Energy

1:34am

Thu April 19, 2012
Environment

How A 'Western Problem' Led To New Drilling Rules

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 7:45 am

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan., on Feb. 21. The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.
Orlin Wagner AP

The Environmental Protection Agency's new air pollution rules for the oil and gas industry may seem like odd timing, as President Obama has been trying to deflect Republican criticism that he overregulates energy industries. But the rules weren't the Obama administration's idea.

Several years ago, communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming complained about air pollution from natural gas booms in their local areas.

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3:04pm

Wed April 18, 2012
Energy

New Rules To Curb Pollution From Oil, Gas Drilling

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 5:34 pm

Oil and natural gas drillers use equipment like this to separate the liquid, gas and sand that come out of wells at the beginning of hydraulic fracturing operations.
David Gilkey NPR

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Wednesday to control the problem of air pollution coming from wells being drilled by the booming oil and natural gas drilling industry.

Currently, waste products from the drilling operations, which include a mix of chemicals, sand and water, can be pumped into open enclosures or pits, where toxic substances can make their way into the air. The new rules will require this fluid to be captured by 2015, and flared — or burned off — in the meantime.

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1:00am

Tue April 17, 2012
Business

U.S. Has A Natural Gas Problem: Too Much Of It

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:43 am

Oil field workers drill into the Gypsum Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kan. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to coax out oil and gas has led to a natural gas boom that the U.S. market is having trouble absorbing.
Orlin Wagner AP

There's a boom in natural gas production in the United States, a boom so big the market is having trouble absorbing it all.

The unusually warm weather this winter is one reason for the excess, since it reduced the need for people to burn gas to heat their homes. A bigger reason, however, is the huge increase in gas production made possible by new methods of coaxing gas out of shale rock formations.

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8:24am

Thu April 12, 2012
U.S.

Where Does America Get Oil? You May Be Surprised

The U.S. now imports far more oil from Canada than from any other country. Persian Gulf imports now account for less than 15 percent of the oil consumed in the U.S. This photo shows the Syncrude oil sands extraction facility near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, in 2009.
Mark Ralston AFP/Getty Images

Since the Arab oil embargoes of the 1960s and 70s, it's been conventional wisdom to talk about American dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf. But the global oil market has changed dramatically since then.

Today, the U.S. actually gets most of its imported oil from Canada and Latin America.

And many Americans might be surprised to learn that the U.S. now imports roughly the same amount of oil from Africa as it does from the Persian Gulf. African imports were a bit higher in 2010, while Persian Gulf oil accounted for a bit more last year.

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1:14am

Thu April 12, 2012
Energy

Scientists Link Rise In Quakes To Wastewater Wells

Originally published on Fri April 13, 2012 8:22 am

Scientists who watch for earthquakes have discovered a big increase in the number of small quakes in the middle of the country. It's an area that's usually pretty quiet geologically.

The scientists suspect the quakes are caused by wastewater wells. They plan to discuss their findings later this month at a seismology conference, but they've shared the basics with NPR.

Bill Ellsworth, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, says new technology over the past decade has given scientists a much better feel for when the Earth shakes.

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