fracking guar gum environmental regulation subsidies

More Gas Won't Guarantee Lower Gas Prices For Long
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Join the Storm to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

In this Green RoundUp, see the linkages in economies, the petitions of activists, and the video of a savant. We trim, blend, and append two 2012 articles from (1) Pacific Standard, Jun 4, on fracking by L. Margonelli (who’s been published in Forbes, Slate, Politico, The Atlantic, The Nation, and The New York Times; her book Oil On the Brain was named one of the 25 notable books of 2007) and (2) EcoWatch, Jun 15, on subsidies by W. Bates. They’re followed by a video of Scott Baker explaining geoism -- a solution to the economy vs. ecosystem dilemma.

by Lisa Margonelli, by Will Bates

A rush in fracking natural gas in the American West has led to Indian guar gum prices flapping upwards. Every American gas well that’s fracked requires about nine metric tons of guar gum, a viscous gel made from the guar bean. Guar gum -- also used in ice cream and other foods -- makes the “proppants” that are jammed into fractures in shale rocks more viscous and more slippery, which helps free more of the natural gas trapped in the rocks.

Runaway demand for guar beans has transformed the sleepy farms of India’s desert province of Rajasthan. “Guar changed my life,” says a farmer whose income quintupled last year. “Next season I will even try to grow guar on the roof.”

Higher guar prices increase the cost of fracking -- it can be 30 percent of the cost of fracking a well.

More drilling means higher costs for drilling, i.e. more expensive guar gum, drilling rigs, labor, and the rest. At the same time, more drilling makes gas prices fall. Since last year they’ve fallen by 62 percent, and April 19 saw a 10-year low in natural gas prices.

That means drilling stops -- which is exactly what’s happened in Michigan, where a gas rush has tapered off because there’s too much natural gas available, too cheaply, and simply no point in investing in it. A decrease in selling price is decreasing supply.

What will ensure supply? Higher prices, of course.

A new report out of the International Energy Agency suggests that gas needs to be at least twice as expensive to be “sustainable” in the U.S. The IEA was formed in the mid-1970s as the oil-consuming countries’ rival to OPEC, the oil producers cartel, which was throttling back production to push oil prices up. Now, in an ironic twist, the IEA is essentially advocating setting prices for natural gas. (OPEC itself is based on the Railroad Commission of Texas, which started limiting oil production to keep prices higher in Texas in the 1930s, something the commission continues today).

The IEA, meanwhile, isn’t buying that there’s a dichotomy between supply and environmental regulation. Instituting consistent and better environmental practices would raise natural gas production costs by just 7 percent, it says.

To read more

JJS: With the lesson in economics that fracking offers, there’s also its damage to the environment. For instance, fracking consumes lakes of drinking water and leaves behind lakes of toxic water. Of the various sectors of the human economy, it seems our quest for and use of energy is one of the most eco-cidal.

Ironically, rather than make polluters pay, we limit their liability and gift them free money -- subsidize them.

There are now more than one million people around the world who are calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

In less than a week, the “Rio Earth Summit” will begin; world leaders will converge in Brazil. The theme of the conference is “building the global green economy.” We’ll be using the Rio Summit as a way to jump-start the next phase of our campaign on fossil fuel subsidies.

And we’ll be harnessing the power of the web to ramp up the pressure on world leaders in a brand new way. On June 18 we are going to unleash a 24-hour social media storm -- an online push united by one single message: #EndFossilFuelSubsidies. To help make our message unignorable click here . If we can get 10,000 people to join in, we’ll have built up a digital army around the world who can break through the noise.

We’ll also be taking your online messages and displaying them offline for the world to see. In major cities around the globe, local teams are setting up projectors that will beam your tweets right onto global landmarks.

Ultimately, is about building a grassroots movement grounded in communities -- doing real-world organizing, not just online petition signing and Facebook-posting and Twitter sharing. But the web offers us incredible ways to take messages from people in our global network, amplify them, and then channel them to world leaders and the media.

To read more

JJS: Getting rid of wasteful and destructive subsidies -- perhaps abolishing the practice of subsidizing altogether -- is one of the four main tenets of geonomics. Another is to get rid of counterproductive taxes such as those levied on our earnings, purchases, and buildings. The other two are to (a) use fees, dues, and taxes to redirect our spending for natural resources and land -- goods created by nature, not by any owner in particular -- (b) into the pockets of all members of society as a dividend or desired social program.

To delve deeper into geonomics, check out this interview of Scott Baker on public access TV ( to watch the video ). The man knows his stuff. And the planet needs you to know it, too.



Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

The EU and a civil servant say let’s pay for nature

Those Debating Economic Policies, Attention

Just a two days later …

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