Fracking in Vermont

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Fracking in Vermont
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Fossil Fuels Present None[1]
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Fracking in Vermont 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 about 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. Vermont has no oil or natural gas reserves, as such there is no fracking occurring in the state.

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

Although the state produces no natural gas or oil, Vermont nonetheless became the first state in the nation to ban fracking outright. On May 16, 2012, Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H. 464, which bans both the practice of fracking and the collection, storage or treatment of fracking wastewater in Vermont. Shumlin said, "I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers and its quality of life." In a statement, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry advocacy group, said the state was embarking upon an "irresponsible path that ignores three major needs: jobs, government revenue and energy security."[2][3]

Energy consumption

See also: State Energy Rankings

The transportation sector consumes a third of Vermont's total energy, mainly in some form of petroleum. The next largest sector is residential, with a little over 30 percent of net energy consumed by residents of Vermont. Even though a lot of energy is consumed by residents, Vermont ranks 41st in per capita consumption, meaning that consumption in Vermont is well below the national average. The sector consuming the least amount of energy in Vermont is the industrial sector, with about 16 percent of total consumption. This can be explained by the fact that the major industries in Vermont are not energy intensive.[1]

Nearly half of Vermont residents employ fuel oil, derived from petroleum, to heat their homes. Only four percent of Vermont's residents use electricity to heat their homes. Both natural gas and liquified petroleum gases (LPG) make up about 15 percent of the consumption of energy for home heating.[1]

Consumption of Energy For Heating Homes in Vermont
Source Vermont 2011 USA Average 2011
Natural Gas 15.2% 49.5%
Fuel Oil 47.7% 6.5%
Electricity 4.2% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 15.4% 5%
Other/None 17.4% 3.6%

Energy production and transmission

Vermont produces energy in the form of nuclear power and miscellaneous renewable forms, such as hydropower. Because the state does not produce natural gas, it has to import its supply from Canada and New York. The majority comes from a small pipeline from Canada. The crude oil that Vermont depends on comes from Maine, Canada and North Dakota. Some of the pipelines have been constrained because of ecological concerns about environmentally sensitive areas.[1]

Vermont has only one natural gas distribution company, Vermont Gas Systems (VGS). The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) regulates VGS.[4] Vermont has three types of electric utilities: investor-owned, municipal and member-owned rural electric cooperatives. There are 17 utilities in total: one investor-owned, 14 municipal and two cooperatives. The companies are technically regulated monopolies and operate under a Certificate of Public Good (CPG), which means the rates the companies charge are subject to review by the Public Service Department. The transmission system in Vermont is of special importance because about half of the energy consumed is imported. The Vermont transmission system consists of 534 miles of power lines and 25 substations. The entire transmission system is operated by the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO). VELCO is a member of the Vermont Energy Partnership, which is also responsible for building and maintaining the system statewide.[5][6]

Where Electricity Comes from in Vermont[7]
Type Amount Generated (MWh) % of State** % of USA**
Nuclear 448 72.85% 0%
Hydroelectric 96 15.61% 0%
Other Renewables 69 11.22% 0%
Total Net Electricity Generation 615 100% 0%
**Note: Because the EIA does not include all of a states' energy production in these figures, therefore the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead we have generated our own percentages.

News items

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See also

External links