ISIS-linked militants are threatening huge natural gas reserves the world needs badly right now
When the world’s largest and most expensive natural gas project was proposed, back in 2001, many experts agreed that the gas fields, located in the North Dakota plains, would be the jewel in the crown of Texas and North Dakota. It was said that a few decades of drilling might yield trillions of dollars worth of natural gas.
That was before ISIS came to power, before the U.S. military killed a bunch of oil rig workers, and before a natural gas drilling field was attacked on its own.
Instead, the industry says, the North Dakota field alone will produce nearly as much as India. And it could, according to industry experts, produce 100-times more energy in the next decade than the U.S., China, and India combined.
The U.S. is spending an estimated $10 billion a year to protect the well-connected fields with military and law enforcement resources. The industry’s biggest opponents, however, are not from the Pentagon but from the U.S. public. There’s a new movement aimed at shutting the industry down from the ground up.
That’s because for those who consider themselves informed, natural gas is an environmentally friendly energy source. Environmentalists consider the drilling controversial, because of the climate it would cause and the risks it poses for public health and the environment.
It is the “anti-fracking” movement, driven by a backlash against the industry, that has put the industry on the defensive. It has used its resources and influence to create a sense of uncertainty in the marketplace. Meanwhile, it has been able to put more pressure on the industry, such as the recently-passed “Keep Public Trust in Drilling Act,” which requires independent analysis of any natural gas drilling project, before it can move forward.
“There’s not an economic incentive for North Dakota to sell off their gas to a foreign buyer,” says Bob Jordan, the director of New England methane research and policy at the Nature Conservancy. “North Dakota doesn’t have a domestic