EXTRA! EXTRA! Fracking Saves Silver City. Need For Sustainability Gardens Delayed 50 years — or more.
Hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, called “fracking”, has opened huge new reserves of oil and natural gas in the United States. This is a good-news story that I don’t think has received the attention in the mainstream media, MSM, that it deserves.
My cynical explanation for this oversight is that the lib-progressives who control the MSM are obsessed with global warming, which they blame on fossil fuels. News about all that oil and gas being found could persuade people we don‘t need the very expensive energy produced by solar panels and windmills. In their eyes, the fracking bonanza is really, really bad news for Mother Earth.
However, it is good news for Silver City. Let me explain. The last couple of years I’ve attended numerous meetings around town concerned with climate change and how that was going to require Silver City to grow its own food, put solar panels everywhere, and so on.
The fact that Silver City has never been an agricultural center, for obvious reasons, has no effect on the true believers and their need to proselytize the sustainability religion, which is a spin-off from the Apocalypse Du Jour: Global Warming.
For the most part, these true believers are very nice folks, just not very quantitative. For example, a key part of the self-sufficiency argument is that because we are running out of fossil fuels, it is inevitable that the time will come when it will be too expensive to truck food into Silver City. One pundit said he thought maybe a doubling in diesel fuel prices would do it.
Let’s take a look at the math, assuming not a doubling but a quadrupling of diesel prices from $5 to $20 per gallon. Assume 20 gallons for a 120 mile round trip from Deming, and $50,000 of goods per truck. Fuel costs go from .02% to .08% of the cost of the shipment, i.e. fuel costs are still less than one percent even after a quadrupling of prices. My assumptions may be wrong, but it‘s of no importance in the aftermath of fracking.
The really big expansion from fracking has been in natural gas reserves, now estimated to be over 100 years and growing. The rule of thumb is that a barrel of oil has about six times the BTUs of an MCF of natural gas. (British Thermal Units, a measure of energy; MCF = thousand cubic feet.)
With oil at $100 per barrel, divide by six and natural gas has a BTU worth of about $17 an MCF. Since natural gas sells for only $4 per MCF, or $24 per barrel of oil equivalent, there is great economic incentive for users of oil and oil products to switch to natural gas.
Sure enough, the headline from a April 22 story in the New York Times read: “Trucking Industry Is Set to Expand Its Use of Natural Gas. —-This month, Cummins, a leading engine maker, began shipping big, new engines that make long hauls on natural gas possible.”
The article quotes T. Boone Pickens, well known oil and gas billionaire and long time natural gas proselytizer, as predicting the majority of the nation’s long-haul truck fleet will be fueled by natural gas in seven years. “Natural gas will always be less than diesel,” he said.
If Pickens is right, expect to see the letters CNG pop up frequently from now on, shorthand for “compressed natural gas.” Truckers will save about $1.50 per gallon of diesel equivalent using CNG, and because it burns much cleaner than diesel oil, evil greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced, too.
The bottom line for Silver City: Transporting food here will be both cheaper and cleaner. Now we can expect to see a stop to all this nonsense about growing our own food to save the planet, right?
If you think so, I have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale —-