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Bacteria might be used to make natural gas

by Staff Writers
Amherst, Mass. (UPI) Jan 29, 2008
U.S. scientists said deposits of natural gas created by bacteria during the last ice age might lead to technology making natural gas a renewal resource.

Steven Petsch and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts studied natural gas reservoirs in Michigan's Antrim Shale and determined carbon-hungry bacteria trapped in the rock beneath ice sheets produced the gas during the ice age, as glaciers advanced and retreated over Michigan.

"Bacteria digested the carbon in the rocks and made large amounts of natural gas in a relatively short time -- tens of thousands of years instead of millions," said Petsch. "This suggests that it may be possible to seed carbon-rich environments with bacteria to create natural gas reservoirs."

He said his findings help explain high levels of methane in the atmosphere that occurred between ice ages, a trend recorded in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. "When the ice sheets retreated, it was like uncapping a soda bottle," said Petsch, a geoscientist.

He said that information can be used in current climate change models to account for the effects of melting glaciers.

The research is reported in the February issue of the journal Geology.

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Outside View: Oil firms boom on Iraq war
Hastings-On-Hudson, N.Y. (UPI) Jan 28, 2008
As ExxonMobil prepares to celebrate what could be a record profit of more than $10 billion for the last quarter of 2007, jubilant company officials and stockholders might want to join in a moment of silence for the more than 1 million war dead in Iraq -- Iraqi and American combined. They paid the ultimate price in a war in which ExxonMobil has had a hand and which we can estimate is responsible for at least $2.5 billion of ExxonMobil's latest profit. (Nick Mottern is the director of and has worked as a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal and Evening Bulletin and the former newsletter Consumer News; as a researcher and writer for the former Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs; as a lobbyist for Bread for the World; as a writer and organizer for Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers; and as an organizer in New York's Hudson Valley. He is a member of the board of Traprock Peace Center in Greenfield, Mass.)

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