A big part of investing success is seeing critical events emerging. The kind of "dark horses" that can change a sector or an industry--sending things in a completely unexpected direction.
We're seeing such happenings right now in the U.S. unconventional oil and gas sector.
Namely, a grassroots backlash against fracking. The drilling technique that's been largely responsible for the shale production boom the last few years.
Last week, Pennsylvania courts once again upheld the right of individual municipalities to set their own fracking rules. Meaning cities and towns are now able to impose fracking bans--regardless of laws set by the pro-shale state government.
And last week we also saw the anti-fracking movement jump to a new and unexpected place. Texas--the very place where modern shale drilling was born.
The municipality here is Denton--a town in northern Texas. Where the local city council was presented with 2,000 signatures on a proposal to ban fracking within city limits.
After reviewing the document, council members had two choices: approve it outright, or send it to a vote amongst the town's 120,000 residents.
The city opted for the latter. Meaning that the fate of fracking here now comes down a ballot.
And it looks as if the vote could be close. A meeting held at Denton city hall on the petition reportedly attracted as many as 600 residents. With the city's mayor calling the turnout "the largest I've ever seen in all my time at city council."
The mayor further noted that, "Most of the speakers were in favor of the ban on hydraulic fracturing."
Beyond any practical effects, a fracking ban in Denton would be highly symbolic. Because the county is one of the heartlands of the Barnett shale play. The "ground zero" where shale gas development originally began in the U.S.
The Barnett today isn't a major producer. But other Texas plays like the Eagle Ford are--and an anti-fracking victory in Denton could open the doors for similar opposition in big production centres like this.
Denton will vote on the proposed ban in November. Keep an eye on the results here--they could signal big changes coming.
Here's to the times a-changing,
By Dave Forest
Local control having primacy over the historic "right to mine and extract" is a major development. Other developments that I see coming together are:
1) The need to pay for social and environmental consequences of fossil fuel extraction and burning
2) The increasing cost of bringing in our next barrel of oil, whether foreign or domestic
3) Parity of energy cost, renewable versus fossil in the not too distant future
4) public understanding that we have a host of alternatives to using fossil fuel -- we are not limited to just renewable energy as a substitute.
Fossil fuels are still exceedingly valuable and have had a great run, but it is time to move on to alternatives.
Dave, I hope you will continue to write about important new developments regarding petroeum extraction.