Oil industry Can Aid Environment

Oil industry Can Aid Environment

“Every time I get into an oil project, it ends up cleaning
the environment … I’m not talking about small change,
I’m talking about really spectacular changes in the environment.”
— Dr. Scott Hornafius, Santa Barbara, CA

Expert: Oil industry can aid environment
By DREY DAILEY News-Press Staff Writer

May 23, 2014 6:29 AM

The oil industry benefits the environment in a number of ways, a scientist said Thursday at a community forum.

Dr. Scott Hornafius, president of Elk Petroleum and visiting research scientist at the Earth Research Institute at UCSB, held a talk titled “What Is The Oil Industry Doing To Reduce Green House Gas Emissions?” at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center. The forum was hosted by Save Our State California.

“Every time I get into an oil project, it ends up cleaning the environment,” Dr. Hornafius told the crowd of more than two dozen people. “I’m not talking about small change. I’m talking about really spectacular changes in the environment.”

Oil production can reduce natural oil seepage, Dr. Hornafius said.

Pumping has cleaned the tar off the beaches in Santa Barbara over the past 40 years and reduced Santa Barbara’s air pollution, he said.

This cleansing of above-ground oil pollution worldwide also reduces methane concentration in the atmosphere, Dr. Hornafius said.Dr. Scott Hornafius and Daughter Speaking about Greenhouse Emissions

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, increases productivity of oil and natural gas wells. The practice has come under criticism from environmental groups, but Dr. Hornafius referred to it as “the crime without a victim.”

No clear evidence exists of fracking being harmful, he said.

Instead, fracking has allowed a switch from coal to natural gas, resulting in a 30 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in the United States.

“When the fracking revolution happened, we had so much natural gas in this country and we couldn’t export it,” Dr. Hornafius said. “It was trapped here. The price of natural gas and oil in our country de-coupled.”

The price of natural gas in the United States collapsed, due to an influx of natural gas and a reduced reliance on oil.

Dr. Hornafius’s daughter, Kayla, a graduate student at Miami University of Ohio, gave a presentation on the benefits of capturing carbon dioxide emissions from corn ethanol and other biofuel plants, then using the carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery from old wells.

This plan would create “carbon negative oil,” meaning it would take carbon from the atmosphere and redeposit it into the Earth, removing one of the major contributing gases that contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Negative carbon oil is the only method of retrieving oil that results in the actual removal of carbon from the atmosphere, but at this point it is blocked by California regulations, Dr. Hornafius said.

“We’re going to do this project in Nebraska. We’re going to make carbon negative oil. We’re going to see if there’s any interest in making carbon negative oil. We’re going to see if anyone cares,” Dr. Hornafius told the News-Press.

“The only state that has in place legislation that would incentivize people to make carbon negative oil is California, but the regulators are trying to not allow that to be a solution.”

email: ddailey@newspress.com

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