Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Up in 2018 - Fracking to Blame?

In 1935 PUHCA - the US Public Utilities Holding Company Act - was signed by FDR, launching a battle between energy owners and government over the control of vital energy resources and infrastructures.

In 2005 PUHCA was eliminated, culminating decades of efforts to void legislation regulating utility ownership, as explained approvingly by this account offered by a legal firm:
The Energy Policy Act of 2005: The Repeal of PUHCA Paves the Way for New Investments. (2005, Aug 31). Morreson & Foerster. Available https://www.mofo.com/resources/publications/the-energy-policy-act-of-2005-the-repeal-of-puhca-paves-the-way-for-new-investments.html

[PUHCA] outlawed existing pyramidal structures and required holding companies that owned at least 10% of a public utility to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") and provide detailed accounts of their financial transactions and holdings. PUHCA led to the split of several gas and electric utilities, and many companies exited the energy sector. Within 20 years, the number of holding companies declined from more than 200 to fewer than 20. This forced divestiture saw the creation of vertically-integrated systems, often limited to a state’s territory. 
More recently, PUHCA has acted as a severe obstacle to much-needed investments in the electric and gas utility sector by sophisticated parties. Essentially, any party (whether domestic or foreign) not primarily involved in utility activities could not acquire more than a 10% interest in a utility without exposing itself to PUHCA’s onerous requirements. PUHCA also limited the utilities’ ability to pursue opportunities that fell outside the scope of their principal activities and otherwise restricted the territory within which they could operate. The repeal of PUHCA will facilitate investors’ entry into the U.S. utility market and create opportunities for consolidation
As you can see from the account above, investors and capitalists found energy regulation onerous.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act[i] repealed PUHCA, promoted the energy status quote (i.e., carbon fuel, nuclear and ethanol) and tepidly incentivized renewables and efficiency, while exempting fracking from key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act (the “Halliburton Loophole).[ii] 

The act granted FERC - Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - power to overturn state and local decision making concerning fracked gas pipelines while shifting regulatory oversight of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which mandated environmental impact statements prior to plant construction, to FERC.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act EXEMPTED fracking from key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act AND allowed the new energy regulator FERC to overturn state and local decision making concerning fracked gas pipelines.

Pipelines are needed to move fracked oil and gas around the country and most of all to ports where US vital energy resources can be exported to a global market that can produce these same resources far less expensively (e.g., compare cost of oil from US fracking to costs from Saudi production). The alternative is rail, but that option has proven quite dangerous and expensive.

During the 1970s, President Carter had banned exports of vital carbon-based energy resources. The energy capitalists wanted that ban eliminated but didn't succeed until 2015. Here is an article from Forbes in 2014 expressing support for oil exports:
Bradley, R (2014, August 20). Oil export ban: Holding America back. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertbradley/2014/08/20/oil-export-ban-holding-america-back/#e53ae3fc0d69

The federal ban on crude exports was an example of government intervention trying to solve the problems created by prior intervention. Congress enactedthe prohibition in 1975 with two goals in mind. The first was to preserve domestic price ceilings by preventing U.S. producers from receiving higher world-oil prices. The second was to preserve believed-to-be depleting domestic reserves for the domestic market. "We have a classic Malthusian case of exponential growth against a finite source," President Carter's energy czar James Schlesinger infamously said.
In 2015 that ban was eliminated, a move supported and approved by "markets" hoping to cash in on the shale boom by exporting America's oil and gas resources.

Fracking contaminates fresh water and produces extensive methane and other noxious emissions, as I've documented here at this blog over the years. Last week I discussed news coverage of massive flaring and waste in Permian fracking (here), noting that approximately 90 companies have been held accountable for human-engineered carbon emissions (here).

Not surprisingly, greenhouse gas emissions rose last year in the US:
Ari Natter (2018, December 13). U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rising Again, Defying Trump’s Boasts. Bloomberg, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-13/u-s-greenhouse-gas-emissions-rising-again-defying-trump-boasts

Greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, cars and other uses of energy in the U.S. are on the rise again after several years of declines, according to new government data that defies the Trump administration’s argument for rolling back regulations to fight pollution….

… As recently as October, Trump’s appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency pointed to falling greenhouse gas emissions to justify their deregulation agenda, which has included proposals to ease Obama-era limits on emissions from power plants, methane leaks from oil and gas facilities, drawing scorn from environmentalists.

These emissions are NOXIOUS and threaten human and ecological health.

The fracking boom is threatening to bust with the (wealthy) world saturated with excess oil and gas as American producers "vent" their excess capacity into the environment.

Ahhhh.... Laissez-Faire Capitalism as a Spectacle of Destruction!


[i] “Nuclear Power in America,” World Nuclear Association, August 11, 2015, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf41.html.

[ii] Wenonah Hauter, “Ten Years Later, the ‘Halliburton Loophole’ and America’s Dirty Fracking Boom,” Food and Water Watch, August 10, 2015, accessed August 29, 2015, http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/ten-years-later-the-halliburton-loophole-and-americas-dirty-fracking-boom/


  1. It is a shame that we can not really trust science at this time. All research must pass through a political filter before being announced. If you subtract greenhouse gas from the above, which we should know has a strong political bias, then some serious considerations remain such as poisoning water supplies. Additionally I think it is evident that fracking makes areas more prone to earthquakes. And there might be other problems which science might point out were it not hysterical about greenhouse gases! What are we doing about the major green house gas? Yes, water vapor.

  2. Where have all the facts gone . . .long time ago? We seem to be living in an anti-empiric society where theories have not only triumphed over fact but have almost completely eliminated them--and to much celebratory clamor.

    The Environment Will Take a Back Seat to Survival https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b2VHNFoZy0

    Is he correct? 400 year solar cycle? What he is suggesting is the empowering of what Aristotle called the animal soul.

  3. I think weez is right and maybe google will not let people post on this blog sometimes or post certain things on this blog. I hope censorship does not continue to be a problem as fukushima rages.

    1. I hope comments aren't censored but could be....

    2. They have no problem with William st. George's posts and spam though. Isn't that interesting

  4. Google, etc. is using a European language standard and not an American one in determining what is and what is not acceptable language. You may be censored if your speech would be viewed as criminal in Europe. Perhaps someone can find a nice chart showing what speech to not use in say Germany or France. E.g. if you write or say the Holocaust is a fiction, a hoax created by the Zionist in many places in Europe you will end up in jail or with a large fine. The phrase hate speech has no legal force in America. The Supreme Court does not recognize it as a valid legal notion. Of course on Majia's Blog there are only the daintiest of comments, so why would Google bother to censor?

  5. I hope everyone took in last evenings speeches. Nancy and Chuck managed to look like well to do refugees. Five billion dollars is pocket change. Nancy and Chuck are like well off parents telling their son that he can not have twenty dollars to go to the county fair! And chattering about the fair being a waste of time despite their both having gone when they were young. Hypocrisy or simply aging . . .but Nancy did not slur or call Trump Nixon or Bush. American Gothic?

  6. Were Americans shy of using drugs, were the demand for the illegal ones almost nil, the Southern Border would quiet done a great deal. Yes, there would still be the demand for cheap labor. Special interest aliens would still need an easy access to the USA, but without the drug cartels things in northern Mexico would change radically. As it is the two powerhouses for illegal immigration are the cartels and the Democrats. Odd bed fellows. Like Ishmael and Queequeg. I wonder what the cartel are doing to prevent border walls? If you are tough and smart being a drug lord is one of the quickest ways to become a billionaire!