Post Carbon Newsletter - Facts vs Hype

    Drill Baby Drill report cover       contents

   1. energy
   2. latest publications
   3. fellows in the press
   4. resilience picks
   5. transition us update
   6. events
We're being told that — thanks to technological advances like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling — the US is undergoing an energy revolution, leading us in a few short years to become once again the world's biggest oil producer and an exporter of natural gas. According to the Oil & Gas Industry and their proponents, "fracking" will provide the US with energy security, low energy prices for the foreseeable future, countless jobs, and economic growth.

Pointing to record low natural gas prices and increased production, policymakers and the media on both sides of the political aisle, as well as investors and utilities, have bought the hype and are shifting their plans and proposals with the expectation that the shale revolution is here to stay.

In a few weeks, we'll release 'DRILL, BABY, DRILL: Can unconventional fuels usher in a new era of energy abundance?' which takes a critical look at these claims. This report by PCI Fossil Fuels Fellow David Hughes endeavors to outline the scale of the problem in maintaining and growing energy throughput and examines some of the realities surrounding unconventional sources of oil and gas. It also examines the implications of what is likely to be the inevitable failure of technology and human ingenuity to continuously expand energy supplies in the face of resource limitations and the collateral environmental damage of attempting to do so.


Some sample findings:

  • Since peak oil production in 1970, the number of operating oil wells in the U.S. has stayed roughly the same while the average productivity per well has declined by 42 percent.
  • Since 1990, the number of operating gas wells in the U.S. has increased by 90 percent while the average productivity per well has declined by 38 percent.
  • Shale plays suffer from the law of diminishing returns. Wells experience severe rates of depletion, belying industry claims that wells will be in operation for 30-40 years. For example, the average depletion rate of wells in the Bakken Formation (the largest shale oil play in the US) is 69% in the first year and 94% over the first five years.
  • The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital—estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells—in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32 billion.


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We all get deluged with year-end donation requests, so we appreciate that you took the time to read and respond to PCI's messages. We're especially grateful if you give monthly, as this provides a reliable baseline that enable PCI to keep pushing the envelope.

Although we won't be sending any donation emails for awhile, we always appreciate your support.

Gus Speth, Rob DietzWEBCHAT: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Exploring the path towards "AMERICA THE POSSIBLE"
FEBRUARY 1st 10am-11am PST | 1pm-2pm EST | 6pm-7pm GMT
Join renowned environmental leader James Gustave Speth and ecological economist Rob Dietz in an online conversation about our broken economic and political systems -- and what we can do to fix them. Hosted by PCI's Asher Miller. ...  Read more

energy reality

latest publications

fellows and advisers in the press

resilience picks

transition US update

A monthly update from the US national hub of the international Transition movement.

Vegetable gardenThe world has changed since Transition US started in January 2009. Transition Initiatives are now in 130 communities in 34 states with Initiatives forming in 200 other towns and cities across the nation. Along this journey we have witnessed ordinary people becoming extraordinary, stepping out, working with others to create positive change. Transition Colorado raised $1.5M to develop and incubate a shift to local food. Transition Sarasota’s gleaning project has yielded 75,000 lbs of food to their local food bank. Transition Whatcom, WA created a successful skills share day with 600 people attending. Transition Joshua Tree, CA learned and is teaching how to garden in the desert. The Transition Initiative in NE Seattle received a $50,000 grant for a tool lending library. Transition Cadillac, MI catalyzed 100 new food gardens and Transition Marbletown, NY opened a free health clinic. And there is so much more! Read the full 2012 Year in Review.

Thank you to everyone for helping us achieve our year-end fundraising goal to continue supporting communities to build resilience and launch our programs for 2013. We're off to a great start. Read the recent article, Bring Transition Town-style Sharing to your Community, on
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Image credit: Report cover — Garth Lenz
Image credit: Elephant Butte damn — Sandra Postel
Image credit: Footprints — dekade/flickr
Image credit: Manhattan blackout — ekonon/flickr
Image via Mark III Photonics /
Image credit: Transition Cadillac, MI

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