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Energy

Auburn rebuts fracking water claim

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Joe Shlabotnik
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The city of Auburn says implications in the New York Times that it takes hydrofracking waste water are wrong.

Officials in the city of Auburn say their sewage plant doesn't treat waste water from hydrofracking, reports Christopher Caskey at the Auburn Citizen:

While the city does take and process wastewater from natural gas wells, the state Department of Environmental Conservation does not allow the Auburn plant to accept any fluids used in the horizontal hydrofracking process, any water from Marcellus Shale or any drilling mud, a city engineer said this week. The New York Times recently mentioned the Auburn plant in a story about pollutants and radioactive materials found in the water leftover from a drilling process known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing. Also known as horizontal hydrofracking, the drilling process has been used in recent years to pull large amounts of natural gas from Marcellus Shale, a large underground formation that runs through parts of New York’s Southern Tier and Pennsylvania.

And the federal budget won't include money to help the Susquehanna River Basin Commission monitor river levels as natural gas drillers drain water for fracking, reports Jon Campbell at the Press & Sun-Bulletin.  That puts the program in "serious jeopardy" according to the executive director of the commission.

Nuclear in the North Country
The town of Easton, near the New York-Vermont border, has approved a committee to study nuclear energy, reports Brian Nearing at the Times Union.  That follows calls from a congressman to site a nuclear plant somewhere in the North Country:

Easton seems an unlikely place for a debate on nuclear power. [Supervisor John] Rymph said the town of about 2,600 people, which devotes most of its $1 million annual budget to fire protection and maintaining roads, has no money to pay for expert nuclear consultants. The town doesn't have its own ZIP code, its own post office, a gas station, a restaurant, or a grocery store. Its main road, Route 40 runs north and south through the town, and there are no stoplights anywhere in Easton. Over the last three years, a grand total of 11 new homes have been built. But there are more than 30 dairy farms, which help make Washington County the largest dairy county in the eastern part of the state. There also is a nuclear echo in the town's past, one that the supervisor and others remember. The decaying relic sits on land near the Hudson River as a permanent reminder of the nuclear future that never was.

Research
Erica Schlaikjer at The City Fix has a round-up of research news from the energy and transportation fields.  Among the findings: neighborhoods built around public transportation save energy, and Americans drove 3 trillion miles last year.

Business go green
Small business owners are starting to see the economic evidence for going green, reports Vincent Sherry at the Buffalo News.  That includes auto shops using waste oil to heat their premises, and taking the state up on incentives to implement green energy:

David Hillman, co-owner of Hillman Automotive, has employed many green efforts at his new $1.4 million auto facility in the Town of Lockport, and he is considering taking advantage of solar incentives. The business, which once had to pay for disposing of oil from oil changes, now uses it for heat. It has had no heating bills all winter. The shop uses a system that directly heats its floors and walls. Installing the new heating system when building a new facility cost about $35,000 more to set up than traditional heating. That and $10,000 for windows contributed to about $100,000 in costs. "Our customers and contractors have been really impressed," David Hillman said. "They applaud what we did instead of taking the cheap, inexpensive way out. We looked at the long haul."

Fracking poll
In a poll of its readers, the Rochester Business Journal found that a majority of voluntary respondents (about 825 in all) support natural gas drilling in the Marcellus shale:

By 57 percent to 43 percent, readers favor the process, with 31 percent endorsing the condition that the state Department of Environmental Conservation conduct a comprehensive review and analysis to determine its safety.

Wind powering down
Lack of demand and cheaper alternatives could be stalling wind energy in the United States, writes Geoffrey Styles at The Energy Collective:

It's probably premature to conclude that the US wind boom has ended, and that wind capacity is now likely to grow at lower, more normal rates in the future, compared to its extraordinary past performance. This could just be a lull, as the enormous additions of the last few years are absorbed into a power grid that is still modernizing and remains a long way from the smart grid that will be needed to accommodate much larger contributions from intermittent renewables of all types. At the same time, it's worth noting that government incentives can't eliminate every obstacle that renewables face, and that arguments that the Treasury cash grants in lieu of tax credits should be extended beyond 2011 should be assessed with much more critical judgment than was possible in the scramble of a lame duck Congressional session.

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