From today’s Investor Business Daily on shale. An excerpt:
Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, so clean that it is a key part of oilman T. Boone Pickens’ plan to wean us off foreign sources of energy. Natural gas can fuel a new generation of automobiles that would help us achieve energy independence and at the same time contribute to a cleaner planet.
In the northeastern U.S., there is a massive expanse of porous rock called the Marcellus Shale Formation. It covers 54,000 square miles and stretches from southern New York to West Virginia. In the pores of this formation is trapped a huge quantity of natural gas. A nearby formation of Devonian shale is even more porous, with more trapped gas per volume of rock.
Penn State geologist Terry Engelder estimates that these formations could supply the nation’s natural gas needs for 14 years. Advanced drilling techniques that shatter the 400-million-year-old rock and release the gas from its stone prison now make it more practical and economical to extract.
The latest technology, called “slick water fracturing,” or fracking, blasts millions of gallons of water underground, opening and widening cracks that let the gas escape. Drilling has begun in Pennsylvania and West Virginia but is on hold until next year in New York, due in part to environmentalist opposition that is gathering in intensity and might spread to other states.