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Kintigh_Generating_Station_-_Somerset,_New_YorkVortex Tools covers the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to limit power plant emissions.

It’s been a spotlight year for the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS). One week, a political group can claim SCOTUS is finally leading on an issue that is overdue for reform; the next week, the same group can gripe that the same SCOTUS shouldn’t overstep their bounds and should respect the laws as is. Yay, politics?

So this is the SCOTUS ruling this week:

The basics:

  • In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposed new regulations on coal- and oil-fired power plant emissions. These rules—on curbing mercury and other hazardous air pollutants—were supposed to take place in April 2016 and included capturing 90% of mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants (before they get released into the air), reducing 88% of acid gas emissions from power plants, and reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by 41%.
  • However, 21 states and industry groups challenged the regulations in front of the Supreme Court, and on June 29th, 2015, they voted 5-4 against the EPA. The main reasoning was that the EPA did not reasonably consider the costs of these regulations, and the majority of SCOTUS believes that the economic cost—costing $9.6 billion to install/operate equipment to remove mercury pollutants—disproportionately exceeded the health and environmental benefits.
  • The dissent believed that the EPA had considered these costs at the later stages of the project. They estimated that while the costs were nearly $10 billion for energy companies to get into compliance, they argued benefits of $37 to $90 billion annually. However, the majority of SCOTUS did not agree, and the EPA now returns to lower courts to account for the costs of compliance.

The interpretation:

  • Saying that the EPA overreached and didn’t consider the plausibility of enforcing such a standard is a common complaint from the industries looking at regulation. However, there are previous examples where this has not helped, like with cellulosic ethanol standards in gasoline—where the standards were unattainable, but the EPA enforced fines anyway.
  • Energy companies rarely like regulation, and as much as they say that they’ll regulate themselves, it rarely happens unless they’re forced into it, so some regulation is needed. Once regulations are enforced, innovation happens. However, this is not always the case (again, looking at ethanol standards in gasoline: lignocellulosic ethanol was supposed to be the great equalizer, but it wound up being a fantasy fuel that remains unproven, and the regulations remain unattainable).
  • This was the first of President Obama’s energy regulations to make it up to the Supreme Court, and with the ruling, it sets a precedence for the rest. Now state courts can point to a ruling from above them and this may well stop other energy cases from reaching the Supreme Court again. Regardless, as the regulations were announced at the end of 2011, some power plant companies already made an attempt to comply with the regulations.

However it goes, political groups will still have plenty to complain about next week.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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China’s population is moving. As mentioned previously, an estimated quarter-million people a month move to Beijing. As the cities grow larger, old villages grow smaller, some of which are now abandoned.

With this in mind, photographer Tang Yuhong shows what happens when you ignore those sneaky plants for years:

abandoned2

According to Dangerous Minds, “(t)he village is located in the Shengsi Islands, near the mouth of the Yangtze River.”

abandoned1

abandoned3jpg

For more of this full-on foliage assault, see here.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Came across the following image on the Weather Channel’s Twitter today.

As of the start of the year, the exceptional drought rate of California made up a third of the state (32%). Now five months on, that exceptional drought rate is up to 47% (pretty much the middle of the state). Maybe it’s time to revisit some of those warnings from earlier on in the year again:

CA drought WC

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

Vortex Tools looks at the Toyota Mirai—one of the first commercially sold hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. The Japanese car company’s latest video explores some of the more creative ways Toyota can run this fuel cell vehicle (FCV).

If you read the title, you know this one will be NSFW (due to language), but since warnings don’t really work well in snappy titles, sorry…

Anyway, this is the Toyota Mirai (“Mirai” means “future” in Japanese):

Toyota_mirai_trimmed

The Mirai was revealed in November 2014 and Toyota plans to build and sell 700 of them globally in 2015. The car will sell in the U.S. for about $60,000 and only in California at first. Japan already has subsidies in place, but at this stage, it is unclear what government incentives will help promote hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in the States.

So how does it work?

Yes, the video is light on the extensive process of how they strip the hydrogen from manure then use it to fuel cars, but hey, it’s a three-minute marketing piece for the everyman.

On their site, Toyota even admits that this cow manure approach is more of an attention grabber (as part of their “Fueled By Everything” campaign) than a reliable, sustainable approach:

While cow manure contains plenty of hydrogen, it’s not commonly used in the U.S. to create the biogas needed for this process. Today’s market biogas mostly comes from landfill waste, with food and green waste also showing lots of potential.   

As mentioned previously, you can run a car on just about anything—algae, cheese, unreleased Michael Bolton b-sides, maybe?—it’s just a matter of how efficient it is and how bad you’ll sound/smell coming down the road. So while hydrogen is indeed abundant, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be in an available enough format for fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to cover a full road trip.

However, as Toyota began working on this technology in 1992, and they’ve extensively crash tested with their high-pressure hydrogen tanks, it’s likely that we’re, at the very least, beyond the stage of where people should be concerned about driving around a four-wheel hydrogen bomb. Whether that’s enough to have a successful path through the current car climate remains to be seen.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

I count on Emilio Estevez to appropriately deliver the weight of all bad news:

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Vortex Tools covers the ongoing scaling back of the oil and gas industry in 2015—specifically: layoffs in Colorado.

I can describe the current American oil and gas experience in four words: Layoffs and low prices.

Whether it’s big companies or small companies, the story is the same: 2015 budgets were delayed then drastically reduced. From there, oil and gas companies have hemorrhaged employees (yet production continues to climb).

With being headquartered in Colorado, we’ve kept tabs on what’s happening around us. Over the last six months:

  •  Noble Energy planned to cut 220 jobs or 10% of its workforce, 80 from Colorado (and Noble is one of the main companies in the state).
  • WPX Energy cut 8% of its nationwide workforce, scaling its Denver office back from 156 people to 15 (25 Denver-based jobs were eliminated—120 were offered to relocate to Tulsa, OK).
  • Bayou Well Services decided to permanently lay off 250 Colorado employees.
  • Sabine Oil and Gas Corp. laid off 102 Denver-based employees starting in December 2014.
  • Linn Energy will shut its Denver office, cutting 52 jobs.

(Despite this, we’ve still sold Vortex DX-I tools into the Wattenberg basin [in northeastern Colorado] to increase oil recovery efficiency in horizontal applications when combined with gas lift.)

Field install of the DX-I Vortex tool

Field install of the DX-I Vortex tool

Some of this is scaling back the bloat that occurred with high oil prices, but some of it has to do with the downside of how many American companies conduct business. I can’t remember where I ran across this study, but it noted how different parts of the world formulate their business plans. Great Britain works off a five-year plan; Germany, a 10-year plan; and Japan, 15 years. The United States? Companies usually plan around whatever will increase stock prices this quarter.

You might think that 5-15 years is too long of a planning period, but planning around what can bump numbers within a 90-day period is woefully shortsighted and often hamstrings future development. However, with oil and gas, when it hurts financially, it hurts big, and when recovery comes, companies can often buy their way to solutions then. For 2015, however, even if it’s a great market to pursue oil and gas efficiency—squeezing every bit of value from the well—it’s going to be a year of engineers trying not to get fired.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

SpiroFlo reports on California’s recent commentary regarding the state’s water shortage.

Admittedly, when I see people legitimately sharing serious information on April Fools’ Day I get squinting real good, but this commentary from Californian water officials popped up before that marker:

On March 13th, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jay Famiglietti, wrote an article for the LA Times where he hypothesized that California’s state reservoirs only have one year of water remaining.

Not surprisingly, your Average Joe took this to mean that California will run out of water in a year, but Famiglietti denied that he made that statement. He clarified that A) reservoirs are not the only source of water to the state (there’s still groundwater); and B) reservoirs are designed to only hold a few years’ worth of water anyway.

The big problem is that the title of Famiglietti’s op-ed was “California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?” It didn’t matter that the content had a different tone. The article was titled as clickbait and it spread rapidly. However, maybe it’s the effect of The Onion in our modern media consumption, but people took in punchline of the title, not the full story of the text.

Thus came a wave of defenses from California state officials, letting people know that California will not run out of water in 2016. I’m sure some took this to mean that there’s no drought issue whatsoever (but that joke still sucks the other 364 days of the year).

While I can appreciate that some of this has to do with the sad truth that the speed of media travels faster than the speed of truth these days (get your article out before anyone else, fact checking be damned), there are some unfortunate truths that haven’t got the clickbait titles they deserve:

California is now in its fourth year of drought. This has led to overpumping of groundwater reserves (now a decade strong) and it’s getting costlier to get the water out the deeper they have to go.

CA groundwater

In addition:

The Department of Water Resources did not have a readily available estimate of the total water supply in California or the amount expected to be used over the next year.

Just because California is not exhausting its water supply “doesn’t mean we’re not in a crisis,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of the Water in the West program at Stanford University, who called the state’s snowpack, at 12% of average, “both bad for this year but also a troubling sign for the future.”

Then there’s that whole bit of growing the nation’s food supply in the desert…

While some believe that people will police their own water use (unlikely) and that the government will step in before the point of water getting shut off in homes (hopefully), no matter the headline, it’s an ugly road ahead. No matter where you look, there’s a critical water shortage looming. California is just highlighting the issue.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing 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), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

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 coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).