The US Chamber of Commerce, the champion of small business, issued a report tallying the job creation from the unconventional drilling boom (above). It looks good. The C of C counts 1.2 million jobs so far with much more to come. Texas still leads the oil boom with half a million but Pennsylvania comes in #2 with the Marcellus and Ohio’s Utica shale is not far behind. The Chamber even finds 36,500 energy jobs created in, of all places, Florida. Not much drilling done there. Who should get credit for all of this? George Mitchell, the Texas oil man who pioneered fracking in the 1990s seems like a good candidate. But Bryan Walsh of Time nominates President Obama who, in addition to being Time’s “Person of the Year,” is dubbed “Driller-in-Chief.”
And speaking of the Marcellus, Norway’s Statoil has just paid $590 million to buy into some Marcellus acreage. Things are drying up a bit in the North Sea. Cabot’s stocked jumped as the Texas company announced it has hit a billion cubic feet of production a day in the Marcellus. But a study by Penn State’s Department of Geosciences has found that ancient brines flowing back into fracking wells is far more salty than seawater and contains various elements, including radium and barium. Oh-oh, next thing you know fracking is going to be radioactive. Meanwhile, fracking protestors have come up with an anthem, “Wrong,” performed by the punk rock band Liquid Me. It will be released Saturday. But across the border in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is singing the same refrain, "Don’t do it here.”
Things have hit a boil in the United Kingdom as the average electric bill has risen to £1,400 per year, a rise of £250 in the last two years. Members of Parliament are particularly concerned about internal trading among the Big Six utilities, which they say the companies use to jack up prices. Ofgem, the nation’s regulatory body, is being urged to stand up against the private companies and lawmakers want more transparency. Meanwhile, the debate rages over decarbonization as Conservative opposition beat back a Labor Party amendment that would have set a target for 2030.
Canada has lost its case before the World Trade Organization for an Ontario law that gave higher feed-in tariff prices to green energy companies that used material from local firms. Like everyone else, Ontario was trying to grow a domestic wind and solar industry but Japan and the European Union had complained the law discriminated against them. The WTO agreed. Canada says it will appeal.
Finally, only weeks after being declared on the decline, Old King Coal seems poised for a rebound. While coal use is plunging in the United States, it is still expanding abroad. As the Christian Science Monitor puts it, “The developing nations seek cheap fuel.” The International Energy Agency predicts coal may pass oil as the top energy source by 2017, with most of the action in Asia. India will pass China as the world’s largest importer and Australia will be #1 on exports. Mark Halper on SmartPlanet even laments that coal may be the future of energy. Whatever happened to that nuclear era that was supposed to replace coal?