In this volatile land of exploding oil & gas recovery, a new truth seeks out a blame. The reality of Peak Oil, trumpeted as the gas station marquees (before the experts even had time to line up over Hubbert’s equation), appears to be settling over us like smothering tenor.
First we attacked biofuels. Then the gas-price spike was prosperity’s child. Rarely do we hear anyone lamenting our own short-sightedness, the fact that for 40 years we collectively lambasted those who dared criticized our gluttonous domestic energy practices.
Now we are forced to reckon.
In the Wall Street Journal:
The world’s premier energy monitor is preparing a sharp downward revision of its oil-supply forecast, a shift that reflects deepening pessimism over whether oil companies can keep abreast of booming demand.
The Paris-based International Energy Agency is in the middle of its first attempt to comprehensively assess the condition of the world’s top 400 oil fields. Its findings won’t be released until November, but the bottom line is already clear: Future crude supplies could be far tighter than previously thought …
For several years, the IEA has predicted that supplies of crude and other liquid fuels will arc gently upward to keep pace with rising demand, topping 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up from around 87 million barrels a day currently. Now, the agency is worried that aging oil fields and diminished investment mean that companies could struggle to surpass 100 million barrels a day over the next two decades.
The response of out-of-shape energy pundits struck with short-term memory sways too often to nukes, moderately tempering their enthusiasm with nibblish comments about waste solutions.
This past week saw two governmental solutions to the “waste problem.”
TCEQ Commissioners sided against their staff and approved a nuke dump in West Texas where trenches are settled only 14 feet over groundwater. It’s not clear if that groundwater is tied into the Ogallala Aquifer, but we know it’s uncomfortably close. By denying a contested case hearing by 2-1, our commissioners have decided that’s not so important.
Meanwhile up in Washington State, the feds have ruled that just because a dump is a contaminated Superfund doesn’t mean you can stop the dumping.
The Seattle P-I, reports:
Washington voters don’t have the authority to stop the dumping of radioactive waste in the state, according to a ruling Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2004, nearly 70 percent of voters approved Initiative 297, which banned the import and disposal of hazardous waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation until the massive, polluted site was cleaned up.
The federal government, which is overseeing the multibillion dollar cleanup, immediately challenged I-297 in court …
Heart of America Northwest was the lead watchdog group promoting I-297.
“The sponsors are united in vowing that Hanford will not be used as a hazardous-waste dump site,” said Gerry Pollet, executive director of the group. “We plan on continuing that effort on legislative, congressional, presidential campaign and court fronts.”
All this comes as yet another company confesses it “may have” dumped uranium, arsenic, and flourides into Lake Ontario. How long has this maybe been going on? “For some time,” says company flack.
Still – hold onto your irradiated giggles – the company does not expect potential pollution confirmation to delay the aging plant’s scheduled reopening.
But the hits just keep coming…
I’ve been critical of plans to bring a massive germ lab to San Antonio. To date, my reservations, admittedly, have not caught on in this sleepy little town, where the daily’s editorials have been of the “Let’s Roll” variety.
I wonder if this will catch anyone’s interest:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration relied on a flawed study to conclude that research on a highly infectious animal disease could safely be moved from an isolated island laboratory to sites on the mainland near livestock, congressional investigators concluded in findings obtained by The Associated Press.
The Homeland Security Department “does not have evidence” that foot-and-mouth disease research can be conducted on the U.S. mainland without significant risk of an animal epidemic, Congress’ Government Accountability Office said …
There are five finalist mainland sites: Athens, Ga.; Flora, Miss.; Manhattan, Kan.; Butner, N.C.; and San Antonio. One Homeland Security study found the numbers of livestock in the counties and surrounding areas of the finalists ranged from 542,507 in Kansas to 132,900 in Georgia.
Plum Island [off Long Island, hoe] also is a finalist, although Homeland Security officials are spending considerable time and money holding forums at the mainland locations to convince residents the new lab would be safe.
“We found that DHS has not conducted or commissioned any study to determine whether FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) work can be done safely on the U.S. mainland,” according to testimony prepared for the committee by Nancy Kingsbury, the GAO’s managing director for applied research and methods.
[edited, 5/26] An inquiring call from New Mexico today regarding WCS reminded me of a few things: 1. Laura Paskus wasn’t kidding about pulling the plug on her blog, it hasn’t come back. 2. She reports she’s much happier hiking with her pooch. 3. I would be happier hiking with a pooch, too, instead of obsessing on these essentially eternal waste streams.
Can’t influence 1 and wouldn’t touch number 2. However, to avoid burnout, I make time to enjoy the world, not just write about it (as she encourages me to). So, I primp my patio garden with butterfly habitat and watch as my sun-worshipping feline breaking into aerials over the fluttering sunshine I’ve attracted. I explore rivers more and float in the Gulf. But I soon enough return to the wires and circuit boards.
How to measure personal refreshment with this urgent call to report?
And so back to Andrews County, Waste Control, and dump water. It’s instructive to check our reliance on the Ogallala with the Texas Water Development Board’s newsletter, which reads in part:
We estimate that about 1,000,000 acre-feet of water recharges the Ogallala Aquifer every year (for comparison, the Edwards Aquifer of south-central Texas receives, on average, about 640,000 acre-feet per year).
Now compare the amount of recharge – 1,000,000 acre-feet per year – to how much is pumped: 6,300,000 acre-feet per year.
No wonder the water levels are going down! That is an exceptional amount of water. The Ogallala Aquifer provides about 67 percent of all the groundwater pumped in Texas and 40 percent of all the water (surface water and groundwater) used in the state each year.
In short, the Ogallala Aquifer – as a whole – is getting recharged. It may not be more than we are pumping and it may not be as high as we want it be, but water is slowly trickling down to this valuable groundwater resource.
Of course, waste doesn’t have to be directly above an aquifer to pillage it with radionuclides. There are plenty of fissures and fractures in this subterranean landscape to keep us all guessing for years on end – and that’s without quaking.
In the 1980s, Andrews County was rejected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in screenings for siting a high-level radioactive waste repository, due to the presence of the Ogallala. The state’s now-defunct Disposal Authority additionally had rejected the County in 1987 for siting a “low-level” radioactive waste dump for nuclear energy waste (7).
The area is also seismically active with 18 seismic events counted within a 30 mile radius (48 kilometers). Of these, the latest occurred on 2 June 2001 at a depth of 5 km, with a 3.3 magnitude, and the largest occurred on 2 January 1992, approximately 15 miles from the site with a 5.5 magnitude. Eight of these events happened in 1976 alone.
What’s there to understand? the majority still broods. We’ve got $4 gasoline.
Leave it for some other sucker’s generation.
You, on the other hand, you special creature, are animately googling “renewable energy” and drawing back tens of thousands of hits.
Funniest thing, I’ve never heard anyone worry about a solar array falling into the wrong hands or rattle a saber over a Middle Eastern wind turbine.