The U.S. energy revolution, spurred by the miraculous technology of hydraulic fracturing, has boosted the U.S. economy, created high-paying jobs, lowered energy costs, improved our national security and put us on a path toward energy independence. It has also led to lowered greenhouse gas emissions, as it has unlocked vast resources of natural gas that has replaced those old dirty burning coal plants and factories. Yet in what is being called a groundbreaking ruling, a federal judge is blocking new oil and gas drilling across public land in Wyoming on the basis that the U.S. government has not adequately considered the impact on climate change past, present and future.
The ruling could open a Pandora’s box that could spread to other states and be a risk to the shale revolution.
It appears that plaintiffs WildEarth Guardians, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Western Environmental Law Center found a judge that shares their concerns regarding climate change. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras, breaking with years of precedent, said in his ruling that the agency “must consider the cumulative impact of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions generated by past, present and future BLM (the Bureau of Land Management) leases across the country.”
The ruling will create an almost impossible task for BLM to speculate on not only the environmental impact of certain projects, but to guess what the impact may be by fracking other wells, both private and public, in the future. It also wants the government agency to guess what the impact of global warming has been in the past, and how that will impact us in the future before they approve a drilling site.
Trying to guess the impact in the future is almost impossible, when you consider the fact that scientists in the past have had a lousy track record predicting the warming trends over the last 30 years. Many of the wild doomsday climate predictions made in years past are almost laughable now. The predictions that polar bears would be extinct, or that the sea levels would rise to certain levels, or that crops in the Midwest would be wiped out because of drought have not happened. In fact, global crop production is better than it ever has been before.
There were predictions that snow would be nonexistent in the winter and we would see summer year-round. I wish. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago.
If the scientists can’t get it right, then how can we expect a government agency to get it right? Some believe that climate change is settled science and we have gone beyond the point where we can question it. In science of course, I thought you were supposed to question things, especially if your previous thesis proved to be incorrect.
So, should we derail the entire energy industry that has brought a multitude of benefits for society because someone is telling us that the sky is falling? It is not good for the economy, nor the country, nor the planet when we react irrationally to fear-mongering.
Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.