Daily Digest

Daily Digest 1/15 - Fed Plays PR Games, Foreclosure Auctions Show Raw Side Of Capitalism, Hugelkultur Raised Garden Beds

Sunday, January 15, 2012, 10:46 AM
  • Fed Plays PR Games
  • Reform threat to 'gold-plated' private pensions
  • Foreclosure Auctions Show Raw Form of Capitalism
  • European Leaders Use Debt Downgrades to Argue for Austerity, and for Stimulus
  • Unlocking the Secrets Behind Hydraulic Fracturing
  • Haitian farmers undermined by food aid
  • Raised Garden Beds: Hugelkultur Instead Of Irrigation

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Fed Plays PR Games (pinecarr)

The Fed plays the markets like a football game, and Ben Bernanke is currently calling all the plays. Although investors are mere lineman in this struggle, there are things we can do to stay in the game. When tackling a ball carrier in football (or in the rugby played in my home country) it is best to ignore the movement's of your opponent's eyes or hands which can be used to obscure his true intentions. Instead, good coaches tell us to fixate on the runner's feet as the best indicator of his actual path down the field. Likewise, when looking at any political body, like the Fed, it is best to look at their actions and ignore their words.

Reform threat to 'gold-plated' private pensions (pinecarr)

Hundreds of thousands of private sector workers face seeing the value of their pensions cut under reforms being considered by the government, it has emerged.

Foreclosure Auctions Show Raw Form of Capitalism (jdargis)

In recent months, the auctions have become more competitive because of an influx of outsiders who are eager for cut-rate houses that they can resell or rent out and because of a decrease in the number of houses available. There were 2,296 trustee sales in Maricopa County last month, 44 percent fewer than in December two years ago during the depths of the market crash, according to The Cromford Report, a real estate newsletter.

European Leaders Use Debt Downgrades to Argue for Austerity, and for Stimulus (jdargis)

The downgrades did not come as a surprise and were somewhat less severe than expected. In recent weeks, there have been a few hopeful signs in Europe, including economic indicators that were better than expected, successful bond sales by countries like Italy, and a more forceful response from the European Central Bank.


Unlocking the Secrets Behind Hydraulic Fracturing (jdargis)

A June study prepared for the Texas Water Development Board suggested that less than 1 percent of the water used statewide went into fracking. Oil and natural gas groups say such numbers show their usage lags well behind that of cities.

Haitian farmers undermined by food aid (jdargis)

“If you look at the allocation of food aid after the earthquake, the fact that most of it is (Food for Progress) means that the priority for the U.S. government was exporting food from the U.S.,” said Nathan Yaffe, Board Member of the Haiti Justice Alliance. “The evidence suggests that U.S. foreign aid is structured around our economic needs rather than the humanitarian needs of people we’re supposed to be helping.”

Raised Garden Beds: Hugelkultur Instead Of Irrigation (Jackson B.)

It's a german word and some people can say it all german-ish. I'm an american doofus, so I say "hoogle culture". I had to spend some time with google to find the right spelling. Hugal, hoogal, huegal, hugel .... And I really like saying it out loud: "hugelkultur, hoogle culture, hoogal kulture ...." - it could be a chant or something.

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Unlocking the Secrets Behind Hydraulic Fracturing (jdargis)

You wrote, "A June study prepared for the Texas Water Development Board suggested that less than 1 percent of the water used statewide went into fracking. Oil and natural gas groups say such numbers show their usage lags well behind that of cities."   

All is not well in the fracking industry. moratoria are being leveled in a number of states as citizens realize that a lot more is at stake besides cheap fuel. The following is a more current assessment of what's happening in a number of fracking areas in Texas.

------Bloomberg; Parched Texans Impose Water-Use Limits for Fracking Gas Wells.

Sept. 30, 2011 (Bloomberg) -- An intensifying drought in Texas is prompting limits on water consumption that for the first time target oil and natural gas producers.

Local water districts, which have authority to allocate water from subterranean aquifers, are adding a water-intensive production method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to some of the pumping restrictions they’re imposing on farmers and small towns.

The city of Grand Prairie in the Barnett Shale in North Texas in August became the first municipality to ban the use of city water for fracking. Water officials for the Ogallala Aquifer in part of the Permian Basin included fracking when they approved the district’s first-ever restrictions on water use in July.

Even before the drought, water was a sensitive issue for gas producers, who now use fracking to develop about 85 percent of the wells drilled in Texas, according to state regulators.

“The rumblings have definitely started in the last six months,” said Chris Faulkner, chief executive officer of Breitling Oil and Gas Corp., a closely held producer in Irving, Texas. “It used to be, ‘Are you going to contaminate my water;’ now the concern is, ‘You’re going to use up all my water.’”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether fracking leads to contamination of water supplies, and local officials in some U.S. drilling areas are considering tighter regulation of the practice, in which 3 to 10 million gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped into a well to crack the rock and release oil and gas.

Policy Shift

The Texas restrictions represent a policy shift in a state that produces about one-fifth of the crude and one-third of the gas in the U.S., and is known for industry-friendly government. Landowners historically have been allowed to pump as much water as they want, and the energy industry has been exempt from many water conservation rules, said Ben Sebree, vice president for government affairs of the Texas Oil & Gas Association.

“We’re really entering a new era of water management and water policy in the state,” Sebree said.

The new rules so far haven’t shut down any oil and gas drilling, and some companies have turned to alternative sources of water to keep operating.

Breitling recently trucked 3.5 million gallons of water 50 miles to a drilling site in North Texas’s Hemphill County to avoid having to obtain water locally. The $68,000 it paid was a fraction of the $3.5 million it cost for fracking the well, Faulkner said.

Permit Violation

Chesapeake Energy Corp. ran into trouble when it trucked water from a drilling site in one city to another in the Barnett Shale field. Arlington, Texas, cited Chesapeake for a permit violation in August when the company used Arlington water to frack a well in Grand Prairie, which has banned water for fracking, said Jim Parajon, Arlington’s planning director.

The violation carries a fine up to $2,000, he said. Arlington doesn’t limit the use of water for fracking, but its gas drilling ordinance doesn’t allow companies to take city water from an individual drill site. A Chesapeake spokesman said the company has apologized to city officials

Pioneer Natural Resources Co., based in Irving, Texas, is tapping water from salty, non-drinkable aquifers to develop its 900,000 acres in the Permian Basin.

Devon Energy Corp. has been using portable distilling plants since about 2007 to recycle water in the Barnett Shale and has a goal of recycling a third of the water it uses in the Granite Wash field in North Texas, said Tony Thornton, a spokesman for Oklahoma City-based Devon.

Rising Water Use

“We can tell, more and more, water use is going to be an issue,” Thornton said in a telephone interview.

Fracking has led to a drilling revival in Texas. Active rigs drilling in the state more than doubled to 903 in late August from 376 in September 2009, according to Baker Hughes’ data.

In the Eagle Ford Shale formation in South Texas, oil and gas companies are forecast to increase water consumption to 44,800 acre-feet of water in 2020, up from 5,800 in 2010, according to a study by the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology. An acre-foot is about 325,000 gallons, enough to supply three average households for a year.

Water use in the Barnett Shale is projected to increase to 40,300 acre-feet from 27,900 during the same period, the study said.

Record Drought

The drought, which caused the state’s driest year since record keeping began in 1895, is expected to continue into 2012, said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist.

In the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, which is based in Lubbock and covers an area bigger than Massachusetts, new water restrictions begin kicking in for landowners next year.

Though the state water code exempts oil and gas drilling from some rules enacted by groundwater districts, fracking is a process separate from drilling and will be subject to the new water limits, said Jim Conkwright, general manager of the High Plains district.

The Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District, which controls pumping from four counties in South Texas, made the same decision when fracking took off in the Eagle Ford Shale in about 2008. The district already had rules restricting pumping to 2 acre-feet annually per acre, and decided to apply them to hydraulic fracturing, general manager Mike Mahoney said.

Janet Guthrie, general manager of the Hemphill County Underground Water Conservation District in North Texas, said she may need to impose water limits for fracking if the water table drops too low.

At that point, “The question is, how quick do you want to go dry?” she said.

--Editors: Susan Warren, Joe Winski

-0- Oct/06/2011 14:08 GMT

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Lee in Dallas at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at [email protected] CHK US <Equity> DVN US <Equity> PXD US <Equity> 3503158Z US <Equity>

By Mike Lee Oct/06/2011 14:08 GMT

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