In North Dakota’s arid badlands, huge tanker trucks rumble along the hundreds of new dirt roads that web the mottled landscape. They roll over slotted metal grates that keep cows from wandering onto drilling pads. A metal sign pockmarked with bullet holes reads, “Little Missouri National Grassland: Land of Many Uses.”
Questions are being raised about the role of emergency shutoff valves in preventing natural gas explosions like the recent one at a Kansas City restaurant.
Regulations require their installation, but not their use in emergencies. Instead of shutting valves before a February blast leveled JJ's restaurant and killed a server, crews waited for a backhoe to arrive in a failed attempt to vent the leak.
One experts likened shutoff valves to the brakes on a car.
The Columbia City Council approved the purchase of a plot of land, but council members haven’t agreed on what the city will use it for. The city of Columbia is purchasing a two-acre plot of land on Vandiver Drive at US 63. City Manager Mike Matthes says it will cost three hundred thousand dollars.
Missouri doesn't have enough natural gas deposits for the state to get much benefit from the hydraulic fracturing movement that has produced a glut of natural gas nationwide.
But it does have something that's very important to energy producers who engage in fracking — sand. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Missouri has vast quantities of nearly pure silica sand. The sand is in high demand among drillers who use the tiny granules to prop open cracks in shale rock and allow oil and natural gas to escape.