Everything's Coming Up Shale Gas

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In the Wall Street Journal, energy guru Daniel Yergin writes of the massive promise of shale gas.

It’s the subject of the current cover story of TIME: “This Rock Could Power the World.”

And this is what President Obama said in his energy-policy speech at Georgetown last week:

Now, in terms of new sources of energy, we have a few different options. The first is natural gas. Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves –- perhaps a century’s worth of reserves, a hundred years worth of reserves -– in the shale under our feet. But just as is true in terms of us extracting oil from the ground, we’ve got to make sure that we’re extracting natural gas safely, without polluting our water supply.

With shale gas rising, it will be interesting to see whether environmental concerns — fracking and CO2 emissions — will be offset by bigger geopolitical concerns about some of our less-savory oil suppliers.

Mike B

Natural Gas actually provides big CO2 savings over Coal and Oil. The problem is that even with plentiful shale gas we are still only kicking the can down the road. In several decades when the gas is all gone then what will we do? Will we have alternatives lined up or will we find ourselves even more beholden to foreign powers?


Obama Translation: While natural gas is a cheap and plentiful source, I have to make sure that I throw up every roadblock imaginable so you won't be able to extract it. This will cause a spike in prices, thus driving us all to renewable sources such as sun & wind. It does not matter that we have not found a reasonable way to produce on a large scale these resources, I am beholden to environmental groups so I must push forward. Thank you.

Joshua Northey

If that is really your read of Obama's energy policy you either are not paying attention or spend too much time watching Fauxnews.

I didn't vote for him, but I think his energy policy has been pretty even handed. You need to be able to differentiate verbal sops to a politicians base from the actual actions they take. They are frequently not at all similar.


If you do the math on those "hundred year supplies", they generally tend to last somewhere in the twenties. Demand increases, not everything is recoverable, there is, ahem, a bit of judicious overestimation.... Gas is cleaner than coal, the next fuel of desperation, and not quite as environmentally damaging to mine but in the end, we are dealing with finite energy resources. At some point we will reach "peak gas", what then? The only "bigger concern" worth worrying about is the fact that the supply is finite and non-renewing. Our reliance on the resource and denial of its finite nature will eventually run us off an economic cliff as supply fails to outpace demand. There are a lot of good environmental reasons to pursue other energy sources and we need gas for those periods when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow but any energy policy that relies on finite resources will eventually run into that peak.


Eric M. Jones

Nosybear.."If you do the math on those “hundred year supplies”,

You know I agree with absolutely everything you say, Nosybear, but you couldn't possibly support this. Historically, reserve estimates are way too low, when you allow for improved recovery techniques and new supplies.

When these reserves run out we will be either very fat and cozy with atomic fusion, or chewing the bark off trees--

Christopher Strom

People seem to love wringing their hands over energy. We line up behind either Mike B or JimBob as though there really is a choice:

Regardless of the state of "alternative" energy technology, we (humans) will extract and burn every drop of fossil fuel that can be extracted at a net BTU gain.


We will pursue "alternative" energy sources when that's all that's left - i.e. when they are no longer "alternatives".

Until then, we will blame each other for the problem or whine about the course of action, because that's what people do: first we fix the blame, then we fix the problem.