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It will be news to George Mitchell that he didn’t inspire the shale revolution. The credit must also go to the U.S. government and the construction workers, who built the I-20 highway that extends west across the Barnett shale play from Fort Worth. In his political stump speech, President Obama did not address the individual initiative that is required to initiate a paradigm change. Mitchell had a vision about drilling a lateral through shale and then employing multi-stage fracturing to crack open the trapped gas and liquids. Of course, there were earlier attempts in tight gas formations and much government-sponsored research. But the studies would have gathered dust on library shelves, if not for Mitchell’s perseverance despite initial failures that delivered the right strategy in the Barnett shale.
President Obama is right, however, in suggesting a role for group effort. If the human civilization didn’t coalesce into families, villages, tribes, states and nations, we would have remained mired in the struggle for survival in the jungle. The modern emphasis on individual freedom is made possible only after thousands of years of nation building.
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