Forgetting Foreign Oil: A Real Alternative for Energy Independence

Really now, how much more can we stand?

Ever since the Middle East became engulfed in revolution a few months ago, the price of oil has skyrocketed. Coming along with it on its nightmarish journey to the top are the costs of goods ranging from fruits to headphones as their transportation fees have become infinitely more expensive. The burden this places on merchants is then passed along to their costumers in the from of higher price tags. Of course, these costumers are already spending exorbitant amounts merely to fuel their respective automobiles in order to reach the store itself, leaving them hit with not one, but two gruesome sucker punches in quick succession. 

Which, needless to say, brings us back to our original question; how much more can we stand? When will the cost of oil reach the point that our nation's economy becomes crippled as Americans can no longer afford to simply live their lives?

Before this can be answered, it must be asked why oil is currently at such inflated levels. Many will instantly point to the turmoil in the Middle East which I mentioned earlier, but I do not believe this to be the reason at all. One need look no further for evidence to support my opinion than British Petroleum's now-infamous rig spill last spring and summer. Despite the entire oil industry taking a severe hit because of this, gasoline prices actually went down throughout the latter half of 2010; a time in which any student of economics would have expected them to soar. Indeed, it was not until the strife in Egypt and Libya, particularly Libya, broke out that a frenzy was declared of such proportions that the cost of oil was essentially left with nowhere to go but up.

Obviously, this is a cleverly devised shell — pun fully intended — game which is being perpetrated by the world's major oil companies. The price of oil is rising and almost definitely shall continue to simply because it can; no more complex explanation is needed. However, the brunt of this unfolding madness can nonetheless be averted. How? Simple; at this very moment, there are massive reserves of virtually untapped shale oil within the escarpments of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. These can be mined and their contents used for gasoline production in a relatively short period of time, greatly reducing our dependancy on foreign oil and making gasoline far more affordable, particularly in the long run. If various entrepreneurs and energy moguls were given serious incentives to explore all that shale oil has to offer, it is unquestionable that America would benefit immeasurably.

Unfortunately, the hardline environmental lobby, which, at is very core, serves with dazzling efficiency as a Fifth Column for those who oppose any genuine economic productivity for our nation, would surely oppose such a wonderful idea. Perhaps, if enough potential voters were to make the viable alternative of shale oil a large enough issue in next year's congressional and presidential elections, we might make some true progress in entering a new era of not only relative energy independence, but new employment opportunities associated with that right here in the United States. Being the political realist that I am, I must say that such a thing, at least in the present, seems to be nothing short of extremely plausible.

 

Originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

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Comments

environmental damage, fracking

There is a real issue with fracking, and frankly these oil companies, their history of environmental damage is not exactly stellar and I believe, environmental damage could be viewed as additional economic costs really.

Myself, I'm heavily Science oriented, so figuring out energy ind. that is cost effective is a key critical issue and just read yesterday the hydrogen "hype" made a technology breakthrough for fueling (to be reviewed, so much hype in these areas!)

Below is a reasonable 60 minutes segment giving some more balance.

 

 

Also, we were all over oil speculation, derivatives in 2008 but I haven't done any research into what's happening now. I thought the regions in Conflict in the middle east are not U.S. suppliers fundamentally, so is the current crisis really affecting supply or do we have more speculators piling on commodities again.

Business Week overview on fracking, it is environmentally risky at minimum.

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Excellent point

"The price of oil is rising and almost definitely shall continue to simply because it can; no more complex explanation is needed."

There are no market factors other than a market dominated by an industry that gets what it wants the old fashioned way, it pays politicians to look the other way.

I'm in favor of an honest look at all viable alternatives. Nuclear is done, period. I'd like to know more about shale oil. There have been remarkable improvements in solar power but nothing is happening in terms of making that option a commodity. We are without a real energy debate. It's time.

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Another Environmental Disaster

Aren't the disasters from Natural Gas Fracking, Tar Sands, Ethanol, Coal sludge slides and mountain top removal along with Mercury Rain sufficient??? To that absurd list you want to add Shale Oil??

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Not so fast....

Obtaining oil (from shale is not as simple as it sounds. The problem is how to process the shale to extract the oil (which is more like kerosene than what we consider crude oil). If you're starting with a mined product, you have to grind it up, add a heat transfer agent (water - which is in short supply in the southwest), heat the slurry to 400 - 450 degrees and hold it there for several months. Alternately you can drill hundreds - or thousands - of bore holes into the shale formation and pump the hot water from the surface and let it braise that way. However with the latter option you also have to deal with the problem of your oil seeping away. Either choice will require a huge investment in infrastructure which would almost certainly include nuclear power plants, pipe networks and associated pumps (to provide the water), and possibly desalinization plants. All of which will take years, if not decades to develop.

Doable, but not fast.

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