U.S. Shale: Dazzling Numbers, But Also Divisions

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbeatty/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbeatty/

Two bills working their way through state legislatures more than 2,000 miles apart show that, although it’s the envy of much of the world, the U.S. shale industry is a house divided.

Production from shale natural gas deposits in the United States is expected to outpace conventional types of natural gas through at least 2040. In an annual energy review published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), shale gas production is actually expected to accelerate for the next twenty-five years, where most other resources show a decline.

But the picture looks less clear when you look at the situation state-by-state.

Illinois state lawmaker John Bradley doesn’t want to wait for his state to finish drafting new rules governing its hydraulic fracturing operations. He’s introduced a bill to eliminate the rule-making portion of a law passed a year to regulate fracking. The state’s department of natural resources has until November to finish drawing up the rules but lawmakers like Bradley and oil and gas industry officials believe the delay is bad for business.

Illinois ranks twenty-seventh in the nation in natural gas production, just five states from the bottom in terms of measured output. While it has the largest crude oil refining capacity in the region, it has few wells and what the EIA describes as “minimal production” of natural gas.