Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to redefine "diesel fuel" so it can expand regulations in natural-gas drilling. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce claims the measure is necessary to "protect human health" from fuels used in hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects high-pressure fluids and sand into shale formations deep beneath the Earth's surface to tap natural-gas reserves.

Rising energy prices in Germany are forcing the pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate Bayer to threaten a move to China. The culprit is Germany's nuclear energy exit bill, passed last month in reaction to Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. The bill orders a nuclear phase-out by 2022. Meanwhile, China plans to build 36 new nuclear power plants during the next decade.

Shale Gas“The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out,” warned the President in a televised speech on energy policy. And because we are running out, “we must prepare quickly” for a transition “to strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.”

Shale GAs 2At first glance the concepts of horizontal drilling for oil and natural gas and hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting oil and gas from tight shale formations, seem physically impossible. But tens of thousands of gas wells already using this revolutionary technology prove otherwise. Hydraulic fracturing of underground wells is not a new idea, having been used for about a century to increase flow in water wells. When formations are “tight” or clogged, reversing the flow temporarily with high pressure from inside the well often allows more flow. But there, the similarity with today’s technology ends.

The crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in the aftermath of the magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11 has had aftershocks of its own around the globe. Predictably, whenever there is an incident involving a nuclear power plant, politicians will scramble to call for new safety measures, new inspections, and call into question the entire role of nuclear power in meeting the energy needs of a burgeoning global population. Such posturing will undoubtedly delay efforts to meet power consumption needs throughout the developed world, but for the Germans, the fallout from Fukushima will now include the nation’s abandonment of nuclear power altogether.

Log in