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Posts Tagged ‘eco-villain’

Vortex Tools covers the growing subculture of diesel trucks modified to produce excess amounts of exhaust soot.

When it comes to jerk drivers, there are many variations of “that person”:

  • The aggressive motorcyclist leaning in and out of lanes, wearing a tank top, shorts, and of course, no helmet. One slip and he’ll be scraping road rash out of his eyes.
  • The multi-tasking, rush-hour commuter putting on makeup, smoking, and chatting on the phone, yet who still magically has a hand free to flip you off when she veers into your lane.
  • The giant truck driver on your grill no matter how fast you’re going.
  • The androgynous elderly person driving 20 under in the fast lane.

All those people could just be having a bad day (even if they feel far too common), but the coal rolling subculture is an intentional move to be “that person” every day. I first encountered a rolling coal truck about a year back. I thought it was a lame novelty, but apparently it’s a growing trend.

The Huffington Post notes that coal rollers are spending a lot of time and thousands of dollars to modify their trucks with several components to increase the fuel going into their engines. By doing so, these engines don’t combust properly, and you get large amounts of soot.

Several of these coal rollers take great joy in blowing this black smoke at Priuses and pedestrians:

I’ve made no secret of my dislike of Captain Planet. Part of the reason is that I believe very few people are anti-environment and that the show seemed to unfairly skew people into roles of the heroic and the villainous. In the past I’ve noted:

One of the many problems was that none of the villains on the show made any sense. Besides getting saddled with awful names like Sly Sludge, Looten Plunder and Tank Flusher III (real creative, guys), these eco-villains didn’t just show indifference to the environment, they specifically enjoyed dumping toxic waste in the ocean and misusing nuclear missiles. You know, the kind of hobbies any kid might get himself into if not redeemed by choppy 90s animation.

Most political groups cheat a bit when labeling themselves pro-anything. I mean, who’s anti-life, anti-choice, or anti-environment? Well apparently, the rolling coal crowd is at least largely anti-environmentalist:

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” an unnamed Wisconsin seller of smoke stack kits told Slate’s David Weigel, explaining some of the rationale behind the movement. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

Yeah! You tell ‘em! Take that, completely reasonable health standards!

Wait, what?

Bear in mind, this crowd isn’t just anti-environmentalist, they seem to take great pleasure in blowing soot all over people—themselves included. They seem to be quite terrible on a number of fronts.

At this point, my stance is fairly straightforward: You can modify your truck like that, but only if you use that smoke stack as your daily enema.

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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 biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, 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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Vortex Tools explores why the oil and gas industry believes fracking does not contaminate groundwater, and why, even when they are to blame (in this case of contamination or otherwise), they won’t take responsibility until they’re forced to do so.

With the potential changes coming to hydraulic fracturing in 2012, we’ve spent a number of blogs recently focusing on the controversial practice.

To recap here are the two opposing stances:

1) The oil and gas industry believes that the science behind fracking is sound, and when enacted properly, no groundwater contamination occurs, as the fracking veins don’t spread anywhere near water. They also contend that many of the pollutants blamed on fracking chemicals are actually naturally occurring.

2) Environmentalists contend that fracking chemicals are responsible for groundwater contamination, and that given the way water naturally flows to the path of least resistance, the veins created by the force of fracking not only provide routes for contamination, but fundamentally damage the rock structure, causing even more problems (some say earthquakes).

While the environmentalist stance is (mostly) easy to understand, it seems as though the pro-fracking stance needs more of an explanation to not just seem like some cover story to avert blame (especially as oil and gas companies are already branded as eco-villains).

When I checked in with an operator on the fracking controversy, he wrote the following:

Everywhere I know of where true science has been applied, it has been found to be of no effect. We had a water well on the ranch in Southeastern Colorado that made enough methane to run an industrial engine, and no well had been drilled for 15 miles in any direction.  You don’t have to be in the O & G business very long until a farmer or rancher will tell you, “You need to lease my land.  I know there is oil and gas here because I get it from my water well.”  But you drill a well and they say, “you contaminated my water well, pay up.”

Oil and gas migrate thru a thousand feet of “impermeable sediments” over hundreds of thousands of years, not decades. It can happen thru faulty cementing of the casing or casing failures, but, if it occurs during fracking, you know instantly.  You can run a temperature survey after a frac or put a small radioactive tag in the proppant and see exactly where it went.  

Fracture generation generally is out and down, with some up, due to the forces of gravity.  The “up’ stops when a clay or shale bed of relatively small thickness is reached.  To have 100′ of total fracture height takes a tremendous amount of horsepower and an extremely brittle, homogeneous formation.

Oil and gas entities are in the business of trying to generate profits for their shareholders, not paying out huge sums for contaminated water wells, whether the damage is insured or not.  Therefore, fracture height, surrounding sediment beds and cement and casing integrity are always taken into account in the frac design. 

This operator would admit, along with most oil and gas workers, that when mistakes are made, they are costly (environmentally, financially, time wise). So even though the oil and gas industry can argue the validity of the science and the natural occurrence of deemed pollutants, mistakes aren’t about good science or what’s naturally occurring. Mistakes are when things went wrong and the companies at fault should be held responsible.

That said, with the debate about what would have happened naturally (without oil and gas companies’ intervention) and the accepted large cost of faulty business practice, no company is going to take the burden when the proof of fault is — despite what either side would say — undetermined. By the end of 2012, however, that debate may be over.

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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.) 

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Although I usually update on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with it being Halloween, I figured I better tie in the holiday to green issues. Given my dislike of Captain Planet and nonsensical nature of eco-villains, this video covers it.

Be forewarned: Coarse language ahead, so NSFW:

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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 a 3.5% 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.) 

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Vortex Tools discusses how it’s possible to be a green technology in the oft-vilified oil and gas industry. From eliminating harmful vapors to recovering up to 10 times more natural gas liquids than conventional methods, Vortex Tools keep oil and gas wells running efficiently and safely.

It’s not hard to figure out that people are more inclined to go green when it has a financial benefit, since even the staunchest opponent of green issues likes more green in his wallet. Not surprisingly, this also applies to the oil and gas industry. Yeah, I know, every time I bring up the green side of oil and gas, I have to assure people I’m not writing fiction (or lying to cover for an ill-favored industry), but one of the ways Vortex Tools makes the oil and gas industry more energy efficient is to squeeze more profitability out of what’s already there.

Yes, seriously, on fire

A couple of alternative energy resources that regularly get burned along the way — yes, literally set on fire — are natural gas liquids (NGL) or condensates. This is because several states allow oil and gas companies to flare the natural gas (containing the NGLs) for a set period of time. For all the controversy about fracking, I’m surprised this practice is still allowed, considering the negative environmental impact of flaring and that the energy from this natural gas could be used to heat a half-million homes for a day. While I’ve yet to meet a monocle-wearing oil and gas executive who twiddles his mustache and laughs maniacally, sometimes it’s easy to see why the oil and gas industry are more easily pegged as villains. However, one of the reasons oil and gas companies often flare the gas is not because it isn’t profitable, it’s that with gas values (which have stayed relatively low despite the up-and-down values of oil) and the associated pipeline costs to take it to market, natural gas isn’t profitable enough.

With this in mind, Vortex Tools decided to market the benefits of its natural gas liquids recovery (SX-NGL) tool to oil and gas companies’ bottom line. (Sure, it’s easy to wag our “We are the 99%” fingers at corporations looking to make more money off environmental issues, but look at how an individual green responsibilities like recycling have tanked when homeowners have to help pay for the process instead of subsidies.) In enabling these oil and gas companies to make a greater profit, alternative energy resources are maximized, and harmful environmental practices are eliminated.

By spinning gases back into liquids, the Vortex tools knock out more natural gas liquids like butane, pentane and propane—valuable liquids that are sold for three times the value of the gas (at current rates). Additionally, oil and gas producers have to pay a large treatment cost to remove these “nuisance liquids” from the gas to purify it to a sellable quality, but since the valuable liquids are removed before the processing plant, the producer gets greater value, the plant gets a purer gas ready for sale and the consumer gets more alternative fuels. (Processing plants can also use these Vortex SX-NGL tools to purify their product.) One East Texas producer studied these Vortex NGL recovery tools for 15 months and found that, in one year, they had generated over $2 million worth of NGLs (as well as reducing their gas treatment costs) from a $200,000 investment (which includes the cost of the Vortex tools and associated tanks/installation). Again, this profit number is before calculating all the processing costs saved.

A brochure about this increased NGL recovery can be found here.

For more applications—including how Vortex downhole tools extend the decline curve of an oil and gas well, allowing it to free flow under its own production without major intervention—as well as technical papers and case studies, please visit vortextools.com.

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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 a 3.5% 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.) 

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Is there a villain against environmentalism? If not, what specifically are environmentalists fighting against? SpiroFlo examines where the eco-fight is going and if it’s having an effect on the public at large.

Whether it’s hunters with more guns than teeth, or anyone who drives an SUV, I’ve heard several groups slighted as eco-villains—a term I learned from Ted Turner’s masterpiece of children’s animation, “Captain Planet.” Labeled as “edutainment” (note that I place edutainment in quotes because it was neither educational nor entertaining), “Captain Planet” was designed to teach environmentalist values to kids with a superhero shtick.

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/tv-shows/Captain-Planet-and-the-Planeteers/Verminous-Skumm/

Be sure to thank your parents for naming you Verminous Skumm

One of the many problems was that none of the villains on the show made any sense. Besides getting saddled with awful names like Sly Sludge, Looten Plunder and Tank Flusher III (real creative, guys), these eco-villains didn’t just show indifference to the environment, they specifically enjoyed dumping toxic waste in the ocean and misusing nuclear missiles. You know, the kind of hobbies any kid might get himself into if not redeemed by choppy 90s animation. Even better, many of these eco-villains were voiced by Hollywood actors and actresses—including Ed Asner, Martin Sheen and Meg Ryan—a group who, by and large, are far deeper into fringe environmental issues that the average American soul, making the overt bias of the cartoon all the more cringe-worthy.

It’s easy to laugh off this awkward attempt to market environmentalism to kids, but these cartoon opinions often come out when speaking about green issues. It’s rare I get through a heated conversation on environmentalism that doesn’t include comments about corporate greed, crooked politicians and consumer ignorance. It’s hard for me to grasp, but there are those who believe you cannot trust anyone who wears a suit to work. While I might not like a lot of what the government does, this does not mean I believe that every thought from politicians is evil, yet green issues seem to boil up to a level of vitriol that burns well beyond understanding those who disagree. In the end, we get villains, and we do not reason with villains. Villains gets yelled at; villains get fought. However, even if you consider every issue important, you cannot protest every issue every time. I would argue protesting lost its power long ago, but now what? If you keep your opponents as villains, you cannot go back and have a civil discussion, so we’re stuck in gridlock because both sides feel like any compromise is too much compromise.          

Let’s pick on me on one environmental issue and see how I do:

I do not own an electric car, and frankly, I do not see doing so any time soon. Maybe it’s that there isn’t yet a battery strong enough and cheap enough — one that will actually let me take a road trip without getting stranded in a middle-of-nowhere horror movie cliché — maybe it’s that the price tag for electric cars is still two-to-three times higher than that of a comparable economy fossil fuel ride, or maybe it’s the reality check that I can’t squeeze my value system into my financial budget, but when it comes down to it, I can’t afford to pay so much for a transportation option that doesn’t meet my everyday needs.

The Nissan Leaf: More expensive than hugging the whole tree

Does this disqualify me from being an environmentalist? Some would argue my everyday needs need to change; others might shield me with the notion of being a common sense environmentalist, but there isn’t an agreed upon green checklist to meet a level of bare minimum environmentalism, so it’s up to personal opinions (and inevitably, whatever mob mentality has taken hold recently, good or bad).

Like most issues, environmentalism isn’t so black and white. There are a lot of issues, a lot of nuances, a lot of opinions and, yes, some exceptions. Quite frankly, I think it’s time for a lot more conversations with a lot more listening.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t seen “Captain Planet,” feel free to hurt yourself with the following clip:

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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 a 3.5% 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.) 

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