From my op-ed in today’s Detroit News “Get Onboard Shale Revolution“:
Despite the significant economic benefits from the development of domestic energy resources, U.S. oil and gas companies are up against political challenges from the Obama Administration and environmental groups that are slowing the pace of natural gas production and the export of some of the gas in the form of liquefied natural gas. Environmentalists claim – wrongly – that fracking pollutes underground water resources. Numerous studies have determined that it’s being done safely and that impenetrable rock separates fracking from underground aquifers.
Interestingly, shale-gas production has been a major factor in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, which hit an 18-year low last year for total emissions, and fell to almost a 50-year low on a per-capita basis (see chart above). With electric utilities replacing more and more coal plants with units that burn natural gas, fracking could provide even greater reductions in carbon emissions benefits in the future (see chart above showing Department of Energy estimates to 2040 for CO2 emissions per capita).
Will environmentalists and their supporters in Washington and some states continue to oppose shale-gas production? Probably. But in the national discussion on fracking, we can’t ignore the significant economic and environmental benefits that the shale revolution is providing, and will continue to provide to the U.S. economy.
North Dakota is like an overachieving child who attracts the attention of everyone—except Dad. The oil boom taking over western North Dakota and transforming America’s energy landscape has prompted visits from people around the world—Germany, Turkey, Japan, Dubai, and elsewhere—to see what they can learn and how they can benefit. President Obama, however, has not visited the state since moving into the White House.
From an economic and energy security perspective, no clear reason exists for why the president has not visited the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3 percent, especially after he’s been explicitly invited by a senator in his own party. From a political perspective….going to a state to tout domestic oil production could further inflame Obama’s environmental base, which is already worked up over his pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline (which would ship some Bakken oil, if approved).