[Editor Note: This interview of Alex Epstein was conducted by Jordan McGillis, a graduate student at Seton Hall University. Mr. Epstein, a philosopher, has expanded the energy debate in recent years by adding a moral and interpretive dimension to classical energy-policy debates.]
1. It’s been objectively demonstrated that practices such as frac’ing produce abundant, affordable, and reliable energy, and yet, they are virulently resisted by much of the public. Why, despite the evidence of frac’ing’s value, is it, along with other productive practices, so loathed? Are there some underlying political or philosophical ideas at work here?
I think it’s important to make a distinction between the opposition of environmentalist leaders and the opposition of those duped by their claims. The vast majority of Americans would certainly embrace hydraulic fracturing if they understood what it did, how it works, and what the (remarkably small) risks are vs.
Editor’s note: This article is the first of two posts on shale gas production and concerns the U.S. situation. The second will look at the potential impacts of shale gas production in Europe and China. While some have interpreted shale gas in terms of coal displacement in power generation, this new competition has profound (negative) implications for the viability of politically favored renewables in power generation.
Shale gas formations have been known for many years. But only in the 1990s did an understanding of hydraulic fracturing technology make production of gas from such formations feasible technically. And it was not until the middle of this decade, with U.S. domestic gas prices consistently above $10/mmbtu, that shale moved from an interesting future resource to a major current reserve.
The U.S. Department of Energy now estimates that recoverable shale gas resources in the U.S.…