Had enough of high gas prices? Shale oil might be the solution we need

Controversial as it might be, shale oil seems likely to solve a great deal of America's economic and energy problems. Photo: Associated Press

FLORIDA, March 5, 2012 — Well, it’s happening again. 

The price of oil has skyrocketed. This has pushed up the costs of goods ranging from fruits to headphones as transportation costs have skyrocketed. The burden this places on merchants is then passed along to their costumers. Of course, these costumers are already spending much greater amounts to fuel their automobiles in order to reach the store itself, leaving them hit with not one, but two sucker punches in quick succession. 

The question is, 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 we answer that, let’s ask why oil prices are currently at such high levels. You might answer, “turmoil in the Middle East,” but that is unlikely to be the reason. After British Petroleum’s infamous rig spill three years ago, the entire oil industry took a severe hit, but gasoline prices actually went down throughout the latter half of 2010. Wouldn’t we have expected them to soar during this time?

It was not until the strife in Egypt and Libya broke out that a frenzy hit the oil markets and the price of oil was left with nowhere to go but up.

Obviously, this is a cleverly devised shell 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 be averted. 


At this very moment, there are massive reserves of virtually untapped shale oil within the escarpments of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Pennsylvania. These can be mined and their oil used for gasoline production in a relatively short period of time, greatly reducing our dependancy on foreign oil and making gasoline more affordable in the long run. If various entrepreneurs and energy moguls were given serious incentives to explore all that shale oil has to offer, America would benefit immeasurably.

Unfortunately, the hardline environmental lobby strongly opposes such an idea. This should give voters ample reason to make the alternative of shale oil a large issue in upcoming congressional and presidential elections. If this were to happen, we might make true progress in entering a new era of not only relative energy independence, but new employment opportunities right here in the United States. 

This is doable. Oil production from sites like North Dakota’s Bakken shales has created boom towns there, caused a surge in American oil production, and helped cut our oil imports significantly. And at the same time oil prices have gone up. Our oil shale reserves are vast, and we can do much more.

Of course, the environment must be protected and preserved. There is no excuse to extract oil from shale in areas where this might pollute water supplies, harm endangered species, or wreak ecological havoc. Nonetheless, standing against any shale mining whatsoever seems to be a plan for economic failure. I think it is safe to say that America has had more than enough of that in the Great Recession’s wake.

If now isn’t the time for shale oil, then when will it be?

Much of this article was first published as Trouble in the Pipeline: Capitalism and the Oil Crisis on Blogcritics.org

Far Left? Far right? Get Real! READ MORE at The Conscience of a Realist by Joseph Cotto.


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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