11
Feb 13

Fracking Fluids Becoming Less Toxic

The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking, but it’s not clear whether the new product will be widely embraced by drilling companies.

Houston-based energy giant Halliburton Inc. has developed a product called CleanStim, which uses only food-industry ingredients. Other companies have developed nontoxic fluids as well.

“Halliburton is in the business to provide solutions to our customers,” said production manager Nicholas Gardiner. “Those solutions have to include ways to reduce the safety or environmental concerns that the public might have.”

Environmental groups say they welcome the development but still have questions.

The chemicals in fracking fluids aren’t the only environmental concern, said George Jugovic, president of PennFuture. He said there is also concern about the large volumes of naturally occurring but exceptionally salty wastewater and air pollution.

It’s premature to say whether it will ever be feasible to have fluids for fracking that are totally nontoxic, said Scott Anderson, a senior adviser for the Environmental Defense Fund.

“But we are encouraged to some extent by recent industry efforts to at least reduce the toxicity,” Anderson said.

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, has made it possible to tap into energy reserves across the U.S. but also has raised concerns about pollution, since large volumes of water, along with sand and hazardous chemicals, are injected deep into the ground to free the oil and gas from rock.

Regulators contend that overall, water and air pollution problems are rare, but environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn’t been enough research on those issues. The industry and many federal and state officials say the practice is safe when done properly, but faulty wells and accidents have caused problems.

Halliburton says CleanStim will provide “an extra margin of safety to people, animals and the environment in the unlikely occurrence of an incident” at a drilling site.

Gardiner said Halliburton has developed a chemistry-scoring system for the fluids, with lower scores being better. CleanStim has a zero score, he said, and is “relatively more expensive” than many traditional fracking fluids.

Both Jugovic and Anderson noted that one of the most highly publicized concerns about toxic fracking fluids hasn’t really been an issue: the suggestion that they might migrate from thousands of feet underground, up to drinking water aquifers.

“Most people agree there are no confirmed cases so far” of fracking chemicals migrating up to drinking water, Anderson said. But he added that simple spills of fluid on the surface can cause problems.

“The most likely of exposure is not from the fracking itself. It is from spills before the fracking fluid is injected,” Anderson said.

There also may be technical and cost issues that limit the acceptance of products such as CleanStim. There is tremendous variation in the type of shale rock in different parts of the country. For example, drillers use different fluids even within the same state, and the specific mix can play a large role in determining how productive a well is.

Gardiner wouldn’t say how widely used CleanStim is. “The customers who do use it certainly like the material,” he added.

Terry Engelder, a geologist at Penn State University, said he visited a well in that state last year that used just water, sand and three additives in the fracking fluid.

But Engelder added that “green” and “toxic” can be “soft words without real meaning.” He noted that consumers, businesses and farms use vast quantities of chemicals that can contribute to pollution, from cleaners and soaps to fertilizers and pesticides. Yet all those compounds are routinely flushed down the drain, ending up in nearby rivers and streams.

“Eventually industry would like to end up with a mix of just water, sand, and food-grade additives,” Engelder said of fracking. “Companies are learning to deal with fewer and fewer additives.”

Jason Bentley

www.TheBentleyAgency.com

704-857-9512


28
Jan 13

In Need of a Tax Accountant – Hurt and Associates Inc.

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Jason Bentley


22
Jan 13

Violation by News Outlets’ Using Twitter Photos – Rawporter

ANOTHER REASON TO USE RAWPORTER TO BUY/SELL ANY AND ALL DIGITAL PHOTOS

A U.S. judge has found that two news organizations improperly used images that a photojournalist had posted to Twitter in one of the first big tests of intellectual property law involving social media.

Agence France-Presse and The Washington Post infringed on the copyrights of photographer Daniel Morel in using pictures he took in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan ruled.

While AFP had argued that once the pictures appeared on Twitter they were freely available, the judge said that Twitter’s terms of service did not give the news agency a license to publish the images without Morel’s permission.

Jason Bentley

www.TheBentleyAgency.com

704-857-9512

The judge, in a decision released late Monday, partially granted Morel’s summary judgment motion but also limited damages he could potentially recover. Several other issues in the case were left to be decided at trial. A trial date has not been set.

The case has garnered wide interest because it is one of the first to address how images that users make available to the public through social media can be used by third parties for commercial purposes.

Though this case began in 2010, ownership of content on social media continues to be a hot-button issue. Last month, Facebook Inc.’s photo sharing site, Instagram, became the subject of public outcry after users interpreted changes in its terms of service to mean Instagram could sell their pictures without permission. Within days, Instagram backed away from some of the planned changes.

TERMS OF SERVICE

In the Morel case, the photographer put the Haiti images on Twitter, and they were then disseminated widely after an AFP editor discovered them through another Twitter user’s account, according to the ruling.

AFP distributed several of the pictures to Getty Images, the ruling said. The Washington Post, a Getty client, published four of the images on its website, according to the ruling.

Getty is part of the litigation but the judge did not make any determination on the photographer’s allegations of copyright infringement against it, noting that there were other issues yet to be resolved.

AFP had argued that Twitter’s terms of service granted it the right to use Morel’s images.

The judge, though, said that while the service terms do allow the reposting and rebroadcasting of users’ images in certain circumstances, such as “retweeting” them, it does not grant a license for commercial use.

Attorneys for AFP were not immediately available for comment. The Washington Post, a unit of The Washington Post Co., and Getty also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Joseph Baio, a partner at Willkie, Farr & Gallagher who represents Morel, said the ruling proves that images taken from Twitter without permission cannot be used for commercial purposes and that the trial will determine the consequences for doing so.

Twitter was not a party in the case. “As has always been our policy, Twitter users own their photos,” a Twitter spokesman said.

In the ruling, Nathan narrowed what Morel can recover from AFP and Getty for distributing the images.

While Morel had requested what the court said would amount to “tens or hundreds of millions of dollars” in statutory damages based on awards for each subscriber that used the images, the judge said AFP and Getty would only be liable, at most, for a single statutory damage award per image infringed.

AFP initiated the lawsuit in March 2010 to get a ruling that it wasn’t infringing on copyrights after Morel had accused AFP of improper use of his pictures. Morel countersued AFP, Getty and The Washington Post.

The judge refused to grant Morel’s motion for summary judgment on whether AFP, Getty and The Washington Post acted willfully, as well as whether the media companies violated Morel’s rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The act prohibits providing or distributing false copyright information in order to conceal copyright infringement.