Shale Oil Revolution A Symptom Of Broken Energy Policy

We’re scraping away at the literal bottom of the geologic barrel, pretending as if that were all perfectly normal and sustainable. It’s neither.

Yes, the shale oil and natural gas extracted by fracking is going to be used. That much is a given. But on what? To continue to allow SUVs and light trucks to continue to be the most popular vehicles sold to US consumers?  

Or to continue to flare off (i.e. burn) excess natural gas from these wells that you can clearly see the wastage from space?

Additionally, fracking has led to shortages of fresh water and sand, as well as pipeline bottlenecks. All of which speak to the blind haste and urgency of the shale business. 

As poor as the economics are for the shale drillers, which have collectively spent some $260 billion more than they have taken in from their operations, things are even worse than commonly understood. As the public is on the hook for billions of dollars worth of road and bridge damage caused by fracking trucks.

In Texas, the road damage might be as much as twice the amount brought in by taxing the oil operation revenues.So billions of public subsidies go typically uncounted in the overall costs of fracking for shale oil and gas.

In short, shale extraction efforts are being conducted at such a furious pace and with such an absence of strategic planning that even an illegal warehouse rave seems well-organized by comparison:

Meanwhile the US press continues to cheerlead the efforts to rip the oil and gas out of the ground as fast as possible. As if there were some national emergency where there just isn’t time to do things right.

What’s the emergency, we wonder?What’s so urgently important that we feel the need to cut corners and simply burn our natural gas, a non-reneweable fossil resource, as a waste product into the night sky?

The emergency, we suspect, is that those involved in financing the shale companies don't want people pausing long enough to ask the right questions, which the WSJ finally did.

Conclusion

Look, I consume oil and gas. I drive a car and I heat my house in the winter. So I'm not even remotely saying that the shale plays should be summarily abandoned.

What I am saying is that we’re blindly proceeding without any sort of national strategy in place, using up extremely valuable and non-renewable energy resources at a blistering pace.

Should our oil be taken out of the ground so quickly that exporting it to other nations is the only opportunity to ‘get rid of it?’

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