Hydrocarbon Heaven v. Obama's Green Hell....
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.
The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota's Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.
The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation's lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.
Or take production in Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale formation, which the state Department of Labor and Industry says created 18,000 new jobs in the first half of 2011. Some 214,000 jobs are now tied to a natural gas industry that barely existed in the Keystone State a decade ago. Energy firms are also rushing to develop the Utica shale in eastern Ohio, and they are expanding operations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, among other places.
Mortimer Zuckerman details how new technologies have made shale oil & gas drilling economic, with lower carbon emissions:
In a phrase, technology has trumped geology. Advances in computer-processing power yielded seismic mapping and three-dimensional imaging, enabling geologists to "see" through the thick layers of rock and salt obscuring the reservoirs thousands of feet below the surface. And new drilling technologies allow us to penetrate thousands of feet of rock, turn a corner, and continue drilling horizontally for several thousand more feet to reach millions of cubic feet of gas.
It's trapped in the shale, but it can be released by the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are blasted in at high pressure. Fissures open up, and gas and oil seeps out.
The process of finding and producing hydrocarbons from this shale has taken off with such velocity that it has already significantly altered government and corporate energy expectations. The production costs of shale gas are about one-half to one-third the costs associated with new conventional gas wells in North America. The result is a glut of new supply and plummeting prices.
We can protect vital aquifers:
The most significant fear is that wastewater from the fracking process, called "flowback," will contaminate the aquifers and hence drinking water. State regulators in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming have stated that there have been no verified or documented cases of groundwater contamination as a result of hydraulic fracking.
The process uses about 99% water and sand, the rest being a solution of chemical additives including biocides, surfactants and emulsifiers. While no cases exist in which the fracking process itself has caused drilling liquids to contaminate drinking water, the issue is whether the flowback hazard can remain at acceptable levels.
The risk comes from wells that are not designed properly. Failures in cementing the steel casing at the uppermost portion of a well can send gas bubbling from fracks into nearby water wells. This has occurred on occasion, so fracking liquids can end up in aquifers. The Environmental Protection Agency has now made the commitment that it will develop standards for disposing of flowback based on "economically achievable technology."
Let one nugget say it all: The United States has now surpassed Russia as the world's leading producer of natural gas.
So Team Obama does what? Invests in money-losing Green projects while stiffing offshore oil & gas, delaying the Keystone XL pipeline:
Yet earlier this month the Interior Department released a new five-year plan that puts most of the Outer Continental Shelf off-limits for oil drilling. And the Administration has delayed for at least another year the Keystone XL pipeline that is shovel-ready to create 20,000 new direct, pipeline-related jobs.
The Office of Natural Resources Revenue recently noted that federal revenue from offshore bonus bids (from lease sales) in fiscal 2011 was merely $36 million—down from $9.5 billion in fiscal 2008. The Obama Administration has managed the nearly impossible feat of turning energy policy into a money loser, pouring taxpayer dollars into green-energy busts like Solyndra. The Washington Post reported in September that Mr. Obama's $38.6 billion green loan program had created a mere 3,500 jobs over two years. He had predicted it would "save or create" 65,000.
Think of that: $38.6 billion spent to create ... 3,500 jobs. Do the arithmetic: $11,028,571.42 per job.
Now, if the GOP can lose the Greens and approve Keystone XL, and import from friendly emerging suppliers, that within a decade may well include Israel, we will finally have broken the choke-hold OPEC has held for a generation on our energy supply. Incidentally, what is now dubbed Climategate 2.0 has revealed more fudging of data & blackballing of global warming dissenters by politicized scientists. WSj pundit Bret Stephens dissects "climate change" true-believers:
Consider the case of global warming, another system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen.
As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.
This week, the conclave of global warming's cardinals are meeting in Durban, South Africa, for their 17th conference in as many years. The idea is to come up with a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire next year, and to require rich countries to pony up $100 billion a year to help poor countries cope with the alleged effects of climate change. This is said to be essential because in 2017 global warming becomes "catastrophic and irreversible," according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency.
Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the climate apocalypse. Namely, the financial apocalypse.
BS notes that centi-billion or multi-trillion dollar nostrums to limit global warming are financial non-starters in today's world economy.
Combine energy reform with tax & budget reform, both now being blocked by the Democrats, and the GOP has election winners for 2012. George Will offers one target for federal spending reduction (via privatization): the United States Postal Service, which in 2012 expects to lose $14 billion--more, Will notes, than the budgets of 35 (yes, 35) states.
Bottom Line. Energy policy can be a major spearhead for the GOP 2012 candidate, secure in the knowledge that President Obama is irremediably in thrall to his Green-energy ideology and environmental constituencies. Voters can decide if they want a "Bah, humbug!" energy policy while the economy remains stalled.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National security, Foreign Policy, Economy, Conservative Politics