The New American “Oil Boom”
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How the New American “Oil Boom” Might Destroy the Environment
and Decimate the Health of Millions
Recent headlines in the American press would have you believe we’re in
for a robust economic boom, courtesy of the new shale gas revolution. Some
forecasters claim the US will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest
oil producer by 2017, effectively rendering the US self-sufficient in terms
of energy production.
But are we really “swimming in oil”? And is the shale revolution really
the answer to all our energy and economic problems?
In pictures and words, three different publications tell the story, while
EPA documents add a twist as to how wetlands should be protected through all
this, but aren’t.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order No. 11990 for the
protection of wetlands,1 which prohibits anyone, including farmers, from
altering wetlands in any way.
As a result of that legislation farmers are unable to touch wetlands
without fear of federal prosecution, which can at times put extreme limits on
their farming protocols due to the stringent way wetlands are defined.
Sometimes a simple puddle in a farmer’s field can be defined as a wetland.
Conversely, oil companies now come in and wipe out huge tracts of
wetlands without any repercussions at all, showing that, apparently, wetland
protection loses its importance when oil company profits are at stake.
The Great Oil Swindle
As reported in The Atlantic,2 the Bakken shale situated in North Dakota
holds an estimated 18 billion barrels of crude oil. Originally discovered in
1951, the oil was too expensive to extract at the time, as it’s embedded in
That all changed in 2008 when hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," became
widely available. Since then, North Dakota has experienced a massive oil
drilling boom, and as of this year, the state has more than 200 active oil
rigs producing about 20 million barrels of oil per month.
The oil business has dramatically altered the state’s landscape, and
pictures3 show big fracking sites now located right next to private homes and
farms, and as revealed in the PBS special above, having a fracking operation
on your land can be devastating to your health...
Another article in Le Monde Diplomatique4 highlights the environmental
destruction that accompanies oil and natural gas fracking, and also questions
whether the fracking boom is little more than another bubble—“a temporary
recovery that masks deep structural instability”:
“These resources can only be mined at the cost of massive
environmental pollution: their extraction involves hydraulic fracturing...
using the technique of horizontal drilling... But their exploitation in the
US has brought about the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and offers
the advantage of cheap and abundant energy...
But is the shale revolution all it’s fracked up to be?
The ongoing fragility of the global economy should give pause for
thought... But policymakers have learnt few lessons from the 2008 crash, and
may be on course to repeat similar mistakes in the petroleum sector.
A New York Times investigation first unearthed major cracks in
the 'shale boom' narrative in June 2011, finding that state geologists,
industry lawyers and market analysts 'privately' questioned 'whether
companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity
of their wells and the size of their reserves.'
According to the paper, 'the gas may not be as easy and cheap to
extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying,
according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an
analysis of data from thousands of wells.'”
Two US energy consultants reportedly sounded the alarm at the beginning
of 2012 with an article in the British energy industry journal Petroleum
Review. They wrote that there’s a “basis for reasonable doubts about the
reliability and durability of US shale gas reserves.” They claim the reserves
have been “inflated” under new Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules
that allow gas companies to make claims about the size of the reserve without
an independent third party audit. This overestimation of reserves can hide
lack of profitability.
According to former UK chief government scientist Sir David King,
production at wells tends to drop off by 60-90 percent within the first year
of production alone, and petroleum geologist Arthur Berman has noted that the
annual decline in production exceeds 42 percent. All in all, this makes
drilling for shale gas extremely unprofitable...
God Bless Everyone & God Bless The United States of America.
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