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  1. Yes, I caught that NPR segment too. It was fun to listen to the Sierra Club fight amongst itself. It was quite a lesson in hypocrisy. I took notes.
    So, which is more important? Clean water or donations from natural gas companies?
    It appears that the national organization of the Sierra Club has decided for itself: natural gas is “the cleanest of the fossil fuels.” Those who sit on top of it are “going to start paying a bigger share of the bill” and they’ll like it … or else. What are the consequences? Perhaps they’ll be excommunicated, perhaps they’ll be branded as heretics. Who knows? Religions can be mysterious when it comes to dealing with apostasy.
    Let’s just be thankful that there are no Navajo or Hopi sitting on top of this shale gas, or the Club might actually have to do something to stop it. Navajo water is more important than the water in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia, as everyone knows.
    Meanwhile, the Club is unhappy with Obama because “investments in outdated energy sources like oil, coal, and nuclear power create far fewer jobs per dollar” … notice what’s missing. 😉
    Certainly, I have to agree with them on one point. Natural gas appears to create more environmental activist jobs per dollar than either oil or coal or nuclear, so they might have a point there.

  2. This is beginning to happen all over. The leadership in most of the Green movement have becoming more and more detached from the rank-and-file. What has happened is that the upper echelons of these groups have been slowly populated by what amounts to business people that are making their living at it.
    The business model has been to troll university campuses for disaffected upper-middle class kids, who were not doing anything with themselves, and turn them into players in agitprop theater, while meanwhile raking in donations and grants to continue their ‘good works’. Stupidly they stated to take corporate money, from some of the big players in the energy market as well, and now are being presented the bill by being told to support gas, backed by a bit of renewables as a fig-leaf to their environmental pretensions.
    Their mistake was assuming that both the rank-and-file, and the individual donors didn’t actually believe all the propaganda they were being fed by these organizations. The upshot is that now the leadership has been caught out, and is now between a rock and a hard place, as wind farms are being shoved down rural communities’ throats, and large solar installations are threatening delicate desert ecosystems. The folks on the ground that really care are beginning to see that the bucks they have been coughing up to groups they thought would be there for them in these situations, sold out years ago.
    What we have now is the beginnings of a classic power-vacuum, and one that should be filled with the nuclear option. The ball is in our court.

    1. DV8,
      Sometimes I think that groups like the Sierra Club intentionally support sources that have a high impact (footprint) like shale gas or solar or wind. High footprint sources that require 100 times as much land area to be affected, per unit of energy generation, result in 100 times as many communities being affected. This results in more attention and strife over environmental issues, which in turn enhances the “relevancy” of their organization. It increases donations and political power, and they get to weigh in on all the local controversies over the myriads of individual projects (as people ask them to share their “wisdom”). Think of all the work they’ll get sorting out issues related to habitat impacts, etc.. Simply put, it’s in their business model (as you suggest).
      Another angle may be that they want energy production to have a high apparent impact, to foster the notion that energy use is sinful and should be reduced. They, in turn, get to be the new priests with respect to this issue, preaching to people about their immoral behavior.
      The one thing they DONT want is the invention of an affordable, abundant, inexhaustible energy source that has negligible environmental and public health impact, as well as a negligible footprint (visual or otherwise). This would basically end the environmental issue with respect to energy, which in turn would greatly reduce the relevance, and political power, of their organization. Of course, everyone hear knows that we actually invented that energy source ~60 years ago. It’s been supressed ever since, by both these environmental organizations and the fossil fuel industry.

  3. Pope is on his way out. “While I am looking forward to continuing to serve the club in a new capacity, I am ready to turn the leadership of the organization over to someone new”.
    Michael Brune, formerly of the Rainforest Action Network, is going to be the new Sierra Club executive director. The policies look to be the same although the Brune style has been wilder.

  4. I’ll be damned. I didn’t think this would ever get any recognition among mainstream “environmentalists”.
    Rod, one of your tags is misspelled(“facking”).

    1. Soylent – thanks for the proofread. Tag spelling corrected.
      The reason that fracking is getting attention is that America is full of people who actually pay attention to what is going on around them. They are not swayed by the hypnotic pronouncements of snake oil salesmen, television evangelists, corporate marketers who tell them that pretty cars attract better dates, or “environmental leaders” who fly around the country, drive big cars and live in big houses.
      They know BS when they see it and they know that water with flammable gas bubbling up in it is not good to drink. They can see how ugly gas extraction infrastructure is, recognize the nasty smells that come from the compressor stations, see the damage that pipelines cause, and know that heavy equipment designed to pulverize the earth deep underground cannot be employed without any risk.
      Some in the “nuclear industry” have tried to tell me that I should not align myself with those people because they are associated with the same “environmentalists” who have slowed nuclear plant construction. I disagree – the “environmentalists” who fought nuclear are the same leaders who are now promoting natural gas and they did it for the same puppet masters as they are now working for.
      I vote to believe in reality and in people who keep a BS flag handy – those solid people who are already recognizing that compared to the alternatives, nuclear energy is pretty darned amazing.

  5. I am delighted to see that Stewart Brand’s book is getting a lot of well-deserved attention. I am hoping that this will go so far that the large established “environmental” organizations see members defecting on a large scale, over the nuclear issue.

  6. Using natural gas for cooking and heating in the home rather than nuclear generated electricity causes citizens who use gas to be exposed to 15 times as much radiation added to their natural exposure than they would receive if instead they used nuclear generated electricity while living next door to an operating nuclear reactor. [http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/risk.htm]
    Its the radon that is naturally present in the gas that causes this. Fracking probably increases the amount of contamination. So the Sierra Club is promoting allowing gas companies to increase the amount of radioactive radon that gas companies pipe directly into US homes. Burning frankengas in a cookstove delivers the radon directly into room air where it can be inhaled, burning in a furnace sends it out the flue where it can give cancer to the neighbors. Its a very low risk, but these Sierra Club clowns make a very big deal out of risks orders of magnitude lower.
    Using nuclear to generate electricity instead of Frankengas also results in 1/20th of the CO2 emissions. Naturally, The Club wants to shut all nuclear power down. They do not encourage rapid development of carbon capture for fossil fuels either.
    James Hansen says this about anti nukes:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2008/20081229_DearMichelleAndBarack.pdf
    “The danger is that the minority of vehement antinuclear
    environmentalists”” could cause development of advanced safe nuclear power to be”
    slowed such that utilities are forced to continue coal-burning in order to keep the lights on.
    That is a prescription for disaster.”
    and this:
    “It seems to me that it is time to get fed-up with
    those people who think they can impose their will on everybody, and all the consequences
    that might imply for the planet

  7. In 1967 an underground nuclear explosion, conducted to test the viability of using a nuclear device to aid in natural gas extraction. It was part of the Plowshare Program, the program to develop peaceful uses of nuclear weapons, and was the first use of a nuclear explosion for industrial purposes.
    The test done at the the Gasbuggy Nuclear Test Site was for “gas stimulation”, ( a form of fraking.) The technique has been used employing conventional explosives, and it was hoped that a larger nuclear explosion would be capable of opening up “tight” gas deposits which were not otherwise economically viable. The test called for a 30 kiloton nuclear device to be placed at the bottom of a 4,240 foot deep shaft drilled in a shale gas formation.
    To a large degree the experiment went as planned: the underground cavity produced by the explosion, 80 feet wide and 335 feet high, filled with natural gas from the fractured surrounding rock. The downside was the gas was too radioactive to be commercially distributed by the public utilities.

    1. The soviet equivalent of operation plowshares was called “nuclear explosives for the national economy” or “program 7”.
      The USSR conducted 115 nuclear explosions under the program. 39 were for geological exploration(studying the seismic wave from small nuclear explosions to find interesting geological features; e.g. gas deposits and interesting minerals).
      25 were for oil and gas “stimulation”. The nuclear explosion first creates a spherical cavity surrounded by fractures. Molten rock migrates to the bottom and rubble from the ceiling falls in from above forming what is known as a “rubble chimney”. The chimney usually has space left at the top.
      Here’s a picture of a re-entry worker at the top of the chimney left by the US test “gnome”: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/science/UG_Lab/gnome/gnome_cavity.jpg . This chimney was roughly spherical and about half full of rubble.
      I’m not sure if the USSR used oil and gas from stimulated wells.
      The USSR conducted another 22 explosions to create underground storage for natural gas. 5 for extinguishing large natural gas gushers.
      The rest were for creating channels and dams, crushing ore in open-pit mines, creating underground storage for toxic waste and research purposes(including studying the migration and possible mechanisms of migration of radioactive nuclides from the area of the blast).

  8. This “fracked” gas the Sierra Club is promoting is being extracted from low grade uranium ore. That’s what the Marcellus Shale is.
    A similar formation the Alum Shale was actually mined in Sweden where 100 tons of uranium was produced from about 1950 into the 1970s.
    I found an article questioning whether “fracking” in US shale deposits for gas can be done safely because of this radioactivity, but the concerns were over discharge of the waste water. There is too much radioactivity in “fracked” gas well waste water for it to be injected back into the ground, according to EPA standards, if anyone was enforcing them, but it is at present just being dumped into public waterways because the gas industry isn’t where people look for radiation hazards.
    13 samples of wastewater brought to the surface… from drilling… contain levels of radium…267 times the limit safe to discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink
    http://www.propublica.org/feature/is-the-marcellus-shale-too-hot-to-handle-1109
    No one seems worried about the safety of the gas itself. Piping radioactive gas into homes to be burned on cookstoves has always been legal in the US. No one may have thought to test this more radioactive “fracked” gas to see if its time to think about whether it is too radioactive to use, or if it is too radioactive to be promoted as a “safe” alternative to “dangerous” nuclear power.
    Notes:
    The Marcellus Shale formation is “highly radioactive”. http://www.pe.tamu.edu/wattenbarger/public_html/Selected_papers/–Shale%20Gas/fractured%20shale%20gas%20potential%20in%20new%20york.pdf
    Shales of this type have been mined in Sweden for uranium page 22, The US shales have been similarly considered page 29:
    http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2005/5294/pdf/sir5294_508.pdf

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