Part Two – Hawaii Purchase of Fracked Gas

Hawaii “Fracking” Proposal – Part Two

Hawaii should not purchase Natural Gas obtained from Fracking (To be considered in future legislation)

The good, the bad and the ugly about Fracking:

The Good:  According to industry sources the United States is sitting on enough natural gas deposits to fuel our economy for 100+ years.  With the low price of natural gas today, the US can generate electricity, fuel its businesses and power its homes for less cost than with other fossil fuels such as coal or oil.  Some industry experts advise natural gas emits less CO2 carbon into the atmosphere when burned than coal or oil, so burning natural gas reduces the greenhouse effect responsible for global climate change.   Due to the enormous supply of natural gas in the ground in the mainland, it is expected extraction, production and delivery (including exports) of natural gas will create many new jobs in the mainland and ultimately improve the US Economy.The Bad 

According to the US Government Energy Information Administration (EIA), the price of natural gas is expected to rise dramatically in the years ahead.  The new technology, known as Hydraulic Fracturing or “Fracking” used to extract Shale Gas (natural gas trapped in Shale deposits under the ground) is much more expensive than conventional drilling techniques.As we convert to natural gas and worldwide demand increases, the prices are expected to increase four fold.  image002
Most important:  Study after study demonstrates Fracking can create serious health and environmental issues.The Ugly  The debate over Fracking is turning ugly.  The growing evidence of just how much damage Fracking causes to human health and the environment is being challenged by very powerful oil and gas companies, who are working to influence members of congress and Federal Administration officials, including the Environmental Protection Agency.  These companies are now deploying military warfare type tactics to discredit the evidence that Fracking is dangerous.  They have also obtained exclusions from the environmental protection provided in the Safe Drinking Water Act.    The oil and gas companies have hired the same research and marketing firms that defended the tobacco industry for decades to market the advantages of Fracking.  The industry strategy is clear, provide inexpensive natural gas so customers convert dependency from oil and coal burning factories to gas, then as the demand increases, raise the price and return a windfall, recurring profit to the oil and gas shareholders for decades to come.
The Proposed Solutions  The short and long term energy solution in Hawaii can take several paths.  Most in Hawaii would agree the long term solution is to migrate away from our dependency on fossil fuels to a truly renewable energy, such as wind and solar.  Hawaii is uniquely positioned to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels due to its abundant trade winds and year-round sunshine.The short term solution can take several paths.  One short term path is to continue operating and fully depreciate the oil burning facilities until renewable energies such as solar and wind can replace our dependency on oil.  Another short term solution is to convert Hawaii oil burning facilities to natural gas, as a “bridge strategy” until we can migrate to a truly renewable solution.On the surface, this may sound advantageous since the price of natural gas is low.  Based on the expected rise in natural gas prices and the known issues with Fracking, this solution could create significant risk to our Hawaii economy and our environment, particularly with little or no controls on Fracking.
CONVENTIONAL NATURAL GAS VS FRACKING:  The image at right illustrates the difference between “conventional” gas drilling and Fracking. Fracking is much more expensive and requires drilling horizontally to fracture the shale and release the underground gas.  This technique disrupts the earth’s natural composition and when gas is extracted it often escapes into the water tables and atmosphere.  Click for larger viewimage004
Figure 91 illustrates the amount of natural gas obtained from conventional, and non-conventional (shale) drilling.  If the Hawaii short term strategy to convert to Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is truly a short term solution, there is adequate sources of natural gas from conventional drilling to meet Hawaii’s short term needs.   If we choose this “bridge” to renewable energy we must maintain competitive prices for LNG and not promote Fracking. Hawaii purchasing power is a valuable tool to discourage Frackingin the mainland.  Hawaii will need cooperation from and collaboration with energy business partners, e.g., Hawaii Gas and its parent, the Macquarie Group.  If competitive prices for Non-Fracked gas cannot be guaranteed, the “bridge” strategy to invest in LNG should be carefully re-evaluated.  Click for Larger Viewimage006*Source – US Energy Information Administration.

The Hawaii Environmental Law Proposal (HELP) legislation is intended to resolve two issues:

PART ONE:  Fracking  can harm our health and environment and create unnecessary risk to the citizens of Hawaii. PROPOSED SOLUTION ONE:  Prohibit Fracking  withinHawaii and its coastal waters, including any expansion of Geothermal Fracking.
PART TWO:  Increased use of Liquified  Natural Gas within Hawaii promotes and rewards Fracking in the mainland, it will very likely increase Hawaii energy costs when the gas  price is increased, (as expected), and it will delay the Hawaii conversion to renewable energy and independence from fossil fuels. PROPOSED SOLUTION TWO:  Either convert Hawaii’s energy sources directly to wind and solar energy, and/or provide strict limitations on the purchase of natural gas.   These limitations should guarantee natural gas imported to Hawaii is obtained from non-Fracking sources and the price is no higher than the market price for all natural gas.

In summary, Hawaii should join the growing list of states who have enacted legislation to limit or prohibit Fracking.  In light of the new evidence proving Fracking causes earthquakes, this is of imminent concern throughout Hawaii.  Three independent government studies in 2013 have all concluded Fracking induces earthquakes.

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