Can Fracking and Carbon Sequestration Coexist?

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Natural gas production and carbon sequestration may be headed for an underground collision course. That is the message from a new HYPERLINK “″study finding that many of the same shale rock formations where companies want to extract gas also happen to sit above optimal sites envisioned for storing carbon dioxide underground that is captured from power HYPERLINK “topic.cfm?id=plants”plants and industrial facilities. The problem with this overlap, the researchers found, is that shale-gas extraction involves fracturing rock that could be needed as an impenetrable cover to hold CO2 underground permanently and prevent it from leaking back into the atmosphere. “There is an obvious conflict between the two uses,” the study says.

The study raises issues that would play out in the future, since carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) in deep rock formations or saline aquifers currently has never been proved at scale in the power sector. It envisions separating the greenhouse gas from power stacks and piping the CO2 to an underground storage spot to prevent release in the atmosphere. There is a large CCS pilot project at an ethanol plant in Illinois, but otherwise the energy industry is testing the concept in nonintegrated, small pieces in the United States. Many other projects have stalled because of cost concerns. The concept is considered pivotal for coal’s survival in a carbon-constrained world, since the fossil fuel releases about a third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The size of the resource indicates there will still be plenty of room for CO2 injections in the future, despite the overlap, said Bruce Hill, a geologist at the Clean Air Task Force. Currently, federal law requires carbon sequestration operators to undergo a vigorous permitting process under the Safe Drinking HYPERLINK “topic.cfm?id=water”Water Act.

While the corporate media has mentioned the practice of fracking, minimally, it does not address carbon capture and sequestration. The corporate media has not addressed the potential geological concern these two practices have with each other existing simultaneously. As of November of 2012, there has been no corporate media coverage on the global practice of Carbon Capture and Sequestration. The coverage of fracking has been confusing in the corporate media.

Title: Can Fracking and Carbon Sequestration coexist?
Source: Scientific American, March 16, 2012,
Author: Marshall, Christa

Student Researcher: Amanda McNulty (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Charles Thomsen (American River College)