By Nathan Barton
On Friday the 3rd, Greg Guenthner over at Daily Reckoning published a good article, “You’ll Never Believe How Low the Price of Oil Can Go…” which I actually didn’t get to read until late Monday, when his immediate prediction of oil prices came to be proved correct, as oil has dropped and closed below $90, the lowest in more than 20 months, despite the fact that inflation has been galloping away otherwise. He is reporting that it could reach $60/barrel, a 50% drop from where it has been ($90) for the past week or so and well below its highs in recent months. That is, of course, good for Americans in general, and is primarily a result of lots of oil coming out of the ground (with LOTS of human help, of course) right here in the Fifty States: North Dakota, Texas, and elsewhere. The nice stuff, not the nasty Alberta tar sands oil. And decades and decades of supply of the stuff, to boot.
But never fear, there are already Americans working to prevent this from happening. A correspondent sent me information about two of those efforts in an e-mail he titled: ” Two recent studies on the impact of fracking: one on health impacts and one on earthquakes.” (Thanks, Tim!) The first is a study by the National Institutes of Health (a FedGov agency) “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania. About this he writes: ” In the health study Yale reports that people living near fracking operations report an increased rate of skin and upper respiratory problems.”
Mama’s Note: Compared to what? “More problems” than whom? Where? A “survey” is not a scientific study, for starters, and even official “studies” usually measure only self reported things, in a specific area, with no actual basis in fact.
The second was a US Geological Survey study “The 2001–Present Induced Earthquake Sequence in the Raton Basin of Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado” about which he said, “In the earthquake study the USGS researchers conclude that underground injection of wastewater from natural gas production has caused a dramatic rise in the number of earthquakes in Colorado and New Mexico.”
Now, I should point out that he is neither a geologist nor an engineer. But the problems with these need to be pointed out, and they are pretty straightforward. The health study is limited to ONE county in ONE area with fracking. It is also based not on actual medical records but on the PERCEPTION of the people: they REPORT that they have increased rates of problems. How much of that is because they are constantly bombarded with the claims that fracking is evil and harmful? How much of that is because they live in the Northeast in THAT particular location? What if they had other causes? The second study has nothing to do with fracking: it is about injecting “wastewater” (usually and properly referred to as “produced water” or E&P (exploration and production) water) underground. Virtually ALL natural gas (and oil) wells produce water that comes to the surface with the gas or oil and has to be removed to allow the oil and gas to be processed and used. That water no longer is allowed to just discharge, it can either be evaporated or injected back into the ground or treated and recycled. In the Raton Basin the common method (dictated in large part by government regulations) is injection. It does not matter whether or not the gas well was developed using fracking or not: fracking MAY contribute MORE water than older traditional methods, but this injection has been going on for a long time, well before modern fracking was invented.
These are official government publications, and I do think that is not a coincidence. While I do not think that my correspondent is one of those directly seeking to end or drastically limit fracking and oil and gas production in general in the Fifty States, he is certainly playing along with that attempt. There are other things that make it clear that it is government policy to limit fracking and MOST technology improvements to limit “fossil fuel” production.
Who will be most “damaged” by $60 (or lower) oil? Well, the very same Big Oil and Big Auto and all the rest of the big industrial interests, it is true: but it is especially the FedGov and the NeoCons AND the Tranzis that will suffer. The Fifty States will, in the next couple of months, exceed Saudi Arabia’s production of oil: we are already the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and will be for decades if not centuries to come. What price foreign adventures to preserve Middle Eastern or African or South American oil?
And to return to a theme I often touch on: these are NOT “fossil fuel” resources, as more and more evidence supports the idea that these are produced constantly deep inside the earth. Peak Oil “theory” (like Global Warming Theory and Global Cooling Theory and Evolutionary Theory before it) seems to be more and more illusionary and antique. The biggest threat to the ever-increasing supply of energy to meet the ever-increasing NEED for energy is government and the Tranzis and Neo-Cons and big, dinosaur-like business that do NOT want to see things (like economies) change.