Between 2008 and 2012, the Wellhead Price* of Natural Gas in the United States has dropped $5.31 from $7.97 to $2.66
The recent boom in natural gas production in the United States brought about by hydraulic fracturing will power the United States well into the next decades and be an engine for economic growth. Estimates suggest that the abundance of cheap energy could save US households up to $30 billion annually in reduced hydrocarbon costs. What’s more, estimates suggest that natural gas emits up to 50% less greenhouse gasses than coal over a 20-year time frame. Although this is no magic bullet in the fight against climate change, its impact is promising both environmentally and economically.
Despite the clear advantages that fracking and increased natural gas production will have on the United States, other countries are slow to pursue this revolutionary technology. France has not only banned fracking, but has imposed a moratorium on research into new fracking technologies. Evidently, someone in the French government must assume that France has the luxury to forgo the advantages of affordable, cleaner energy. Bulgaria (with France the two European countries with the largest deposits of shale gas) has similarly banned fracking in an effort to placate environmentalist groups. Environmentalists have further opposed and threaten to stall projects in New Zealand, Poland, and the UK.
It is true that hydraulic fracturing can cause localized environmental incidents, however as the technology progresses (it is important to note that the ‘revolutionary process’ of horizontal fracturing was designed in the 2000’s) it will become cleaner and more efficient – adding to the already evident economic and ecologic benefits. From a political perspective, policy makers (particularly in Europe) need to recognize that claims for entirely carbon-neutral energies (as many green advocates suggest) are not reasonable in the short-run. While investments continue in these fields, shale gas and nuclear should be seen as viable alternatives that have already led to incredible economic benefits.
*The Wellhead price is the cost of natural gas, per thousand cubic feet, without the transportation cost – IE straight from the ground.
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