Canada pulls out of Kyoto Protocol

The U.S. has never ratified the Kyoto protocols.  Note that the Kyoto protocols promote the use of clean natural gas in preference to coal or other forms of fossil fuel.


TORONTO — Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change Monday [December 12], saying the accord won't help solve the climate crisis. It dealt a blow to the anti-global warming treaty, which has not been formally renounced by any other country.
Environment Minister Peter Kent said that Canada is invoking its legal right to withdraw and said Kyoto doesn't represent the way forward for Canada or the world...
...Monday's announcement was not a surprise. Canada faced international criticism at the recent climate talks in South Africa amid reports it would pull out of Kyoto. Kent had said previously that signing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was one of the previous government's biggest blunders.
The accord requires countries to give a year's notice to withdraw. Kent said the move saves Canada $14 billion in penalties for not achieving its Kyoto targets.
"To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agriculture sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory and building in Canada," Kent said.
Harper's Conservative government is reluctant to hurt Canada's booming oil sands sector, which is the country's fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a reason it has reneged on its Kyoto commitments.
Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves, more than 170 billion barrels. Daily production of 1.5 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to increase to 3.7 million in 2025. Only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have more reserves. But critics say the enormous amount of energy and water needed in the extraction process increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Kent said Canada produces "barely 2 percent" of global emissions and said the previous Liberal government signed onto Kyoto in 1997 without any intention of meeting its targets.
He said the Kyoto Protocol originally covered countries generating less than 30 percent of global emissions and now it covers just 13 percent. He said Canada is committed to addressing climate change in a way that's fair. Canada insists any agreement has to cover all nations.
He said he would not be surprised if other countries follow Canada in pulling out of Kyoto.
Kent's announcement drew immediate criticism from environmental groups. Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada said in a statement that it is further signal that the Harper government is more concerned about protecting polluters than people.
Hannah McKinnon of the Climate Action Network Canada said formally withdrawing from Kyoto after the Durban, South Africa conference is a slap in the face of the international community.
"It's a total abdication of our responsibilities," McKinnon said.
Opposition New Democrat lawmaker Megan Leslie disputed the dollar figures involved and said there are no penalties under Kyoto. Leslie said pulling out saves the Conservatives from having to report that Canada is falling short of its Kyoto targets.
"It's like we're the kid in school who knows they're gonna fail the class, so we have to drop it before that actually happens," Leslie said.
Scientists say that if levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise, eventually the world's climate will reach a tipping point, with irreversible melting of some ice sheets and a several-foot(meter) rise in sea levels.
They cannot pinpoint exactly when that would happen, but the two-decade-long climate negotiations have been focused on preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) above current levels by the end of this century.

Water Trivia

From Cornell's latest water quality report.  Discussions of water and energy development often talk about the number of gallons at risk from development.  It is important to keep in context the large volumes of water that are used in everyday activities.

• There are over 58,900 community water systems in the United States processing more than 34 billion gallons per day.
• The average residence in the United States uses 107,000 gallons of water a year.
• It takes 62,600 gallons of water to produce one ton of steel.
• Eighty percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, but only one percent of the earth's water is suitable for drinking.
• It takes 101 gallons of water to make one pound of wool or cotton.
• Water acts as a natural insulator to regulate the earth’s temperature.
• It would take 219 million gallons of water to cover one square mile with one foot of water.
• One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.

Unprecedented Boom Has Jobs Looking for People in North Dakota

Hydraulic fracturing and the oil play called the Bakken Formation. At


While most of the country is still mired in a troubled economy, North Dakota is riding an unprecedented boom that has jobs looking for people, rather than the other way around.
"And largely that's driven by the oil play in what we call the Bakken Formation," Lynn Helms, Director of North Dakota Dept. of Natural Resources explains.
"We're estimating now about 18,000 square miles of western North Dakota, another 6,000 square miles in Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba that is mature oil-source rock. It can be drilled up almost (like) an oil-producing factory. We did not drill a single dry hole in the last year-and-a-half," she said. 
New technology called hydraulic fracturing has enabled oil companies to drill for previously inaccessible reserves trapped inside shale formations. Experts estimate the fracking method, though controversial, will provide access to an astounding two billion barrels of oil in the Bakken field.
"We're very confident that we've got a twenty year oil boom ahead of us," Helms says. "And that's driving tens of thousands of jobs. I think right now we're estimating 35,000 jobs in direct employment. People actually out there working. And there's about another 18,000 jobs that are looking for somebody to fill"...

Read the whole thing.

On a related note...Agenda 21 and property rights

Under the heading "what could possibly go wrong?"

We recently started a new tab here at the DSEC website, "Alternative energy," up there at the top of the page.  While these are pretty serious topics, we do have to have some fun:


Poll: Pennsylvanians Support Drilling But Want It Taxed

Pennsylvanians now have considerable experience on the ground with energy development.  DSEC is concerned with the weighing and balancing of economic reward and environmental risk.  From the professional, scientific poll below, Pennsylvanians, with a number of years of experience, are making their own balancing judgment.  DSEC notes that energy severance taxes are usually passed through by energy companies to people throughout their markets.  New Yorkers pay these out of state taxes when they buy that energy.  DSEC supports severance taxes so that New York in turn can recover what New Yorkers pay for passed through severance taxes from other states.  Such taxes fall only lightly on in-state residents and may solve many of our state and local government fiscal problems.

A new poll reveals that while most Pennsylvania voters, 62-30%, believe the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale outweigh any environmental concerns, a majority, 64-27%, also want to see the industry taxed.

Those numbers indicate that support for both the industry and a severance tax may have both slipped slightly since June, but the figures are within the margin of error.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Democrats back drilling by a 50-41% margin, while Republicans said they would support an industry tax, 51-37%.

But in a Quinnipiac poll in June, 63% of voters supported drilling over environmental concerns, the issuing garnering strong support across all demographics (see Shale DailyJune 15). A severance tax was also supported by voters overall, 69-24%, but Republican support for a tax stood then at 59%. An April poll pegged opposition to a tax at 22%.

Voters sent a mixed message over other proposals to raise revenue in the Keystone State. The poll found all groups of Pennsylvanians support privatizing liquor stores, 62-31%, but opposed privatizing the operation of state parks, 64-28%. On the issue of privatizing health care in state prisons, voters overall rejected the idea, 43-37%, with Democrats and independents opposed but Republicans in favor.

The poll also found that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett scored his highest approval rating, 50-32%, since taking office in January (see Shale DailyJan. 20). Heeding the advice of his Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, Corbett on Monday proposed a Marcellus impact fee, enhanced safety provisions and incentives to increase natural gas consumption (see related story).

"The governor's support of drilling in the Marcellus Shale and of privatizing the state's liquor stores are in step with voters," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Interviewers for the independent survey called land lines and cell phones of 1,370 registered voters Sept. 21-26. The survey has a margin of error of plus/minus 2.7%.


..."not in my backyard" to "build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything":

Playing by the Rules No Longer Enough, Says Range Exec

Exploration and production companies have heeded the call to improve transparency and institute better practices, but there's more to do to address the concerns of stakeholders in the shale plays, a Range Resources Corp. executive said last week.

Range has been at the forefront of addressing the public's concerns in the Marcellus Shale, where 80% of its capital spending is directed. Many of the company's efforts have now become standard industry practice. Senior Vice President Ray N. Walker Jr., who directs the environment, safety and regulatory compliance division, and is chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), spoke with NGI's Shale Daily on Thursdayin a wide-ranging interview about what the shale industry has done right and what it still needs to do to ensure success going forward.

Walker also offered some insight into Range's long-term plans as CEO John Pinkerton steps down.

"We kind of take a different tack than we used to as an industry because of a few things that have happened in the last couple of years and the great proliferation of a thing happening called shale gas," Walker said. "The things that people are hearing about are new and oftentimes, a little bit scary.

"So we have taken the lead in a lot of aspects to get to the bottom line. And I think we are moving the needle through outreach and transparency. Clearly, we have to address people's concerns" when it comes to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and water sourcing. "We have, as an industry, a lot of answers. And we have done this a lot, developed a lot of new technology. We have a real quandary. How do we connect the answers with the concerns in such a way that this diverse group in the public and the stakeholders will believe it? I think a lot of that is education, talking to people, being transparent."

For example, "in July 2010 Range was the first company in the industry, across the world, to publicly disclose all of the chemicals used in fracking jobs on a well-by-well basis [see Daily GPIAug. 13, 2010]. It's out there, you can find it on the website. As a result of that move, and it was a big move by a company the size of Range, today we've got industry-wide efforts like and a lot of national efforts to get more transparent about what we are putting into these completions. We're real proud of that. It's a good example of being transparent."

The industry as a whole also has "picked up the ball in best practices," said Walker. "We have to do things better. We can no longer be a compliant industry. We have to be better than that. We used to think, like a lot of industries, that regulators will tell us the rules and we'll play by the rules. Now we have to do more than that. We have to do more engineering, take more safety steps, develop new technology."

In fall 2009 Range began to recycle its drilling flowback water. "That was a technology that we worked on hard and we worked on how to make it work. We shared it publicly with the rest of industry [see Shale DailyAug. 24]. And today, at least in the Marcellus, most operations are striving to get to 100% recycling of water sourcing, which is at the heart of a lot of concerns. But it also helps us to save money. It's those kinds of things, which are good examples of developing something and then being transparent with the public, that are going to move the needle."

Walker said "the folks in Pennsylvania, the regulatory agencies, the administration and legislature, everybody is starting to appreciate the fact that it can be done correctly. Organizations like the MSC have made tremendous progress in publicizing that, educating all members on what are the best techniques to construct water protection casing streams. There is sharing amongst all operators. Everybody's got the wherewithal to do that. Does that mean we'll never make a mistake? Of course not. It's an industrial activity. But we're trying to do the right thing and we're getting better and better at it."

Asked about research by some oilfield services companies into fracking techniques without using water, the former Halliburton Co. executive was skeptical.

"A lot of research projects are going on to look at different ways to accomplish this without using water. That's the sort of utopia that we're all striving to get to. As a guy that's been intricately involved in the effort for way over 30 years, it's hard to envision how they will get there. But it's a worthwhile effort that I applaud and encourage...but it's way, way off in the future.

"People in Pennsylvania aren't worried about sourcing water anymore. We are beginning to do a better job about educating about water. And because we are recycling, we're not using as much anymore. The concern was over the disposal of water and since we've been recycling, it's alleviated those concerns. We've spent a lot of time working on designs of containers and structures for handling and storing...and are working on pipelines to move flowback water around. A lot of work is going on. I don't think water will be as big an issue going forward with the efforts we are putting forth."

But there always will be the protesters, will there not?

"A lot of times, I believe it's true, that when you look at the population in general, on the bell curve, you have people out there on the fringes, with 5% on either end of the argument. For some people it used to being NIMBY [not in my backyard] but now they are becoming BANANA -- build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything," he said.

"Then there are people on the other end of the argument that want to be able to do whatever they want. Neither one is right. What we can say, as a company, we sure do a lot of work in the [Marcellus Shale] coalition, and we have talked to 20-25 conservation and NGO-type [nonprofit governmental organizations] groups. Ninety percent of them agree on 90% of what we talk about. That's a reasonable, manageable theory. Most people are reasonable if they are given the facts and we address their concerns. We are beginning to see that they want jobs, they want the economy to improve..."

The rapid buildup of the shale plays across the country caught everyone by surprise -- stakeholders and the industry, said Walker. The petroleum engineer joined Range in 2006 and was elected to his current position in February 2010. He previously was vice president of the company's Marcellus Shale division, where he pioneered the development.

The shale phenomenon "is especially interesting to me," he said. "I was a really young engineer in 1982, having graduated from Texas A&M University, and I had friends working at Mitchell Energy [& Development Corp.] talking about fracking Barnett Shale wells. I thought they were playing a joke on me." George Mitchell's company in the 1980s pioneered the technique to link horizontal drilling with fracking to produce gas. "We designed a pump in 1982 and about probably 2001 and 2002, that time frame, the Barnett lit up. Everybody then started looking for the next Barnett. Of course, we found the Marcellus in 2004. And from that point forward, it's unbelievable...There's not a week that goes by that some new play isn't being talked about."

Range, with more than one million net acres, is the second largest leaseholder in the Marcellus Shale after Chesapeake Energy Corp. There's potential for three stacked shale formations that run from Pennsylvania into Ohio, Walker explained. The Upper Devonian formation runs above the Marcellus, while the Utica Shale runs below it (see Shale Daily, March 7). Range now is testing the formations with expanded work in the Upper Devonian and Utica planned in the next year.

Without the Utica, Range has an estimated 56 Tcfe in net unproven reserves, said Walker. The company has an estimated 22-32 Tcfe of net unproven resource in the Marcellus, while in the Upper Devonian it has 8-12 Tcfe of net unproven reserves. Outside the Northeast, Range also holds 5-6 Tcf of proven reserves in the Midcontinent, the Permian Basin and the Nora formation in Virginia; it also has an estimated 8-10 Tcfe of net unproven reserves. In addition, there's a "big liquids upside" to the leaseholds.

"We just haven't had any time to get around to everything that we've got," he said. Range doesn't have to hurry -- the company's drilling rights for the Utica and the Upper Devonian are secured because they are held by production by drilling Marcellus wells.

Rumors circulated last month that Range was being pursued by Royal Dutch Shell plc, and the companies have offered no comment. However, Walker was asked if Range would consider partnering or creating a joint venture with a deep pocket company on some of its shale acreage, as have some of its peers.

"We have internally what we call a long-range plan," he said. "That's nothing new. Every company has one. It's a model built from the ground up on which we run a countless number of iterations on how to best grow value for our shareholders. We look at all kinds of ways to get there. And we have for years been working really hard to build up our resource potential.

"We've got the ability to grow our company 10-15 times with what we believe to be world class economics in what we believe to be the best rock in the world in a prime market in gas or liquids. And we've got a huge inventory that can provide substantial and significant production growth for years to come organically."

But "unless someone can show us a better way to grow value for our shareholders, we'll stick to the path we've been on," he said. "We've cleaned up our balance sheet; we have $2 billion in liquidity...$1.5 billion in commitments from a diverse group of lenders. We've eliminated the risks there. We have major takeaway sales, ethane contracts...And it's not to pat ourselves on the back, but we're a well oiled machine. We think we have a really strong plan in place. I don't see any other options as being anything that would create any more value than we have in the works.

"That being said, if someone walks in with a viable offer, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to look at that."

Long-time leader Pinkerton will be retiring at the end of the year (see Shale DailyJune 28). Will Range change its strategy when COO Jeff Ventura takes the helm?

"Absolutely not," Walker said. "We have a very team-oriented CEO. All of us on the senior management team have provided a lot of input and we've been working together the last four or five years. It's a team effort. [Pinkerton] has been the leader and he's responsible for pushing us when we needed to be pushed, certainly. But nothing is going to change."

NIMBY, power lines, and energy development policy

There is inherent tension (no pun intended) between the need to meet certain national needs and the Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) syndrome.  The question is what level of government and what size political unit will have majority rule control, local, state, or national.  This question is critical not only in energy development policy but in the building of long distance high tension power lines for the electrical grid.

AP story: "Spin overtaking facts in Marcellus Shale debate"

Editor's note: DSEC was formed to encourage rational discussion of the issues surrounding energy development and to seek the truth of the matter.  We believe that there is a "middle way" in which we can both protect our environment and gain the advantages of economic development and lessened foreign energy dependence that will follow from energy development done in a safe, regulated way.

PITTSBURGH -- Some insist Marcellus Shale natural gas is a huge economic boom for America, while others are certain it's an environmental catastrophe.

Gas drilling from the Marcellus pollutes groundwater, or it never pollutes groundwater. It's cleaner than coal or oil, except that it's dirty.

It provides a boost to hard-hit rural economies; but then again, maybe it doesn't.

The one point of agreement?

Scientists say advocates on both sides increasingly spin every shred of research to fit their own views and ignore the bigger picture..

Read the whole thing.

"10 point legal takedown"

At The Lonely Conservative, Unlikely Hospitalist writes:

And so it begins…..

When the opposition to natural gas was at its most vocal a few months ago the caterwauling influenced several towns in upstate New York to pass laws, mostly through local zoning laws prohibiting hydraulic fracturing for natural gas within in their districts. At the time the pressure to submit such laws was intense and many localities have either succumbed to the temptation or are actively working to do so.

In August, the town of Dryden voted on an energy development ban. They were put on notice…..

Read the whole thing.


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