Resource Crunch: Why Many Things Cost Much More

By Tom Randall and Eric Roston - 2012-02-06T18:24:40Z

Photograph by Mark Ovaska/Redux

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Peak Fracking--Only Natural Gas Limit is Regulation

No question posed here is less urgent than how long natural gas will last. Gas is booming. Pennsylvania, home of America's early oil industry, is seeing a hydrocarbon renaissance, even as it confronts serious questions of environmental contamination raised in the last several years.

Technology matured in the last decade that allows drillers to bore horizontally, under places difficult to reach by conventional methods, such as Dallas-Ft. Worth. Engineers also became better at a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The U.S. has more than a century of natural gas reserves at a 2010 consumption level, according to the Energy Information Agency. Better technology flattens the prediction, offered by Shell Oil's geologist Hubbert, of a U.S. peak between 1975 and 1980. No peak in sight.

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