Category Archives: #SustainableEnergy

Now EPA To Add Energy Industry to Advisory Committees

 Issue 112 – EPA Swat Team, Something You Never Want 

Introduction…I’m not making a political statement with the photo of the EPA swat team.  But, clearly, this is something you never want to show up at your place of business.

Regulators muscle…It seems that most federal regulators and agencies have their muscle to enforce regulations and/or intimidate citizens.  I’ve had IRS agents with guns and badges show up at my office.  Fortunately, they were investigating someone else.  A friend had the EPA shut down his business for 40 days.  Only to decide he wasted causing pollution, but removing it.  At the end, the EPA was happy to leave after he paid a $35,000 fine to pay for their time.

Changes at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)…The EPA is making room for energy company representatives on its Science Advisory Board and the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Board.

The industry has always had a voice on these panels, now potential new appointees may suggest greater influence by the regulated companies, oil and gas industry specifically.

These panels in the past were typically populated by independent academics and researchers.  However, that does not mean they don’t bring an agenda to these panels.

The list of potential new advisory board members includes officials from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Alcoa, Nobel Energy, Total, and the American Chemical Council.

In conclusion…Whether this change in the EPA’s panels gives too much influence to the industry is yet to be seen.  However, it seems to bring a few people with actual experience to a committee made up primarily of academics might bring wisdom to regulations.

If you want to see how we are cleaning drilling mud and produced water from drilling sites, send me an email describing your interest.

Source:  Lee Fang, “How Exxon Mobil May Soon Have Greater Sway Over Science Used In EPA Policies,” The Intercept, 22 September 2017.

Time To Cut Ethanol?

 Issue 107 – Ethanol Justification Illusionary?

Introduction…”The closest thing to earthy eternal life is a government program,” President Ronald Reagan.  Maybe ethanol and biofuel mandates are included in his statement.  Those who benefit from a government subsidy, often giving millions to political campaigns, and vocally defend it.  While those who are apposed are usually disorganized and busy with everyday life.

It was a noble cause…The Renewable Fuel Standard (“RFS” created in 2005 and expanded in 2007, by the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed and expanded.  The laws require refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline and expected the private sector to produce a growing amount of “cellulosic” biofuels and “advanced” biofuels.

The promise then for biofuels were scary exaggertions, which now have become illusions.

The promises unfulfilled…The justification for this government give away, were told is that it would reduce pollution.  However, cars are already 95% cleaner than they were in 1970, so there is no real befit here.

America was deleting its petroleum reserves and the RFS would reduce oil imports from unfriendly nations.  But, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has given the U.S. at least a century of new reserves.  Net imports of petroleum averaged 4.9 MMb/d, the equivalent of 25% of total U.S. petroleum consumption in 2016, up slightly from 24% in 2015, which was the lowest level since 1970.

Renewable fuels would prevent dangerous manmade climate change, we wer also told. Contrary to the hysteria, computer models and  Al Gore’s new movie, humanity and the planet are not experiencing unusual or unprecedented climate changes.  Inconvenient to Mr. Gore’s story, not a single category 3-5 hit U.S. mainland since October 2–5.  That’s a record 11 years and 10 months.

To get a far more complete, facutal, and honest climate science, see the Climate Hustle documentary instead.

To produce ethanol, the United States has devoted 40 million acres or 40% of its corn crop.  In addition it uses billions of gallons of water to irate corn fields, plus giant amounts of fertilizer, pesticides, and fossil fuels to its production.

In conclusion… the two big promises of RFS were the reduction of fossil fuel usage and reduction of pollution have not materialized by burning corn in our cars.  Autos that burn 95% cleaner and the increased petroleum production in part due the frackers have solved those problems.  Time to push the lobbyists aside to do what is best for America and repeal the Renewal Fuel Standards.

Sources: “Biofuel justifications are illusionary,” What’s Up With That, 30 July 2017; “Oil: Crude And Petroleum Products Explained.” US Energy Information Administration, 8 May 2017


Sustainable Energy – Why Oilfield Produced Water Must Be Cleaned

Issue 102 – Cleaning 500,000 gallons of oilfield produced water daily in Midland, TX

What is produced water?  

Produced water is water found in the same formations as oil and gas. When the oil and gas flow to the surface, the produced water is brought to the surface with the hydrocarbons. Produced water contains some of the chemical characteristics of the formation from which it was produced and from the associated hydrocarbons.

Produced water may originate as natural water in the formations holding oil and gas or can be water that was previously injected into those formations through activities designed to increase oil production from the formations such as water flooding or steam flooding operations.  In some situations additional water from other formations adjacent to the hydrocarbon-bearing layers may become part of the produced water that comes to the surface.

Why is produced water a problem for the oilfield industry?

  1. The United States has 1 million producing oil and gas wells and nearly everyone generates water.  The sheer volume of produced water is staggering.  During 2012 (the most recent year data is available) is 21.2 billion barrels or 890 billion gallons was produced; and was disposed of. per year. Niney-seven percent (97%( of the water was produced in 21 states with Texas generating one third of the total produced water . Just pumping that water back down is a waste of a tremendous resource.
  2. Water resources are declining especially in West Texas and Western United States. Cleaning and reusing produced water is a  very sound sustainable energy practice.
  3. Oklahoma Regulators issued new limits to produced water being pumped underground.  A recent study links produced water to the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in Oklahoma.
  4. Cushing, Oklahoma residents seek class-action lawsuit against oil companies over earthquakes.

What are the produced water solutions?  Two processes discussed.

#1. In Midland, Texas Gradient Technology is being used to clean 500,000 gallons of water per day.  The Midland plant is proving more economical than the old strategy of re-injecting produced water back into the wells, while purchasing clean water for the fracking operations.

The project is being joint ventured with Pioneer Natural Resources.  Pioneer claims it is able to re-use nearly 100% of its produced water and recycles 85% of the heat needed to keep the system running.

#2. Our American Mud Works, LLC project in Ohio will be using a ceramic membrane process that has low requirements of preliminary treatment with minimum need for support and maintenance.

Ceramic materials are very stable chemically, thermally, and mechanically.  The benefit to the operator is no additives are needed and the process is not temperature sensitive.  Filtration with ceramic is a mild process with running cost limited by a closed production cycles and continuous process.

American Mud Works expects to clean 82,000 gallons of water per day with this first installation.

in summary.

The oilfield industry is being pushed by regulators and possible lawsuits to adopt sustainable energy practices.  In locations of water shortages, such practice is imperative.  However, at least in the case of Pioneer Natural Resources in Midland, Texas, re-use of produced water is more economical then the old strategy.

Re-using waste water is and can be adapted by other industries such as chemical, metal, textile, food and beverage.  Maybe the oilfield industry will lead the way to sustainable water usage practices.

For more information, contact Bill Moist at

Sources: “About Produced Water,” Produced Water Treatment and Benefical Use Information Center;  “Water Treatment Solutions,” Lenntech, BV; “Solving The Clean Water Crisis With Sustainable Energy,” Science Can Change The World, 29 February 2017