Leaked emails from energy department show natural gas may not be as good as it sounds. Congressmen call for investigation. Restoration of Gulf requires replacing sediment. Oyster business out of business and shrimpers see low catch and low prices. Vitter being Vitter and oil jobs not lost because of drilling moratorium.
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|Natural gas is the new oil, a source of domestic energy that has been embraced by both parties in Congress and which has blinded the governor of my home state, Pennsylvania with the dollar signs in his eyes. Those optimistic projections may not be all that they seem, according to emails leaked from the Energy Information Administration and reported by the NYT. The EIA division of the Energy Department was created in response to the '70's energy crisis to provide independent analysis and information "to promote sound policymaking and efficient markets". There seems to be disagreement within the EIA, however, concerning the rosy future of natural gas and shale gas in particular. The emails were provided to the Times on the condition that the names of the senders and those receiving them not be used.
“Am I just totally crazy, or does it seem like everyone and their mothers are endorsing shale gas without getting a really good understanding of the economics at the business level?” an energy analyst at the Energy Information Administration wrote in an April 27 e-mail to a colleague.
The reports released by the EIA are supposed to be independent and based on scientific evidence, free of industry or political pressure. It seems that some of the information in the EIA reports comes from outside contractors with ties to industry.
Two of the primary contractors, Intek and Advanced Resources International, provided shale gas estimates and data for the Energy Information Administration’s major annual forecasting reports on domestic and foreign oil and gas resources. Both of them have major clients in the oil and gas industry, according to corporate tax records from the contractors. The president of Advanced Resources, Vello A. Kuuskraa, is also a stockholder and board member of Southwestern Energy, an energy company heavily involved in drilling for gas in the Fayetteville shale formation in Arkansas.
Once the Times revealed the contents of these emails Monday, federal lawmakers called for an investigation of the natural gas industry.
Federal lawmakers called Tuesday on several agencies, including the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the Energy Information Administration and the Government Accountability Office, to investigate whether the natural gas industry has provided an accurate picture to investors of the long-term profitability of their wells and the amount of gas these wells can produce.
State lawmakers have also gotten into the act
In Maryland, Delegate Heather R. Mizeur, Democrat of Montgomery County, sent a letter to the state comptroller and the attorney general calling for an investigation into disclosures related to the financial and environmental risks of drilling.
Oil and gas company representatives and energy market analysts all rejected the views presented by the emails in the Times. Eight bipartisan congressmen from gas producing states sent a letter to Obama stressing the need to promote natural gas drilling by any means necessary, but most especially, shale gas recovery.
Wonder where their campaign dollars come from, anyone?
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, established by Obama after the BP spill, wants to restore sediment to wetland and barrier islands. The group concluded its fifth of six public meetings in Galveston this week. The public meetings as well as behind the scene work by the task force members will determine what projects in the five Gulf states will be funded by the 1 billion dollars BP has agreed to pay for restoration. Each of the states will receive 100 million, with 100 million each going to the Departments of Commerce and Interior and 300 million to other projects. The states also stand to benefit if a bill proposed by Senators Landrieu and Vitter passed. It would allow up to 80 percent of BP's fines under the Clean Water Act to return to the states. The loss of sediment is not a problem created by the spill, but restoring it will be crucial in undoing the damage to the ecosystem caused by the spill.
Sediment — nutrient-filled sand and rock that flow from rivers and streams into the ocean — are the structural foundation of the Gulf’s ecosystem. This sediment helps ensure the health of the barrier islands and wetlands that provide homes to birds, turtles, fish and other wildlife, while also creating a natural barrier from storms for the millions of people who live along the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast.
The work that Florida has done in the Everglades and Louisiana's restoration of Deer Island were cited as types of projects that are needed.
|BP puts 90 year old family owned oyster business out of business. Levy Collins started in the oyster business nearly a century ago. The Collins Oyster Company holds nearly 2,000 leases in the wetlands of Louisiana. The oyster beds were just recovering from the blow dealt them by Hurricane Katrina when they were flooded with fresh water from the Mississippi a year ago hoping to keep oil from the Macando well out of the wetlands. The decrease in salinity most surely killed the oysters, so recent dredging was to look for signs of hope for the future.
"I came out here today to see if I had a spat take, " Collins said as he picked his way through another dredge load of dead oysters.
While hurricanes can cause destruction the sweeping out of the oyster beds can create a healthier environment for growth, meaning increased yields down the road if growers are patient. No one is sure what the combined effects of fresh water, oil and dispersant will be.
The 2010 oyster season was supposed to bring the Collins Oyster Co.'s lean post-Katrina years to an end, thanks in large part to the restored health of the beds in Snail Bay. The fishing closures triggered by the oil spill dashed those hopes, and the 2011 season is proving to be even more grim.
Shrimpers in Mississippi are unhappy over the state of their catch.Although the brown shrimp season has gone reasonably well; shrimpers are unhappy with the amount of the catch and the low prices.
Traci Floyd, director of the state Department of Marine Resources Shrimp and Crab Bureau, says 903,908 pounds of brown shrimp were caught in the two weeks after the brown shrimp season started on May 25. She says that compares with first two weeks of 2007 when the catch was 1.96 million pounds.
Vitter being Vitter! Senator David Vitter of Louisiana has written a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar threatening to hold up a bill that would provide Salazar with a pay raise unless Salazar speeds up passing out drilling permits. (I had to laugh hysterically when I read this...I assume Salazar did also.) Maybe equally overreacting was a call to have Vitter investigated for bribery.
Last week, the longtime Vitter critics at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether, with that letter, Vitter was guilty of bribery. "Whether it is a defense contractor buying French furniture for a congressman in exchange for earmarks, or a senator who ties a department secretary's pay raise to approving permits, bribery is bribery," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said.
Vitter spokesman of course responded that he was only trying to protect Louisiana jobs, calling for Harry Reid to be investigated for something call the Louisiana Purchase.
Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar countered that "CREW has a clear track record of filing frivolous, political attack complaints, but that certainly won't deter Sen. Vitter from using every tool available to reopen the Gulf and defend Louisiana jobs. If CREW thinks this is bribery, then it should file complaints against their buddy (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid for buying votes with the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback."
The so-called Louisiana Purchase increased Medicaid funds for the state of Louisiana.
Vitter needs to look at the facts! As it turns out, there was no real loss of oil jobs during the moratorium on drilling, so increasing the rate of permits isn't necessarily going to increase jobs. Turns out that more jobs were lost in 2007 to 2009. (Can't really blame that on the Obama gang can you?)
As things turned out, 2010 was the first year in more than a decade that the United States imported less than half the crude oil it consumed, according to the Energy Information Administration. As for losing energy jobs, mining support employment in Lafayette and St. Martin — oilfield service — was actually up by 100 jobs to 13,300 for the year ending in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Guess its all about the spin.
PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!
Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
|6-26-11 12:25 PM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - So Exactly What is the EPA For? - BP Catastrophe AUV #532||Lorinda Pike|
|6-24-11 06:31 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party - Has it been forty years?||Lorinda Pike|
|6-22-11 04:00 PM||Gulf Watchers Wednesday - Top Deepwater Horizon drilling honcho takes 5th - BP Catastrophe AUV #531||peraspera|
|6-19-11 12:07 PM||Gulf Watchers Sunday - Disasters Smell Like Cash - BP Catastrophe AUV #530||Lorinda Pike|
|6-17-11 06:35 PM||Gulf Watchers Block Party - Bucket List la deuxième partie||Lorinda Pike|
|6-14-11 04:33 PM||Gulf Watchers Tuesday -EPA Releases Some Information on Dispersants - BP Catastrophe AUV #529||shanesnana|
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.
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