* Road replacement cost, new types of accidents, fire protection, court house record room cost, extra police, enforcement costs for regulations are put off on the body politic. It is customary to support promising new industry, but it is a cost of the industry paid by the public, a sort of investment for use of the driller by the public.
This list is lengthy. Profits from shale drilling are enough to absorb huge legal costs characteristic of the industry and the very great expense of what the Chinese call "reputation management" through advertising, PR and lobbying. But not apparently, to pay the costs listed here.
We must accept that since the Industrial Revolution, human actions have gradually become the main driver of global environmental change. The atmosphere and Earth's resources have long been thought of as infinite, one as a dump for exhaust fumes, the other as a source for minerals, particularly for energy production. This must soon change.
Today the human population is a little over 7 billion. Somewhere around 30 years from now it will be 9 billion. Demographics are inexorable. Even great wars, famine, plagues and purges hardly make a noticeable change in the world population graph. We will need the land services. Expectations are rising, too, being fueled by communication in the poor parts of the world and by advertising in the rich parts.
Laughing at climate change and putting hundreds of millions of dollars into climate change denial is perhaps the most grievous cost of energy mineral extraction. Even if one accepts the idea that we can go ahead and burn carbon because natural gas produces only 60 percent as much carbon dioxide as coal, expansion forever is foolish.
The earth is large, but not infinite. Paradigm change must come. We must balance the sheet for energy technology. A "bridge to nowhere" is not what our children and our grandchildren and their children deserve.
Bond is a retired teacher with a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. He is a member of the Guardians of the West Fork and the Monongahela Area Watersheds Compact. He lives on a 500-acre farm near Jane Lew, Upshur County.