1. Fracking is under a lot of pressure from environmental groups and has been halted in several places. Here in Quebec it was largely because of leakage of methane from wells. I really wonder, given that the Greens are all over this that it’s going to turn out to be as big as its promoters hope. The fact that they are on the defensive doesn’t bode well for them.

    If indeed they have been behind the FUD against nuclear, (and I don’t doubt they are in large part) then they are reaping what they have sown if the public is in no mood to support risky energy projects.

    1. Personally, I suspect the green strategy is “attack whatever energy source appears to be winning”, whether nuclear or natural gas or whatever.

      Some greens, in fact, think that they ought to bring about economic collapse in order to save the planet. Don’t believe me? I have links.

      1. @Dave – I remain convinced that the folks that you are describing are either a fringe, powerless segment or they are cleverly disguising their real motive for actions that lead to expensive energy.

        For energy suppliers who are producing at their maximum capacity already, the only way to increase revenue is to drive up the price per unit of energy. Even for those who could increase their capacity with capital investments, a high market price strategy is often far more profitable than increasing supply just to lower the sales price.

        I am a cynic when it comes to humans and money, especially when talking about that segment of the human population that has proven itself to be nearly completely motivated by money. Heck, they are so focused on money that they publish a lot of words indicating that they believe that maximizing the financial return on investment is the only rational way to make decisions.

      2. There you go describing Exelon to a tee again in that 2nd paragraph of your comment, Rod.

    2. The USA has near zero environmental or labor protections. Nukes do not play a significant energy role simply because there are cheaper alternatives from coal to renewables.

  2. Rod,

    I don’t see the time stamps on your articles since the move to the new format, but here’s a 0700 am comment.

  3. Hi Rod. Here’s my take on this from my knowledge of gas technologies from my geothermal days.

    A formation is characterized by porosity and permeability. Porosity is “how many holes” (that can contain gas or liquid) and permeability is how well the holes are connected. Permeability determines how fluid can flow. Shale has very low permeability and acts as a barrier between other types of rocks that contain fluid.

    My feeling about shale is that fracking is the major SOURCE of permeability, while in other types of rocks, fracking ENHANCES OR RESTORES permeability. Since there is no significant of permeability “out there” in shale to allow gas to flow into the well, I always thought a shale well would run out quickly. As soon as the gas in the frack-affected area runs out, the well would be finished. There’s too little permeability in the shale to allow gas from further away to move into the well. That seems to be what is happening. They say the wells just decline steadily, instead of reaching a steady state. This is what I would expect.

    My knowledge is many years old (left geothermal energy many years ago and moved to nuclear) so I defer to more knowledgeable people for further comments.

    1. Sounds similar to what happened at Plowshare sites such as the Project Rulison UGT in Colorado. They got a pulse of gas (along with tritium) then it tapered off. Gas companies in Colorado are asking the DOE if they can drill closer to this site. I would like to see them do it so we could see if they can detect any of the fission products or unburned fuel from the test.

  4. Wind, heat pumps, solar, and conservation (city & family planning) are easily meeting the futures energy demands.

    Oil, Gas, Coal, Nuclear, & SprawL are unnecessary prescriptions for pain either by accident, natural disaster, WAR, climate change, market speculation, or peak supply.

    1. Anonymous,

      Conservation is obviously not a source of energy. It is, however, a smart thing to do in most cases.

      On a macro scale, efficiency can absolutely increase the overall usage of an energy supply. See the study linked here:


      I will grant you that sprawl is far from optimum for energy usage purposes, but sprawl is the entrenched state that is the starting point going forward for the US of A. Suburbia exists and will not be abandoned anytime soon without a whole lot of push back.

    2. What if I do not want to conserve? Are you planning to force that solution on the entire population?

      1. Not to mention that most of the people on this planet aren’t even at a level of energy use where they can begin to conserve. If we are going to advance as a society, we will be using more, not less energy. Just look at our scientific instruments such as space telescopes, tokamaks or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

      2. You simply will not be able to not conserve. If the consequences of your actions were properly priced.

      1. Nuke power simply cannot grow from 15%->60% of world-wide electrical generation to replace coal due to lack of uranium supplies. There is overwhelming consensus on this issue from the DOE to the IEAE. Even France is no expanding with renewables and only maintaining its nuke infrastructure. And is scheduled to only be using half its current nuke electrical consumption by 2040.

      2. @Anonymous:

        a href=”http://web.mit.edu/mitei/docs/spotlights/nuclear-fuel-cycle.pdf”>A 2010 study challenges the assumption that the world is running out of uranium — and suggests that nuclear power using today’s reactor technology with a once-through fuel cycle can play a significant part in displacing the world’s carbon-emitting fossil-fuel plants, and thus help to reduce the potential for global climate change.

  5. Nuke power simply cannot grow from 15%->60% of world-wide electrical generation to replace coal due to peak uranium supplies.

    1. Anonymous,

      I recommend you do some quick research into Generation IV reactor designs, breeder reactors, and the usage of thorium as a fertile source for some breeder designs.

      If Gen IV Reactors were not a possibility, once nuclear were to reach about 20-30% of world-wide electrical generation, the cost of Uranium would become a much greater concern than it currently is.

      However, Gen IV Reactor designs SHOULD be far enough along in their development by that point that fuel cost will still be far, far from the biggest concern regarding the economics of nuclear power.

      1. There has never been a thorium reactor built that did not require a significant amount of uranium/plutonium to keep the reaction breeding. Thorium can be an aid to the cycle, but not by itself fissionable, or even exist in the advertised super-large quantities (most of the advertized thorium supply is in the oceans).

  6. Providing more energy efficiency would seem to be secondary to venture capital driving corporate profits and stock prices. Tooth and claw infighting on Wall Street does however provide a view of how marketing “Just The Idea” needs more substance. In this case natural gas volume production is lacking.

    I have “Just The Idea” and it is free and who fights over something that “Has no value”? It is similar to distant thunder. If you can’t hear it, the lightning can’t strike you or perhaps it did and you are dead already. One can assign value if only one persieves the potential of “The Idea”. In other words, Pay attention!!!!

  7. In Australia the fracking fashion is certainly in vogue.Here it is applied to extract coal seam gas,mainly for export.

    The environmental problems are concerning.The number of wells and associated infrastructure have a large footprint.A lot of the coal lies under prime farmland and this is getting farmers as well as environmentalists quite agitated.There have also been attempts to get approval for gas mining very close to urban areas.

    In addition there are valid concerns about the effect on aquifers and the disposal of large quantities of saline water which is produced in the extraction process.

    Add this new insult to the massive disturbance caused by open cut coal mining in NSW and QLD and we have a witches brew of environmental damage all for the sake of greed and short term thinking.

  8. Rod et al,

    You might want to go to the Chesapeake facebook page and see if you like my comment or have any desire to join in.

    I elicited a response of “as a matter of policy, we don’t deal in hypotheticals”.

  9. Amazingly, even with all this shale gas, we’re still producing less gas in the U.S. today than in 1973. The natural gas peak still is 1973 at 24.1 tcf. Coal isn’t faring much better. Anthracite peaked in 1914 and bituminous grade coal in 1990. Because the subbituminous and lignite coal that we’re increasingly mining out west is so much lower in energy density, the U.S. actually peaked in energy from coal in 1998! According to Tad Patzek, the global peak in energy from coal will be 2011, and China’s growth bubble will pop thereafter. Nuclear, yes please!

  10. Have we found the crack in the frack? This is interesting the idea that the life of many of these wells could be much shorter than projected. It makes sense the idea of disturbing the ground will continuously provide methane gas. How much can the ground continue to set the methane free? It would need an ever expanding area and maybe that explains the vast number of wells being dug (drilled).

  11. Careful about biting on this story too hard. Although they work for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Chris Tucker and Jeff Eshelman (Energy in Depth) do a pretty good job pointing out how the author of the NYT articles, Ian Urbina, really cherry-picks his facts and sources. This is exactly what Jeff Donn, the author of the AP hatchet job on nuclear, did.

  12. @Ed F

    I am not “biting” too hard on Urbina’s articles. You can do some searching on Atomic Insights to find that I have been beating the drum about the mirage of the hydrofracking induced gas bubble for several years.

    The facts are that the industry is temporarily able to produce gas at a relatively low cost because it is not being required to clean up after itself. Any 10 year old can tell you that it is a lot easier (cheaper) to do any task if you can walk away without cleaning up.

    That cheaply produced gas is being used to hypnotize short sighted, quarterly earnings focused executives into putting nuclear building plans on hold so that the oil&gas industry can capture market share in the electrical power generation industry.

    They like selling gas to power producers because they are price insensitive customers. If gas companies sell to fertilizer manufacturers and the price gets too high, the fertilizer manufacturer has a couple of choices not open to electricity suppliers. They can simply shut their doors for a while and wait for prices to come down. They can move production to a place with lower raw material costs.

    The big story is that even a massive fracking campaign cannot last very long. The TOTAL of proven, probable, possible and speculative natural gas resources in the US was found to be about 2170 trillion cubic feet as of the end of 2010 by the industry sponsored Potential Gas Committee. http://www.potentialgas.org/

    We use 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas every year ALREADY. Even if we do not increase our consumption, the very last puff will be gone within the possible life expectancy of my already extant granddaughter. Americans are being sold a bill of goods, sponsored by the multinational oil&gas companies and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

    The nuclear industry leaders are wimps that need to get some gumption and fight back.

  13. The flap over carbon dioxide emissions is a consequence from applications of the equivocation fallacy, as I point out in the peer-reviewed article at http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=7923 . When this is realized, the case for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions vanishes. Coal and natural gas become the cheapest of energy sources. Nuclear, wind and solar are losers as they are far more expensive. Nuclear has the added shortcoming of lacking robustness against catastrophic accidents.

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