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Thu Nov 29, 2012, 12:24 AM

Question About Air Pollution Control Laws

I'm about to get laid off from my job at an air pollution control company (one of many people), and one of the major reasons cited for the lay off is the laws regarding air pollution controls for coal fired power plants makes it cost prohibitive to construct such devices, that they would be larger than the rest of the plant itself. I think it's a bunch of BS but I am not sure where to look for documentation to back me up on this. Does anyone know where to look for info? Thanks!

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Reply Question About Air Pollution Control Laws (Original post)
ebt12 Nov 2012 OP
rightsideout Nov 2012 #1
happyslug Nov 2012 #2

Response to ebt12 (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 12:55 AM

1. It probably has to do more with natural gas

Natural gas has become more cost competitive with coal. I know of one power plant shutting down and being rebuilt as a natural gas power plant. I imagine executives running aging coal powered plants may have considered that it's not cost effective to retrofit older coal plants with sequesturing (sp?) technology or scrubbers.

But a future problem with natural gas is that the EPA may crack down on fracking which may drive the cost of natural gas back up so coal could look competitive again.

But yea, owners of alot of aging coal plants are going to find that retrofitting the plants may be as expensive as rebuilding with natural gas. They see the fuel savings down the road.

Here's something on it.


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Response to rightsideout (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 05:20 PM

2. Another problem is the Natural Gas people are counting on, may NOT exist.


Oil is a known quality for if any oil ever goes below about 20,000 feet (about 4 miles), the heat and pressure of the earth converts it to Natural gas. It was possible to drill down that deep as early as 1938, thus most oil reserves are well known. Some of these reserves have NOT been test drilled to see how good the oil is. The Arctic Wildlife National Refuge (AWNR) is the classic case of such a reserve.

During the Ice Age, Alaska was almost ice free, the Ice sheet that developed ran from Newfoundland inland and then south and West, ending roughly where ANWR is. The North America Ice Sheet was almost a mile thick and is believed to be the reason the Canadians are finding Natural Gas in the Canadian Arctic, while the US found oil on the North Slope of Alaska. AWNR is right between these two extremes, and depending how far the ground SANK due to the extent of the North American Ice Sheet makes it a better then 50-50 chance that ANWR has more Natural Gas then oil. This is based on the assumption that most of the oil was made into Natural Gas during the last ice age (the other side, assumes no affect on how deep the reserve went thus still all oil).

As to Fracking, here is what earlier on an earlier thread on Natural Gas:

Shale Gas in Europe has been more bust then boom, One exploratory well in Poland was found to produce natural gas with a 20% nitrogen content, it just would NOT burn.

It gets worse:

The best-developed shale gas basin is Barnett in Texas, responsible for 70% of all shale gas produced to date. By “developed” I mean drilled and drilled and drilled, and then drilled some more: just in 2006 there were about as many wells drilled into Barnett shale as are currently producing in all of Russia. This is because the average Barnett well yields only around 6.35 million m3 of gas, over its entire lifetime, which corresponds to the average monthly yield of a typical Russian well that continues to produce over a 15-20 year period, meaning that the yield of a typical shale gas well is at least 200 times smaller. This hectic activity cannot stop once a well has been drilled: in order to continue yielding even these meager quantities, the wells have to be regularly subjected to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracked”: to produce each thousand m3 of gas, 100 kg of sand and 2 tonnes of water, combined with a proprietary chemical cocktail, have to be pumped into the well at high pressure. Half the water comes back up and has to be processed to remove the chemicals. Yearly fracking requirements for the Barnett basin run around 7.1 million tonnes of sand and 47.2 million tonnes of water, but the real numbers are probably lower, as many wells spend much of the time standing idle.


This rha rha natural gas site, even points out the rapid decline in production of these wells, 80% reduction in the first year:


Notice, I am ignoring the financial and environmental problems with Fracking, just to show how expensive this process is. Shale gas and oil is more bluff then real. something even the Federal Government is slowly coming to accept:

ASPO (Association to study Peak Oil) has always maintained that given the nature of Natural gas (That oil is converted to Natural Gas whenever it drops below 20,000 feet) it is much harder to predict when Natural Gas will peak and decline. Unlike an oil well, which builds up slowly, then peaks and then go into a steady decline, Natural Gas wells produce at peak almost from the first day of production, continues that peak till it empties out. Thus Natural Gas wells can produce for years, then one day stop production. On the Marcellus Shale level it appears to be about a year between the start of production and the end of production. That is NOT a good sign but most people are ignoring that unpleasant idea, preferring the idea that all we have to do is drill more wells faster.

Thus the more I get into Shale Natural Gas production, it appears to be a heavy short production life, and given that most wells are drilled where it is expected to have the most gas, sooner or later I see a decline as it gets harder to find new places to drill.

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