Tags : energy

Database quantifies wasted natural gas from Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

An interactive map shows how the volume of flared gas in Texas counties has increased over time – especially in the Eagle Ford Shale. 

The energy boom that’s showering rural South Texas with money is also wasting an irreplaceable natural resource.

Drive through the bustling oil patch of the Eagle Ford Shale, located about an hour away from San Antonio, and you’ll quickly lose count of fiery gas flares that dot the countryside.

Natural gas is cheap. Pipelines are expensive. So instead of collecting the fossil fuel, many oil and gas operators build tall, metallic flare stacks to burn ...

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Database quantifies wasted natural gas from Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

An interactive map shows how the volume of flared gas in Texas counties has increased over time – especially in the Eagle Ford Shale. 

By John Tedesco, San Antonio Express-News

The energy boom that’s showering rural South Texas with money is also wasting an irreplaceable natural resource.

Drive through the bustling oil patch of the Eagle Ford Shale, located about an hour away from San Antonio, and you’ll quickly lose count of fiery gas flares that dot the countryside.

Natural gas is cheap. Pipelines are expensive. So instead of collecting the fossil fuel, many oil and gas operators build ...

Read more ...

Online data and tools for environmental investigations

By Gwen Girsdansky

Lisa Song of InsideClimate News, Ingrid Lobet of the Houston Chronicle, David Sheppard of the San Antonio Express-News and Jim Morris of the Center for Public Integrity gave suggestions for online resources available for investigating environmental issues on Thursday at the IRE Conference.

Lobet mentioned a good tactic is thinking about what information you want and then working backward, because a database probably exists for that information. A few databases they suggested:

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Detecting lobbying in White House visitor data

A few weeks after I returned from an IRE and NICAR boot camp earlier this year, I got a copy of proposed changes to a rule for fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – for oil and gas on public land that was being developed by federal regulators.

Just about every change to the Bureau of Land Management fracking rule had gone the way the oil and gas industry had wanted.

After I wrote a story about that, I still had a question – what led to all the proposed changes? To figure that out, I turned to the White House Visitor Access Records ...

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State Department reverses position, makes comments on Keystone XL available to public

Reversing a position announced in March, the U.S. Department of State has stated it will make public the more than 800,000 comments submitted to date regarding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

In March, John H. Cushman reported for InsideClimate News that the State Department would not make public the public comments it received during the drafting of an Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline, except through the Freedom of Information Act. Cushman, who said he makes a habit of reading the docket of public comments for reporting, said he was taken aback when he was told the comments ...

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First venture: Probing pipeline leak detection

I became interested in pipeline data after reporting on the Keystone XL oil pipeline. There was (and still is) a lot of debate about the pipeline's projected spill rate and safety. TransCanada, the Canadian company behind the project, already has one U.S. pipeline, which leaked 14 times within its first year of operation. I didn't know if that was unusual, so I wanted to compare TransCanada's record to the leak rates from other companies.

That story eventually proved too much to tackle, but it led me to another story about leak detection. As it turns out ...

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Behind the Story: When does an ongoing story warrant an investigation?


Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

Photo credit:
Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

(Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of our "Behind the Story" look at coverage of the Hanford nuclear reservation's environmental issues.)

Determining when an ongoing issue becomes an issue worth investigating isn’t always easy.

Craig Welch, an environmental reporter for The Seattle Times who juggles topics from oceans to forests, also keeps his eye on the Hanford nuclear reservation, which had become, as one of his stories stated, an "atomic mess after 40 years of bomb-making."  

In Welch’s investigative stories "Big cleanup questions still loom at Hanford" and "Will ...

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Behind the Story: 10 years in, safety concerns still plague nuclear waste site

USA Today: Hanford nuclear cleanup

In "Problems plague cleanup at Hanford nuclear waste site," USA Today’s Peter Eisler takes on 56 million gallons of radioactive waste and finds he isn’t the only one who has a few things to learn. After 10 years of developing the “first-of-its-kind” nuclear waste treatment plant, the Department of Energy and its contractors still don’t know how to build it.

Project costs tripled to $12.3 billion and the start-up date was moved to 2019 from 2011, Eisler reported.

By using in-depth interviews and federal employees' documented concerns over "technical problems," Eisler was able to relay to ...

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Mapping it Out: Population growth around nuke plants

Our biggest mistake was thinking it’d be easy.

In late 2009, long before the nuclear accident in Japan, I had embarked on an investigative series on nuclear power. Under the direction of Associated Press National Investigative Editor Rick Pienciak, I was examining how well nuclear power plants hold up as they age. I was focusing on considering harmful factors within the plants, everything from radiation to rust. Soon, I began to wonder about safety outside the plants’ grounds. Had population growth in surrounding communities undermined what was once viewed as a fundamental safety feature of the plants: remote locations ...

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Award winner: Missing gas-escrow payments uncovered with data matches

For 20 years, an obscure Virginia regulatory board has forced thousands of landowners to lease their mineral rights to private energy corporations.

The corporations who drain natural gas belonging to landowners are required to pay them royalties. But whenever conflicts arise over gas ownership, the Virginia Gas and Oil Board places royalties into escrow accounts. Landowners receive no accounting of these royalties and cannot collect them without clearing enormous legal hurdles. Only two state employees monitor payments into the escrow, which now contains $25 million and has never undergone a compliance audit.

When I started my reporting, I wanted to ...

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