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A regional collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

U.S. Sees Most Available Oil And Natural Gas In History

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Colorado State Land Board
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Colorado State Land Board
A pumpjack in Colorado, which ranks No. 6 in the country in proved natural gas reserves, and No. 7 in crude oil reserves.

Recent data shows that the U.S. had more minable oil and natural gas reserves than ever before.

“Proved” oil and gas reserves are the amount that drillers could get out of the ground affordably and with current technology. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that in 2018, those reserves reached historic peaks.

After decades of decline starting in the 70s, the advent of fracking in the mid-2000’s boosted the amount of oil and gas we could get leading to these recent highs.

Peter Maniloff, an assistant professor of economics at the Colorado School of Mines, says more reserves may mean more employment in oil and gas states, but, “There’s the saying that the stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones. We have vast quantities of fossil fuels in the ground. If we’re going to address climate change, then we’re going to have to leave some of them in the ground.”

He says there also isn’t a guarantee that oil and gas industries will out-perform increasingly cheap renewable energies and electric vehicles.

Mountain West oil and gas reserves were mixed. Natural gas reserves decreased between 2017 and 2018 in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. Meanwhile oil reserves in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah all went up.

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Find reporter Madelyn Beck on Twitter @MadelynBeck8

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Madelyn Beck is Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau.