National Post

The growing fallout of the shale revolution
National Post

A sign that shale gas has great potential is that greens are trying to shut it down. This gas not merely presents the possibility of an economic bonanza in many areas, including B.C. and Quebec, but of enhancing much-coveted U.S. energy independence. It also promises to rearrange energy geopolitics.

The Marcellus shale field alone, in New York and Pennsylvania, has been estimated to be worth as much as US$2-trillion. The American Petroleum Institute has calculated that it could support 280,000 jobs. In Quebec, a report this week suggested that the industry could create almost 5,000 jobs a year for the next 10 years.

Last month, energy consultant and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin declared that shale gas was the most important development in the energy industry so far this century. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, recently told a meeting of the Global Business Forum that when it came to shale gas “Get your running shoes on … in terms of what that means for opportunities for all of us.” So much for running out of hydrocarbons.

Another sure sign that shale gas has great potential is that environmental activists are trying hard to close it down (or at least use it as a new source of fundraising). At the World Energy Congress, protestors covered in oily-looking molasses (Where’s a hornet’s nest when you need one?) carried banners that read: “No to shale gas.”

Mr. Caillé, a former head of Hydro-Québec, was considered something of a hero for the way he handled the great winter storm of 1998, but he recently needed police protection at a town hall meeting. After the ruckus, Mr. Caillé noted wryly that “The Jesuits used to teach us, ‘When your argument is weak, raise your voice.’ It’s in our culture.”