We’re a short sighted people, just asking for trouble. And it will come. Oh, it will come.
Oil companies have begun extracting oil from shale fields now. Doing it the responsible way is, however, expensive. Profit is god in our f-r-e-e-d-o-m market, so any other considerations are for sissies. The Times reports from North Dakota:
Flames of wasted natural gas light up the prairie
. . . the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field and take advantage of the high price of crude. The gas bubbles up alongside the far more valuable oil, and with less economic incentive to capture it, the drillers treat the gas as waste and simply burn it.
Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.
And look, this is way cool: we’re like Nigeria and Iran!
All told, 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned as waste. No other major domestic oil field currently flares close to that much, though the practice is still common in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Iran.
But take comfort, we’re “not as bad as Kazakhstan” . . .
. . . but this is not what you would expect a civilized, efficient society to do: to flare off a perfectly good product just because it’s expensive to bring to market,” said Michael E. Webber.
Anyway, those companies can always count on us to go to war somewhere if we need more. Just not on their dime.