The oil and gas industry’s current promise of cheap natural gas supplies for the next century sounds remarkably like the promises of the 1950s about nuclear power. We were to gain cheap, abundant, and safe electricity for our homes, to expand industry for jobs, and to advance modern living. Nuclear electricity generation, however, has brought us the burden of subsidizing the high cost of nuclear facility construction and liability in surance, denial of ongoing radioactive releases, additional cancer burden, decades of fights over the transport and disposal of radioactive wastes, secrecy and lies from the industry and its government regulators, and multiple actual and near meltdowns.
Now shale gas extraction conducted through the technological process commonly referred to as “fracking” is touted by the oil and gas industry as the next great energy boon. They tell us that gas will be so plentiful that it will answer all of our energy-related problems.
Best yet, it will end the unemployment crisis that lingers past the Great Recession, leading to millions of jobs over the next several decades.
Its promoters claim that we can have energy independence and afuel that burns cleaner than coal—while they spread denial that the threat of catastrophic climate change is real or has much to do with human activity.
Let’s not be deceived: shale gas extraction will neither fulfill the prophesies nor be useful in the transition to just, democratic, and ecologically sustainable economies across the globe. It is business as usual . It is owned and operated by industries with more than a century’s legacy of greed, corruption, war provocation, pollution, illness, injury and death, environmental degradation, and a steady stream of propaganda and lobbying to limit its regulation bygovernments. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) had touted the Marcellus Shale deposit as containing an estimated 410 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. In 2011, however, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the deposit “contains a bout 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4billion barrels of undiscovered,
technically recoverable natural gas liquids” . Though an increase from the 2002 USGS estimates, this figure was 80 percent less than the EIA estimate that the industry had used to sell expansion of the shale gas extraction projects.
This revision came while some members of the U.S. Congress were calling for investigation of the EIA’s use of consultants with ties to industry to produce estimates of shale gas .