While the United States has invaded much of the Middle East in search of lower gas prices, perhaps President Bush should have been focusing his efforts on the Midwest region of the United States during the first Iraq war. According to GAO auditor Anu K. Mittal in an address to Congress this week, the Midwest area known as the “Green River Formation” has nearly 3 trillion barrels of oil, about half of which may be recoverable using current technology.
Speaking to a Congressional Committee Mittal noted:
“The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered … At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”
Mittal was in Washington to talk about domestic drilling and revealed that Washington was in “a unique position to influence the development of oil shale,” because nearly 75% of the oil drilling sites in the Midwest would fall on government owned land.
Anu K. Mittal acknowledged that drilling for the shale could cause problems in areas of air, water, topsoil, vegetation and wildlife, but also that the drilling would create thousands of jobs and potentially lower gas prices while removing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil manufacturers, specifically in terrorist friendly regions such as Iran and Iraq. According to Mittal increased Midwest oil production could also create a headache for government officials dealing with local infrastructure problems:
“While large-scale oil-shale development offers socioeconomic opportunities it also poses certain socioeconomic challenges that also should not be overlooked … Oil shale development like other extractive industries can bring a sizable influx of workers who along with their families put additional stressed on local infrastructure. Development from expansion of extractive industries has historically followed a boom-and-bust cycle making planning for growth difficult for local governments.”
Do you think Midwest oil drilling production should increase to avoid further dependence on foreign oil?