Whole Lotta Frac'ing Water

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Today's Wall Street Journal has a great article on the significance of the Haynesville Shale, which contains 200 Trillion feet of natural gas, equivalent to 33 billion barrels of oil. Industry execs say the deep, and deeply unconventional discovery may be part of 2200 trillion feet of natural gas lying under the US crust.

If you're a global warming worrier, this is great news. Generating electricity with natural gas is far better from both a pollution and greenhouse gas emissions standpoint than coal.

Water worriers, though, will be upset by this news, because in Texas, these wells use about 3 million gallons of ground water each to force gas from the shale into the wells. (The process of fracturing the shale to free the gas is called frac'ing. Hence the sensationalist headline.) And when you're talking about fields on the scale of Haynesville, it's hard to imagine that nearby neighbors won't be affected. Possibly even further away neighbors.

My question is whether we're about to see a big split in environmentalisms. We all know the Not In My Back Yard NIMBY's, but are we about to see them fight with the Not In Our Atmosphere NIOA's, or the green nationalists who want to replace imported oil as an auto fuel with homegrown natural gas?

 

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Lisa Margonelli is a writer on energy and environment. She spent four years and traveled 100,000 miles to write her book, "Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to Your Tank." More

Lisa Margonelli directs the New America Foundation's Energy Productivity Initiative, which works to promote energy efficiency as a way of ensuring energy security, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and economic security for American families. She spent roughly four years and traveled 100,000 miles to report her book about the oil supply chain, Oil On the Brain: Petroleum's Long Strange Trip to Your Tank, which the American Library Association named one of the 25 Notable Books of 2007. She spent her childhood in Maine where, during the energy crisis of the 1970s, her family heated the house with wood hauled by a horse. Later, fortunately, they got a tractor. The experience instilled a strong appreciation for the convenience of fossil fuels.

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