California’s new Oil Rush

Posted by Christine, September 7, 2011

San Luis Obispo’s independent weekly New Times covers local oil:

The Central Coast’s hills and plains are known for their beauty, their wildlife, and their isolation. Aside from the resident animals and the occasional vineyard, town, farm, or ranch, much of the land in Monterey, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties lacks human presence.

Soon, that may all change.

Underneath much of the area lie millions of cubic miles of shale, a brittle, porous material that wouldn’t draw interest from anyone except perhaps a geologist in search of a master’s thesis.

But that shale is now drawing interest from far more than academics.

Oil executives, investment bankers, and government officials have begun to talk about this shale in the same hushed tones gold miners use when they think they may have found another Sutter’s Mill. What they say is shocking, but if the federal government is to be believed, it’s also quite possibly true.

Monterey shale, the enormous mineral formation that runs through much of coastal and central California, may hold the fate of the economic future of the United States. Among oil speculators, this area is quietly becoming the hottest potential investment in the West.