examination of the recovery demonstrates that affordable and reliable shale energy has been vital to this economic progress.

The importance of shale energy on American manufacturing was explained by Bryan Iams of PPG Industries in a recent article in The Hill. Iams writes that "now, more than ever, manufacturing is making important contributions to our economy.” American "manufacturing accounts for more than 17 million, well-paying American jobs, and output has increased by 18 percent since the official end of the recession in 2009. For the first time, manufacturing contributes more than $2 trillion to the U.S. economy, 12.5 percent of America’s gross domestic product."

Iams explains that a key reason for the healthy state of American manufacturing is the "availability of affordable energy," and he notes that "plentiful, affordable natural gas is benefiting U.S. manufacturing" as "exports of manufactured products have risen 6 percent since the start of America’s shale-gas production boom."

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Big Green Hype on Methane

A new line of anti-shale gas rhetoric has emerged from the professional environmentalists in recent months. As other scare tactics have lost their strength, these activists have moved on to methane emissions as the latest threat to humanity.

Stephen Moore writes in The Washington Times that this "methane scare" being pushed by "Big Green" is due to the fact that "almost all of the major air pollutants have declined markedly over the last several decades, so environmental groups need to invent new scare tactics to fill up their coffers. The emissions of lead, sulfur and smog have all fallen by at least half since 1970. The air in major American cities such as Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Chicago are as clean as they've been in many decades. Big Green is running out of things to complain about."

Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is giving credibility to this scare tactic. The EPA recently "announced major new regulations on the emissions of methane into the air from oil and gas production. It calls methane a ‘potent’ pollutant and its new rules would require a 45 percent reduction by 2025 from 2012 levels."

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True Colors

In the public debate over America’s energy future, environmental activists have long claimed that their extreme positions are simply a reflection of the best available science on energy issues. 

This cloak of legitimacy is unraveling as these activists are repeatedly shown to be anti-fossil fuel zealots who are willing to say anything to promote their cause. Simon Lomax of Breaking Energy cast a harsh light on this phenomenon earlier this week in a blog post that explores the abuse and misuse of science by anti-shale energy advocates.

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Boosting the Middle Class

The Wall Street Journal featured a fascinating article this week about 24-year-old welder Justin Friend of Bryan, Texas. The story of Friend’s success is a testament to the power of the shale revolution and should also be a sharp rebuttal to anyone who thinks that there is no future for Americans working in skilled trades and manufacturing.

According to the article, Friend "attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, and received a two-year degree in welding." This led him to a full time position as a welder for "Acute Technological Services, a Houston-based unit of Oil States International, Inc." In 2013, Friend earned $130,000 in this position, and by "2014 (his) income rose to about $140,000."

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