Friday, May 18, 2012
Rock Of Ages—Fuel My Car
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published a report it had made to the Congressional panel on Science, Space and Technology. It was entitled “Unconventional Oil and Gas Production—Opportunities and Challenges in Shale Oil Development.” The Obama administration quickly buried the report, and not because it was lengthy, in-depth and highly technical. It was buried because it has scientific and geological proof that in just one small area of the United States, shale oil contains about three trillion (yes, trillion) barrels of oil.
The report concludes that approximately half of that oil could be extracted using “available technology and given current economic conditions.” To put this in perspective, and quoting the GAO report, “this is an amount equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.” Gestate on that for a minute. And while you’re doing that, you need to know that this is just the most recent oil shale find—we have plenty of others. The area in question is located where Utah, Colorado and Wyoming come together on the map. It’s called the Green River Formation.
Most Americans have been questioning why this nation has to depend on oil from Middle East and South American dictatorships and America-hating nations. Most haven’t considered how unnecessary it is to be importing oil even from friendly democracies, such as Canada. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has been a hot potato for the Obama administration on silly environmental grounds, but the oil itself comes from Canada, a modern industrialized nation unafraid to use unconventional means to release billions of barrels of oil. In their case, the oil isn’t conventionally-drilled, it comes from oil sands.
This revelation even beats the envirowackos’ opposition to traditional drilling in the minuscule Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Even more oil is available in the Green River Formation, and it’s already right here within the contiguous forty-eight states. The green weenies and their shock troops at the Environmental Protection Agency are already operating in high gear to stop shale oil production before it can even start. The previously unknown barefaced liar owl species and the Rocky Mountain maggot environment would be completely destroyed if shale oil production plans go forward.
One element of shale oil production is already under massive attack from the enviroweenies. A very similar process used to extract natural gas from unwilling grounds is used to extract the shale oil. It’s called “fracking,” a shortening of the term fracture mining. Mass hysteria over the possibility of negative effects on ground water has already prevented the gathering of huge reserves of natural gas. That process has gone on for decades, yet there are no examples of polluted ground water of any significance, and in those rare spots where some pollution has occurred it was easily cleared up using very traditional technology.
There’s also no denying that some pretty ugly production facilities will have to be constructed on-site. That will have a negative impact on the local vistas and hiking trails. Somehow, I think Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have a few other scenic spots which would be entirely unaffected by development in this one small portion of God’s green earth. Most of the visual damage would be temporary, and if the reserves ever become exhausted, there’s plenty of technology available to restore the spot to its original state. The enviroweenies know that the caribou won’t be negatively affected by the facilities as they claimed in Alaska, but I’m sure they can find some animal whose very existence depends on leaving the area completely undeveloped. Gray wolves or grizzly bears, maybe. Or jackrabbits.
But let’s face it. Whether the oil comes from traditional well-drilling, tar sand or oil shale, the Obama administration will oppose it because it’s, well, oil. Global warming Armageddon is only days away, and the chief culprit is carbon emissions from coal and oil use. Development of shale oil production would only bring us closer to the final days. Besides, the area could be used for solar panels and windmills, which we all know are highly-efficient, beautiful and have no effect on the environment. We do know that, don’t we?
Oh, and then there’s that dirty money thing. Solar panels and windmills are highly-subsidized by the federal government, so that’s good money, even if it produces massive bankruptcies and little power. Shale oil production would have to grow and survive on private investment, and we can’t have that. What good is the national government if it can’t throw taxpayer money into useless “green” projects? In fact, shale oil production would produce tax income for the government and relief for taxpayers. BIG income. How big? Let’s take a quick look.
Let’s posit that oil (wherever derived) is wholesaling out at about $100 per barrel. That would make the shale oil derived from all federally-owned land worth in the neighborhood of $60 trillion, using only today’s technology. That estimate is probably low because it uses only the potential profit from the Green River Formation alone as its base point. Now, let’s tax it all at 30% of gross sales. That would be about $18 trillion. Our current national debt is $15.6 trillion, which would leave about $2.4 trillion over for the Obamas’ next vacation.
The remaining $40 trillion would be left for the developers and their stockholders after they have paid out the costs of research, development, payroll and production. That’s just way too much money to be left in private hands and out of the government’s grasp. Besides, if we did choose to exploit shale oil, that profit would be a lot less, since the price per barrel of oil would drop precipitously once OPEC can no longer keep it artificially high. But at least our national need for fuel would be in the hands of dirty American capitalists and robber barons instead of foreign potentates. That’s worth something, isn’t it?
Note: If the terminology is a little confusing, think of it this way. Oil shale is the rock the elusive black gold is contained in. Shale oil is the product that comes out of that rock.