Natural Gas Will Repower America

At Real Clear Energy:

While doing business in North Dakota this summer, I noticed something that you don’t often see in America these days: “help wanted” signs. There everywhere. The service industry in the state is paying top-dollar. Even fast food restaurants are hiring at outrageous rates. The unemployment rate in North Dakota hovers around three and a half per cent, meaning, as one local laconically observed: “the only people not working are them that don’t want to work”. So what’s responsible for creating this island of prosperity in the sea of privation that America has become? The answer can be summed up in one misunderstood word: fracking.
Fracking is slang for the process of hydraulic-fracturing of geologic formations to release natural gas. Recently, fracking has been used in a big way to extract natural gas from deep shale formations. This practice has transformed the way we look at our energy resources and has the potential to be a big part of securing America’s energy independence for a long time to come. That is, if a combination of environmental activism, media ignorance and political fear-mongering doesn’t destroy this opportunity to create a tremendous amount of wealth and jobs.
The numbers are remarkable. Between 1995 and 2005 domestic withdrawls of natural gas hovered at a steady rate of about 2 trillion cubic feet per month. In 2006 shale gas exploration kicked into high gear and production has increased at a rate of about 100 billion cubic feet per year ever since. Shale gas wells are responsible for the vast majority of that growth. After peaking in 2008, natural gas prices dropped and have remained steady ever since. A Department of Energy staffer told me that the department sees no resumption in the cycle of price highs and lows as long as supplies continue to increase at such a prodigious pace....