Without even realizing it, presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s swipe at fellow contender Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) may have unwittingly given all the GOP candidates another topic to use against their Democratic competition. As reported by Jeremy Pelzer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer updated on Oct. 30, 2015, The Donald’s assertion that the economic upturn in the Buckeye State has nothing to do with Kasich’s abilities, but instead just dumb luck due to geologists recently discovering shale oil and natural gas may not be 100 percent true.
Yet the attempted zinger has brought the employment boon of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to the forefront. During the CNBC Republican presidential debate earlier this week, Trump downplayed Kasich’s boasts of his part in Ohio’s economic recovery. As Trump stated, “First of all, John [Kasich] got lucky with a thing called fracking, OK? He hit oil. He got lucky with fracking. Believe me, that is why Ohio is doing well.”
Pelzer corrects the front runner by penning, “Trump is simply incorrect to assert that Ohio’s economy and state finances have improved solely because of oil drilling.” Pelzer also cited Tim Keen, Kasich’s budget director who noted that, “Ohio has seen job growth in a number of other sectors, including manufacturing, the service industry, and professional and business services.”
However, the Cleveland-based journalist does state that the recent oil and natural gas boom “has contributed $28.4 billion to the state economy in 2014.” Also cited was that almost 200,000 Ohioans “worked jobs related directly or indirectly to the shale oil and gas industry.”
While many Americans have at least heard the phrases “shale oil” and “fracking,” few are aware just how much shale oil and natural gas the United States is sitting on top of. In Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming’s Greater Green River Basin alone, there are an estimated 1.82 trillion barrels of recoverable shale oil. Unbeknownst to most citizens is that the Green River Basin is one of the smaller shale gas regions in the country.
Trillions of more barrels of oil and natural gas are in the East Texas Basin which stretches from the panhandle of Florida all the way to outskirts of Dallas. Then there’s the staggeringly oil-rich Williston Basin which encompasses half of North Dakota, much of northeastern Montana, a sizable chunk of South Dakota and also stretches into neighboring Canada.
Many more of our fellow citizens are completely unaware of such job generating areas such as the Fayetteville Shale Play that stretches the width of Arkansas. The Western Mountain states have literally millions of acres worth of shale gas plays and basins ranging from the Permian Basin in West Texas to the Montana Thrust Belt on the Canadian border.
Then there’s the massive Appalachian Basin. In what many have described as a figurative ocean of oil and natural gas, the Appalachian Basin stretches from the New York-Vermont border all the way to Alabama. Within the Appalachian Basin are three of the richest shale gas plays in the world, the Marcellus, Utica and Devonian.
According to Geology.com, “Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations. Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas.” Furthermore, “Shale gas is found in shale ‘plays,’ which are shale formations containing significant accumulations of natural gas…”
While most Americans equate domestic oil production with the states of Alaska or Texas, it’s doubtful many would think an agricultural state like North Dakota could even have a fossil fuel industry, more or less even challenge oil giants the likes of Alaska and Texas. Nonetheless, reporter Kay Cashman of Anchorage, Alaska’s Petroleum News on Mar. 6, 2011, asked her readership, “Can Alaska get in on the shale oil boom that is sweeping the Lower 48, making states like North Dakota a contender for the largest producer in the country?”
In the same report, Cashman quoted Ed Duncan, President and COO of Great Bear Petroleum, who in a Feb. 26, 2011 presentation to the Senate Resources Committee of the Alaska Legislature that by the year 2020 Great Bear Petroleum alone would be drilling an estimated 200,000 barrels of shale oil per day (1 barrel = 42 gallons). Duncan also estimated that of all the shale oil from the source rock in its leased properties just in Alaska’s North Slope area, fully 80 percent has yet to be tapped.
While conceivably tens of millions of new primary and secondary jobs could be generated by an oil and natural gas revival, various political leaders have flatly quashed any resurgence of the United States as a major player on the world stage of oil and natural gas exporters. In May of 2010, Barack Obama ordered a new moratorium on all deep water offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Although lifted six months later, oil companies have complained that new restrictions have made obtaining new drilling permits a bureaucratic nightmare as well as cost prohibitive. As a result, thousands of Louisianans have lost their jobs.
Another example would be New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) ordering that no fracking at all will take place in the Empire State. Billions of dollars worth of shale oil and natural gas remains trapped underneath the cash strapped and economically depressed areas of upstate and central New York. In the meantime, residents of the state are among the highest taxed in the nation.
One of the more influential non-governmental organizations would be the Sierra Club who recently opined, “Impacts on wildlife from oil shale projects could occur in a number of ways, including habitat loss, alteration, or fragmentation; disturbance and displacement; mortality; and increase in human access.” Not only do perceived threats to wildlife put the kibosh on drilling, any other threatened species, such as the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid, brings even exploration to a screeching halt.