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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

This guy gets it: "Viva the shale gas revolution"

Eastern U.S. Marcellus Shale Fields
Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does a nice job explaining the benefits of the large shale gas discoveries in the U.S. in his piece "Viva the shale gas revolution":
Spindletop* made possible the mechanization of agriculture, which increased food production and dropped its price. Because the necessities of life cost less, we could spend more on what for ages past were luxuries only the rich could afford.

Buoyed by cheap food and cheap energy, the middle class grew in size and affluence. It's shrinking now, as Americans get squeezed between stagnant wages and rising prices for food and gas.

But in this dark hour comes an energy development that can revive our economy, restore upward mobility to the middle class and reduce the threat of Islamist terror.

This Spindletop-on-steroids is natural gas trapped in "black" shale, made accessible by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The Marcellus Shale formation alone may contain 84 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said in August. That's up from the 2 tcf the survey had estimated in 2002.
Marcellus Shale added 44,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and 13,000 jobs in West Virginia in 2009, according to researchers at Penn State. Ohio could add more than 200,000 jobs in just four years, an industry group there estimated in September. Nationally, the direct and indirect gains in jobs are measured in millions.

We could be energy independent in less than a decade. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia stand to lose their geopolitical clout.

Nothing in this life is all gain and no pain, but shale gas comes as close as anything ever has. So why are many Democrats trying to strangle Spindletop II in its crib?

The EIA's figures make it clear why "renewable" energy firms like Solyndra go bust despite massive subsidies. So President Barack Obama is trying to jack up the price of energy to make solar and wind seem less outrageously expensive.

"Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Mr. Obama told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008.

A few politically connected people, such as Solyndra's George Kaiser, have made millions from "green" energy subsidies and mandates. They, in turn, give lots of money to Democrats.

Shale gas undermines this backscratching. Abundant, safe, inexpensive and environmentally friendly, it destroys the arguments for wind and solar power.

Read the whole thing.

Oh, and if you are worked up about the water issues involved in fracking, see here for info on an invention that may solve that issue.

*Spindletop was the original big oil gusher in Texas that ushered in the age of oil.


  1. Charley A9:42 AM

    I generally agree with the author, excepting "...and environmentally friendly, it destroys the arguments for wind and solar power."

    It is still a hydrocarbon, thus produces CO/CO2 after energy extraction. And both wind and solar power have legitimate application - as does nuclear power.

  2. Anonymous3:53 PM

    USGS also estimated one of the shale oil deposits in Wyoming at 1.43 trillion bbls...that's about 2X Saudi Arabia.

  3. Yes, see my post on that here.

  4. Charley: Less CO2 than coal or oil, perhaps less that biodiesel (yeah, yeah, biodiesel is "carbon neutral" - really?)

    But, if you want to create jobs now with a proven technology which can lower bad emissions, and which we seem to have in abundance, here it is. It buys us time while all the really smart people come up with all the miracle bio-fuels we are waiting for.

    Plus, as part of the clean up process to make it usable, CO2 is stripped out, which could provide a source for all those lovely algae bio-fuel farms that will cover an area the size of Connecticut to produce their magic juice in sufficient volumes to be meaningful.