Fracking in Massachusetts

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Fracking in Massachusetts
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Fossil fuels present None[1]
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Fracking in Massachusetts depends on many circumstances, such as: available energy resources, the location of these resources, applicable laws and regulations, politics, and the power of environmental and industry groups. Decisions by policymakers and citizens, including state and local governments and ballot initiatives, affect if and how fracking occurs in a state.

Recent technological advances in oil and gas drilling--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking--have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges for states that have fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies and the industries that support them. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for states, not only those with fracking but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Those opposed to fracking argue that the potential environmental and human health impacts could be large. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the U.S., concerns have been raised over the ability for federal, state and local regulatory agencies to keep up with the growth and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are tradeoffs. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of injecting fluid--mostly water and sand but with additional chemicals--into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release the natural gas inside. Massachusetts has no oil or natural gas reserves, and as such there is no fracking occurring in the state.

For a full explanation of fracking, see "Fracking."

Although no fracking occurs in Massachusetts, in late 2013 a bill was nonetheless introduced in the state house that would have imposed a 10-year moratorium on fracking in the state. In addition, the bill would have forbidden the storage, treatment or disposal of fracking wastewater in the state. The bill was reported favorably by the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, but died in the Ways and Means Committee.[2]

Energy consumption

See also: State Energy Rankings

In 2011, roughly one-third of Massachusetts' energy use was for transportation, and one-third was used by the residential sector for heating, cooling, lighting and other functions. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of natural gas, which is due to the fact that nearly half of Massachusetts residents use natural gas to heat their homes. The next largest source of energy is petroleum, mainly in the form of gasoline and fuel oil. Fuel oil is used to heat homes, and about 30 percent of homes in Massachusetts use fuel oil.[1]

Consumption of energy for heating homes in Massachusetts
Source Massachusetts 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 49.1% 49.5%
Fuel oil 31.8% 6.5%
Electricity 14% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 2.6% 5%
Other/none 2.4% 3.6%

Of the homes in Massachusetts, 49 percent use natural gas as their heat source, slightly less than the national average. Over 30 percent of homes use fuel oil to heat their homes, which is significantly greater than the national average.[1]

Over half of the energy produced in Massachusetts is from nuclear power, with the remainder being generated from miscellaneous renewable sources.[1]

Where electricity comes from in Massachusetts[3]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Petroleum-fired 9,000 0.34% 0.03%
Natural gas-fired 1,978,000 74.28% 0.2%
Nuclear 387,000 14.53% 0.05%
Hydroelectric 66,000 2.48% 0.02%
Other renewables 156,000 5.86% 0.08%
Total net electricity generation 2,663,000 100% 0.06%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a states' energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

In 2011, the electricity consumed in Massachusetts was produced mainly from natural gas. Two-thirds of the total generation of electricity in the state comes from natural gas, and considering the low price of natural gas in the state this makes economical sense. Nuclear power generates the next largest amount of electricity in Massachusetts. On peak summer days the New England grid may use petroleum and coal resources to meet nearly one-fourth of its needs.[1]

News items

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See also

External links

References