Shale gas extracted by fracking deep formations in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere is supposed to be the bridge fuel to the sustainable age, capable of powering power plants and, hell, even our cars. It's become the centerpiece of President Obama's "all of the above" energy plan.
In Texas, it's brought about another oilfield renaissance, one we promise this time we won't piss away.
But when asked about fracking, some 62 percent of respondents in a University of Texas national poll released today didn't know what it was. We'd like to think they asked if it was like LARPing. Or The Charleston.
It's a fascinating number, primarily because it highlights the disconnect between the average consumer and the gas he fills his car or heats his home with, and how that fuel is produced.
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So do some of these other numbers. But the poll could also provide a road map for Obama and his GOP opponent as they prepare for upcoming debates. As we begin to panic over the perennial whipsawing of prices at the pump, it's important for both candidates to promise they'll do anything to increase domestic energy production, even if it means cow chip-fueled steam plants. For example, 80 percent of those polled do support natural gas development. Luckily for the president, Citi economists think the United States is "the new Middle East."
Do support renewable energy companies. The public gets that fossil fuels are finite. Do support the Keystone XL pipeline. But if the poll respondents think it's some silver bullet for gas prices, even TransCanada, the corporation behind Keystone, admits that prices are set globally.
Do drill the hell out of the Gulf Coast and the arctic wilderness. Don't, however, dismantle the EPA. Governor Rick Perry was never going to ride anti-environment sentiment to the White House.