Energy on my Mind

We just recently finished up a great Institute based out of Santa Fe.  The Energy Country Institute covered all things energy, and a whole lot more:  The fourteen Fellows met with experts to discuss energy production, from solar power to algae-based biofuels to fracking* and traditional drilling, and energy conservation in the form of green construction and other techniques. Fellows visited ranchers and scientists,  Southern Ute, Navajo, and Jemez tribal members.  They learned about the over-allocation of the area's water, and they talked about how to manage a national wildlife refuge in an era of multiple-use. Fellows flew over the San Juan basin in small planes, and learned about the region's geography, geology, and hydrology. And along the way, they learned just how difficult it is to get a coach bus over a mountain pass in the middle of a snowstorm!  The hearty and resilient Fellows on this Institute deserve a round of applause, and an award for team bonding in the midst of adversity (and in the midst of a blizzard!) *Note: "Fracking," short for hydraulic fracturing, is the process of fracturing rock by injecting highly pressurized fluid in order to release petroleum, natural gas, or other gas and make it available for extraction. Fracking has been condemned widely by environmental and human-health advocates, and has been banned entirely in some countries.

Alumni - of both this recent Institute, and those in the past - have been writing a lot about energy lately. A few great stories have come our way from former Fellows, and we're pleased to share them here. (Note to other Fellows who may be reading this: Please send us links to your stories! We'd love to post 'em.)

Zulima Palacio (Energy Country 2011) with Voice of America sent us this news story that she filmed while on this most recent Institute.

In Colorado, Solar Industry Faces Challenges

Colorado's San Luis Valley, an alpine desert, is rapidly becoming a leading producer of solar energy in the United States. The sun shines more than 340 days a year in the San Luis Valley. So the solar industry is booming here... See more.

From Kirk Siegler (Energy Country 2006) at KUNC public radio in Colorado, a great story about the mixed reaction to the oil boom along the state's Front Range.

Oil Boom Creates Opportunities, Consternation Along Colorado's Front Range

Northeastern Colorado is fast becoming the site of one of the country’s next big oil booms as new technologies surrounding hydraulic fracturing are allowing companies to get a piece of the Niobrara Shale.  Previously deemed too expensive to drill, the Niobrara formation that extends from beneath Denver all the way to western Nebraska is thought to hold more than a billion barrels of oil.  The only trouble is much of the land atop it is home to one of the country’s fastest growing regions...  Read more 

And from Carl Bachtel (Asian Carp 2011) with WKYC in Ohio, we've got a story on proposed fracking alongside a toxic waste site.

Stark County's Uniontown First 'Fracking' Target

UNIONTOWN -- Ohio's oil and gas energy rush is taking off and one Stark County community with a dark industrial history is listed to be one of the first fracking sites in our area. Where the well is going and who is drilling it may surprise you.WKYC Photojournalist Carl Bachtel brings you the story... See more

Plenty more to come!