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Drilling in the suburbs

Posted by Richard on August 5, 2008

In Colorado, environmentalists are suing to stop oil and gas drilling, Gov. Ritter and the Democratic legislature are pushing for tight restrictions on the industry, and residents in some areas are complaining about the despoiling of their land and poisoning of their water.

And yet, Texans somehow have figured out that gas wells can coexist with upscale suburban neighborhoods. Maybe Texans are a lot smarter than Coloradans (or Congress). Or maybe they're just more immune to environmental hysteria: 

In the 1980s, Houston wildcatter George Mitchell drilled the first well into the Barnett Shale formation that stretches through north and central Texas. He tapped into what would turn out to be one of the largest onshore natural gas reserves in the United States.

It would take nearly two decades and millions of dollars to develop the horizontal, hydraulic technology necessary to bring that gas to the surface. But today there are about 7,500 gas wells in the Barnett Shale — many located in the city limits of Fort Worth, and some a stone's throw from suburban homes and schools.

If there is an energy crisis in this country, it is because too many states and too many lawmakers in Washington are too timid about allowing entrepreneurs to bring to the surface what is buried right below us. In Texas, we're not timid. …

What I've seen is that while Congress balks at drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska out of fear of disturbing a few caribou, we've moved ahead to safely tap into an energy reserve located underneath suburban homes. And there is no better example of how Texas gets the balance right between energy and the environment than the development of the Barnett Shale.

As for the ANWR caribou, I suspect they'd be no more disturbed by a few wells than the residents of suburban Ft. Worth. The caribou around nearby Prudhoe Bay certainly aren't:

Caribou at Prudhoe Bay

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