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Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications
Source: USGS

This national analysis of data on nearly 1 million hydraulically fractured wells and 1.8 million fracturing treatment records from 1947 through 2010 is used to identify hydraulic fracturing trends in drilling methods and use of proppants (sand or similar material suspended in water or other fluid to keep fissures open), treatment fluids, additives, and water in the United States. These trends are compared to peer-reviewed literature in an effort to establish a common understanding of the differences in hydraulic fracturing and provide a context for understanding the costs and benefits of increased oil and gas production. The publications also examine how newer technology has affected the amount of water needed for the process and where hydraulic fracturing has occurred at different points in time. Although hydraulic fracturing is in widespread use across the United States in most major oil and gas basins for the development of unconventional oil and gas resources, historically, Texas had the highest number of records of hydraulic fracturing treatments and associated wells documented in the datasets.

Natural Hazards of 2014

January 8, 2015 Comments off

Natural Hazards of 2014
Source: USGS

Going into the New Year, the USGS reflects on the natural hazards of 2014 as a reminder of the dangers we face and the need for preparedness to save lives and property.

In 2014, several damaging natural earthquakes occurred around the world. A devastating landslide occurred in Washington State, while heavy rains and landslides also hit California. Notable volcanic activity occurred in Alaska, Hawaii and Iceland, with some alerts and eruptions still ongoing. A drought state of emergency was declared in California, and sinkholes have continued to be of heightened interest. USGS scientists also analyzed seismic data to help focus investigations on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?

December 24, 2014 Comments off

Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

The distribution of birds in the United States today will probably look very different in 60 years as a result of climate, land use and land cover changes.

A new U.S. Geological Survey study predicts where 50 bird species will breed, feed and live in the conterminous U.S. by 2075. While some types of birds, like the Baird’s sparrow, will likely lose a significant amount of their current U.S. range, other ranges could nearly double. Human activity will drive many of these shifts. The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

DOJ/DOI — Expert Working Group Report: Native American Traditional Justice Practices

December 9, 2014 Comments off

Expert Working Group Report: Native American Traditional Justice Practices (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Department of the Interior

Throughout the United States, the term “traditional justice” is often associated with an adversarial court-based model of justice. But for American indigenous communities the term signifies a history and culture that evolved separate from judges in black robes. These systems are often based on restoring harmony and peace to the victim and community – while still including elements of offender accountability.

In April 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Access to Justice Initiative (ATJ) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services – Tribal Justice Support (TJS) jointly convened an Expert Working Group (EWG) on the use of traditional Native American justice interventions to respond to criminal and delinquent behavior.

The meeting was held in furtherance of the Tribal Law and Order Act’s mandate that both Departments work with Tribal court systems to develop a plan to address alternatives to incarceration. The meeting also evidenced the Administration’s commitment to Tribal sovereignty by recognizing and showcasing the importance of traditional Tribal custom.

The meeting brought together 14 experts from multidisciplinary communities, including judges, researchers, government officials and advocates with experience and knowledge in the use of traditional justice practices primarily within indigenous communities, for a one-day roundtable meeting. The experts were asked to provide short presentations on the traditional justice intervention that they lead in their community or about which they are knowledgeable. The majority of the participants were from the United States, but a Canadian expert was also invited given the shared history and culture of the U.S. Native American and Canadian Aboriginal populations.

USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park

December 3, 2014 Comments off

USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers have receded rapidly since the Park’s establishment in 1910, primarily due to long-term changes in regional and global climate. In the last century, the five warmest years have occurred in the last 8 years – in this order: 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 (NASA). These changes include warming, particularly of daily minimum temperatures, and persistent droughts. This warming is ongoing and the loss of the Park’s glaciers continues, with the park’s glaciers predicted to disappear by 2030.

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970

November 7, 2014 Comments off

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970
Source: USGS

Water use across the country reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years. According to a new USGS report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire United States during 2010.

This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.

“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water-use technologies and management,” said Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior. “Even as the U.S. population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”

California accounted for 11 percent of the total withdrawals for all categories and 10 percent of total freshwater withdrawals for all categories nationwide. Texas accounted for about 7 percent of total withdrawals for all categories, predominantly for thermoelectric power, irrigation and public supply.

Florida had the largest saline withdrawals, accounting for 18 percent of the total in the country, mostly saline surface-water withdrawals for thermoelectric power. Oklahoma and Texas accounted for about 70 percent of the total saline groundwater withdrawals in the United States, mostly for mining.

CRS — Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2015 Appropriations and Policy (August 5, 2014)

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2015 Appropriations and Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)
<blockquote.
The annual appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies provides funds for agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. On July 23, 2014, the House Committee on Appropriations reported H.R. 5171. The bill provided $1.40 billion for FWS, down 2.0% from the FY2014 level of $1.43 billion contained in P.L. 113-76. The President requested $1.48 billion, an increase of 3.4% over the FY2014 level. In addition, the Administration proposed a number of significant accounting changes. As the committee noted, some of these changes make comparisons with funding in prior years impossible for some accounts. The House committee accepted a few of the Administration’s changes, while rejecting others. The committee further made its own changes in accounting, in order to emphasize certain priorities.

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