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Archive for April, 2012

Vortex Tools follow-up article: After last week’s firestorm over a 2010 video where he called to “crucify” the oil and gas industry, EPA official Al Armendariz turned in his resignation on April 30th, 2012.

In my last post, I covered the heated comments between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil & gas industry in April 2012. These include Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher‘s 4/5 comments that “We must cut the EPA’s legs off”; the EPA’s 4/18 air pollution ruling for fracking wells; and, of course,  the release of Al Armendariz’ self-admitted “crude” 2010 example of how, like the Romans crucifying the first five people they saw in a new town, the EPA needed to flex its power to get the oil & gas industry to commit to better practices.

My closing comment was: “Well, April’s not over yet. Maybe we’ll have a few more heated comments between the EPA and the oil & gas industry before the month is out.”

Today, the last day of April, the news came in: EPA official Al Armendariz has resigned.

In his resignation letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Armendariz noted that his resignation stems from not wanting to be a distraction to the EPA’s goals: “I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and the agency from its important work.”

From there, his comments and the reactions are standard:

  • Armendariz stated that his comments “do not in any way reflect (his) work as regional administrator.”
  • The EPA and the Obama administration continue to state that Armendariz’ opinions do not represent the views of the EPA or the White House.
  • Many Republicans and oil & gas sector supporters believe that Armendariz — appointed by President Obama in April 2009 — does reflect the views of the EPA and the White House (namely to unfairly target the oil & gas industry).
  • The EPA has declared that the Armendariz scandal will not deter them from their practices.
  • Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has declared that Armendariz’ resignation will not stop his investigation into the EPA’s policies.

So really, it’s the same old story: One side tries to pin the scandal on a lone fall guy while the other tries to take the comments of that one person as the standard for an entire organization. The truth is probably somewhere midway, but hey, this is politics. Who needs the truth when you can further your agenda?

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools comments on EPA administrator Al Armendariz’s analogy on the need to “crucify” the oil & gas industry, and the war of words from both sides in April 2012.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADisused_Industrial_Building%2C_Off_Pasture_lane_-_geograph.org.uk_-_101328.jpg

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil & gas industry don’t get along. It’s one of those power-struggle relationships that shifts depending on whichever political party is in power — the EPA usually grows under a Democrat-controlled government, the oil & gas industry under a Republican-controlled government — but generally speaking, the two try to not say anything too overt against the other side.

Lately, however, that hasn’t been the case.

Ring the bell.

On April 5th, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) declared,  “We must cut the EPA’s legs off.”

While I think the EPA, like many regulatory government agencies, has unfortunate biases and agendas, there’s still a need for them; so in my grace, I will state that they should indeed still have legs (how nice of me).

Rep. Fincher, however, clarified his comment farther: “I hate to say that because it sounds rotten, but they are choking this country to death with legislating through the bureaucracy in Washington. I mean, we have fought dust legislation; we have fought water. You name it — it is something every day from the Environmental Protection Agency, and every group I talk to has the same message: ‘Please stop them.’ “

Then, on April 18th, the EPA issued air pollution rules for fracking wells. The rules state that oil & gas companies can flare (or burn off) the gas for now, but by 2015, that option will be gone. Instead, the oil & gas industry will be required to collect the gas. As a result, this will require pipelines and other equipment that, for many companies, is considered a hassle now.

Considering the environmental impact and energy value of the gas (plus the financial/energy value of the liquids in rich gas), this regulation against flaring is long overdue, but then again, Vortex Tools has been opposed to flaring gas rich with natural gas liquids (NGLs) for a long time, especially since these NGLs are valuable and Vortex makes them easy to recover.

Despite what many perceive to be a healthy step for energy efficiency, many in the oil & gas industry believe that the EPA will not stop regulating until fracking is banned. (This is, of course, exactly what environmentalists want.) This latest regulation isn’t the first step to that marker, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

And here we are today — April 26th, 2012 — where news broke on a video clip from 2010. In the video, top EPA official, Region Six Administrator Al Armendariz used the example of crucifixion to explain the EPA’s enforcement methods on the oil & gas industry:

The highlights:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere; they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law — find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, (and) you go aggressively after them.”

I’ll give Armendariz credit: He at least knew then that his analogy was “crude” and “not appropriate” (which laid the groundwork for his apology yesterday… two years after the fact). Past that, however, he should probably know that examples on ruthlessly torturing and murdering people to establish your power might not go over well.  Plus, apparently that Jesus fella changed how Christians, a large part of the population, will respond to casual crucifixion examples (even if they are historically accurate).

Since the fracking debate is especially heated this year, it’s no surprise that both sides are digging up questionable content from the past. Also in the obvious box, the Armenadiz video prompted the following obvious responses:

  1. The EPA defended its enforcement strategy;
  2. The White House issued a statement that Armendariz’ remarks do not reflect President Obama’s view; and
  3. Some Republicans are angry and again believe that the EPA needs to be shut down.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced he is launching an investigation into the EPA’s tactics. He believes the EPA intends to incite fear in the public with unfounded intimidation methods. He also believes the EPA forcefully and unfairly shuts down companies. “My point is, you can’t get the oil and gas without hydraulic fracturing, but the public doesn’t know that,” he said. “So if they can kill hydraulic fracturing they have successfully killed oil and gasoline production in America.”

Well, April’s not over yet. Maybe we’ll have a few more heated comments between the EPA and the oil & gas industry before the month is out.

EDIT: 4/30: Armendariz out: https://spirofloblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/epa-official-who-called-to-crucify-the-oil-and-gas-industry-resigns/

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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I heard about a high school debate teacher who told his students that if they wanted to win a debate, they should do two things:

  1. Lie (convincingly); and
  2. Tie every argument to death, because once death is involved, the original point can’t be good.

Sadly, I think politics is likely less mature than high school debate teams, and environmental issues are full of misinformation and arguments about what ends in death. This scene from “Thank You For Smoking” highlights it perfectly. The main character (played by Aaron Eckhart) is a lobbyist for big tobacco, and it’s his job to turn around people’s arguments. Eventually his son wants to know how to do this and the following scene takes place:

EDIT: Since the video got removed I put the text in the comments.

Tada! Who needs to be right when you can win?

One more reason to keep smoking here.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Ecotech Systems looks at the Denver Zoo’s new waste-powered rickshaw.

While I’ve said before that you can fuel a car with just about anything (regardless of how inefficient and unsustainable it is), the Denver Zoo is now running a motorized rickshaw on zoo waste. This zoo waste includes patron trash and yes, the monstrous amounts of animal feces they’ve got lying around. Now, instead of getting slung as ammunition from monkeys you dared showed your teeth to, this 20-year-old, three-wheeled ride was reconfigured with a $50,000 complex propulsion system to go a blazing 10 mph. It may not be American made (the rickshaw was imported from Thailand), but it’s American fueled.

tuk-tuk: the version that costs $50,000 less

Not impressed? What if I told you that despite its low speed, the tuk-tuk (a slang name for the rickshaw based on the noise it makes) went on a zoo tour, even to zoos out of state? No? What if I told you the patented propulsion system converts the waste into syngas — a fuel made mostly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen — which then generates electricity to fuel a battery to power the tuk-tuk? Nah, didn’t think so.

The thing is, even the Denver Zoo is aware that this crappy novelty doesn’t shine so bright as is. This poo-powered mobile is a merely a gimmick to promote the end goal of the technology: fuel for the 10-acre Toyota Elephant Passage that opens June 1st, 2012. According to their press release:

Denver Zoo is seeking LEED® certification for Toyota Elephant Passage at the platinum level, the highest level, from the U.S. Green Building Council. The program recognizes sustainable and green building practices. This includes the use of biomass gasification technology, which will convert more than 90 percent of the zoo’s waste into usable energy to power the exhibit, eliminating 1.5 million pounds of trash currently going to landfills annually. Other methods include recycling most of the 1.1 million gallons of water running through the exhibit, utilizing natural daylight to provide natural, clean light and retaining heat at lower elevations through the use of radiant heating floor systems.

Well, they’re not the first ones to believe that elephant dung is good business. That said, I still don’t see human waste alternate energy projects catching on any time soon. For whatever reason, animal waste still has less of a yuck factor. We’ve been trained to pick up dog poop and clean out cat litter boxes, but no one wants to take care of what some drunk guy just left in a potted plant of a bank lobby.

Anyway, according to the Denver Post, this process could wind up saving as much as $150,000 per year on hauling costs. However, as usual, the italicized part of that last sentence leads me to believe that the savings will be much lower, although as landfills become less of an option (due to less space and higher costs) these numbers might not be that far off.

In the mean time, enjoy this teeny Denver Post video.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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For those of you who need one more reason to keep smoking, CBS News reported that, an “electronic cigarette blew up in a Florida man’s face, leaving him in a hospital with severe burns, missing his front teeth and a chunk of his tongue.” Although the brand was not identified, investigators suspect a faulty battery was to blame. So far this appears to be an isolated incident, so don’t expect to see warning labels on e-cigarettes just yet.

“The best analogy is like it was trying to hold a bottle rocket in your mouth when it went off,” said Joseph Parker, division chief for the North Bay Fire Department. “The battery flew out of the tube and set the closet on fire.”

I think I’d rather puff off a bit of air pollution than set my face on fire.

Full article here.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

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SpiroFlo looks at which grocery stores are selling ground beef containing the controversial pink slime additive.

Although McDonald’s agreed to stop using the creep-tastic pink slime in their products (and it’s not the first time they’ve tipped the scale for fast food change), The Daily recently released a list of grocery stores that do or do not use pink slime:

These are among the stores that say they do not sell meat with pink slime:

  • Safeway
  • A&P
  • Whole Foods
  • Costco
  • Publix
  • H-E-B
  • Waldbaum’s
  • Price Chopper

These are among the stores that do not sell pink slime in store-ground meat, but sell pre-packaged ground beef from suppliers that may contain pink slime:

  • Jewel-Osco
  • Kroger
  • Food Lion
  • Winco
  • Fred Meyer

These are among the stores that sell store-ground meat with pink slime:

  • Target
  • BJ’s
  • Hy-Vee
  • Walmart
  • Albertsons
  • Stop & Shop
  • Zaycon Foods

More on this list here.

Looks like schools can opt out of pink slime soon, too. Makes sense. I expect fast food to be terrible for me (and occasionally delicious if it’s 3 AM and I haven’t eaten in a while), but kids and people cooking at home should get to opt out. Of course, if you’re all for fast food reform — when the problem is really that fast food isn’t fixable — you’re probably happy that drinking 1000 cans of soda a day won’t give you cancer any more.

Although several grocery stores are planning on scaling back the use of pink slime, as of March 2012, 70% of ground beef sold in U.S. grocery stores contained unlabeled pink slime. I expect this list to look a lot different six months from now.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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On April 1st, 2012, “60 Minutes” reported that sugar, as it’s currently consumed, is a toxin that drives several diseases, including obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. In today’s blog, SpiroFlo breaks down the major findings of that report.

Brand new report: Everything is still bad for you.

Today’s suspect: Sugar.

On Sunday night, “60 Minutes” posed the question, “Is sugar toxic?” In knowing that they wouldn’t air the report if the results came back as, “Huh, it’s like most things: If you have too much of it, it isn’t good for you,” I assumed they’d come back with “Yes.” It was just a matter of how big that yes was. Despite airing on April Fool’s Day, this was no joke:

According to the report, the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar each year.

Yikes. That’s a supermodel-and-a-half right there. The tough part is that much of this two-fifths-of-a-pound of sugar a day is hidden in yogurt, sauces and bread.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a California endocrinologist, believes that sugar (as it is currently consumed) is a toxic driver of many diseases, including obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Thankfully, when the interviewer, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, asked, “Do you ever worry that… it just sounds a little bit over the top?” Dr. Lustig had enough sense to respond with, “Sure. All the time. But it’s the truth.”

After the government mandated lowering fat consumption in the 1970s, Dr. Lustig says that in knowing that food loses its flavor without fat, the food industry replaced that fat with sugar. Although sugar consumption is down 40% since then, Lustig also argues that the switch to high fructose corn syrup hasn’t helped, as it’s basically the same thing.

While his views of sugar as a toxin used to be considered on the fringe, Kimber Stanhope, a nutritional biologist at the University of California, is one of the many voices backing him up. “She’s in the middle of a groundbreaking, five-year study which has already shown strong evidence linking excess high fructose corn syrup consumption to an increase in risk factors for heart disease and stroke. That suggests calories from added sugars are different than calories from other foods.”

The report continues, “when a person consumes too much sweet stuff, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and converts some of it into fat. Some of that fat ends up in the bloodstream and helps generate a dangerous kind of cholesterol called small dense LDL. These particles are known to lodge in blood vessels, form plaque and are associated with heart attacks.”

Another expert, Eric Stice—a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute—used MRI scanners to observe how the brain responds to sugars and sweeteners. The results? Your brain responds the same way to sugar as it does to cocaine—by releasing the pleasure chemical: dopamine. The more you eat sugary foods, the less you feel the rewards. Much like a junkie, it takes more and more to feel it.

How much do you think I can get for this on the street?

Lewis Cantley, a Harvard professor and the head of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, believes high-sugar consumption is a catalyst that fuels certain types of cancers—including breast and colon cancer—as they, like the cells of body, need glucose to survive (and grow). Apparently the tumors learned this behavior. Sugar fiends the lot of ‘em!

Of course, like most investigative reports, you must have one lone detractor to balance things out. A member on the sugar board, Jim Simon, predictably disagreed with the findings, saying, “the science isn’t completely clear here.” (To be fair, he’s right. Give it six months and some other experts from another study will likely find something different.) He argued that vilifying the sugar industry by trying to get people to eliminate sugar isn’t enough. Simon says it’s more about reducing calories and increasing exercise (and since Simon says so, we have to do it).

In closing the segment, “60 Minutes” noted that Dr. Lustig co-authored a paper with the American Heart Association on the daily recommended amount of added sugar. The recommendation? No more than 150 calories of added sugar for men and 100 calories for women. That’s less than one can of soda a day (and I’m guessing maybe, just maybe, a notch shy of that disturbing 130 pounds of sugar consumed by the average American in a year).

Watch the report below:

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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