Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Enviros: For Fracking Before They Were Against - What The Frack

I'm looking forward to seeing more of Jay Kohn's Bakken Oil Boom series on KTVQ-TV this week, meanwhile- for those of you who wonder just what the "frack" is going on in Eastern Montana, and more so in North Dakota- here are some new reports.

First off, here's a good read at, as Ronald Bailey notes that environmentalists "were for fracknig before they were against it." (For those of you who don't know what fracking means. Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing, which combined with horizontal drilling has allowed for all this domestic oil drilling and served as a bailout for school budgets in Montana.)
Given its greenhouse gas benefits, environmental activists initially welcomed shale gas. For example, in August 2009 prominent liberals Timothy Wirth and John Podesta, writing on behalf of the Energy Future Coalition, hailed shale gas as “a bridge fuel to a 21st-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources, and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas.” The same year, environmentalist Robert Kennedy, Jr., head of the Waterkeeper Alliance, declared in the Financial Times, “In the short term, natural gas is an obvious bridge fuel to the ‘new’ energy economy.”
That was then, but this is now. Practically en masse, the herd of independent minds that constitutes the environmentalist community has now collectively decided that natural gas is a “bridge to nowhere.” Why? In his excellent overview, The Shale Gas Shock [download], published last week by the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, journalist Matt Ridley explains: “As it became apparent that shale gas was a competitive threat to renewable energy as well as to coal, the green movement has turned against shale.”
Well, maybe you're worried about jobs, but the Environmental Protection Agency isn't. I know that's not a breaking news headline for anyone watching the EPA's agenda, but what is newsworthy is how the EPA isn't even pretending to be concerned about jobs.
The Washington Examiner's opinion page has this:
How important are jobs to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? Not very, according to recent testimony from EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. After Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., asked whether an EPA economic analysis of new coal ash regulations took into account potential job losses, Stanislaus replied: "Not directly, no." Gardner then followed up: "Is it standard procedure for an economic analysis to ignore the impact on jobs?" Stanislaus could only manage the following in return: "Well I can get back to you on the specific details of how we do economic analysis." It has been over three weeks since that exchange, yet Stanislaus has yet to answer Gardner's question satisfactorily.
Montana has been regarded as the Saudi Arabia of wind, the Saudi Arabia of coal, and should also be considered part of the the Kuwait of the Plains...that is- if the enormous boom that has resided in North Dakota will also take off in the rest of Montana.
Either way, you may have noticed in Jay Kohn's introductory piece to his Bakken Oil series that he mentioned this piece in The New Yorker titled "Kuwait on the Prairie."
Here's an excerpt if you missed that article:
North Dakota is booming. Its unemployment rate is the lowest in the country, 3.7 per cent, and so many people have moved there for jobs that last year local officials declared a housing crisis. The new workers have been drawn by the Williston Basin, in the western part of the state, which holds the largest accumulation of oil identified in North America since 1968. About a hundred new oil wells are blasted into the ground each month. One day a few months ago, half a dozen workers prepared to send enough explosives underground to dismantle an armored tank.

The head of the state’s department of mineral resources recently estimated that the region could contain eleven billion barrels of oil that can be obtained using current technology. That assessment has doubled since a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey study. A hundred and thirteen million barrels of crude oil were produced in North Dakota last year— more than five per cent of our domestic output. Geologists believe that Williston could be at the beginning of a twenty-year boom.

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