North Dakota's oil producers will struggle to comply with aggressive rules taking effect on Wednesday designed to curb the wasteful burning of natural gas, hindered by lengthy federal reviews of crucial pipelines.
The No. 2 U.S. oil state is pushing to resolve a problem commonly known as flaring, an environmental and economic squandering akin to burning cash.
Energy companies have been preparing since June for the deadline requiring them to capture 74 percent of natural gas extracted alongside crude oil from thousands of wells.
The standards get tougher in January.
But the energy industry and state officials say they are bound to fall short of the goal through 2015, flaring gas in excess of targets and consequently having to trim oil production to comply with penalties built into the new standards.
The main reason, according to Reuters interviews and reviews of regulations, is simple: a Byzantine web of state and federal agencies who must sign off on new pipelines. Too few pipelines and a lack of plant capacity to prepare gas for transport means North Dakota flares enough natural gas in one month to heat more than 160,000 homes for a year.
The pipelines are caught between state officials whose top energy policy goal is to cut flaring, and federal agencies, which weigh historical and ecological issues, including protection of habitats for rare plants and animals.
A Story We Won't See In The Minneapolis StarTribune
The AP is reporting that states are thinking twice about wind farms:
A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace, envisioning a bright future for an industry that would offer cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for large landowners, especially in rural areas with few other economic prospects.
To ensure the opportunity didn't slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks.
But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation's windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms. The tension could have broad implications for the expansion of wind power in other parts of the country.
"What we've got in this state is a time bomb just waiting to go off," said Frank Robson, a real estate developer from Claremore in northeast Oklahoma. "And the fuse is burning, and nobody is paying any attention to it."
Today, many of the same political leaders who initially welcomed the wind industry want to regulate it more tightly, even in red states like Oklahoma, where candidates regularly rail against government interference. The change of heart is happening as wind farms creep closer to more heavily populated areas.
Opposition is also mounting about the loss of scenic views, the noise from spinning blades, the flashing lights that dot the horizon at night and a lack of public notice about where the turbines will be erected.
Much more at the link.
A Note To Readers And To The Granddaughters
A few days ago I posted this note:
I am really, really enjoying Judith Nies' 2014 Unreal City: Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and the Fate of the West. The book provides a superficial, but informative, history of Hopi/Navajo conflicts, the Mormons, coal, water, and the growth of Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas in the 1950's. I first mentioned the book a few days ago. It is a short book, and so easy to read, one could read it in one setting, but it is so enjoyable to read, I wish it would not end, and that's why I'm reading it slowly. It reads like a very, very long New Yorker article.Huge caveat: Bill McKibben endorses this book. I'm only halfway through but I have found the book very informative; I don't know how the last half will go or how the book will end. So, if you are really, really someone who is wary of Bill McKibben (as I am), don't say I didn't warn you.
On another note, while I was in Chuck Wilder's bookstore in Williston (Books on Broadway) during my most recent visit to the Bakken, I happened to see (and ended up buying) Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander, c. 2013.
It's a really, really geeky, nerdy book that seems to be written for PhD types in education, the folks who think about how to teach pre-schoolers, kindergartners, and elementary children how to do better in modern math or Mandarin or advanced physics. It's a great book to read when trying to fall asleep at night. But I slog through it because I'm like the little boy whose bedroom is filled with horse manure but keeps digging, hoping to find a pony.
I think I've found the pony. I've read a lot of pop literature on physics and at least three biographies of Albert Einstein. But I've never gotten a feel for how he thought, how he made the leaps he made. I am definitely not recommending anyone go out and buy this book. But if this is at all intriguing, see if your local library has a copy, or your local Barnes and Noble and go directly to the middle of chapter 8, p. 451 and start reading "Physics and Logical Thinking." Several pages later, starting on p. 462 the authors talk about Einstein. It could all be apocryphal except for the fact that the authors include quotes from Albert Einstein himself on how he thought about special relativity problems before he sat down and tried to solve the problem(s).
Go to Amazon.com and read the 1-star and 2-star reviews. This pretty much sums up the book:
I agree with the preponderance of reviews here that say this book is too long and rambling by a factor of five, maybe by a factor of ten if you already know some linguistics or psychology. The title might be "Why we are clever authors."
An excellent short section about whether squares are rectangles should be required reading for all teachers of mathematics. A magnificent long chapter on how Einstein used analogical thinking to arrive at his brilliant physical principles is worth the price of the book. It should be required reading for all teachers of physics.