Drumbeat: December 23, 2009

Thomas L. Friedman: The Copenhagen That Matters

As I listened to Denmark’s minister of economic and business affairs describe how her country used higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation in green power and then recycled the tax revenues back to Danish industry and consumers to make it easier for them to make and buy the new clean technologies, it all sounded so, well, intelligent. It sounded as if the Danes looked at themselves after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, found that they were totally dependent on Middle East oil and put in place a long-term strategy to make Denmark energy-secure and start a new industry at the same time.

The more I listened to the Danish minister, Lene Espersen, the more I thought of my own country, where I’ve been told time and again by U.S. politicians that proposing even a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in gasoline taxes to make America more energy independent and to stimulate fuel efficiency is “off the table,” an act of sure political suicide.

Not in Denmark. So I asked the Danish minister: “Tell me, what planet are you people from?”

Espersen laughed. But I didn’t. How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.” They’ve been banished by an ad hoc coalition of lobbyists loaded with money, loud-mouth talk-show hosts who will flame anyone who crosses them, political consultants who warn that asking Americans to do anything important but hard makes one unelectable and a citizenry that doesn’t even ask for optimal anymore because it believes that optimal is impossible.

Crude Oil Rises the Most in a Month on U.S. Inventory Declines

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose the most in a month after a U.S. Energy Department report showed a larger-than- forecast drop in U.S. stockpiles.

Supplies fell 4.84 million barrels to 327.5 million last week, the biggest decline since September. Inventories were forecast to decrease by 1.6 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Stockpiles of gasoline and distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, dropped as demand increased.

“These numbers took analysts by surprise,” said Sean Brodrick, natural resource analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter, Florida. “We are now set to march up to the $80 level. It looks like the consumer is coming back even if the economic growth isn’t as strong as people wanted.”

Anti-Iranian demonstrations spread across Iraq in oil well dispute

A row over an oil well on the Iran-Iraq border has triggered anti-Iranian demonstrations across Iraq, angry statements by politicians accusing the Government of supporting Iran and the announcement of a new cross-tribal armed force to combat Iranian incursions.

The Rising Dominance of National Oil Companies

Iraq currently boasts the world’s third-largest proven reserves of conventional crude oil, behind Iran and Saudi Arabia. Figure 1 shows countries with the largest crude oil reserves. If Canada’s tar sands were factored in, then Iraq would be edged into fourth place. Oil and gas data for Iraq, however date back more than three decades, long before the technological improvements that have transformed the oil and gas industry. The implication then is that the figures for the country’s recoverable reserves are most likely significantly higher than previously reckoned. This may have informed the bids entered by companies in the second Iraqi oil block auction, which was held last week.

UAE set up nuclear power body, to name builder soon

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates set up a body on Wednesday to run its burgeoning nuclear programme to produce electricity, which is expected to award the region's largest-ever energy deals soon, state media reported.

Ice Melting Faster Everywhere

From the Arctic sea ice to the Antarctic interior and the mountainous peaks of Peru, Alaska, and Tibet, ice is melting at an alarming rate. The accelerating loss of ice sheets, sea ice, and glaciers is one of the most powerful and striking indicators of a warming climate.

The most notable ice loss in recent years has been the shrinking of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. From the beginning of the satellite record in 1979 through 1996, ice area decreased at a steady rate of 3 percent per decade in response to rising temperature. In the following decade, ice area decreased by 11 percent, reaching a dramatic minimum in 2007. In September of that year, sea ice occupied only 3.6 million square kilometers, an area 27 percent smaller than the previous record low (in 2005) and 38 percent smaller than the 1979–2007 average. Summer sea ice coverage has increased slightly in the last two years, but it is still far below the long-term average.

Exxon's drilling juggernaut

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Exxon Mobil may be getting more than it bargained for with its recent plan to purchase natural gas giant XTO Energy.

The $41 billion deal would make Exxon the country's largest shale gas producer, drawing more attention to a controversial area of drilling that analysts say could invite tightened federal regulations for the entire industry.

Iraq to Rival Saudi Arabia in OPEC Oil Stakes

A surge from Iraq's oil fields will occupy Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries crude producers in coming years as the recovering country's output challenges that of Saudi Arabia, observers said as the cartel held its latest meeting.

Why Britain is still in recession

Hill also pointed to figures released yesterday showing Britain's current account deficit, a measure of how much we owe the rest of the world, stands at 1.3 per cent of GDP, a figure that is 'perfectly sustainable and a lot narrower than in 2007'.

What's more, if it hadn't been for declines in the North Sea oil sector, Britain's GDP would have been flat - hardly a stellar performance but better than another quarter of contraction. But the huge role of UK fiscal and monetary policy in propping up the economy must be cause for concern.

MMS Notifies Offshore Lease Owners of Inspection Fees

The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) is notifying offshore lease owners and operators that new fees will be collected to recover the costs of offshore inspections conducted during Fiscal Year 2010, MMS Director Liz Birnbaum announced.

"These fees, mandated by Congress, will help MMS and taxpayers recover some of the costs associated with offshore inspections, which include safety and environmental compliance inspections of facilities and equipment," Birnbaum said.

China imports coal, LNG for winter; exports gasoline

China, the world’s second-largest energy user, increased overseas purchases of coal and liquefied natural gas last month compared with October to meet winter fuel demand, government data showed.

Kingdom to store oil in Japan

Oil demand has been steadily falling in Japan for years, a trend that accelerated this year in the face of the country’s worst recession in decades, leaving the country with one million barrels per day of excess refining capacity, according to some analysts.

Al-Naimi said Saudi Aramco had been offered the commercial storage for no charge. When asked for details of how the deal had been agreed, Al-Naimi said: “Through good negotiations.”

Endgame: USA

A number of economists such as Dr James Hamilton (PDF 637KB) and Jeff Rubin attribute the GFC to the oil price spike of 2007-08. This is not particularly surprising with oil price spikes having been followed by recessions consistently since the 1970s. With depletion rates of oilfields running at 6.7 per cent a year, and the significant cut in investment as a result of the GFC/oil price crash, the conditions are set for another oil price spike in the not too distant future. Indeed it appears that the global economy has reached an inflection point where the cost of bringing new oil to market has approached the point where it becomes economically damaging.

The madness of Rome

If you happen to be one of those techno-optimists who believe that our culture can transition to a future powered by benign alternatives by using coal or unconventional carbon-based fuels, you just might want to consider the damage caused by the extraction of these resources. For example, if "clean coal" is your fancy, a little research into the devastation wrought by the mountaintop removal form of surface coal mining might be in order (see here, here, and here). In an effort to find a suitable replacement for conventional crude oil and natural gas, resources that most independent analysts believe will experience peak production soon, if not already in the case of oil, the conventional energy industry has been moving quickly to firmly institutionalize clean coal, natural gas, and petroleum-based alternatives like heavy oils, tar sands, coal derivatives, shale gas, and other sources.

Jeff Rubin: Just how big a mortgage can you carry?

Energy prices, which were falling a year ago, are now back on the rise. Just as the inflationary impact of those prices triggered the fatal rise in interest rates which, in turn, gave us the deepest postwar global recession ever, energy prices will once again push inflation and interest rates much higher. (See my post Financial Crisis or Energy Shock? for more on this.)

And this time the inflationary fallout won’t just be in the energy component of the Consumer Price Index. The impact will be much broader, as soaring transport prices encourage higher-cost local production to replace sourcing from cheap labor markets halfway around the world.

Oil, Economics, and Politics–a tangled web of consequences

It will come as little surprise to most readers that the world is near to, or past, peak world oil production. Petroleum is so essential to the economics of transportation that many believe when oil peaks, the global economy must also shrink in terms of the total output of goods, even as the population increases. Most who study peak oil and accept the findings of the Hirsch Report do not expect a lasting economic recovery, likely for decades.

China plays Pipelineistan

BEIJING - For all the rhapsodies on the advent of the New Silk Road, it may have come into effect for good last week, when China and Central Asia got together to open a crucial Pipelineistan node linking Turkmenistan to China's Xinjiang.

By 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying heights courtesy of gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer Central Asia Pipeline from Turkmenistan - operating at full capacity. The pipeline will even help China achieve its goals in terms of curbing carbon emissions.

Hoping for More Than Just Energy From a Pipeline

Mr. Fischer is convinced that Europe’s energy shortages last January, caused by a pricing dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas, were the turning point for the new European gas pipeline. Called Nabucco and stretching for 2,050 miles, the new pipeline is expected to cost 8 billion euros ($11.4 billion). Europe cannot wait for another crisis to begin to diversify its suppliers, he argues, as another cold wave grips the Continent.

Beyond the imperative of supplying energy, however, Mr. Fischer sees immense strategic implications in Nabucco for the European Union, and especially its relations with Turkey — a NATO member and candidate to join the bloc — as well as its eastern neighbors Azerbaijan and Iraq, where Nabucco hopes to buy its gas.

China resets terms of engagement in Central Asia

Nursultan Nazarbayev has a way of drawing lines in the sand. The president of Kazakhstan recently told global oil and metal majors that new laws would allow only those foreign investors that cooperate with his industrialization program to tap his nation's mineral resources.

A delicate dance of power

MONTREAL - China's emergence as an important player in the development and use of energy resources found in the Caspian Sea basin, alongside longer established interests emanating from Russia, Europe and the United States, is a reminder of the ever-changing dynamics of the region, too easily overlooked during periods of apparent statis, such as during the late Soviet era.

Yet the appearance of this new power in the region also confirms the essential stability of a core group of relationships about which others wax and wane, with a periodicity of possible future importance that China's presence can help us to identify.

World powers discuss options should Iran miss nuclear deadline

(CNN) -- World powers are discussing next steps toward Iran if it fails to meet a year-end deadline for addressing international concern over its nuclear program, the White House and State Department said Tuesday.

"End of Suburbia" Producers Working on New Film

"The End of Suburbia exposed urban truths in a new way. That's what we want to do again with this new film. But rather than focus on the problems, we want to explore solutions. There are way too many films out there dwelling on the problems, including ours."

Greene's new film, to be called Resilient City, will be about urban solutions - especially the innovative approaches being tried out in three particular cities: Detroit, Mumbai and Tianjin in China.

Reactor shutdown opens door to Russia plans

VISAGINAS, Lithuania — To the European Union, Lithuania's Soviet-built nuclear power plant is a gigantic safety hazard that needs to finally shut down this New Year's Eve.

To Lithuanians, however, the twin concrete reactor blocks of the Ignalina plant, rising amid lakes and oak forests near the country's eastern border, have been a symbol of energy independence since the small Baltic country regained its freedom after the 1991 Soviet collapse.

That is why the EU-ordered shutdown of the plant's last working reactor — considered too similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl in 1986 — is making Lithuanians uneasy. They now face the prospect of importing energy from Russia, considered an unreliable energy partner by many after its state-owned gas company shut off supplies through Ukraine last year and in 2006 over price disputes.

Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke

Weinberg and his men proved the efficacy of thorium reactors in hundreds of tests at Oak Ridge from the ’50s through the early ’70s. But thorium hit a dead end. Locked in a struggle with a nuclear- armed Soviet Union, the US government in the ’60s chose to build uranium-fueled reactors — in part because they produce plutonium that can be refined into weapons-grade material. The course of the nuclear industry was set for the next four decades, and thorium power became one of the great what-if technologies of the 20th century.

Today, however, Sorensen spearheads a cadre of outsiders dedicated to sparking a thorium revival. When he’s not at his day job as an aerospace engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama — or wrapping up the master’s in nuclear engineering he is soon to earn from the University of Tennessee — he runs a popular blog called Energy From Thorium. A community of engineers, amateur nuclear power geeks, and researchers has gathered around the site’s forum, ardently discussing the future of thorium. The site even links to PDFs of the Oak Ridge archives, which Sorensen helped get scanned. Energy From Thorium has become a sort of open source project aimed at resurrecting long-lost energy technology using modern techniques.

China to establish rare metal reserve system in 2010

Chen Yanhai, director general of the Department of Raw Material Industry under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said recently that in 2010, MIIT will cooperate with relevant departments to strengthen the protection of resources and establish a rare metal reserve system.

China's reserves of rare metals including tungsten, indium and rare earth all rank first in the world, and the output of the metals accounts for over 80 percent of the world's total output, and deposits of rare metals such as molybdenum and germanium also rank among the most extensive in the world. However, cutthroat competition and price wars are severely wasting China's rare metal resources.

Solar power boost for US rental outfits

Real estate investment trusts are showing an increasing interest in renting roof space to companies and utilities that can install and manage solar panels on top of their buildings. The building owners can then generate additional income from the roof rental and from selling the energy directly to customers or to local municipalities.

What Are the Amounts of Greenhouse Gases Released in Your Area and What Are the Sources?

ScienceDaily — The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has developed a high resolution digital view of artificial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for any 10 x 10 kms area in the world. Using JRC's work on emissions and Google Earth, this new tool allows the visualisation of the levels of emissions locally from 1970 to 2005 and the identification of the main sources.

New Research Sheds Light on Our Reactions to Humanitarian Crises

ScienceDaily — Millions of lives are lost around the world each year to accidents, terrorist attacks, wars, epidemics and natural disasters. What's more, the prediction is that climate change will increase the number and intensity of some of these events. Newly published research from the ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution (ELSE) suggests that the way people -- whether members of the public or policy makers -- react when faced with human fatalities is highly dependent on the distribution of death tolls they are typically exposed to.

TVA coal ash spill: hundreds are suing for damages

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Hundreds of people have sued the Tennessee Valley Authority ahead of a deadline for filing personal injury claims over a massive coal ash spill.

Court clerks said 20 federal lawsuits were filed in Knoxville ahead of Tuesday's one-year deadline.

NYC urges ban on shale gas drilling in watershed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City urged New York state on Wednesday to ban natural gas drilling in its watershed, adding unprecedented support to critics who consider the chemicals used to mine for shale gas as poisonous to drinking water.

The biggest city in the United States joined environmentalists and small-town neighbors of drilling operations in trying to hinder the exploitation of one of the most promising sources of U.S. energy -- the Marcellus Shale formation.

"The risks are simply not worth it," the city's acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Steven Lawitts, said in a statement.

"Based on the latest science and available technology, as well as the data and limited analysis presented by the state, high-volume hydrofracking and horizontal drilling pose unacceptable threats to the unfiltered fresh water supply of nine million New Yorkers," Lawitts said.

Oil Trades Above $74 on Speculation Supplies Dropped Last Week

Bloomberg) -- Oil held steady above $74 a barrel in New York before a U.S. Energy Department report likely to show crude stockpiles fell last week as temperatures dropped.

The report today is expected to show oil inventories in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy consumer, shrank by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 18, according to the median estimate of 16 analysts polled by Bloomberg News. Data from the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute yesterday showed commercially held U.S. inventories fell by 3.71 million barrels.

“Due to cold weather, we are seeing stock draws in crude and that is the supporting factor these days,” said Hannes Loacker, an analyst at Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich. “It brings the inventory levels nearer to the five-year average.”

China to continue oil product pricing reform

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China announced Wednesday that it will continue to reform its oil product pricing mechanism based on changes in the domestic and international markets.

"The reform of refined oil pricing and affiliated fuel tax incentives has produced prominent results in the past year. The significant measures spell out China's resolution to save energy and balance energy consumption," the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the nation's economic planning agency, said in a statement on its website.

Russia may supply oil to Belarus without a deal

MINSK (Reuters) - Russia will likely not stop crude deliveries to Belarus, even if a deal on supplies is not reached quickly, Alexander Surikov, the Russian ambassador to Belarus said on Wednesday.

Kuwait discovers new light crude, gas field

KUWAIT CITY (Xinhua)-- Oil-rich Kuwait said Tuesday it has discovered a light crude and gas field in the northwest, as the country moves toward a target of four million barrels per day of crude by 2020.

The field is located in the area of Mutreba and its primary production is estimated at 80,000 barrels per day of light crude and 110 million cubic feet per day of gas, Kuwait Oil Company (KOC)Chairman Sami Al-Rushaid said.

Exxon Argentine Refinery Will Cut Output on Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Argentine refinery will pare output to a “minimum” as truck drivers may extend a two-day strike to protest job losses and work conditions, a company spokesman said.

PetroChina Shuts Two Fertilizer Units on Gas Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co., the country’s largest oil company, shut two fertilizer-making units in Ningxia province because of a natural gas shortage after the heaviest snowfall in six decades.

The Beijing-based company is losing more than 4.5 million yuan ($660,000) a day because of the closure, parent China National Petroleum Corp. said in its online newsletter today. It didn’t say when the units were shut or specify the duration of the stoppage.

Stephen Leeb - Natural Gas: What a Difference a Year Could Make

A lot of ink has been spilled on the enormous reserve potential of the shale gas deposits. Some have argued that based on these putative enormous reserves, the country has much less to worry about should the oil doomsters be proven right. Evidently the shareholders and managements of XTO and Exxon demur. Or at least they are saying that if there are massive reserves in the shale formations there, those fields are not going to be easy to develop.

We cannot take full credit for these observations. Some goes to Matt Simmons, whom we interviewed about a year ago. His comment on the shale formations at that time was that it would take more energy to develop shale than you would get out. I must admit that at the time I just thought Matt simply had an axe to grind as he has been indefatigable in his campaign for developing alternative to fossil fuels. The dynamics of the Exxon-XTO deal strongly suggest that Matt may have been on to something.

Energy, Financials May Lead Rebound in Takeovers, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Energy and financial-services companies may lead a rebound in takeovers in 2010 after the value of acquisitions worldwide dropped 34 percent this year, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed expect mergers and acquisitions to increase next year, the Global M&A Outlook found. Bloomberg’s survey of about 250 investment bankers, lawyers and investors was released today. About 21 percent of those surveyed expected energy companies to lead in M&A next year, while 17 percent chose financial firms.

Glencore Sells Bonds to BlackRock, GIC, First Reserve

(Bloomberg) -- Glencore International AG, the biggest commodity trader, sold as much as $2.2 billion of convertible bonds to investors including BlackRock Inc. in what may be the first step toward an initial public offering.

Troops quell Delta protests

Security forces have deployed in two cities in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta in the past two days to disperse former militants protesting over the non-payment of amnesty allowances.

Report: Police, protesters clash in southern Iran

TEHRAN, Iran — Security forces clashed with opposition protesters gathered Wednesday for a memorial for Iran's most senior dissident cleric, beating men and women and firing tear gas, reformist Web sites reported.

BP Faces Probes by U.S., Alaska Officials Related to Oil Spills

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc faces probes from U.S. and Alaska officials related to recent oil spills in the state, just as the oil company conducts its own investigation following a leak in one line at the end of November.

A rupture in an 18-inch pipeline running through BP’s Lisburne oil field in Alaska on Nov. 29 created an opening about two feet long that led to the release of more than 1,000 barrels of crude oil, natural gas and water onto the frozen tundra.

States Settle With Plant Polluting Region’s Air

Air quality in the New York tri-state region stands to benefit from a court settlement requiring Duke Energy, one of the nation’s largest electric power companies, to drastically cut sulfur dioxide emissions from a coal-fired plant in Indiana, state and federal officials said Tuesday.

UN climate official warns of Indian energy 'crisis'

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India's reliance on coal means the country is heading for an energy crisis unless it diversifies its sources of power, the chairman of the UN's top climate change panel predicted on Wednesday.

Which country is hot in 2010?

Brazil is hot because of a huge new oil field offshore. There may be two billion barrels of crude oil under the Atlantic, to be exploited by a private Brazilian company.

How much is that? The U.S. currently consumes over 20-million barrels per day. That means this huge Brazilian oil field could keep America trucking for another 100 days! Let’s party. Peak oil might be one of those conspiracies we read so much about.

10 News Stories From the Upcoming Decade

June 5, 2017 - For the first time ever, monthly U.S. sales (for May, that is) of fuel-cell automobiles surpass those of gas-electric hybrids (sale of pure internal-combustion vehicles having been banned as of January 1, 2018). Peak Oil experts, having lost a chief target for their cause, switch topics as a group to become Peak Hydrogen experts, starting the whole cycle all over again.

In drought, California learns importance of going green

The biggest water conservation results have come from residential customers, rather than business or industry, city water figures show. The cost, for many residents, has been brown, dormant or dying grass lawns due to a stricter water diet.

"We restricted watering the lawns — that was the main saving measure," says David Freeman, general manager of the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

Taiwan unveils Asia's biggest solar plant: govt

TAIPEI — Taiwan has unveiled what it calls Asia's biggest solar power plant as the island, which imports almost all its energy, seeks to tap into clean renewable resources, the government said Wednesday.

The two-hectare (4.9-acre) plant in south Taiwan's Kaohsiung county, an area that enjoys year-round sunshine, is equipped with 141 huge solar panels that can generate one megawatt in total, said the Atomic Energy Council.

Green efforts spring from Chinese desert

ORDOS, China — He has never heard of global warming or Copenhagen, where leaders from 193 countries gathered for a major climate change summit last weekend.

But Ulandalai, 43, a farmer in one of China's most isolated desert regions, says he's doing his part to help the environment anyway.

As part of a clean energy initiative partly sponsored by the Chinese government, Ulandalai, who uses just one name, planted sand willows three years ago on land where he used to graze sheep.

Lindsey Graham: The Senate's New Republican Maverick

A few weeks ago, at the end of a 40-minute Oval Office huddle on climate change between President Barack Obama and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham - one of many tête-à-têtes on various subjects between the two this year - Obama leaned forward. "Look Lindsey, I'm ready to play," he said. "I'm for nuclear power. I'm for responsible offshore drilling. I'm for clean coal. I just need a reasonable emissions standard."

"Count me in," Graham replied. "Let's see if we can do it."

Wait, you may ask, a conservative Republican is seriously negotiating with the President? And on global warming, of all things?

Silver Lining In Copenhagen 'Fiasco'

The fact that ministers and heads of state worked to rescue the talks from dissolution underscores climate change's policy importance.

Copenhagen Accord a clear goal but not enough: IEA

PARIS (Xinhua) -- The Copenhagen Accord provides guidance for future actions on climate change, but the emission reduction pledges are not sufficient, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said Tuesday in a statement.

Rich world should pay for climate 'mess': OPEC chief

LUANDA — The powerful OPEC cartel's top official on Tuesday called for the developed world to fund the fight against climate change, saying the developing world was not responsible for the current "mess".

"The problem is, historically, developing countries, they did not participate in this mess. The mess was created by the developed countries and they should pay for it," OPEC Secretary General Abdullah El-Badri said.

Green Tax Warning for Britain

BRITAIN would return to the Middle Ages if we took on the huge financial burden of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to levels pledged at the Copenhagen summit, a leading climate change expert warned.

Disproportionate Effects of Global Warming and Pollution on Disadvantaged Communities

ScienceDaily — Global warming, pollution, and the environmental consequences of energy production impose a greater burden on low-income, disadvantaged communities, and strategies to prevent these inequities are urgently needed. A provocative collection of articles on climate justice presents the global implications of climate change and its effects on human health and the environment in a special issue of Environmental Justice, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

On the "NYC urges ban on shale gas drilling in watershed" post above:

I too would choose water to drink (for many years) over a little more gas to burn (for a couple years). Seems like a wise choice...

The problem is that the people drinking the water - NYC residents - are not the ones who benefit from the drilling - landowners in rural upstate.

The NYC watershed is already a sore point, and this isn't going to help.

Here the issue is chicken farm run-off. It's hard to pick and choose -- getting all the advantages when the downsides are externalized, while also getting to suppress externalities of others' operations that happen to impact you.

Is there evidence for surface water contamination? I'm surprised they're worried about well-water contamination, as that would mostly impact the locals, right?

Hmmm...NYC has to import water and import power. What does it actually manufacture that is useful to others? Not very much, apparently:

All the inhabitants of the tall glassy buildings are doing jobs that are primarily driven by global finance and corporatism. As things ratchet down I think I'd pick living in Detroit over NYC.......

Quite unfair.Didn't NYC give us Credit Default Swaps?

Valid points Paleo. As discussed before the risk of contamination from the frac job itself is rather minimal. The real concern for the water drinkers should be the disposal of the fluids recovered from the frac jobs as they clean up. Some nasty stuff for sure. And there must be regs to deal with it. Just need to make sure the regulators and disposal companies are doing their part. But I'm sure there are many millions of gallons of equally nasty stuff already being disposed on in NY. Any concerns there?

But I'll ask again a question that wasn't answered by any of my Yankee cousins: what about the millions of pounds of salt put down on the roads for ice control? That would be my major concern about the aquifer. Are such ops not allowed in the water shed? In Texas any company that dumped just a tiny fraction of that much salt water on the ground would be fined into bankruptcy. And maybe get a little jail time if it was intentional.

If they couldn't use salt, they couldn't drive in the winter. And it is absolutely un-American not to drive, whatever the weather. A sort of Yankee machismo.

We will have salt. We will have CO2. We will not negotiate the American way.

Jarred Diamond is right -- we will go to oblivion rather than change.

I might get discouraged if I keep thinking this way, and so instead, I will travel to Seattle to meet the rest of my family who are flying and driving in from all over the world -- generating CO2, skidding on salt, eating too much, defying reason, comfort, prudence and the elements -- because we can. Because it's Merry Christmas!!

Speaking of snow & Seattle, Mayor Nichols came in 3rd in the primary. Mostly because of the poor handling of the snow storm ... Seattle doesn't use salt (or rather wasn't using salt). Interestingly environmentalist and cycling enthusiast (and former president of local Sierra club chapter) is the new mayor.

I think in NYC, the gutters/sewers/storm drains are set up for all that salty runoff to go into the sea?

So it's at least theoretically not going onto farmland or natural habitat.

There's some kinda "snow melt" that's not salty too, I know I tasted a bit and it's something else. Chemistry is cool!

Don't eat the yellow snow!


My experience with salt on roads tells me that it is only partially blindness about driving whatever the weather. Two other factors come into play:
1)Salt application is done by government agencies and regulation is done by government agencies. Government is not real effective in regulating environmental problems caused by government.
2)Costs from the salt applications are primarily a burden on people and organizations which are not the ones spreading the salt. If you do not believe me try to get a highway dept which is spreading salt to do something different which costs them money even if it saves many times that amount in benefits to someone else.

If they couldn't use salt, they couldn't drive in the winter.

I lived in rural northern Wisconsin, except for the downtown areas of a couple of blocks length, they didn't use salt/sand -and mostly didn't plow much either. We were able to drive just fine. Its just a matter of learning how. Having visted Fairbanks at the end of the snow season, it was obvious that they didn't even both with plowing. Its all a matter of getting people used to the conditions.

I once read a study done in a northern European country. Can't remember which one, but they compared two similar roads, one salted, and one not. They found it was a wash. There were more accidents and injuries on the non-salted road, but the cost was offset by the price of the salt.

Can't imagine that flying in the US, though.

As for the NYC watershed...NYC pays for sheds for the salt, so it's not washed into the water while it's being stored. The issue of salt on the roads is just now getting traction (so to speak). It's seen as an environmental issue, but not really a water quality issue, since it's "only salt."

"only salt" Leanan? Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? The worse oil field related environmental nightmare I've seen in Texas was a salt water disposal well operation that leaked into the aquifer which a number of subdivisons drew from. The disposal operator was some poor slob that couldn't even pay his lawyer let alone restituion to the home owners. I think the state pitched in a little but the homeowners had to bear most of the costs.

"The poison is in the dose."

Leaking salt water directly into an aquifer is very different from road salt washing overland into a reservoir.

NY has a lot of environmental rules, but "mitigation" usually involves fairly minor things like planting grass swales to slow the runoff.

There just isn't enough road salt to affect water quality. (Except where it's stockpiled - hence the sheds.) They are concerned about things like killing natural bacteria on land, and temperature shocks to fish.

Some areas that are deemed particularly sensitive to salt may get sand only; there will be signs warning motorists of that. ("Caution: Low Salt Area" or something like that.)

Yes, but in Alaska studded tires are allowed in season:

It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with studded tires on a paved highway or road from May 1st through September 15th, inclusive, north of 60 North Latitude and from April 15th through September 30th, inclusive, south of 60 North Latitude, except that at any latitude on a paved portion of the Sterling Highway a person may not operate a motor vehicle with studded tires from May 1st through September 15th, inclusive.

...and they're widely used in other hard-winter places such as Finland and Sweden. Whereas in Wisconsin, saving a few bucks on highway wear-and-tear gets more priority from the crooks in the legislature than does the safety of human beings:

In 4 other states that do experience hard winters, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Texas (in its northern plains and western mountainous areas), studs were nevertheless made illegal so as to protect roads.

Of course, studded tires tend to increase stopping distance on dry pavement, but that's a small price to pay for actually being able to stop - especially on a hill - or turn, once the snow hardens into glossy, rutted glare ice.

The one set of studded tires I owned, the studs wore out after a single season. After that I decided they weren't worth the money.

Good question RM. Here (outside Boston) there are signs on the roads that say "LOW SALT RESERVOIR AREA" meaning that supposedly the salting gets turned off in the area because there's a reservoir nearby. But the amount of salt that gets dumped elsewhere is enough that clouds of it can be seen at night in your headlights, so some of that must be getting to the drinking water.

Some parts of Texas use sand/salt mixtures for ice control. Granted that it doesn't happen too often, but are they subject to the same rules that apply to drillers?

Interestingly, most of the literature on the subject suggests that aquifer contamination from road salt is largely an urban phenomenon. Probably doesn't apply to NYC's problem, where the drainage for their water supply covers very large areas where relatively modest total amounts of salt would be used.

Not sure mcain about road use but if you spill salt water from a well on the ground ion Texas there's hell to pay. And I'm not sure about the "modest amounts" of salt. I understand it measures into the millions of pounds annually. Any confirmation out there?

I studied the impacts of road salt in Vermont many years ago, Rock, and you cannot even vaguely compare Texas salt well spills to road applications in this part of the woods. Millions of pounds? More likely millions of tons. Road salting is done in winter of course with pretty much hard frozen ground from December through March. It mixes with the snow and stays put all winter on the side of the road. Come spring it all melts over the course of a month or two. Spring runoff is the highest volume period of the year. Lots of water and therefore lots of dilution. Salt concentration stays low. Runs into the rivers then into the ocean. No environmental damage. There are higher salt concentrations in the streams in summer with no road salt. In places where salt concentration sinks into unfrozen ground you can have a problem. NYC storm sewers make a very short run into the sea and I doubt they have a problem there either. I found that road salt does the biggest damage to roads, bridges, and vehicles.


In NY, people drink water from the Hudson River...which has notable tides, because it's connected to the sea. During droughts, the water gets pretty salty. Not enough that you can taste it, but enough so that people with hypertension are told to drink bottled water instead of tap. Road salt is a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Good info chuck..thanks. Understand the dilution factor but I imagine some salt does sink into the water shed. Perhaps with all the other factors it's impact isn't noticable. BTW when I mention spilling salt water on the ground in Texas I was talking about a few hundred gallon spill....not millions of tons. They really don't like salt on the ground in Texas. LOL.

Re: Hudson -- Had the same problem with Miss. River water intakes in New Orleans when flow was low: salt water from the GOM would slip up the river towards N.O. The bottom of the river in N.O. is about 100' below sea level.

Just a thought on the difference between salt water spills and road salting, and that's who's doing the regulations and what is their legal authority. It's quite conceivable that the same pollutant could be regulated two different ways depending on its source: just look at the difference between nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from ag vs. discharges from wastewater plants for an example.

Just a hunch, but the oil well discharges sound like they would be regulated as hazardous materials under some type of industrial permit. Road salt, if it's regulated at all, would come under a highway department's stormwater NPDES permit, which wouldn't have limits on concentrations or discharge amounts, but would probably cover the type of material and method of application. Storage would be the most important thing the permit would cover.

Good point planner. Some years ago the oil patch started getting bit in the butt hard by some regulators for NORM: naturally occuring radiactive material.
BTW, another name for NORM is dirt. All dirt has low level radioactivity... normally gamma rays. Get dirt on your truck and you can wash it off at the car wash. Put that same mud on some drill pipe and it becomes NORM. Not a big practical problem as there aren't NORM police watching us hose off stuff. The problem gets big though when you try to sell a producing property: the environmental audit can show NORM on the equipment. Now it's on the record and you have certified that you've gotten rid of it legally.

Another issue related to salt use on roads and sidewalks is of course very familiar to everyone who has lived in any Snow Belt city, and that is the accelerated rusting of cars, and the accelerated deterioration of common building materials such as bricks, concrete, and stone because of the high pressures exerted on the sides of pores (e.g. cracks and crevices) in the construction materials, which are ALWAYS there even in freshly poured concrete, as the salt crystallizes when evaporation occcurs, as it always does.

The deterioration caused by crystallization pressure is classified as a type of physical weathering. Rocks and rocky outcroppings along seacoasts show the effects physical weathering caused by the crystallization of sea salt from waves and sea spray.

The shorter life spans of cars in the Snow Belt (which I know first-hand from living in Ohio for several years) might be seen by some (not me!) as a good thing, because it means that lots of people will be buying a car more frequently, and many/most of those have probably been new cars. But...that is a cost NOT borne by the city or municipality which put the salt on the road, but by folks like us.

On the other hand, the spalling, flaking, and crumbling of building materials, as is evident for example along the brick retaining walls along I-278 (the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) in New York City, in which many of the bricks at road level look as though they've been scooped out with an ice cream scoop, is a cost that gets picked up by taxpayers, via appropriations for road maintenance etc.

Wisconsin's bid can range from 600,000 tons upward. However, recognize that the vast majority of the salt gets washed out to sea.

Even the stuff that gets embedded in the ground either gets chemically bonded to the soil, or it eventually is dissolved and sent downstream. And yes, some of it ends up in the groundwater. But think about this - if the rate of application is 400 pounds per lane-mile, what percentage has to make it down to the groundwater to really affect the salinity? If there are 20 applications per year, that amounts to 8 tons per mile of two lane highway. How many tons of groundwater underlie a 100 foot highway right of way? My back of the envelope calculation, assuming 100 foot right of way, 20 foot deep aquifer, 10% pore space, one mile long, would amount to around 34,000 tons of water. If two thirds of the salt goes downstrean to the ocean, some gets bound up in the soil, then the effect on groundwater is small.

I'm not saying there are no environmental consequences - heck, it ain't hard to find pine trees damaged by salt spray - but it is necessary. Even using plain sand (usually salt is mixed with any sand, just so the sand doesn't freeze up) for traction has environmental consequences.

(And yes, I used to sell road salt)

In the cities they used it quite heavily. I remeber staying at my girlfriends in Minneapolis. Twenty below that morning, and I was horrified to find out I couldn't scrape of the rear window, as the brine was still liquid!

The most irritating thing with salt was driving at night. Coming up to an intersection you want to know if there is snow/ice so you can be prepared to stop. But from a distance with only headlight illumination white road salt looks a lot like snow.

I still maintain, teaching people to drive on snow and ice is the right solution. All that plowinging and salting just seems to be a reaction to our lawsiut happy society.

I remeber staying at my girlfriends in Minneapolis. Twenty below that morning, and I was horrified to find out I couldn't scrape of the rear window, as the brine was still liquid!

That implies that they were using calcium chloride instead of sodium chloride, because sodium chloride stops working at zero degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, that's the definition of zero degrees Fahrenheit - it was the lowest temperature Fahrenheit could reach using a saturated mixture of sodium chloride and water.

Calcium chloride is about 10 times as expensive as sodium chloride, but you'll be happy to know that, not only does it work at much lower temperatures, but it does much less damage to the plants. And it's better for for your blood pressure as well.

The really bad thing about using sodium chloride as road salt is that, as noted above, at zero degrees Fahrenheit it freezes regardless of how much you use, and all the roads turn into skating rinks - which is much worse than doing nothing. Readers in the Midwest will probably be familiar with the problem.

Yeah, back when I was looking at systems engineering problems associated with brine production from NG wells in Texas, "hell to pay" was an accurate description. At least at that time, Texas wasn't much for regulating you in advance, but if you screwed up you were in serious trouble. For the stuff we were looking at, dissolved heavy metals were a bigger problem than sodium chloride.

In a bad winter, the US puts about 20 million tons of salt on the roads.

Aren't the dangers being blown wildly out of proportion by the activists? Natural gas really is an important near term energy strategy for us. One compromise I think might make sense is to allow early drilling only outside of the watershed, and reevaluate the benefits/dangers in the watershed after the industry has established a track record in the Marcellis.

We need to be very careful with aquifers. Once they are contaminated, it might take a hundred years before the contaminants are filtered out — and that's if they are treated periodically (and the pollutants are amenable to that).

People, in my view, are rightfully concerned about their water. And, no, I don't trust the energy companies' spokespeople. Their track record is very, very poor for telling the truth. (No offense to you, Rockman.)

Below is just one story about water pollution. Notice that there are actions that could be taken to mediate the problem. In some cases people got city water piped to them, in other cases they just buy bottled water. But what happens when we are no longer so rich to be able to afford those alternatives? It will be only rainwater collection or somehow they will have to travel to get their water.

Pollution plumes infect drinking water

No offense taken aangle. I agree: I don't don't take anything they say (or any other PR machine) for granted. But I suspect they are focused on the wrong issue (see comment below).

Probably EOS. I think they are focused on the wrong potential problem. I've been drilling in Texas for over 30 years and have seen a few environmental nightmares first hand. And that included aquifer contamination just north of Houston. Basicly all of S Texas is dependent upon the Edwards Aquifer. And thousands of well have been drilled in its recharge area. Thus you can imagine how protective the Water Board is when it comes to drilling ops. BTW: THE biggest threat to the EA is excessive withdrawl. Too much growth...too many new folks in S Tx. Sound familiar? That sustainability issue again.

But the problems were rarely related directly to the actual drilling activities. It's the disposal process which has caused the great majority of damage in Texas. And this should be a serious concern for the water drinkers in NY. I get the impression that the state of NY isn't quite ready to deal with oil/NG regs. But I know there have been many manufacturing ops in the state which have produced large volumes of nasty stuff that had to be disposed of somewhere. Maybe they just shipped it all to New Jersey.

Just a WAG but the NY SG may be THE life preserver those folks will need in the not to distant future. Being a local source it will cost significantly less then pipelining it from the Gulf Coast. That can add a $1 or two per mcf to their costs. And more importantly, as far as I know, there are no transport lines out of NY so the NG is trapped there and will be all theirs regardless of market forces.

We do have plenty of those "Let them freeze in the dark" bumber stickers left we can ship to them if matters go really bad. They can slap them on their cars and drive around NJ flaunting it.

We can make up lots of bumper stickers: "Let them die of thirst while we swim", "Let them starve while we eat", and so on. I have no doubt that it will come to that mindset eventually as various regions stop identifying with the rest of the nation, and I expect water will be the big issue.

Once again Twilight Texas is ahead of the curve. Check out our state flag: One star. And the local mindset means exactly that.

Hey, I'm from Pennsylvania. I'm not aware that we need anything from Texas. We used up our oil a bit sooner than Texas did, but no matter.

Oooh... That's what that is. I always thought it was an artistic representation of a single bullet hole. Runs and ducks for cover ;-)

Glad to see you're online today. Did you read the "Endgame USA" article posted above? Do you think that you blokes will be able to do any better than we, or will you mess it up the same way? Just wondering what a knowedgable Ausse had to say about it.

I know we've pretrty well screwed things up and don't seem to have the political will, or any will whatever, to change. Hope y'all can do better. than we have.

Just wondering what a knowedgable Ausse had to say about it.

If you mean me, I'm a Brazilian born, US Citizen of Hungarian ancestry, currently living in South Florida ;-) For the record when pressed about where I'm from I usually answer "PLANET EARTH" and ask if the inquisitive individual knows where it is...

But yes, I did read it and I think that a lot of the readers here have pretty much gone through those scenarios already in their own minds.

I'm also convinced of the fact that we can only move forward into a new paradigm when more of the current one becomes blatantly unviable. I don't think we are quite there yet but we could be very close to the breaking point on a number of fronts.

Best wishes for a transition with the least suffering possible.


Why did I think Aussie? Well... if someone out there in the TOD qualifies to answer the question, inquiring minds want to know. Will the be able to do what we have not?


I don't know if I'm qualified, but I'll give it a burl.

You (the US) are screwed. Australia isn't all that far behind, but I reckon the US will implode before we do. The reasons are many:

Stunning personal and Government debt levels;
Government incapable of crafting sensible policy;
Dysfunctional transport systems;
Sense of entitlement ("I got mine...");
Religion crafting policy ("God won't let us destroy His Creation");
Inflated view of personal and national self-worth;
Private Mortage defaults;
Commercial Real Estate tsunami approaching;
And on and on.

Australia suffers from many of these things too. We fawn over the contestants of Idol while ignoring people in the community who actually do something worthwhile. Our personal debt levels are mostly low, unless you count housing, which is in a Bubble even California would find hard to believe (immigration is placing huge upward pressure on prices). A Government elected on a platform of environmental reform (amongst other things) has crafted a series of policies designed to achieve little more than make the polluters richer. Half of the Opposition are god-botherers, dementia sufferers, wannabe Laizze-fiare economists, or hicks (sometime a combination). A decade-long economic growth spurt (trumpeted by the former government as a sure sign of their economic competence, but really just chance happening of China looking for a reliable, close supplier of raw materials) has instilled in us, too, a sense of entitlement. Respect for authority figures (never particularly high in Australia) is on the wane, with Police fighting a desperate, but losing, battle to keep people from killing themselves and other on the roads. We don't have many Banksters, however, for which I am eternally grateful. In their place, we have the mining companies, who've latched onto the government teat (Left or Right, it makes no difference) for all their worth (and have a much-inflated view of their self-worth, probably believing their own propaganda that they're the only thing keeping the country afloat). For all we whinge about it, Australia at least has a half-decent Mass Transit system in each of the capital cities, so in the event of a large drop in Oil availability, we could still get around reasonably well (whether we'd have any reason to go anywhere is another matter). Be nice if we'd stop building roads.

America, if it 'wound back', can survive reasonably well. It has enormous indigenous energy supplies (all those stripper wells add up to a lot of oil) and could survive quite comfortably, if the Government and Citizens were willing to 'let go of the dream', and began Efficiency and Austerity measures (insulation retrofits, urban light rail, mainline electrification, that sort of thing).
But they won't. Which means a breakdown in social cohesion. Never underestimate the anger someone feels when something is taken away from them (and it seems American already have plenty to be angry about).
I fully expect to see on the news some massive riots, at the very least, with a constant low-level 'warfare' for the foreseeable future. What might set it off, I don't know. But whatever it is, it'll take China with it, and Australia in turn. Whatever it is, I just hope it waits until at least Feb, when my Other Half gets back from her final overseas holiday.

In closing, Barnaby Joyce is not the person I'd choose to 'get the message out' about the risk of Soverign Default. The wild eyes, the beetroot red cheeks, the rambling, the almost-shout he uses to make whatever point it is he's trying to make. He just looks like one of those 'the end is nigh' placard wavers. But in an Akubra (probably made in China). Barnaby is also Socialism for the Farmers and unfettered Free Market for the rest of us, which places him firmly in the Snickers (nut bar) camp, imo (doesn't mean I'm not above using him for my own ends, of course).

Yeah, those New Yorkers are a bunch of whiners. And anti-growth, which is about as godless as a person can get nowadays. Afterall, to grow the GDP, they could bid up the price of the shale gas and then burn it de-salinating seawater, which they could then sell to themselves at a higher price. Just get the government out of the picture, and everyone can be a winner.

Well, it's always fun to snark, but there's a bit of a predicament (not a "problem", which might be "solvable") here. Clearly New York would not function well without a proper water supply - though for domestic use (excluding silliness like lawn-watering) the cost of desalinated seawater, at 50 cents or even a dollar per cubic meter, would be absolutely trivial. But nor is New York going to function well if erratic power supply converts all those 40-story glass condominium towers into 40-story walkups, roasting solar ovens in July and freezers in January.

And for better or worse, I just don't see wind turbines and the like going up at even a tiny fraction of the rate that would be needed to avoid using something like shale gas as a bridge. Nor do I see how such things are to be built when New Yorkers and their ilk are world-class yammering NIMBYs and BANANAs, opposed to everything.

So there's really little to do but sit back and watch the show. Those concerned are simply going to learn in the hardest possible way that there's no such thing as zero-risk existence. There will be whining, bellyaching, shouting, yelling, weeping, and gnashing of teeth from heaven to hades - but ... things are tough all over. Too bad.

Aren't the dangers being blown wildly out of proportion by the activists? Natural gas really is an important near term energy strategy for us.

Sooner or later the NG won't be there, the oil won't be there, the coal won't be there. All that will be left is the water we haven't contaminated, the trees we haven't cut, the soil we haven't depleted and poisoned, and so on. Extracting the remaining hydrcarbons is going to become exponentially more expensive economically, but also environmentally. We are going to have to shrink, we will shrink. Why not start now rather than despoiling what we have left?

There is so much room to conserve
because our lifestyle is so wasteful. The resources that are directed at getting the remaining hydrocarbons would be far, far better expended in moving us to a much less energy consuming lifestyle than in extracting what remains. Far better, but not far more profitable unfortunately. It looks like we are going to eat the bark off the trees.

Do we know where to contaminated water will seep to over the decades? Do we know how to dispose of the water that Rockman says is returned to the surface? And how much water does this all of this take? And how much of it is from aquifers and how much renewable (from rain)? Does not the pre-cautionary principle apply here somehow? If it doesn't apply here, where would it?

It seems to always come down to dancing around the waste stream issue.

There is a reason that restaurants, by law, must have bathrooms. Inputs create waste streams

Everyone is interested in handling and profiting from the inputs and the products created therefrom, but no one wants the responsibility (cost) of handling the waste stream or the discarded products.

What's the problem?

When I'm done with something, I just throw it away.

What a wicked web we weave when first we prematurely conclude that fracturing shale will provide decades worth of NG, before we consider what the chemicals might do to the drinking water.

Is it more noble to drink fresh aplenty into the distant future, or to wrap one self in the warmth of burned fumes from asunder? Ah, that is the question.

We've seen some of the same problems in Colorado as well.
These are all in different parts of the state.

Fire in the sink a bigger problem in Weld Co.

Colorado county copes with methane mystery

Fears of tainted water well up in western Colorado

I don't know enough to know what percentage of fields have problems with water contamination,
I know enough to know that it is more than 0%.

To pee, or not to pee: that is the question.
One man's sewage is another's lifestyle.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slung discharges of outrageous fortune seekers
Or to take arms against the troublemakers
And by opposing end up in jail, or dead.

(Shakespeare also wrote the script for the movie Congress, American Style) which is scheduled to be released just as the Atlantic Ocean laps at the base of the Chrysler Building.)

To pee, or not to pee: that is the question.

Until you actually have to...

The slung discharges of outrageous fortune seekers

Now that's a good one.

Weinberg 1959! Quoted in Nuclear Green. Weinberg, had been trained in biology and was aware of those who believed in limits
Alvin Weinberg had published a visionary essay, "Energy as an Ultimate Raw Material, or Burning the Rocks and Burning the Sea," during 1959 in Physics Today (vol. 12, no. 11, p. 18).

Weinberg's vision was huge is scope as he later explained:
In this essay I speculated on the very long-range future-hundreds, even thousands, of years in the future. Where will our energy come from at that distant time when coal, oil, and natural gas have been used up? Solar energy is one obvious inexhaustible source. Another, if it works, could be controlled thermonuclear energy based on deuterium from the sea (thus "Burning the Sea"). My main point, however, was to stress what Phil Morrison and then Harrison Brown had already noticed: that the residual and all but infinite uranium and thorium in granite rocks could be burned with an energy yield larger than the energy required to mine and refine the ore—but only if breeders, which could burn nearly all the fertile material, are used. I spoke of "Burning the Rocks": the breeder, no less than controlled fusion, is an inexhaustible energy system. Up till then we had thought that breeders, burning 50% instead of 2% of the uranium, extended the energy derivable from fission "only" 25-fold. But, because the breeder uses its raw material so efficiently, one can afford to utilize much more expensive—that is, dilute—ores, and these are practically inexhaustible. The breeder indeed will allow humankind to "Burn the Rocks" to achieve inexhaustible energy!


Combines imports of crude, gasoline and distillates have taken a nosedive in this, the fourth quarter of 2009. They are down 14 percent from the same period last year. And they are down over 8 percent since the third quarter of this year.

They are far lower than they have been in this decade. Is this a sign of recovery? Is this a leading indicator or a lagging indicator? Is this an indicator at all? I think it may be a sign of the beginning of the second dip.

Ron P.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 18, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.8 million barrels per day during the week ending December 18, 27 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 80.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.7 million barrels per day last week, down 65 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.0 million barrels per day, 1.6 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 848 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 335 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 4.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 327.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.9 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 3.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 3.4 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 14.2 million barrels last week, but are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

The last time total inventories (crude plus products) dropped with this velocity was the spring of 2007. The imports will have to increase or else the inventory levels will continue to drop.

I would like to revise my price estimate upward for 2010 based on the last two reports.

I would like to revise my price estimate upward for 2010 based on the last two reports.

If prices get much higher then demand will start dropping again. The Great Recession is ragina and nothing can get too high because of peoples inability to pay. And I think that OPEC still has from 1.5 to 2 mb/d of spare capacity. They will dump that on the market if prices get much higher.

My prediction; Prices will not get above $100 a barrel in 2010. And in the off chance that they do, they will not stay there very long before the recession gets deeper driving prices back below the century mark.

Anyway Goghgoner, you have my predicted high price for 2010, what is yours. Anyone else care to make a prediction?

Ron P.

I agree with ya, Ron. Unless Bernanke & Geithner manage to get the inflation wagons circled, in which case the nominal cost of a barrel of oil won't mean very much, and could be almost anything. And, if inflation adjusted, will be below $100.

prediction was $67. Now $76. Very bullish reports ;)

Anyway, my blood pressure is up after trying to determine why the imports have fallen so quickly. The response below is complete baloney! I went back through 1999-2008 and there is no pattern of reduced imports in December and then a rebound after the new year. Not one single year showed this to be true. Who are these quoted analysts and why do they tell bald-faced lies?

Lower imports into the United States as well as year-end drawdowns in crude stocks for tax purposes were the primary factors in the lowering crude inventories, analysts said.

"That means we may see a rebound in imports later, after the end of the tax year, in January, or a buildup in stocks elsewhere, including OECD, Asia and places where we don't measure stocks as well," said Antoine Halff, first vice president and deputy head of research at the Newedge Group in New York.


Who are these quoted analysts and why do they tell bald-faced lies?

After watching the WhiteHouse/Media make the case for the war in Iraq based on an immanent threat that WMD would be transferred into the hands of terrorists, and then watch the complete 180 that occurred after that with everyone in power shrugging their shoulders and saying "What WMD?" ...

After watching climate "skeptics" ask "What AGW?" and follow that up by swallowing not just one debunked bald-faced lie, but lie after lie after lie ...

After watching the spin machine push forward the "What Peak Oil?" line from certain quarters ..

I'm fairly confident that most people just want to hear a storyline which easily meshes with their own world-view without requiring change on their part. It's inertia. And since most changes in the world are incremental, those who allow selective bias to filter out the 'something has to be done NOW!' stories in favor of stories which murmur "everything is normal, it's all under control" do just fine most of the time.

Of course, change does creep up on them. Real energy prices rise. Mixed marriages occur. The country finds itself fighting two land wars in Asia. Women outnumber men in college. There is a 10 trillion dollar federal debt. Mexicans have 'all' the blue-collar jobs. And they don't really understand how all that happened, since they dismissed the alarmists who shrilly warned them. Some of that seems natural and right to them now, some does not and it irks them. But then another voices whispers in their ear "It's all the fault of liberals, you did what you could ..." and they rest easy once again, knowing that they aren't to blame and won't have to change.

I used to hope that I would not live to see the day change came quickly to America. Now ... maybe I'm ready. Old enough not to be afraid of losing; young enough to be willing to embrace some change. OTOH, I'm old enough to know better. I think Friedman said the other day - you will know it's a revolution when people start getting hurt

There are no indications that in the last few months or so that OPEC has changed the level of exports very much (per Oil Movements, which OPEC itself quotes). In fact it is notable that it hasn't budged much, since normally shipments increase notably in late fall. On the other hand, preliminary indications are that shipments won't fall in January.

I agree completely that OPEC did have spare capacity of about 2 mbpd a year ago. It remains to be seen if that capacity still exists, and if so, will they actually use it if the price reaches $100.

It also remains to be seen if OPEC will even accept US dollars by the end of 2010, so price predictions for 2010 at this point are hard to put into terms of dollars.

It also remains to be seen if OPEC will even accept US dollars by the end of 2010, so price predictions for 2010 at this point are hard to put into terms of dollars.

OPEC is free to choose any currency they wish but this makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. Even if every country chooses to pay or accept euros instead of dollars, oil in the US will still be quoted in dollars.

This argument about who will accept what currency and who will not is totally absurd. Some people just cannot understand that any currency is freely exchangable with any other currency in a fraction of a second with almost no cost. If Iran wants euros and the US will only pay in dollars, no problem. One will be exchanged for the other in the blink of an eye and it will not make any difference to anyone on either side of the transaction.

An item of interest. In February of 08 OPEC produced 28,070,000 barrels of Crude + Condensate per day. In November they produced 29,077,000 barrels of C+C per day, or just over one million barrels per day more. So yes they have about a million barrels less spare capacity than they had almost one year ago. However they produced 31,672,000 bp/d in July of last year or over 2.5 mb/d more than they produced in November. I think they still have at least 1.5 to 2 mb/d of spare capacity. They may be declining but not as fast as some people on this list seem to believe.

Ron P.

You can believe that the trillions of US dollars held around the world can be exchanged in a moment's notice, but I don't. Basically the US dollar has 'value' as a reserve currency only if those dollars are not converted to something else, and the US benefits handsomely by not having those dollars turned in for real goods.

I also was talking about 'net OPEC exports' and not about perceived OPEC output - which may or may not be exported or otherwise held in storage by OPEC.

As for the the real production reserve, there is a good chance we will be finding out exacty how much there is next year - that is if the US can maintain some type of recovery for another few months or so. In 2010, I see the world economy later in the year being pushed down by lack of oil supply - and not the other way around, which is supply being intentionally reduced due to poor demand.

Charles, your reply betrays tour total misunderstanding of how the currency system works. No one is forced to "hold" dollars in order to trade oil.

The daily volume on the FOREX is over 1.5 trillion dollars. That is almost 300 times the daily dollar volume of oil traded around the world. Do you actually believe that OPEC demanding euros for oil instead of dollars would make one whit of difference to that daily volume?

Charles, you need to read up on the monetary system. This book gives you a great overview:
Money and the Nation State: The Financial Revolution, Government, and the World Monetary System

Ron P.

Last week:

Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 12.7 million barrels last week, ...

This week:

Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 14.2 million barrels last week, ...

Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 14.2 million barrels last week, but are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

We are still above average for this time of year.

Are we living in Disneyworld or Lake Wobegone?

Well OK, but that is the level, not the rate of change which was what Ron was commenting on. What are the main factors that would cause the drop? Anticipated price drop due to expected lower use?

Perhaps you missed my clever, wry point?

In Lake Wobegone, all the men are strong, all the women are beautiful, and all the children are above average.

Maximum petroleum products usage is in the winter. Both petroleum and natural gas inventories typically declined in the winter. If the price of oil goes to $100. a barrel they will build tons of new rigs and OPEC may open the spigots.

Copenhagen might put Europe on a track towards a preindustrial economy. The U.S. has not realized the amount of sacrifice and economic hardships it will take to lower emissions 17 percent. It is likely to interfere with the recovery and result in energy inflation.

Washington will probably find an opportunity to raise taxes, increase debt levels, and spend like a gambler in Vegas. This cellulosic biofuel program does not work. Instead of buildilng more dams like they did during the depression they might try to distill some algae oil in an effort to fool the public.

EU has cancelled all emission cuts since cop15 failed.

From now on it is BAU until Granland melts or oil goes to $200, whichever happens first.

I commented yesterday about this. AGW, and lowering emissions, is a 'nice' way to impact oil useage without admitting that the Peak is past. Because, IMO, if the powers that be ever let on that Peak Oil was not only a valid concept, but that we are either past peak or in a plateau [nice-talk for past peak], the populace would crap their collective pants, and TS would emphatically HTF.

"Copenhagen might put Europe on a track towards a preindustrial economy."

Except that there's a very very long history of European politicians flapping their jaws without surcease, endlessly creating pious declarations and "conventions", only to forget them utterly the instant the focus moves on. The USA, however, is well-supplied with grandstanding, moralizing Federal judges who may actually attempt to enforce the infeasible propositions the politicians intended strictly for show. So the USA will indeed tie itself into knots over that 17%, while Europeans quietly sit back and laugh.

Oh, I caught (and appreciated) it just fine!

??? All the women are strong???. One sometimes sees (or hears) what one expects to see. -----------------------------

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
Garrison Keillor

point taken

thanks for the correction

In Lake Wobegon, all the men are strong, all the women are beautiful, and all the children are above average.

If you are referring to Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, I think you'll find that the women are strong, the men are good looking and all the children are above average. I lived in Minnesota for 34 years.

Maybe there's some sarcasm that I'm missing.

The characterization of the fictional location, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average," has been used to describe a real and pervasive human tendency to overestimate one’s achievements and capabilities in relation to others. The Lake Wobegon effect, where all or nearly all of a group claim to be above average, has been observed among drivers, CEOs, stock market analysts, college students, parents, and state education officials, among others.


The vast majority of people also believe they are "nicer" than average.

Twilight, imports have been dropping for over a year now yet inventory levels are still about where they were last year, the recent drop notwithstanding. The reason for the drop, the continuing drop for over one year, can only be caused by decreased consumption. Or, if you prefer, decreased demand.

Ron P.

OK - I was thinking more about the recent increase in rate of drop.

Propane is looking pretty slippery.

Propane is very interesting to me at this time. As far as I could dig (which was not deep enough to speak with any certainty), 50% of the propane domestically produced in the USA comes from ng processing and the other half comes from oil refining. Neither of these sources look particularly appealing to me this winter. I am guessing the weather will cooperate for consumers this year, if not, watch inventory stocks plummet and the price to skyrocket.

Here is a source for the breakdown: PDF link

I suspect you're correct Ron. From what I've read lately it might not even be proper to call it a "second dip". Sounds like if you back out the gov't input into GDP we still haven't ended the recession. Maybe just on the cusp but not really back into true positive territory. Not that gov't stimulus does't help some but its far different then US industries showing positive. That's why from a practical stand point we keeping our price expectaions rather modest: $4.50 NG and $50 oil.

But 4 or 5 years down the road my owner is still expecting the Inflation Monster to attack.

Krugman, DeLong et al have been clamoring for another stimulus for sometime - and were aghast when Bernanke said nothing doing during the confirmation hearing. I expect W recession in 2010.




Green shoots? I think they're going to hold off another stimulus for awhile.

Personal income: Biggest bump in 6 months

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Personal income posted its largest gain in half a year in November and spending by individuals rose for a second straight month, according to government data released Wednesday.

The Commerce Department said income climbed by 0.4%, or $49.7 billion, during the month, after an upwardly revised 0.3% rise in October. That was the biggest gain since May, when it rose 1.5%. The figure was still below a consensus estimate of a 0.5% rise collected by Briefing.com.

Whose? The guy at Manpower told me, this time of year, there are LESS jobs.

I think the panhandlers are making more, I've been told I should get out there with a different sign and set of raggedy clothes each day and "cash in", but well, I'm not doing it. I really don't like panhandling and think it's only to be done when in real extremis, and then only enough to get out of the tight spot.

There may be more store clerks getting more hours, but that will last until the 26th then they'll get laid off and hope to find another job by summer.

Those importing junk from China is probably making more, so between that, the store clerks, and those more realistically-minded, less idealistic folks out there panhandling while the panhandling is good, yeah there's probably a slight income increase.

The plummet in income in January is going to be a shock.

Might be a little late for this tip fleam. Back in the mid 80's when the oil patch was again busted I made some good pocket change working intersections. Went into the woods and harvested some mistletoe with my 12 gauge. Wife tied a red ribbon on clumps, put them in little plastic bags and sold them for $1 a pop at the stop lights. Only did it for a week or so but made over $400. And I wore a nice shirt, tie and a Santa hat. Beside the money got a lot of friendly smiles.

Nice idea, I've been looking and can't find any mistle toe that I can see ..... land is all private here, likely to get shot harvesting the stuff anyway. And I don't have a 12-gauge to harvest it with (stuff grows HIGH) so I'm not sure how I'd get it down.

No money for ribbons or little plastic bags anyway.

I *could( stand out with a sign, "HELP A VET HAVE A CHRISTMAS" or something, if I got $200 I'd get my eyeglass prescription updated because I'm on my last lens and it may last years or months or days, I want to get enough lenses to last me into the Doom Times. Since I only have one good eye, I don't wear one in my bad eye, and I like 'em a lot better than glasses, can get into a severe accident or a fist fight and no problems with the lens.

So essentially I could go out and panhandle, I just don't like panhandling, and would like to think I can work out some other occupation. I may be foolish to not simply know my new place in the scheme of things and be foolish not to work as a professional beggar for all it's worth. Guess I'll just be foolish then.

Sorry to hear about your woes fleam. Hope things turn around for you soon.

Same here: mistletoe grows high in the oaks but with the leaves gone the clumps are easy to see. And given the poor balance I've always had climbing trees wasn't part of the plan. And shot shells didn't cost too much back then.

You sound like you know your plants, but here's a cautionary tale...

When growing up in the Bay Area, my friend climbed some trees to pick the mistletoe. Took him about two weeks to recover. He was mistakenly picking poison oak! Worst case of poison oak I've ever seen.

LOL weasel. As a young child I made the same mistake. Once was enough to ramp my learning curve up quickly.

Happy Holidays!

I wonder how much of that is severance pay as higher end workers are laid off.
I got a decent severance package I'm sure others are getting theirs. In many cases its blood money as you go up the wage scale you have people in sensitive positions and the remaining workers bolt if no severance.

So as unemployment starts rising in the upper middle class and higher I'd expect a rosy boost from one time severance packages generally 3-6 months of salary or so.

Also of course your averaging in insane banker bonus's which are large enough to be treated as their own virtual state.

If so then I expect household incomes to contract sharply by the second half of 2010 and mortgage delinquency rates to skyrocket esp in the high end as rising unemployment rates work their way up the income ladder.

I think the silent spring for housing is coming this year. Even if your not laid off in the first rounds one has to think that as they start hitting higher up the ladder everyone will pull back out of fear.

I remember year-end bonuses for meeting certain production goals, as an extra enticement these were often awarded in the form of an extra check in time to spend 'em over "Christmas vacation", the two weeks that take in Xmas and New Year.

I remember amounts of $1000 or so, on an $11/hour pay scale. That's enough to matter.

I think the current assumption of many in the financial community is for a square root shaped recovery.

According to Rutgers University the NJ coast has been seeing a 3-4mm/yr rise in sea level.


Does anyone know how much is accountable through polar melt water vs thermal expansion? Because if it's melt water it would have taken decades to flow from the Arctic to NJ at that gradient level.

If it's meltwater, it would mean that the mechanism for melting/ablating started many decades ago, meaning our current levels of CO2 are WAY over the safe limit.

If so, we are SO screwed... and so are those who follow.

Ignorant -

I am admittedly no geophysicist, but I think you might be making a mistake in assuming that polar melt water actually has to flow all the way from the Arctic down to New Jersey for it to raise the sea level at the Jersey shore.

I picture the mechanism more as one of displacement, in which the polar melt water pushes adjacent water in the southerly direction and that water in turn pushes its neighbor, etc., etc.

I think it might be quite analogous to a 1,000 mile water pipeline. If the pipeline is already full, a gallon of water added to the upstream end will result in a gallon of water almost instantaneously appearing at the downstream end, without the added gallon having to travel more than a few inches. Of course, it is not quite that simple, but I think it is roughly that general type of effect.

One might also picture a tsunami wave traveling over a thousand miles at very high speed without much water actually moving anywhere.

Iggy -- Did the report note if it was an absolute rise in sea level or relative? IOW, can the shore line be subsiding? I've never heard of northern east coast subsidence but seem to recall some along the Carolinas. That's one of the problems using coastal inundation in S La. as a measure. The coastline there has been sinking for tens of millions of years and continues today. S La will eventually sink into the GOM even if there is no global sea level rise.

Don't forget that there are areas of the Earth where relative sea level is falling. That's the result of isostatic rebound after the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age. Canada around Hudson Bay is one such region, as is the Fennoscandia peninsula. One can't truly judge the rate of sea level rise by looking at any one geographic area.

E. Swanson

From the last IPCC report:

Since 1993 thermal expansion of the oceans has contributed about 57% of the sum of the estimated individual contributions to the sea level rise, with decreases in glaciers and ice caps contributing about 28% and losses from the polar ice sheets contributing the remainder

Yes, Hudson Bay is gradually getting shallower because of isostatic rebound.

It used to be the center of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and the pressure of the ice created a depression which filled with sea water after it melted, and is now called Hudson Bay.

It will eventually disappear completely unless we have another ice age (which we probably will). Most of Canada is experiencing isostatic rebound, so I don't think a sea level rise due to global warming should be a big concern to Canadians. Personally, I think another ice age is a bigger worry.

Lake Superior is rebounding faster on the east end on the west end. It's basically tilting toward Duluth, with the result that it might eventually drain out through the Mississippi rather than through the lower Great Lakes. If this happens before Niagara Falls backs up into Lake Erie, it would be all to the good, as otherwise much of Superior will empty out in one big rush like Michigan, Huron and Erie will. There's nothing to worry about for another 30,000 years or so, however (by which time the earth will probably be in another ice age anyway).

Actually, the Great Lakes do drain into the Mississippi River ever since they reversed the Chicago River to run backwards. It used to carry sewage from Chicago into Lake Michigan, but since Lake Michigan was Chicago's water supply, this resulted in typhoid and cholera epidemics.

In a typical late 19th century Industrial Revolution solution, they just reversed the river so that it ran out of Lake Michigan, instead of into it, and carried the sewage into the Mississippi River system. Many of the engineers involved later were involved in the Panama Canal project.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_River


Ah, good point.

I seem to recall reading that the 'apparent' sea level in some parts of Scandinavia has done funny things over the years due to a combination of subsidence and uplift related to the varying size of the arctic ice pack.

It is good to remind oneself now and then that the earth is more like a giant blob of Silly Putty rather than a finely machined ball bearing.

As far as the sea level rise at the Jersey shore goes, it is surely the result of all the garbage and dead bodies dumped out there that is displacing the water upward.

Correct joule. Portions of the coastlines around Norway and Sweden have been rebounding upwards due to the removal of glaciers. Wonder if those sea level dwellers down south will like to cross country ski?

But seriously that suddenly makes me wonder if the various rebounding effects around the world could produce a measureable rise in sea levels around the globe. My instincts tell me no but my instincts tend to be wrong as often as they are correct. I think we may have just opened up a new issue in the debate. One that the deniers will quickly jump on if they become aware of it.

Please see the link provided by the black dog above or google "post-glacial rebound sea level rise". One thing I've learned in life, if I have the idea chances are 99.999999999% certain that others had the idea first. In fact, I have yet to find a counter-example to prove that this isn't 100% correct.

Maybe WHT can work out a proof for this theorem.

Yes, everything has been worked out previously. Only the rationale gets worked anew to explain why it has remained dormant. Otherwise you hear the refrain, 'if it's such a good idea why hasn't someone thought of it before?'

One of the weirder things that is happening is that Scotland (which was glaciated) is rising about two feet per century because of isostatic rebound from the last ice age, while southern England (which was not glaciated) is sinking into the ocean at one foot per century. Basically, the whole island of Britain is tilting and dumping the English into the ocean.

The Scots, of course, are quite happy about this situation. The English are less so, but are blaming it on global warming rather than Scotland.

This means the Scots are getting off Scot-free. I just thought I'd mention that so I could preempt anybody else who thought of it.

LOL Rocky. But it sounds like a good master's project: calculate total land mass rebound around the globe and equate to a sea level rise. As you indicate folks have already measured the rates in various areas.

But seriously that suddenly makes me wonder if the various rebounding effects around the world could produce a measureable rise in sea levels around the globe.

The rebounding is really a gradual redistribution of upper mantle rock. The glaciers pushed some of this "rock" away from under the ice sheets and under the ice-free regions nearby. The regions that are close to but beyond the edges of the icesheets would be pushed up during ice ages, and sing during the interglacials. All in all it ought to cancel out. Although if more of the rising land is covered by water, than of the sinking land you could get some increase.

The 3-4 mm per year is roughly in the range of global sea level rise, so it looks like the other local factors are canceling out. In any case the rate of rise is going to accelerate 1meter per century is 10mm/year, and we will likely see more than that -especially after CopOutAgain (Copenhagen).


Very good point about AGW deniers jumping on the relative vs. absolute sealevel rise bandwagon, as some of them surely will do. One good source of data to counter such claims, however, comes from the realtime measurements of sealevel at many many global locations made by the TOPEX/POSEIDON satellite mission. This mission produced a LOT of very good data that as best I can tell shows that there is an ongoing, measurable rise in ABSOLUTE sealevel worldwide. It's measured in mm, but it is measurable.

As us geologists know, such a rise is attributable to one or more of these reasons: (1) glacio-eustatic change (i.e., melting of icecaps), (2) increased rates of seafloor spreading, because the higher heat flow at the mid-ocean ridges results in elevation of the ridges, which leads to a decrease in the actual volume of the ocean basins themselves, and/or (3) an increase in seawater temperatures, which is the aforementioned thermal expansion. Maybe there are now other reasons as well.

My understanding is that causes (1) and (2) are far more significant over the past billion years or so of Earth history based on the work done by folks like Bob Berner at Yale. I'm not aware of any research which suggests that (2) is a cause for the observed rise in sealevel at the present time. Many of the papers in the bibliography of the TOPEX/POSEIDON link in the preceding paragraph also address the causes of sealevel change over geologic time quite well.

Maybe there are now other reasons as well.

I would add the unsustainable mining of groundwater. For instance the GRACE satellite reported an annual loss of 54KM**3 per year of water in Northern India. Add in the rest of the world and you might come up with a couple of hundred KM**3 per year. Greenland melting is in the same range, and IIRC accounts for something like .75mm/year.

Interesting studies Pet...thanks

I suspect that the yellow and the one orange arrow along the east coast of the US is due to subsidence in addition to avg world ocean rise.


It relates to the last ice age. Think of New England as a large wooden board. During an ice age, there is greater weight in the interior, than on the coast. This pushes down the interior of the landmass, and pushes up the areas such as long island. Now the weight is gone,and the interior is slowly rising and the coast line is slowly sinking.

"Because if it's melt water it would have taken decades to flow from the Arctic to NJ at that gradient level."

Why decades? As I look at my globe, it's downhill all the way.

Still, the answer to your question is...the envelope please...thermal expansion.

Thermal expansion? That just isn't possible. Rich Apuzzo says

In addition, the planet continues to cool and we'll likely see that cooling accelerate in the coming years. I touch on these topics and more in a podcast interview you can listen to here. http://www.theflypod.com/asp/newpage.asp?RN=20925

He also says the Arctic isn't melting, so the ice isn't sliding downhill, either.

New Jersey must be sinking as all the oil is pumped out of the mantle where it is made.

The abiotic oil thing has me scared - if we don't use the oil fast enough then the oil will accumulate too fast. next thing you know the Earth will become way too massive, gravity will increase, etc. I suspect that is what happened to Jupiter.

Global sea levels have risen about 120 metres since the end of the last ice age, and there's no reason to expect them to stop. The NJ coast may also be subsiding, so the net effective sea level rise there may be greater than average.

If you are buying waterfront property there, assume a 30 to 40 cm rise in sea levels over the next century, keeping in mind that houses last an average of 100 years, and plan accordingly. Actually, double it to make sure and then add a fudge factor. Plan for a 1 metre rise.

The global warming people might be right, but even if they are, that should be enough. Ignore Al Gore's book - his 23-foot rise is about what you would expect over the next millennium, and I think a thousand years is enough time for your distant descendants to bring in land fill and raise the ground level.

Ablation may account for up to 6-7 m rise per decade.

I believe that sea level rise since the last ice age has been irratic; supposedly Lake Champlain was connected to the sea during the period immediately following the last ice age, and then the sea level dropped down to current levels....

Other ice core studies suggest that up to 1/3 of Greenland's icecap may have melted within a 1/2 century (due to unknown causes); about a 10 m rise.

May not mean much, but remember: those displaced Jersey-shore folk might be relocated to your neck of the woods.

Because if it's melt water it would have taken decades to flow from the Arctic to NJ at that gradient level.

Hmmmm ... Arctic melt will not increase sea level - since all that ice is already floating on water. Only land based ice melt (greenland, antactica etc) will raise sea level.

Hmmm... isn't part of Greenland (and Baffin Island, and many Norwegian glaciers) located North of the Arctic Circle?

A good bit of Greenland is Iggy. Even more problamatic is a story I saw some years ago where they postulated that there was increasing melt of the Greenland ice sheet due to increasing tempts below the ice. Not unprecedented: they've had recent volcanic activity under glaciers in Iceland which resulted in catastrophic local floods. If Greenland is melting from below as well as above....

If Greenland is melting from below as well as above.

The melting from below is actually warmer water in the fiords. Water temperature seems to have a lot to do with the calving (breaking off of icebergs at the front). We also have meltwater from surface melting during the summer, which makes its way to the base. This does increase the sliding. However the meltwater forms underground lakes and rivers, and drains, so its not currently thought that GIS will slide into the sea. But of course the rate of melting could increase substantially. And melting icesheet absorbs a lot more sunlight than clean snow, so I suspect that once melting gets going in a big way, that things will accellerate further.

I see what you mean. I took Arctic to mean from Arctic ocean ...

Sea level is rising along US Atlantic coast, say environmental scientists

Researchers corrected relative sea-level data from tide gauges using the coastal-subsidence values. Results clearly show that the 20th-century rate of sea-level rise is 2 millimeters higher than the background rate of the past 4,000 years. Furthermore, the magnitude of the sea-level rise increases in a southerly direction from Maine to South Carolina. This is the first demonstrated evidence of this phenomenon from observational data alone. Researchers believe this may be related to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and ocean thermal expansion.

Caterpillar introduces Electric Bulldozer:


The new D7E bulldozer is powered by twin electric motors; power is provided by a diesel-electric generator. Efficiency is 25% better than a conventional bulldozer.

While it is still ultimately powered by fossil fuel, the fact that the actual power to the tracks and the controls are electric provides a path to electric heavy equipment with some other kind of electric power source.

>the path was laid decades ago

Indeed, I remember hearing about the LeTourneau machines, with a motor in each wheel, when I was an undergraduate (40+ years ago).

This one's all electric:


"The Art of Extraction"
by John Feffer


"At first blush, this classroom exercise seems innocent enough. What better way to convey the importance of coal in young minds than to associate the black gold with chocolate chips, perhaps the most valuable commodity elementary school children can imagine.

The exercise becomes considerably less innocent when you learn that it's part of a series of lesson plans that the American Coal Foundation, an industry organization, distributes to schools."

Behind a paywall, but viewable through Google:

Mexico Pemex Nov Crude Exports 1.22M B/D Vs 1.5M Year Ago

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos exported 1.22 million of barrels of crude per day in November, down from an average of 1.5 million barrels for the year-ago month, the National Statistics Institute said Tuesday.

Pemex, as the company is known, also saw its crude exports fall from 1.24 million barrels per day in October. About 80% of the company's oil is sent to the U.S.

And when you run the numbers that's a drop of $7.15 billion/yr at $70/bbl. I think the last time I saw the numbers oil exports pay for 40% of the federal budget. Looking worse and worse for the poor folks down there.

Anyone taken a look at the news coming out of Iraq lately? They're claiming they can produce 12 million barrels per day and have sold a good number of new contracts, mostly to state oil companies, to do it.


"Iraq looks set to shake up the Middle East's oil hierarchy after the Iraqi Oil Ministry ended its second bidding round last week, awarding seven oilfields in a tender which could eventually increase the war-torn country's capacity to 12 million barrels per day..."

Any thoughts on the validity of this 'potential' capacity?

12 MBd is way too high. They can theoretically reach 8MBd, by about 2020, and that might prolong the plateau for a while, or perhaps slow the decline. Anyway, Iraq's oil has already been factored into the Hubbert curve.

Here is the theoretically possible projection made by Colin Campbell a while ago:


Thanks for this. The Campbell graph is revealing.

12mbpd sounded exceedingly optimistic to me as well. It's all over the oil news today and yesterday. 77GB is a pretty decent remaining reserve and 8mbpd is still pretty healthy. Iraq is one of a few countries, then, who seem to be able to push production substantially higher in the next 10-20 years?

Leanan just posted another one on the subject...

Two things about Iraqi oil. One: Sadam Hussein's activities retarded extraction for about 10 years; then, GW and freinds delayed startup for another 8. Push back their peak 18 years, and that is about what we are seeing, combined with some new technology to extract it faster [at first].

Still, talk is cheap. I would say more like 6 mbpd and most likely less when the war heats up again. Of course, if you use the generally accepted reserves of 112 BBO, and a depletion rate of 6.7% per year, they would be pumping 20 mbpd. So, who knows? Maybe they'll get it up to 18 mbpd? In 8 to 10 years. For a few years.

Does anyone really believe the 200 BBbl reserves claim?

Do you think it's politics that will likely keep Iraq oil less than 6 mbpd, or geology?

I agree the talk is, at the very least, worth raising an eyebrow. The article Leanan posted cited a 12mbpd Iraqi production in six years.

"Iraq has signed several contracts this month with foreign oil companies and said it could raise production to 12 million barrels a day by 2016-"

Will the deniers hang their hopes on Iraq to bust Peak Oil in the next decade?

I believe that, if Iraqi oil exceeds 6 mbpd, Iran will step in, perhaps by way of terrorist proxy, and stop it.

OTOH, Israel might light the way with a preemptive strike against Iran.

Either way, I guess that would be politics. And, the oil Iraq is going to be pumping has been factored in to the Peak Oil figures. If they can up the ante by exceeding 6 mpbd, it might extend a plateua for a few years, but then since their production is going to be hopped up, the fall off will be fast and dirty. Within 10 years or so, we're right back where we started from, and falling even faster. Just a reprieve, that's all.

Hokay... check this out: Washington Post Item today:

"The Next Decade from Hell"

Includes a nice reference to Stein's Law:

...Stein's law, named after the late economist Herbert Stein: Things that can't go on forever don't. Stein's maxim suggests that problems unaddressed for too long will ultimately have to be confronted. The caveat here is that avoidance makes things that much more difficult (entitlement spending) or even impossible (a tipping point on global warming).



I thought California had solved its fiscal problems, but alas:


They are just getting worse. And, IMHO, the US of A follows their lead.

We are, my freind, in a race to the bottom.

Still, it is nice to hear reports on NPR that everything is hunkey dorey, retail sales are "onlye" down 1% (from last year, which was down a disasterous amount of 3%), thus showing that the economy is stabilizing. Retail stores are doing fine "if they were good at cutting expenses and holding down inventories" but no word which ones are doing better, and which ones are doing worse. I would expect the high end stores would fare better since their customers are the ones who were bailed out, (oops, I mean stiumlated), but again I have no figures to back that up.

Prediction: January and February will see the beginning of the Commercial Real Estate crash. Can you say, "Bail out?"

zaphod - commercial real estate? I thought that had been ruled out as having potential problems, but the media is often the last to know of an impending crisis.

How about this one:

Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes dropped 11.3 percent last month to a 355,000 unit annual rate, frustrating economists who had forecast an increase to 440,000 units.

The data reminded investors that the path to a recovery will be bumpy, one day after a larger-than-expected jump in sales of existing U.S. homes fuelled a market rally.

The net effect of those two days of contrasting stories, essentially cancelling each other out, was a market rally to a much higher level. I don't get it. If existing homes sales are cancelled out by reduced estimates of new home sales, then why was there a positive net effect on the market? The market keeps going up in spite of tepid consumer spending, slow real estate sales, 10% unemployment and huge state and federal debt. Hello - ring a ding ding - anyone wondering if this recovery is actually taking place or if it's a new steady economic slow state based on 75-80 dollar a barrel oil?

Peak Hawaii tourism?

Hawaii's meticulous tourism records are thick with minus symbols, the basis for a projected state budget gap of $1.23 billion that Governor Linda Lingle says is a "fiscal crisis" that cannot be closed with spending cuts alone.


I think Hawaii is an interesting case, as travel there is so fuel intensive, and mostly via aviation.

It's not coming back, either.

There's hardly any non-military ship travel there now. There could be again, but it'd never come up to the level that's done with planes now.

It should actually result in more local production and industry and a better class of tourist. Back to the old day in a lot of ways.

They could start making Rum in larger quantitys again

Yup. Our property taxes will soon be going a lot higher, I think. It'll be interesting to see who stays and who goes... and of course, what the hell happens over the coming 20 years.

Our toes won't freeze, but that may be cold comfort.

"Real estate investment trusts are showing an increasing interest in renting roof space to companies and utilities that can install and manage solar panels on top of their buildings." from news post above.

my house is 30 feet by 70 feet. i have enough space to install a 15KW PV solar system. i currently have a 3KW system. it's covered in 6 inches of snow and not providing any output. 3 years ago it cost me $25,000 to do so. right now i estimate a 15 KW system to cost $110,000 up front.

i think there is a limit on the size of the system a tax rebate can be claimed on a residence. a 15 KW system would power my needs completely and pump juice back into the grid. i'm paying 12 cents a kilowatt hour. it would take a long time to recoup either investment.

if the gubbermint pays for everything for a commercial property and the owner of the system can get 12 cents a kilowatt hour for the juice that is great (for the owner!) but society pays twice for the juice. because of the gubbermint subsidy (from higher taxes) and then from buying the juice. prices for solar systems have to drop another 30% to be realistic. where's china when you really need a discount manufacturing nation?

anyone want to rent my roof and populate it with panels? let's talk.
i want to find out how badly i will be "juiced" for making juice. how does a feller get a sweet heart deal?

i used standard 15% conversion panels. i notice 30% conversion panels cost more than double. what's up with that?

in fact what ever happened to all those printable solar cells? another case of "too cheap to meter". and 5% conversion? forget about it. SN@RX! (i almost forgot...it's all good)

i used standard 15% conversion panels. i notice 30% conversion panels cost more than double. what's up with that?

I think anything over 19-20% is mega hi tech. The best out there is about 40%, but you need highly concentrated light to get that sort of efficiency. The concentrating solar PV people use this stuff, in junction with mirrors and or lenses to concentrate the light. Of course at that sort of intensity, you need some pretty elaborate cooling, otherwise your expensive hightech PV would meltdown within seconds. You also need to tracker to keep these babies pointing directly at the sun. Its not clear if optics combined with high efficiency cells can win the cost race against lowertech flat panels.

I think anything over 19-20% is mega hi tech.

Yep! Pretty much.

humbaba asked above:

in fact what ever happened to all those printable solar cells? another case of "too cheap to meter". and 5% conversion? forget about it. SN@RX! (i almost forgot...it's all good)

They are coming on line at about 15% efficiency which isn't bad all things considered.
Check out this YouTube Video from NanoSolar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGuwUQ1gl8Y