Environmentalists Target Texas Oil

God bless Texas. As Americans continue to face near-record high gas prices, recent interest in vast oil shale deposits in the Lone Star State could be a boon to domestic production and significantly lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, this assumes that bureaucrats stay out of the way; one Texas-size assumption

According to a story published by The New York Times late last month, the area known as Eagle Ford in South Texas and other deposits around the state, could generate as many as 420,000 barrels per day by 2015. This represents possibly two or three times as much oil as in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – the largest oil field in the nation – and could boost domestic production by as much as 25 percent. One oil expert interviewed by the Times noted this would be “like adding another Venezuela or Kuwait by 2020, except these tight oil fields are in the United States.”

Certainly, the hope of extracting the estimated three billion barrels of this valuable natural resource that rest in the South Texas soil has renewed oil industry’s collective interest in the area that could bring two million jobs. Because of this, local residents envision a boom in economic development thanks to the billions being invested in the area by more than two dozen oil companies.

Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider recently took notice of an underreported story by financial firm Morgan Stanley, noting that “technological innovation is now allowing for oil extraction from previously un-economical shale deposits” and leading to a “renaissance” for domestic oil production.

Despite the fact that huge benefits will result from the recovery of oil shale at Eagle Ford in terms of creating jobs, producing more oil at home, and possibly stabilizing the petroleum market, environmentalists already are wringing their collective hands and fretting over environmental damage they see lurking behind every effort to extract “liquid gold” from the ground. Their nightmare scenario is based on the process used to access the oil, called hydraulic fracturing, but commonly known as “fracking.”

Because fracking requires significant quantities of water and small amounts of chemicals, the environmental chicken littles envision a future in which residents of drought-prone Texas will suffer water shortages and be exposed to harmful pollutants.

The American Petroleum Institute notes correctly that already there are extensive regulations in place at nearly all levels of government to deal with potential risks associated with this expensive method of oil and gas recovery. Additional or expanded regulation could quickly slow production and harm local economies.

Throwing even more cold water on the nascent Texas shale oil boom is a small local reptile, the sand dune lizard, which may be placed on the endangered species list later this year. Placement of this lizard on the list could seriously hamper drilling in Texas, perhaps even more than the porcupine caribou has prevented exploration in a small section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told ABC News this lizard, though small in size, might as well be “Godzilla” because of the threat it represents to the oil industry in his state. How much of a threat? Oil industry representatives say that 500 million barrels of oil would effectively be taken off the market.

For years, left-wing politicians, bureaucrats, and environmentalists have proudly parked themselves in the path of domestic oil exploration, despite the fact that harmful incidents associated with oil recovery and drilling are rare. They also claim new drilling would not bring down oil prices or that lower prices would be a decade or more away.

Federal nanny-staters, perennially more concerned about lizards and minnows than humans, and deeply worried about everything from fireworks displays to light bulbs, are gearing up to stop the Eagle Ford oil boom before it gets out of first gear. For America’s sake, let’s hope they fail.

48 comments Add your comment

clanmack

June 6th, 2011
6:34 am

Clearly, this is an unenlightened set of thoughts about Shale oil in Texas. Conclusions such as ” . . . despite the fact that harmful incidents associated with oil recovery (Re: fracking) and drilling are rare.” Big oil can and does challenge the individuals whose livelihood and personal property and lives are significantly affected by fracking, so that they can say these incidents are not proven to be caused by this extraction method. If you look at the incidence of suspected ill effects caused by fracking, the picture is not so benign. Reference to ” . . . extensive regulations at nearly all levels of government . . .” is laughable when you consider that nationally and locally, big oil has unprecedented and unchallenged access through money, to our legislatures and regulatory bodies. This is clearly a biased rant, that reveals a “victim” mentality. Poor conservatives, at the mercy of the big bad ” . . .left wing politicians, bureaucrats, environmentalists . . .” (don’t forget “nanny-staters”).
The larger picture is that this line of reasoning does not take into account the big national picture: What national Energy policy that will wean us off oil and deliver the energy we need while reducing our foreign oil addiction. Environmentally, pollution -wise, energy wise and economically this is our next “moon shot.” Bob, The Republicans/conservatives/tea partiers have no vision accept to fight the Democrats.

Misyt Fyed

June 6th, 2011
6:52 am

If the Republicans/conservatives/tea partiers did nothing but fight the democrats, it would be a fight worth fighting. Otherwise, these God-complex environmentalists would have us living in tee-pees.

Joel Edge

June 6th, 2011
7:20 am

“Placement of this lizard on the list could seriously hamper drilling in Texas”
Only if the little SOB lives deep underground. Well…I guess if the drilling crews run over a few.

Producer

June 6th, 2011
7:59 am

Have a republican president issue a by-God executive order to allow the drilling there. It’s time the grown ups began running things again. Pat the little environmentalists on their heads and send them to bed without dinner. Enough is enough! Put the oil on the world market, drive the prices down and get us out of the cesspool of the Middle East and out of harms way of those animal savages that live there.

Ron

June 6th, 2011
8:05 am

Tell them to go back to California, they haven’t completely ruined that state yet.

q

June 6th, 2011
8:13 am

The future is windpower. Fossil fuels have contributed directly, not only to global warming but, the myrad of tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding. Now the oil explorers want to add more insults to the environment, fracking.
Wind is an endlessly renewable source of clean energy. One wind turbine, the “Nacelle” can provide all the energy needs for 750,000 homes. All of this energy is generated for a few cents per kilowatt hour.
Texas has more open space and wind than any other state. This is the future. The time for oil has come and gone.
One small step to the new frontier, “wind power”.

carlosgvv

June 6th, 2011
8:20 am

It should be clear by now that there is no viable alternative to oil except electricity and it would take a great increase in electric production to meet all the increased needs and building more power plants would increase pollution unles they are nuclear and environmentalists would tie that up in court for years and, even if that drilling occurs in Texas, it really won’t help much. In other words, from an enery standpoint, we’re toast.

Tosh.No

June 6th, 2011
8:49 am

Too bad my car doesn’t run on sails “q”. Try to keep up here, wind power is not a part of this discussion.

Always Skeptical

June 6th, 2011
9:12 am

Bob, you need to do a little more research and really give some thought to actually publishing real facts before distorting the truth in your opinion pieces. Maybe fracking is the way to go to get at these deposits, but the environmental concern is real, and it’s also shared by the oil industry. If they start ruining the groundwater of communities that depend upon it for drinking and farming, they’re sunk. I can go a month with out oil, but I can’t go a week without water. Why don’t you explain that fracking involves injecting sulphuric acid into the ground, and no small amount of it either. Maybe in comparison to the vast amounts of water utilized it’s a small amount, but If you gave me a barrel of water and was told that a cup of it was sulphuric acid, would you drink it? Would you give it to your children?

Good Grief

June 6th, 2011
9:18 am

q @ 8:13 -
Please provide a few examples of how, exactly, fossil fuels have contributed to tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. I remeber the mid-2000s, when we had a particularly rough hurricane year. The eco-groups told us that the next year would be worse because of global wamring. The next year came and went with only one or two named storms, far less than the previous year. The eco-groups’ response: Global warming had caused a downturn in weather activity. They were going to twist the information to their view one way or the other.

Junior Samples

June 6th, 2011
9:32 am

Forget the environmentalists.

Which oil company would only sell the oil pumped out of Texas (or anywhere in the US) only to the US, and not the World Market?

Ramzad

June 6th, 2011
9:42 am

When are we going to realize that we need to get off our petroleum dope, and go into rehab? We would soon ‘Frack” out Texas and then “Frack out Utah and then “Frack” out Kansas and before you know it we would be “Fracking under “Ground Zero in New York City.

We need to get serious about alternative energy sources. Lazy and greedy Republicans would “fuc…”frack” up the whole country with Bush tax cuts behind them. Enough is enough..no more digging for oil in the US. The jig is up. Long live the sand dune lizard!!

Always Skeptical

June 6th, 2011
9:54 am

@Junior Samples at 9:32

Amen!!!! Domestically produced oil is not for American’s only…I doubt if that will change even with ramped up production… If a worldwide economic downturn/recession can produce over-inflated oil prices instead of an oil glut, we’re pretty much sunk….

Babs

June 6th, 2011
9:58 am

The EPA has long been a government organization that is hell-bent on keeping this country behind in so many ways. Typical of these over-grown, government-employee groups, they are disguised as organizations that are developed for the “good of the people” and end up being detrimental to the masses. Hey, the EPA were demolished, look at the money that would be saved by not paying employees of this massive institution! Those that believe in this crap need to pull their heads out of (you know where) and take a peak at the sun for a change.

Always Skeptical

June 6th, 2011
10:04 am

Babs @ 9:58,
I’ve got a house and lot for sale near the Love Canal…real cheap..Sounds like you might be interested…Just don’t drink the water or grow a vegetable garden and I think you’ll be alright with it.

[...] Carrizo Oil to expand acreage in Eagle Ford shale Reuters Africa Newsday (subscription) -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) all 16 news articles » Tags: EnglishPosted in Business [...]

Slim Pickens

June 6th, 2011
10:10 am

@q Wind power will not be the future of our power generation make up. What most people don’t understand and what those who do usually poorly explain is that wind is at best unreliable. The majority of our electric generation that is used to power everything in this country is set up in three stages. Base load, intermediate load, and peaking load. Base load has to be the 24 hours a day 7 days a week reliable energy that we need to run critical equipment and industries. This load is usually provided by nuclear and coal. We know how much power we will get from these units all the time, rain or shine. Intermediate load handles the average days swing of energy needs. Usually the needs of large and small commercial operations, to the average daily use of households around the country. These loads can be served through gas turbines, combined cycle units, and some large scale hydropower plants. The final piece is peaking loads. These are the units that handle the spikes in power usage such as the 8:00 am and 5:00 pm home use rushes and when you experience larger than average temperature swings both hot and cold requiring heavier ac/heat usage. This is where most hydropower, wind and solar, and diesel generators come into play. Its also by far the smallest usage in the industry.

Long story short…the wind isn’t always blowing and the sun isn’t always shining and in most places in the country (GEORGIA) there is insufficient wind/sun to even utilize the technology on a large scale. It isn’t cost effective as you will spend more on installation and maintenance than what the power provides back in revenues. Not to mention you will most certainly encounter the NIMBY’s (not in my backyard) who will scream at the top of their lungs that they want the resource but just not right here.

Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

June 6th, 2011
10:16 am

Why not round up a bunch of those lizards and put them in a zoo, so they will be protected? Better yet, Obama can can form a government agency to care for them, that way they can show more jobs being created, thus the economy is on the upswing for his relection campaign. Not to mention he can show his environmental sensitivity by saving a bunch of lizards. Joe Biden could probably run the Department of Lizard Affairs….he doesn’t seem too busy.

Olderandwiser49

June 6th, 2011
10:19 am

All you Liberals need to take your lizards for a walk, and maybe you’ll clear your minds and be better able to view the whole picture for a change. Wind energy doesn’t drive cars, and has been proven to be an insufficient primary substitute form of energy. It can be used as an adjunct to more common energy sources. Of course, if we had a way to harness all the hot air coming out of the White House and Congress, we could heat the nation! Loss of water is important – no argument there. But where is your Liberal outrage over continuing to subsidize the ABSOLUTELY PROVEN impracticality of using corn for producing ethanol. The government has to contribute money so that ethanol can be processed even close to the price of gasoline. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of corn, causing prices to go up. Likewise, corn is used for feed for livestock, which causes the prices of meat to rise. So, the taxpayer gets it in both ends – our tax money going to prop up the production of an expensive and ineffective energy source, and our after-tax money going toward higher prices at the gas pump and grocery stores. Meanwhile, Obama pledges US support to Venezuela (which hates the US), and bows down to the Middle East Muslims (who hate the US), and plans to buy oil from them at inflated prices, while halting all drilling in the US! And when the Muslims and Communists decide the time is right, they cut off all oil to the US, and either hold us hostage, or they invade a country without the oil necessary to support our armies. Think about that while your lizard is lifting his leg on the flagpole displaying the Stars and Stripes!

I want to smell like toilet paper

June 6th, 2011
10:24 am

Who needs oil? We should be taking MARTA to work.

q

June 6th, 2011
10:38 am

Albert Betz, a physicist, from Germany discovered that a wind turbine works as an incredibly effective kind of energy net for wind power. He made his discovery in 1919.

How affordable personal wind power has become? The investment of about $150.00 will produce 750-1000 watts. That is enough to drastically cut the cost of any power bill.

Wind mill power technology is becoming so commonplace you can own your own windmill power system by investing a few hundred bucks. Your own “home made power plant system”.

Sooooooo, how much better can it get? This is it.

Aquagirl

June 6th, 2011
10:54 am

Fracking uses substantial amounts of water. Bob poo-poos this like only environmental wackos need H2O to exist.

Bob also forgot to mention the good people of Cleburn TX experienced the first seismic event in the cities 140 year history after fracking began nearby. If y’all are so oil-addicted that a few EARTHQUAKES don’t bother you then get your head examined. And stay the h3ll away from voting booths, mentally ill folk cause a lot of damage in there.

Tom Wellnitz

June 6th, 2011
10:57 am

Ignoring any problems with “fracking,” the real fallacy with the article is that this “big” oil find will make the United States less dependent on imported oil. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the US uses about 19 Million barrels of petroleum a day. This new find, if it meets the 2015 production goal of 420,000 barrels a day, would be less than 3% of the US need even if consumption rates stay steady. Over half of the petroleum used in the US is imported, with almost 2 M barrels per day coming from Canada.

As for the lizard, if the affected area actually produces 500 M barrels, this is less than one month’s supply of US petroleum, if it were the only supply in the United States. What are we going to do in the next decade?

If the goal is reduce petroleum imports, the easiest way to do this is with more efficient automobiles. Consider the big new find at Eagle Ford. If the 420,000 barrels could be turned entirely into gasoline (which it can’t), this represents less than 5% of the gasoline burned in the United States on a daily basis. So, if average gasoline consumption were to increase by about 5%, say from 20 mpg to 21 mpg, the savings would offset any production from this field. Imagine how much a doubling of fuel efficiency would reduce gasoline consumption, almost as much oil as is currently being imported in the United States. If cars got 50 mpg as I get in my Prius, we could eliminate oil imports, reduce air pollution associated with cars, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and pay more for the environmental protections needed to safely get oil from shale.

Patrick Edmondson

June 6th, 2011
11:21 am

Bob Barr conveniently skips the fact that fracking, sounds as obscene as it is, cracks aquifers and fills them with flammable gas. Texas is in a drought and needs more fresh water, not less. Barr’s greed for oil will destroy even more ground water. Farmers can then only use their wells to start fires. But at least the oil company profits will grow. That seems to be Barr’s main concern as he shills for the oil companies expanding their ‘rights’ to destroy the environment for everyone. Let them drink bottled water!

Jefferson

June 6th, 2011
11:39 am

Supply is not the cause of high prices…

luangtom

June 6th, 2011
11:57 am

I sit in wonder while I read the advocates for and those against. Why is Canada, who they say supplies us with a large share of our consumed oil, not experiencing the problems that the naysayers say will happen in the USA? Why did Canada see fit to allow oil to be drilled and fracked on their soil?
Why are they not concerned with the doomsday scenarios that US environmentalists convey? What do they know that we do not? Please do not say they are more careless than we are. Maybe our people are too zealous in their stand on what is important to them. Maybe we can learn from the Canadians. Or, is our ego too great?

The development of oil-shale fields in the Bakken project of North and South Dakota, Montana and into Candada will also help alleviate our dependence on Mideast oil. We either have to learn to do without automobiles and recreational vehicles that use fossil-fuels or we need to stop giving our environmental zealots so much power in determining whether lizards are more important than humans. Neither side seems to be able to attain a happy medium.

abouttime

June 6th, 2011
12:00 pm

Before you go praising the benefits of hydraulic fracking, watch the documentary Gasland. Also, learn about how the process is exempt from the Clean water act(thank you Dick Cheney). Guess who makes the equipment to do the fracking – Haliburton. The process is destroying our underground water supply.

J. Wellington Wimpy

June 6th, 2011
12:25 pm

Is Bob crazy? I could never trust a man who’s girlfriends keep getting younger and younger while he keeps getting uglier and uglier, (think Hugh Hefner — all the viagara in the world can’t cure ugly). Next thing you know, old bob will be dating sper$m in a cup…..

Tom Wellnitz

June 6th, 2011
12:47 pm

luangtom and others — the oil from Canada comes from tar sands, not oil shale. It has it own level of environmental destruction. Basically, the tar sands are strip mined, like coal, and then heated to release the oil. Look for pictures to see the local environmental impact. If you lived near one of these areas, the environmental problems are obvious but since there are few other economic alternatives in these areas, the people put up with the destruction for the jobs.

The fact that we are using tar sands and oil shales is an indication that the cheap oil is mostly gone. With or without oil shales, we are approaching a point, maybe 30-50 years from now, maybe sooner, where we will need something to replace oil as a transportation fuel. Even if oil shales are going to be US produced, don’t expect them to cause the price of oil to go down. The oil from these places costs much more to extract than anything in the Middle East. We also have to face the fact that United States oil demand is increasingly not going to drive price as much as oil demand in the rising Asian economies.

Hillbilly D

June 6th, 2011
12:59 pm

The American Petroleum Institute notes correctly that already there are extensive regulations in place at nearly all levels of government to deal with potential risks associated with this expensive method of oil and gas recovery.

Seems I’ve heard that before; maybe it was before the BP blowout.

Aquagirl

June 6th, 2011
1:18 pm

“Guess who makes the equipment to do the fracking – Haliburton.”

And when the EPA asked fracking companies for information about their process, 8 out of 9 voluntarily complied. Guess who lawyered-up and had to be subpoenaed?

Ezra

June 6th, 2011
1:20 pm

Hillbilly D

June 6th, 2011
12:59 pm
What part of the BP blowout was not paid by BP? What problems were not corrected? Do we need metorite insurancd too?

Hillbilly D

June 6th, 2011
1:25 pm

Ezra

Wouldn’t it have been cheaper and smarter to have prevented it from happening, in the first place?

Tom Wellnitz

June 6th, 2011
1:45 pm

Since Bob Barr says logic is important, let’s look at his numbers, especially with regards to Prudhoe Bay comparison.
BB writes “This represents possibly two or three times as much oil as in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – the largest oil field in the nation – and could boost domestic production by as much as 25 percent.” Yes, Prudhoe Bay is the largest oil field in the nation. It has produced 11 Billion barrels of oil since it started output, with maybe 2 B barrels left to recover. As best as I can tell from the article, the Eagle Ford field might produce 3 B barrels. Hardly two to three times as much oil as Prudhoe Bay. Oops, I guess the statement isn’t supported by the data. Or does Bob Barr mean that the 420,000 barrels a day might be double the (current) output of Greater Prudhoe bay (somewhere around 280,000 barrels a day in 2006). Even at this number, production would have to get to 560,000 barrels per day to double Prudhoe Bay. But, let’s keep this in perspective, Prudhoe Bay is a declining oil field that during its peak was producing 1.5 M barrels per day. Again, Bob Barr offers nothing to say that anyone thinks Eagle Ford will be producing in the 3-4 M barrels per day level.

Okay, last number — the 25% increase in domestic production. Again, using US Energy Information Administration numbers, US oil production is between 5 and 6 M barrels per day. A 25 % increase would be at least 1.25 M barrels per day. Again, the best Bob Barr includes is a number less than 0.5 M barrels per day.

Bob, logic is important, but if you’re going to make statements that you want others to believe, do the math. Just because you say something is so, doesn’t make it so if you can’t back up it up with real data. If you’re going to make exaggerated claims because you think they make your case, you lose any sense of credibility when they are exposed.

Aquaman

June 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

Aquagirl needs to get off the Fulton Co Library computer and get herself a job.

Gerald West

June 6th, 2011
2:57 pm

Same ol’ misconceptions and deceits: domestic oil is cheaper than foreign oil, the US has enough oil reserves to drill our way out of foreign dependency, the US can produce enough additional oil to bring down oil prices, etc.

We can realistically achieve lower oil prices by using less of it. Just look around at the waste: stop and go traffic on all the urban freeways several hours each day, airliners queued for runway clearance with engines running, gas-guzzling cars hauling a single fat person, homes and businesses overly heated in winter and overly cool in summer, etc.

Ezra

June 6th, 2011
3:09 pm

Hillbilly D

June 6th, 2011
1:25 pm
It was preventable, mabe! The blame lies on BP and the safety inspectors. What is power without responsibility and vice versa?

Chucknfw

June 6th, 2011
3:53 pm

“Gasland” has already been debunked as a junk science propaganda piece. 80 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Over the last 25 years or so that hasn’t changed, even with the increase of solar and wind. Our quality of life, our economy, standard of living, and national security depend on our Countries ability to provide cheap fuel. Halliburton is an outstanding company that is helping develop the technology to extract fuels that we had thought were inaccessible. I don’t blame them for pushing back after all the left-winged attacks that has been directed their way over the past decade.
We have enough clean burning natural gas to power our country for the next century. How much has technology changed over the last 100 years? I think a hundred years should be enough time to develop and implement the next energy technology that will power our future. Until then, we have to exploit all our our domestic fossil fuel resources. Drill Here! Drill NOW!

Contrarian

June 6th, 2011
4:50 pm

We should exploit whatever crumbs of energy mother nature is kind enough to throw us.

chucknfw

June 6th, 2011
9:04 pm

Regarding wind farms….
440,000 birds are killed each year by being hit by turbines. Golden Eagles might not be able to sustain the death rate in California. There is no such thing as energy production without issues.

Halftrack

June 7th, 2011
2:40 pm

Why doesn’t the EPA think up ways to allow for incentives to pay for new ideas around what they consider to be bad. They do not offer any solutions and are only a voice of “No”. The Country is up a creek without a paddle and the only paddle EPA has is for stirring up a stink.

ugahydro

June 7th, 2011
5:57 pm

Bob, are you a Geologist? Ever drilled a well? Dug a hole then? Had you heard of hydraulic fracturing before, say, Friday? Just another ‘libertarian’ running his pie hole on issues beyond his limited grasp.

WOW

June 7th, 2011
6:14 pm

I would gladly deport left wingers for illegal Mexicans any day of the week. Let’s start with Aquagirl.

WOW

June 7th, 2011
6:19 pm

ugahydro

How badly will the dawgs suck this year?

WOW

June 7th, 2011
6:20 pm

“Guess who lawyered-up and had to be subpoenaed?”

John Edwards

WOW

June 7th, 2011
6:21 pm

FYI to the brain dead left wingers that troll the AJC blogoshphere.

BP gave more money to the Obozo administration than ANY other single politician.

Dr. Pangloss

June 8th, 2011
8:18 am

Gee, Bob, do you like cancer? Do you like tap water that can be lit on fire? Where do you think your food and water come from?

scrapebox blast

June 13th, 2011
1:43 am

wow – now that’s what i call a good article. keep up the work