The War between Texas and DC
George P. Mitchell died this past summer. Though not widely noted, his American ingenuity has laid siege to the fundamental injustices of the world and promised a now inevitable American economic renaissance. In the 1980s, industry experts thought his idea was "stupid." Today, Mitchell's invention is completely reversing global fortunes. His invention: Fracking.
Because of the ingenuity of this Texan, global oil and gas markets are in complete upheaval. His home state of Texas is experiencing skyrocketing production of oil and natural gas. Texas is the thirteenth largest producer of oil in the world today and production continues to rise dramatically in places like the Eagle Ford and Barnett Shale oil plays. Mitchell's invention insures that Vladimir Putin's claims to increased Russian hegemony are largely vain. The abundance of fossil fuels yielded by the Texan's genius threatens the cornerstone of Russian economic prowess: natural gas. With oil at over $100 a barrel, money is pouring into the Texas treasury and the state, already in surplus, finds itself with an improbable exponential windfall. The United States surpassed Saudi Arabia this past year to become the largest producer of fossil fuels. The United States is easily on track to become a fossil fuel exporter -- especially in natural gas.
European leaders recently issued warnings that European industry is at risk of an 'industrial massacre' due to industry departing the region for America because of high energy costs. The plummeting prices of oil and gas poise the United States for an unprecedented industrial renaissance. The driving cost of industrial production is energy and America is drowning in it.
In the midst of this economic boom, there stands the one rival: Washington DC. The federal government is the nation's largest employer. DC is the only part of America that did not feel the effects of the 2008 recession. DC and its surrounding wealthiest counties in America experience rising property values and rising median incomes while the nation lost more than $6 trillion in property values and witnessed a decline of median incomes of more than 6%. The 18% cutback in the federal government described as a 'total shutdown' by partisan media outlets corresponds to the typical losses of average Americans over the past five years. But Americans cannot vote themselves a reimbursement for their 'furloughs' like DC can.
In the heat of the battle over declining DC hegemony stands a tall Texan: Ted Cruz. It is little surprise that this rival hails from Texas. Texas has a long history of powerful political Federal powerbrokers: President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Civil Rights leader James Farmer Jr., House Speaker Jim Wright, President George Bush Sr., and President George W. Bush. All manner of name-calling emanates from the politicos against Cruz. But Cruz embodies a cultural shift in American thinking. DC takes in trillions of dollars every year doing what? Shutting down national malls with park rangers? Building web sites that don't work?
The shutdown indicates the decline of DC as an economic hegemon. DC blocked the Keystone pipeline to prevent the equivalent of Saudi Arabian oil resources from reaching the U.S. The effort only postponed a fossil fuel resource boom that dwarfs DC's capacity to prevent it. Today, West Texas Intermediate crude trades below the price of Brent North Sea crude because of the powerful dynamics of production in the United States. DC will not be able to limit the power of free markets and free thinking to lift this nation out of its economic despair. The 21st century energy renaissance will topple not only the quaint aspirations of DC but the cruel injustices of states like Saudi Arabia, Northern Sudan, and Iran.
This energy revolution makes a mockery of one of the principal arguments against it: Global Warming. Regardless of what one thinks of the science behind the argument, the natural gas revolution has sidelined coal production far more effectively than government regulation. This process has already reduced CO2 emissions in the United States to 1995 levels and the decline in CO2 continues. The goals of the Kyoto protocol will be met easily by the United States. Natural gas can and is creating a world with dramatically less CO2 while increasing energy production. The consequence of this market reality means that efforts to stop this energy revolution can be accurately described as anti-environmental.
Ultimately, the statists cannot plot and predict the ultimate global resource: human ingenuity. George P. Mitchell's 'stupid' invention of fracking means the end of the world as we know it -- and the beginning of a much better one. The better world will feature cheaper energy as the root of economic growth and the strangleholds of energy blackmail built in the 1970s will finally be torn down-- liberating millions from the shadows of petro hegemons like Russia. God Bless Texas and her humble Texan, George P. Mitchell.
Correction: Some industry experts have contacted me about this article to make the point that Mitchell did not invent "hydraulic fracturing." I think that is a fair point and correction. A description can be seen at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing. I do feel that Mitchell's usage of the technology in shale gas exploration is unique and in some sense earns him a common suggestion given that he 'invented fracking' The importance of Mitchell's work is also noted by Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_P._Mitchell. The public notion of him 'inventing' fracking can be seen here http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/jul/26/george-mitchell-inventor-fracking-dead-94/?nw and here http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/final-interview-george-mitchell-father-fracking.
Ben Voth is an associate professor of Communication and director of debate and speech at Southern Methodist University and an advisor to the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.