Are we sitting on unlimited fossil-fuel resources?

posted at 3:15 pm on June 3, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

You’ve heard that we’re running out of oil.  You’ve heard that natural gas has a finite and ever-shortening supply.  The media has been reporting on Peak Oil for decades, and the peak has always been just around the next corner.  But what if that weren’t true, and for practical purposes, the US has an unlimited supply of fossil fuel for its energy needs?  Would that not undercut the entire notion of an energy crisis, except as self-inflicted?

Get ready for a paradigm change, courtesy of … Salon? (via Ace)

Are we living at the beginning of the Age of Fossil Fuels, not its final decades? The very thought goes against everything that politicians and the educated public have been taught to believe in the past generation. According to the conventional wisdom, the U.S. and other industrial nations must undertake a rapid and expensive transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy for three reasons: The imminent depletion of fossil fuels, national security and the danger of global warming.

What if the conventional wisdom about the energy future of America and the world has been completely wrong? …

If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.

So much for the specter of depletion, as a reason to adopt renewable energy technologies like solar power and wind power. Whatever may be the case with Peak Oil in particular, the date of Peak Fossil Fuels has been pushed indefinitely into the future. What about national security as a reason to switch to renewable energy?

The U.S., Canada and Mexico, it turns out, are sitting on oceans of recoverable natural gas. Shale gas is combined with recoverable oil in the Bakken “play” along the U.S.-Canadian border and the Eagle Ford play in Texas. The shale gas reserves of China turn out to be enormous, too. Other countries with now-accessible natural gas reserves, according to the U.S. government, include Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, France, Poland and India.

Let’s stipulate that we may still want to move away from gasoline as a personal-vehicle fuel for reasons other than supply.  Refining uses a lot of energy, for instance, and the entire process produces emissions other than carbon dioxide that really do present problems in large quantities.  Rather than switching to electricity, which is hardly an environmental boon (as I explained earlier this week), we should move to natural gas instead.  We have had that technology for decades, going back to at least the 1980s when I drove a natural gas powered taxi … very, very briefly.  The fuel burns cleanly and it allows for a normal range on vehicles without overloading an already-problematic grid.

One potential reason this technology hasn’t captured the imagination is because it would take drilling and exploration to find it.  Documentaries such as Gasland have soured the public on the newer extraction technologies, but as Phelim McAleer explains, the film didn’t bother to mention that reports of flammable water in the region go back decades before fracking began. “It’s not relevant,” Gasland director Josh Fox replies when challenged:

As I said earlier, the energy crisis in this country is entirely self-inflicted, mainly because the demagogues and Chicken Littles have controlled the narrative for far too long.

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Let’s stipulate that we may still want to move away from gasoline as a personal-vehicle fuel for reasons other than supply.

Hey Ed, we still need oil for thousands of products, especially those made out of PLASTIC.

How did you miss this in your “research?”

fossten on June 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

“Drill, baby… DRILL!”

Seven Percent Solution on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Al Gore is crying as he reads this.

meci on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

*facedesk*

Ed…”Unlimited” and “fossil-fuel resources” do not belong in the same sentence, unless you’re completely clueless or working for the oil industry.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

sigh. I wish we had people in power that loved capitalism. We could still be a powerhouse instead of the going-broke laughing stock that the liberals are hell bent on turning us into.

search4truth on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

fossten on June 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Um, what part of

as a personal-vehicle fuel for reasons other than supply.

do you not understand ???

pambi on June 3, 2011 at 3:22 PM

I remember reading a few years ago that the ‘peak oil’ date was always moving further into the future because techonological improvements were making it cost-effective to extract oil from shale, sands, etc.

Does that mean I was not a member of the “educated public”? Or does that mean I was a member of the elite educated “educated public”?

JadeNYU on June 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM

I don’t think we need to “stipulate” that “we need” to move away from gasoline as a transportation fuel. You are inviting government meddling by making statements like that.

The market will determine the best course of action as always. There are excellent reasons we use gas. It is plentiful, transportable, reasonably priced (as compared to alternatives) and packed with usable energy. If there were better fuels they would be in use already.

echosyst on June 3, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Unfortunately we will probably have to relinquish our reserves to China in order to wipe out our debt…

PatriotRider on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

I’m not claiming a big conspiracy, but clearly all this sudden hysteria over fracking is orchestrated. Just a couple of years ago, natural gas was considered by liberals a clean fuel that helped wind and solar by powering backup for the renewable plants. Now, all of the sudden, gas is teh suxxor, and the only explanation us that it’s so cheap and abundant that it threatens the renewable industry.

juliesa on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

http://metaresearch.org/publications/bulletin/2007issues/0915/Mrb07cp5.asp

There’s no such thing as fossil fuels. It’s all unlimited, at least on our scale.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

You know who this helps?

steebo77 on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

If someone would come up with a way for us to fuel our cars and homes, for engery, with h2o, bho and epa would tax the daylights out of h2o! They only want the green, wind, solar, ways to keep us all going so the high rollers make billions.
L

letget on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

but as Phelim McAleer explains, the film didn’t bother to mention that reports of flammable water in the region go back decades before fracking began. “It’s not relevant,” Gasland director Josh Fox replies when challenged:

The problem is this could scare a lot of ignorant people who don’t know anything about oil & gas exploration or extraction.

Fear mongering is so dumb.

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

fossten on June 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

I don’t think Ed’s problem is with gasoline, but with the polluting byproducts from refining it.

SKYFOX on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

but as Phelim McAleer explains, the film didn’t bother to mention that reports of flammable water in the region go back decades before fracking began. “It’s not relevant,” Gasland director Josh Fox replies when challenged:

Facts never matter to the Left.

rbj on June 3, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Refining uses a lot of energy, for instance, and the entire process produces emissions other than carbon dioxide that really do present problems in large quantities.  Rather than switching to electricity, which is hardly an environmental boon (as I explained earlier this week), we should move to natural gas instead

So what about everything else that comes from the refining process? The list is staggering,!

bluemarlin on June 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

juliesa on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

It’s not a conspiracy or even anything new. The environmental movement has always been opposed to natural gas.

There isn’t an energy source they support.

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Hey Ed, we still need oil for thousands of products, especially those made out of PLASTIC.

How did you miss this in your “research?”

fossten on June 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Hey fossten, oil is not the same as gasoline, which Ed specifically cited as something that should be moved away from as a “personal-vehicle fuel”, which is rather specific and says nothing about moving away from oil.

How did you miss this in your “reading”?

MadisonConservative on June 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Makes sense to me.
look up Thomas Gold and his great book The deep hot biosphere.

rslancer14 on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I don’t think Ed’s problem is with gasoline, but with the polluting byproducts from refining it.

SKYFOX on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Quite right, my mistake.

Nevertheless, oil is cheap, it’s organic (comes from the ground) and is the engine that drives capitalism. If there’s a need for an alternative, the market should determine it.

fossten on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Using natural gas EFFICIENTLY as a vehicle fuel requires some considerable changes in car design and construction; it takes a lot more space to store comparable BTU content to gasoline.

The upside is that, if your local utility service has the capacity, you can fuel the thing at home yourself.

The downside of that is that it has to be compressed to do this, and the NGV compressors that’d work in home applications require a fair dose of electricity to do their job.

It’s just about a 100% win in stationary applications, though, versus coal. We need to be, at least to start, burning NG as a power-generation fuel and liquefying coal as a transportation fuel.

JEM on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Some, such as this current administration are sitting on an unlimited supply of every type of beneficial resources.

fourdeucer on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Ed…”Unlimited” and “fossil-fuel resources” do not belong in the same sentence, unless you’re completely clueless or working for the oil industry.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

That is simply not true, but it is representative of those who have been hoodwinked by the environmental lobby.

See what I did there? Morrisey shared an opinion you don’t agree with and you called him a shill of the oil lobby, while I don’t agree with your opinion and I called you a shill for the environmental lobby. Both arguments are rather stupid, but there is far more truth to having an ‘unlimited’ supply of fossil fuels than the counter.

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

The comments at the end of this article are simply hilarious!!!

You can see the liberals heads explode!!!

The author of the article, will feel the wrath of these people. They are not taking kindly to hearing the truth.

petunia on June 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM

*facedesk*

Ed…”Unlimited” and “fossil-fuel resources” do not belong in the same sentence, unless you’re completely clueless or working for the oil industry.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

A little off Ed’s idea, but…

Isn’t the earth in essence a closed loop? Nothing is ever really destroyed, only converted. I believe that with enough time, man will learn how to convert “useless” things into fuels, etc. Just as nature and time do now. Thus providing and endless supply.

BierManVA on June 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Yeah, that’s true. However, I’m thinking of significant element of them who were on board with the Pickens Plan (wind+gas) only a few years ago. Pelosi even invested in gas at the time. She said it wasn’t a fossil fuel though. I guess she didn’t know what she was doing. Shocka.

juliesa on June 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I can’t hear you!
-enviro-wackos

cmsinaz on June 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Josh Fox is one of the biggest tools alive today, and that’s impressive.

Red Cloud on June 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

The fact is this: we have all the hydrocarbons we need.

Once we drive a stake in the heart of global-warming alarmism, we’ll be in good shape for the indefinite future.

What we need (and what I believe the market would provide, absent nonsense like ‘renewables’ incentives) is fungibility – the ability to translate the source hydrocarbons into optimally (or economically) usable forms.

JEM on June 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I’m not claiming a big conspiracy, but clearly all this sudden hysteria over fracking is orchestrated. Just a couple of years ago, natural gas was considered by liberals a clean fuel that helped wind and solar by powering backup for the renewable plants. Now, all of the sudden, gas is teh suxxor, and the only explanation us that it’s so cheap and abundant that it threatens the renewable industry.

juliesa on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Yes, the whole point is stop decrease supply in “old style” hydrocarbons to drive up the price so that green energy sources can compete.

The 48er on June 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

http://metaresearch.org/publications/bulletin/2007issues/0915/Mrb07cp5.asp

There’s no such thing as fossil fuels. It’s all unlimited, at least on our scale.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Its an interesting theory and would certainly upset the ‘limited resources’ crowd if true.

http://www.rense.com/general63/refil.htm

“Oil Fields Are Refilling… Naturally – Sometimes Rapidly” By Robert Cooke
Staff Writer – Newsday.com

Deep underwater, and deeper underground, scientists see surprising hints that gas and oil deposits can be replenished, filling up again, sometimes rapidly.

Although it sounds too good to be true, increasing evidence from the Gulf of Mexico suggests that some old oil fields are being refilled by petroleum surging up from deep below, scientists report. That may mean that current estimates of oil and gas abundance are far too low.

Recent measurements in a major oil field show “that the fluids were changing over time; that very light oil and gas were being injected from below, even as the producing [oil pumping] was going on,” said chemical oceanographer Mahlon “Chuck” Kennicutt. “They are refilling as we speak. But whether this is a worldwide phenomenon, we don’t know.”

Also not known, Kennicutt said, is whether the injection of new oil from deeper strata is of any economic significance, whether there will be enough to be exploitable. The discovery was unexpected, and it is still “somewhat controversial” within the oil industry.

Kennicutt, a faculty member at Texas A&M University, said it is now clear that gas and oil are coming into the known reservoirs very rapidly in terms of geologic time. The inflow of new gas, and some oil, has been detectable in as little as three to 10 years. In the past, it was not suspected that oil fields can refill because it was assumed the oil formed in place, or nearby…

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

1. Reservoirs of hydrocarbons are generally found in geographical patterns in long lines or arcs sometimes extending for thousands of miles. These patterns were discovered by D. Mendeleyev in the 1870s, and confirmed many times since then (57).

2. Petroleum deposits follow Koudryavtsev’s rule: hydrocarbon-rich layers tend to be consistently rich all the way down to the crystalline basement that underlies the sediment. Hydrocarbons in the basement rock, even when drilling has extended past the sedimentary layers and into the basement rock, can be better explained by vertical reach of hydrocarbons from below (57-58).

3. Methane is found in many areas where biogenic (fossil fuel) explanations are improbable. These locations include ocean rifts, depths far below sediment layers, areas such as the floors of large (ancient) craters with little or no sedimentary rock, and “methane hydrates,” which are frozen bubbles of large quantities of methane found on ocean floors and under-glacier lakes (58). (and other planets in our solar system.

http://metaresearch.org/publications/bulletin/2007issues/0915/Mrb07cp5.asp

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I’m reminded of that Val Kilmer movie, The Saint, where that Russian villian was sitting on millions of gallons of oil while the populace froze to death, with Obama and his administration in the role of the Russion villian.

mbs on June 3, 2011 at 3:38 PM

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Thanks. Good article. People need to question AND think critically.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Let’s not forget that there was a segment of whackos who wanted to blame earthquakes on fracking.

John Deaux on June 3, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Yeah, that’s true. However, I’m thinking of significant element of them who were on board with the Pickens Plan (wind+gas) only a few years ago. Pelosi even invested in gas at the time. She said it wasn’t a fossil fuel though. I guess she didn’t know what she was doing. Shocka.

juliesa on June 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I think that’s because Pickens is a smooth talker…

He wants the federal government to subsidize natural gas because he is sitting on most of it.

He threw some windmill talk in there for the greenies.

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Does that mean I was not a member of the “educated public”? Or does that mean I was a member of the elite educated “educated public”?

JadeNYU on June 3, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Weeeeeeeeell…..

To anyone on the left it means you were just in the thrall of,

Big Oil

roy_batty on June 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

That is simply not true, but it is representative of those who have been hoodwinked by the environmental lobby.

See what I did there?

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Made a nonsensical retort backed by nothing but your own misguided opinion?

“Not unlimited” does not equal the “peak oil panic” the environuts are pushing, which you’d know if you had ten cents’ worth of reading comprehension.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Thanks. Good article. People need to question AND think critically.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Not sure I believe in the theory at this point but it is very interesting and would explain a lot of things that are currently puzzling. Its also possible that petroleum has more than one source, biological and non-biological. Life doesn’t always fit into neat categories.

sharrukin on June 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Hey fossten, oil is not the same as gasoline, which Ed specifically cited as something that should be moved away from as a “personal-vehicle fuel”, which is rather specific and says nothing about moving away from oil.

How did you miss this in your “reading”?

MadisonConservative on June 3, 2011 at 3:30 PM

He talked of refining being energy intensive and seemed to me as if he wanted to get away from it by going to natural gas. Just because you quit making gasoline when you break down a barrel of oil you still get the same products that will be blended into gasoline. So why do away with gasoline if you will continue to refine oil? The list of things made from refining oil is staggering, we cannot quit anytime soon.

http://thomko.squarespace.com/petrochemical-petroleum-product/

bluemarlin on June 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM

The left wants America dependent on foreign energy, one to facilitate transferring our wealth to these third world hellholes, second to keep us relatively weaker economically.

The day we throw off these shackles, is the day we can tell the world to go bugger itself, and the left simply cannot let that happen.

Rebar on June 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM

BierManVA on June 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Technically speaking, you’re correct. The underlying problem becomes how long do we have to wait before there’s more oil to burn. It takes a lot longer for significant deposits of oil to form than it does for us to use up.

In other words, there is an indefinite supply of fossil fuels (at least until the sun burns out)…but if we exhaust the useable supplies it’ll be a loooong time before they come back.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM

I also seem to recall reading several articles from a few years ago, that oil may in fact be “inorganic”. In other words, not a finite resource made out of dinosaur goo, but rather the result of a process deep within the Earth. It’s the predominant theory in Russia, I recall reading.

Does anyone here have any thoughts on this?

Of course, even if this is true, demand could outweigh supply if the rate of usage exceeds the rate of regeneration.

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

It doesn’t really matter how “successful” this documentary or the movement behind it is.

Just look at what is happening in North Dakota and the Bakken… It’s not a coincidence that they have added so many jobs up there when the rest of the country is hurting.

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Ugg… Perhaps I should read the thread before posting, as this topic was already brought up.

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 3:53 PM

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

See above for a link to the theory. It’s a rational theory based on fact. Of course it could be just one source as sharrukin said, but it’s a better theory than “fossil fuels”.

That term always brings a wry smile to my face.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Ooops, video pulled by YouTube “due to a copyright claim by New Video.”

Must have touched a nerve. Including it in this post is plainly within the scope of fair use.

This is what happens when you speak truth to craven cowardice and dissembling.

Yojimbo on June 3, 2011 at 3:56 PM

What kind of dumb@$$ gets their science from some theater boy?

http://www.internationalwow.com/newsite/josh.html

In 2008 Josh completed his first feature film, Memorial Day, produced by Artists Public Domain, Journeyman Pictures and C-Hundred Film Corp. Memorial Day is a genre-bending examination of American culture and the atrocities of Abu Ghraib, where war is a party and partying is a war. The film premiered at CineVegas Film festival in 2008 and was hailed as “Unforgettable” by Variety and “Uniquley fascinating” by Indiewire garnering a reputation as “The most controversial film at the festival” -Spoutblog.

OK, I stand corrected. Obviously, no one is more qualified than this unshaved boy, when it comes to dictating America’s energy future, or lack thereof.

MNHawk on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

I see similar theories on occasion, but never with the number or backing to suggest it’s anything besides a hope-inspired theory.

There’s also the problem of getting to the supply. Yes, I know about shale and sand sources…but somewhere along the line cost-effectiveness will hit a wall or consumers just won’t be able to afford the extracted oil without breaking the bank.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Made a nonsensical retort backed by nothing but your own misguided opinion?

“Not unlimited” does not equal the “peak oil panic” the environuts are pushing, which you’d know if you had ten cents’ worth of reading comprehension.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Haha! And where did you write on that distinction? You didn’t until now. Thanks.

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Everyone in the oil industry I have discussed USA reserves says that it may be the USA has the highest oil reserves, gas reserves, coal reserves of any single nation on Earth. The trifecta. Which is why the left is preventing exploration, extraction, and promoting AGW, but only in America. They want to kill Western Civilization.

pat on June 3, 2011 at 3:58 PM

It is all about the almighty dollar and the all powerful nanny-state politicians.

FlatFoot on June 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Let’s stipulate that we may still want to move away from gasoline as a personal-vehicle fuel for reasons other than supply. Refining uses a lot of energy, for instance, and the entire process produces emissions other than carbon dioxide that really do present problems in large quantities.

As has been pointed out, the refining process produces many fuels, lubricants and other products besides gasoline. So let technology proceed to clean up refining. As far as moving our “personal fuel” to natural gas, let the market figure that out.

cartooner on June 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM

There is Reagan-era scientist who called this years ago, and wrote the leading book on the subject, “The Bottomless Well”:

https://www.manhattan-institute.org/bottomlesswell/

The book was so good, that even Jon Stewart of The Daily Show was impressed:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-17-2005/mark-mills

VastRightWingConspirator on June 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

There’s also the problem of getting to the supply. Yes, I know about shale and sand sources…but somewhere along the line cost-effectiveness will hit a wall or consumers just won’t be able to afford the extracted oil without breaking the bank.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:57 PM

You completely discount innovation, which is the sole reason why shale oil is even being discussed as something more than a fantasy.

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

No refining, no roads. Asphalt.

pat on June 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

You completely discount innovation…

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

You completely discount physical and economic limits.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Zero is in town today (Toledo) at the Jeep plant. Coincidentally, he is right down the road from two major oil refineries. Perhaps he should have stopped by and learned something.

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Yesssssss! I just built a 349 horse power 1965 Mustang 4sp fastback. Good to know the boys and I will be able to run the damn thing for a few years more.

Alden Pyle on June 3, 2011 at 4:05 PM

The bottom line:

“Unlimited wants, limited resources.”

That’s economics 101 right there.

And if you don’t like it, go argue with God, because I didn’t make reality and I’m glad I didn’t.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Thanks. Good article. People need to question AND think critically.
joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Two VERY important and necessary things that are NOT being taught to the “mush-filled” heads in school any longer. :-(

sicoit on June 3, 2011 at 4:06 PM

uh huh. No other issue than getting the fuel. Compression takes lots of energy. Highly compressed gas is danger in and of itself, then add in that it is flammable (explosively so), and I can think of a few reasons I would rather not place that suicide bomb under my body nor any of my families bodies.

On the other hand, we have mountains of coal, and that could be turned into gasoline and diesel, and the boon is that it will have a shelf life of decades as opposed to less than a year. Talk about energy security for our armed forces!

astonerii on June 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM

The left wants America dependent on foreign energy, one to facilitate transferring our wealth to these third world hellholes, second to keep us relatively weaker economically.

The day we throw off these shackles, is the day we can tell the world to go bugger itself, and the left simply cannot let that happen.

Rebar on June 3, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Everyone in the oil industry I have discussed USA reserves says that it may be the USA has the highest oil reserves, gas reserves, coal reserves of any single nation on Earth. The trifecta. Which is why the left is preventing exploration, extraction, and promoting AGW, but only in America. They want to kill Western Civilization.

pat on June 3, 2011 at 3:58 PM

This is my understanding as well. In fact, this has been one of the constant themes I have heard from the left my entire life.

Our country is blessed with natural resources and ingenious people who want to innovate and work. That we are allowing the left to thwart progress and prosperity is beyond belief.

Cody1991 on June 3, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Rather than switching to electricity, which is hardly an environmental boon (as I explained earlier this week), we should move to natural gas instead.

Hear! Hear! Natural gas it is.

Our energy crisis is self-inflicted.

Also, it’s my understanding that gas in household water supplies (1) has been happening, albeit infrequently, long before fracking ever started, and (2) has never been tied to fracking, not even once. Gasline‘s charge that flammable water has resulted from fracking is totally unsubstantiated.

petefrt on June 3, 2011 at 4:12 PM

unlimited fossil-fuel resources

Wow…now I think I’ve heard everything.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Unfortunately we will probably have to relinquish our reserves to China in order to wipe out our debt…

PatriotRider on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Wrong answer.

There is enough natural resources in Alaska to pay of our entire national debt…!!

*facedesk*

Ed…”Unlimited” and “fossil-fuel resources” do not belong in the same sentence, unless you’re completely clueless or working for the oil industry.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Did you ever get out of the nursery?

Rhymes are for fun, not for solving problems.

Isn’t the earth in essence a closed loop? Nothing is ever really destroyed, only converted. I believe that with enough time, man will learn how to convert “useless” things into fuels, etc. Just as nature and time do now. Thus providing and endless supply.

BierManVA on June 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM

That’s so absolutely true. Vegetation that was covered up eons ago in many earth shifting events are still converting to carbon energy at many different levels in the earth, both above and under water.

At some point, we discover more efficient ways to harness energy from sources other than carbon and artifical carbon such as ethanol, but until then God gave us underground carbon energy to tide us over.

Be thankful that we have progressed to cleaner burning methods in the meantime.

Some, such as this current administration are sitting on an unlimited supply of every type of beneficial resources.

fourdeucer on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Yes, and the minute they get from their chair they release it too….
on the rest of us.

Methane gas – the energy of choice from our politicians…

Mcguyver on June 3, 2011 at 4:23 PM

If someone would come up with a way for us to fuel our cars and homes, for engery, with h2o, bho and epa would tax the daylights out of h2o! They only want the green, wind, solar, ways to keep us all going so the high rollers make billions.
L

letget on June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM

The same Luddites who are screaming about fracking would then be screaming about the dangers of DHMO.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on June 3, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Looks like the video has been killed by YouTube. Someone called New Video is claiming a copyright.

OBQuiet on June 3, 2011 at 4:30 PM

In other words, there is an indefinite supply of fossil fuels (at least until the sun burns out)…but if we exhaust the useable supplies it’ll be a loooong time before they come back.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Your timing is off, because we have never caught up….

Mcguyver on June 3, 2011 at 4:30 PM

The environmental movement has always been opposed to natural gas.

There isn’t an energy source they support.

tetriskid on June 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Soylent Green?

visions on June 3, 2011 at 4:34 PM

No expert, but I’ve read convincing studies that seem to prove that the earth is producing oil and gas.

Akzed on June 3, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Technically speaking, you’re correct. The underlying problem becomes how long do we have to wait before there’s more oil to burn. It takes a lot longer for significant deposits of oil to form than it does for us to use up.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Citation required: please provide source for comparative rates of usage versus current rates of replenishment.

The subject of this post seems to suggest something quite contrary to your assertion, as does the other referenced piece in which scientists are seeing evidence that many reservoirs are refilling. If *any* evidence of refilling exists, it would mean that it’s refilling faster than it’s being consumed – which is, again, contrary to your assertion.

If your assertion that we’re consuming faster that it’s refilling were correct, there’d be *no* evidence of ‘refilling’ at all – we’d simply see continually decreasing supply.

Midas on June 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Thomas Gold’s argument that oil is abiotic: “a primordial material that the earth forms and exudes on a continual basis” and is “pushed upward toward the earth’s surface by the intense pressures of the earth’s core and the influence of the centrifugal force that the earth exerted upon the specific gravity of oil as a fluid substance.”

Could be…

Sharr on June 3, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Using natural gas EFFICIENTLY as a vehicle fuel requires some considerable changes in car design and construction; it takes a lot more space to store comparable BTU content to gasoline.

The upside is that, if your local utility service has the capacity, you can fuel the thing at home yourself.

The downside of that is that it has to be compressed to do this, and the NGV compressors that’d work in home applications require a fair dose of electricity to do their job.

It’s just about a 100% win in stationary applications, though, versus coal. We need to be, at least to start, burning NG as a power-generation fuel and liquefying coal as a transportation fuel.

JEM on June 3, 2011 at 3:31 PM

Excellent point. It is possible to design vehicles to run directly on natural gas (the municipal bus system in Nashville runs entirely on natural gas), but fuel storage on the vehicle IS a major problem. Gasoline and diesel or other LIQUID fuels have a major advantage that a high BTU content (equivalent to the distance range of the vehicle) can be stored in a reasonably small tank at atmospheric pressure, which can be filled by rank amateurs (like the average adult at a gas station) without the risk of blowing themselves to smithereens.

A vehicle which runs on natural gas needs a PRESSURIZED tank, which must be filled by personnel trained to handle pressurized gas without leakage. This is feasible for a municipal bus system, where the city could regroup the buses in a centralized location for refueling by a few trained professionals, but would require new infrastructure for dispensing natural gas to drivers accustomed to liquid fuel. The tank should be located as far as possible from any possible collision points, since any natural-gas rupture is likely to be both flammable and explosive, which is safer for large vehicles such as trucks and buses than for small passenger cars.

There had been a push toward hydrogen-powered vehicles a few years ago, but it should be stressed that a tankful of natural gas has about 3.5 times the heating value as the same volume of compressed hydrogen at the same pressure.

Despite these limitations for natural gas as a transportation fuel, a large supply of cheap natural gas could provide a strong incentive to convert home-heating furnaces away from oil toward natural gas, thereby allowing more oil and refined liquid fuels to be available for transportation needs.

Steve Z on June 3, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Wow…now I think I’ve heard everything.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Not until you look at the posts from the consumerists here who must be taking a 3-week vacation cruise on De Nile.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:45 PM

As the daughter of one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, I thank you for your service!

However, I wish you (a) wouldn’t write off California quite so much, and (b) had a little more faith in your fellow Americans. The population will [insert bannable phrase here] before the Lefties reduce us all to energy serfs.

Mary in LA on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Mary in LA on June 3, 2011 at 4:51 PM

From your keyboard to God’s eyes.

Cindy Munford on June 3, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.

Hasn’t Rush been saying this for years.

davidk on June 3, 2011 at 5:13 PM

*facedesk*

Ed…”Unlimited” and “fossil-fuel resources” do not belong in the same sentence, unless you’re completely clueless or working for the oil industry.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Why are you busting his chops? The article says …

Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.

“centuries, if not millenia” … I’d say that’s pretty much “unlimited”.

Nothing in the universe is “unlimited”. Solar power isn’t “unlimited” – it expires when the Sun dies – oh, and at night too. Wind power isn’t “unlimited” – it does nothing when the wind ain’t blowin.

HondaV65 on June 3, 2011 at 5:17 PM

You completely discount innovation…

Chad_ on June 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

You completely discount physical and economic limits.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Really, pretty sure that is what they said about a lot of things in history. How about space flight for one and landing on the Moon. What about the whole process from caveman to actually building a refinery. How about the computer chip and that we can now carry more computing power in our hand than the acres of computers they needed in the beginning of the space race. I think you are underestimating not the other way around on this point. History is full of so called impossibilities!

bluemarlin on June 3, 2011 at 5:29 PM

I never did believe the “we’re running out of oil!” canard. The predictions were always based on “known petroleum reserves” which ignores the fact that we only go out and find more “known reserves” when we run low, not go out and find all the sources of energy in the world at once. It makes no economic sense to do that, but, even if it did, our technology for finding and extracting them is constantly improving.

Then there’s the people who say all our hydrocarbon resources come from ancient forests turned into petrochemicals by geological forces, and there’s a limit to how often those conditions occurred. Which begs the question: How did the gas giant planets in our solar system develop methane atmospheres without any life on them?

So the latest windfall in natural gas discoveries doesn’t surprise me too much.

Socratease on June 3, 2011 at 5:30 PM

There is the other oil theory that oil is not a fossil fuel. It is produced abioticly deep in the earth. It is always producing more. Book on the subject – The Deep Hot Biosphere, by Thomas Gold.

Dasher on June 3, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Unfortunately we will probably have to relinquish our reserves to China in order to wipe out our debt…

PatriotRider on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Big myth. China owns a minor fraction of our debt, and our debt is a very minor amount of their foreign investments

elfman on June 3, 2011 at 6:12 PM

cktheman on June 3, 2011 at 3:51 PM

See above for a link to the theory. It’s a rational theory based on fact. Of course it could be just one source as sharrukin said, but it’s a better theory than “fossil fuels”.

That term always brings a wry smile to my face.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Debating a Thomas Gold convert is very much like debating a young-earth creationist. I’ve tried both. There is a ton of evidence that most gas and all oil is derived from organic sources. Yes, volcano fumerols sometimes contain some methane. But no ethane, propane, or butane, much less the more complex oil molecules.

It’s an interesting notion, but just a notion.

By the way, Gold stole the ideas from the Russians, who at the time still clung to the “shriking earth” model of tectonics, and vehemently denied the idea of plate tectonics. Geologic Lysenkism.

iurockhead on June 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

The “running out of fossil fuel” meme never made any sense:

1. If “fossil fuel” really IS “fossil fuel,” then the supply is constantly being replenished by life forms on earth.

2. If “fossil fuel” is actually produced by an abiotic process, then it can be simply be replenished ad infinitum by building proper facilities.

3. Those who claim that there is something wrong with “fossil fuels” have no viable alternatives…and they seem to need to OUTLAW and/or HEAVILY TAX use of these fuels in order to get anyone to use alternatives!! In other words, nobody in his right mind, left to himself, would use anything but “fossil fuels” because the alternatives are seriously flawed and laughably inadequate. If there truly WAS something wrong with “fossil fuels,” no force of government would be needed to get people to switch to something else: market forces would easily and efficiently handle the conversion.

In addition, there is the “so what?” factor:

Nuclear energy is inexhaustible, and nuclear fuel is recyclable…just as soon as we remove the obstacles, which are the irrational anti-nuke Congressmen who have foolishly outlawed nuclear recycling in the US. Alternatively, we could cede the USA to France, which has been successfully using US-invented recycling technology for decades: problem solved! (at least the energy problem…)

landlines on June 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Yes, volcano fumerols sometimes contain some methane. But no ethane, propane, or butane, much less the more complex oil molecules.

iurockhead on June 3, 2011 at 6:39 PM

This is not a valid argument, as all of the substances you listed are hydrocarbons!! Since they all arise from common chemical building blocks, you can make each one out of the others, so it is silly to claim that the absence of one in the presence of one or more of the others is proof of anything.

landlines on June 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM

elfman on June 3, 2011 at 6:12 PM

I’m not sure I’d call 2 – 3 trillion in dollar denominated debt a small fraction.

chemman on June 3, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Refining uses a lot of energy, for instance, and the entire process produces emissions other than carbon dioxide that really do present problems in large quantities.

As if carbon dioxide doesn’t “present problems in large quantities”?

oakland on June 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM

We are the worlds liberty engine.
Shut down our engine for freedom and the worlds engine for freedom shuts down.

We Will Be A City Upon A Hill

In recent years we have been treated to a rash of noble-sounding phrases. Some of them sound good, but they don’t hold up under close analysis. Take for instance the slogan so frequently uttered by the young senator from Massachusetts, “The greatest good for the greatest number.” Certainly under that slogan, no modern day Captain Ingraham would risk even the smallest craft and crew for a single citizen. Every dictator who ever lived has justified the enslavement of his people on the theory of what was good for the majority.

During the Great Society we saw the greatest growth of this government. There were eight cabinet departments and 12 independent agencies to administer the federal health program. There were 35 housing programs and 20 transportation projects. Public utilities had to cope with 27 different agencies on just routine business. There were 192 installations and nine departments with 1,000 projects having to do with the field of pollution.

We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, “The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.”

We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.

Speakup on June 3, 2011 at 7:37 PM

As if carbon dioxide doesn’t “present problems in large quantities”?

oakland on June 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Anything in large enough quantities can present a problem. We’re having a big problem here in the midwest with too much water.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 3, 2011 at 7:51 PM

One potential reason this technology hasn’t captured the imagination is because it would take drilling and exploration to find it.

Why would that stop it? There are a few cases where it has gone wrong but the bottlenecks aren’t because drilling is tricky or that deposits or that exploration hasn’t been done. The problem is supporting infrastructure for transportation and storage.

All fossil fuels are by definition finite… they are not ‘unlimited’ per your headline.

lexhamfox on June 3, 2011 at 8:35 PM

YouTube/Josh Fox censored the video with a “copyright claim” but it’s available on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/24628804

Django on June 3, 2011 at 9:34 PM

I never did believe the “we’re running out of oil!” canard. The predictions were always based on “known petroleum reserves” which ignores the fact that we only go out and find more “known reserves” when we run low, not go out and find all the sources of energy in the world at once. It makes no economic sense to do that, but, even if it did, our technology for finding and extracting them is constantly improving.

Then there’s the people who say all our hydrocarbon resources come from ancient forests turned into petrochemicals by geological forces, and there’s a limit to how often those conditions occurred. Which begs the question: How did the gas giant planets in our solar system develop methane atmospheres without any life on them?

So the latest windfall in natural gas discoveries doesn’t surprise me too much.

Socratease on June 3, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Sure, and ever notice how when we get into one of these energy crises the oil companies start in with their ads about how they’re discovering brand new sources of fossil fuels? I remember back in the ’70s the ads on TV showing an animation of oil shale being squeezed to give up oil.

As for the Jovian methane, true, and Miller/Urey did show that some amino acids could be produced abiotically…but carbon dioxide can be produced both biotically and abiotically as well.

Of course some living things produce methane, but most living things also produce water through cellular respiration, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Earth’s oceans, for example, are there due to biotic processes.

But for now it’s a chicken vs. egg argument. If the abiotic portion of nature came about first, then it’s most likely that biochemistry’s foundation is inorganic chemistry. If so, then both living and nonliving things would often be able to produce the same chemicals.

There is the other oil theory that oil is not a fossil fuel. It is produced abioticly deep in the earth. It is always producing more. Book on the subject – The Deep Hot Biosphere, by Thomas Gold.

Dasher on June 3, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Then there should also be such deposits on other planets and some moons that have experienced or are experiencing geologic activity—perhaps just not detected as of yet?

There’s also the theory (similar to that of water origin) that hydrocarbons were brought here through meteor bombardment.

Perhaps we can consult Immanuel Velikovsky’s papers for the definitive answer? LOL

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 4, 2011 at 1:00 AM

http://metaresearch.org/publications/bulletin/2007issues/0915/Mrb07cp5.asp

There’s no such thing as fossil fuels. It’s all unlimited, at least on our scale.

joshlbetts on June 3, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Great article josh! They need someone to clean it up a little for the general public, but here I was thinking fossil fuels many only last several hundred years despite the peak oil crowd. This takes it to a whole new level: !!!

scotash on June 4, 2011 at 5:31 AM

If liberals had run the world from the beginning, we’d all be sitting in caves terrified of the ever-impending “flint shortage.”

And the really ironic thing is that these are self-fulfilling prophesies. If we don’t fully exploit our resources to help us grow and progress, then we eventually WILL run out of whatever resources we happen to be using the most of at this moment.

logis on June 4, 2011 at 5:59 AM

As Thomas Sowell so brilliantly points out in his “Basic Economics” treatise, the only practical limit to oil extraction is how much we are willing to spend in money and opportunity cost to extract and process it for use. As the supply of usable oil goes down, price will go up and the demand will thusly shrink. When the price goes up to a certain level, it becomes economically feasible to consider sources of oil that are more expensive to extract and process (to wit, tar sand and oil shale have been developed as viable alternatives to traditional wells within the last 15-20 years). A self-correcting process can always be found in the free market. Too bad we’re no longer a free-market economy.

gryphon202 on June 5, 2011 at 3:43 AM