Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, links to NPR story, with additional commentary from Amy Myers Jaffe.
“Wow, I knew it was big, but I had no idea it was that big,” Reynolds notes.
It is immensely big, and I have been hammering on this point for years. Here is my post from last year, The World is Awash in Oil, that details the vast amount of “unconventional” oil at our potential disposal. And, that is just oil. There is also an estimated 750 trillion cubic feet of untapped natural gas in the US. In the oil and gas industries, there is something called the McKelvey Box, which breaks the carbon resources into different sections – discovered, assumed but undiscovered; economically recoverable, sub-economic, and non-economic. Vast amounts of carbon resources that were once in the “sub-economic” or “non-economic” boxes have been unlocked by the technological revolution of the last few years. There are now several centuries worth of fossil fuel resources available to us – I have taken to calling this the Shale Age or, when you consider the near-to-fruition of economically viable coal- and gas-to-liquid fuel, the Second Age of Oil. And, with the proper set of policies, the US is in position to be – at once – the worlds greatest producer and consumer of fossil fuels – as well as the top and exporter of value-added, finished petroleum based products. Simply being energy independent would wipe out much of our trade deficit; the exports of fuel and other petroleum products would put us decisively in the black. And the money flowing into local, state and federal treasuries from taxes, leases and royalty payments would go a long way to solving the debt crisis.
The moment is upon us to save ourselves. To borrow a phrase – We are the Ones We have been waiting for.
As a word of caution, Reynolds also notes “The implications here are huge. If I were Russia and Saudi Arabia, I’d be subsidizing U.S. environmental groups in an effort to stop, or at least slow, the process.”
The reply to that, of course, is to take those environmental groups seriously ourselves, and forestall that line of attack. Ours is an open, democratic system, and environmental groups are powerful, well organized and motivated. We have to be environmentally conscious in crafting our energy policies – even if you disagree with the environmentalists, then work them if for no other reason than to mollify a powerful constituency that could otherwise derail or slow your efforts. Our system works well when organized groups bargain with each other and work out a synthesis approach. Any politics that is based on an assumption that you can simply steamroll the opposition is both sophomoric and doomed to failure. America, and the world, needs access to the bountiful energy resources within our grasp – but we cannot be so environmentally obtuse that we allow the fortune beneath our feet to go unclaimed.