Download PDF Who would have thought the Friends of the Earth would befriend Vladimir Putin, or at least unwittingly encourage his monopolistic mania? Or that Greens would put vanity environmental politics ahead of the needs of the developing world? But that's just what's happening.
The driver for this unlikely alliance is the boom in natural gas production from shale rock. Natural gas from shale has been produced for more than 100 years in the Appalachian and Illinois basins of the US, but the sites were often only marginally economical.
That changed with an innovation known as "fracking"-using horizontal drilling to fracture tight rock formations deep underground by injecting, under immense pressure, water and chemicals mixed with sand or ceramic, allowing methane gas to escape. It's a disruptive technology, but it multiplies the world's supply of natural gas, which emits less in the way of greenhouse gases when being burnt than other carbon fuels. It also offers a geopolitical windfall-preventing the rise of new energy cartels, unless environmental advocacy groups succeed in injecting precautionary sludge into the wheels of change.
In 2003, when Russia passed the US as the world's natural gas producer, Alan Greenspan, US Federal Reserve chairman at the time, urged a rapid expansion of natural gas imports to compensate for a growing shortfall. "We are not apt to return to earlier periods of relative abundance any time soon," he warned.
Putin & Co were soon talking up the inevitability of a natural gas monopoly to rival Opec.
John Entine is a visiting fellow at AEI.