John beat me to the story of the Obama Administration’s totally explicable decision (that is to say, totally political decision) to delay the leasing of shale gas fields in Ohio. Obama and his Chu toy seem really to believe the green energy nonsense that we’re only a few years away from scaling up wind and solar and pixie dust and other phantasms to replace fossil fuel. More importantly, it is clear that delaying the Keystone pipeline is not enough to appease the environmental community, which is remains at a boil over the Obama Administration’s cancellation of the ozone rules and a few other backtracks.
If you want to get a little more of an idea of the federal permitting problem, have a look at the embedded video on this Energy Information Administration squib about the Bakken field in North Dakota and Montana. As you will see from the animation, the bulk of activity in the early years occurred in Montana, on some old federal leases, but in recent years those fields have started to tail off while North Dakota has boomed into the fourth largest oil-producing state in the country. Most of the activity in North Dakota is occurring on private or state land (ditto for gas production in Pennsylvania), while new exploration and production in Montana has atrophied because the fields there are mostly on federal land, and new areas are not being opened up.
Meanwhile, the news is out yesterday that the Sierra Club’s long time leader, Carl Pope, is finally retiring. But buried in the news story was this detail:
Mr. Brune [the current executive director] acknowledged that paid membership had declined by about 100,000 in recent years, to just more than 600,000, but attributed it to financial hardship caused by the recession.