The practice of hydraulic fracking in shale geology has revolutionized oil and natural gas production, and opened new promise for clean energy independence for America, Europe and elsewhere. The fracking revolution is embraced by competent American, Canadian, U.K., German and other E.U. leaders as their path to cheaper, cleaner, safer energy independence. Burning natural gas produces about one-half the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) compared to the conventional burning of coal.
Fracking has also proved an economic boom. For example, shale fracking in North Dakota has raised incomes and brought unemployment down to 3.2%, the lowest level in the U.S. With America’s highest poverty rate, chronic budget deficits and unemployment at 9.8%, California may find new wealth in having the largest deposits of frackable shale petroleum in the continental U.S.
California has been a conventional petroleum producer since 1865, and remains the third-largest U.S. producer. However, petroleum production has been declining by 2-3% per year, according to the state’s Energy Commission. In 2011 the Federal Energy Information Administration reported that California’s Monterey shale formation, which occupying some 1,750 square miles of California’s Central Valley, could hold 15.42 billion barrels of recoverable oil, or 64% of the total estimated recoverable oil in the 48 contiguous states.
California Governor Jerry Brown proposed new fracking regulations in December 2012 which largely amounted to engineering and operational specifications and reporting requirements. Predictably, environmentalist opponents of the hydraulic fracking technique claim that the proposed regulations don’t adequately protect against groundwater contamination or air pollution. Some enviros even suggest the fanciful idea that fracking could cause earthquakes. Some militant and partisan environmentalists will stop at nothing to impede America's energy prosperity and independence. (The Economist, Feb. 16, 2013)
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