The issue of exporting natural gas comes down to how fast we are willing to hydraulically fracture or “frack” shale to get the gas. The faster we go, the cheaper the gas and the greater will be the urge to export it (C&EN, Jan. 7, page 18).
I doubt we have any idea how much shale gas there will be or how long it will last. Have we learned nothing from the rapid depletion of petroleum that we care not a whit about husbanding such a one-time bonanza or considering future generations? Going slower would also give us time for a better understanding of all the risks of fracking. Could it be that the gas industry wants to rush, not just to make money today, but also fearing that slowing down would result in a better understanding of the risks?
Along with precious metals and rare earths, our political system badly needs some way to control the rate of consumption of nonrenewable resources.
Victor J. Reilly