Blockbuster News About U.S. Oil Reserves ... Isn't News

Searches on "Government Accountability Office" (not in quotes), "shale," and "mittal" at the Associated Press's national site return nothing relevant to the energy-related story which will follow. A Google News search on "Anu Mittal," the person from the GAO who on Thursday testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology`s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, appears to return seven relevant items, but it's really five. The first is a press release from the Luddite (aka Democratic) members of the committee pooh-poohing the importance of Ms. Mittal's assertions. The other four are from non-major and/or non-establishment press sources: Newser, American Thinker, Daily Markets, and the Inquisitr (yes, spelled correctly). Only one other news outlet I'm aware of, Media Research Center's CNS News, has also noted Ms. Mittal's testimony.

What Ms. Mittal had to say is that, according to a leading research organization, just one area overlapping three states in the West (not the Midwest, as a couple of the other links assert) has an astounding quantity of recoverable oil:

... Oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation are estimated to contain up to 3 trillion barrels of oil, half of which may be recoverable, which is about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.

... The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable.

The biggest problems is that the reserves are primarily on federal land. Instead of being pleased at the prospect of approaching energy independence, the environmental extremists who control policy in the Obama administration are probably already working on how to lock the area up so no one will be able to touch it even after they're gone.

Ms. Mittal cited very real concerns about advances in technology required to make the oil recoverable at costs below current market prices, but also raised "sustainability" concerns which appear to yours truly to be mostly bogus. They're the types of concerns (lots of people moving into currently low-population areas, related infrastructure concerns, and the like) which would have caused the hand-wringers and anti-progress zealots to shut off oil development in North Dakota, if they could have. But they didn't, and though the state is enduring some growing pains, it's still there, and it will get back to a manageable equilibrium not as soon as everyone would like, but soon enough.

The media bias points in this post are these:

  • Ms. Mittal's testimony isn't news in any establishment press outlet -- In addition to the searches cited in the first paragraph, nothing relevant was found in a search on Ms. Mittal's last name at the New York Times, Washington Post, or Los Angeles Times.
  • Of the outlets which did cover it, two of them gratuitously brought the Iraq War into the discussion. Newser's Neal Colgrass wrote: "Maybe President Bush should have invaded the Midwest instead of Iraq." Residents of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming will be amused to learn that Colgrass believe that their states are in the Midwest. They're not. Similarly, the unbylined Inquisitr report snarked that "While the United States has invaded much of the Middle East in search of lower gas prices, perhaps President Bush should have been focusing his efforts on the Midwest region of the United States during the first Iraq war." Media bias clearly runs very deep -- miles deep, if you will.
  • Even at American Thinker, Rick Moran seemed unduly pessimistic about the economic feasibility of recovery. One contrarian commenter at AT suggested that "The majority of the oil cited is economically recoverable using current technology." In something I attempted to confirm but couldn't, another wrote that "This shale oil is being recovered today in Utah by Newfield Energy." The company has Utah operations, but I found nothing directly citing Utah shale operations.

Meanwhile, anything which even remotely seems to support the in reality nonexistent case for global warming gets preferential treatment from the establishment press -- which can only lead one to conclude that many journalists and the Democrats who feed them news leads would rather see the nation economically dependent and energy-starved than energy-independent and prosperous.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.