Shale Cowboys

2017 ,    »  -   16 Comments
Ratings: 7.00/10 from 38 users.

The United States is on its way to complete energy independence thanks to the shale revolution. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are on the rise, but thus far they've been dwarfed by the plentiful reservoirs of shale gas and oil under the arid landscapes of Texas. Bolstered by the Trump administration, the industry's future is growing rosier by the day. Produced by the VPRO Backlight documentary series, Shale Cowboys portrays the pioneers who have helped to usher in this energy renaissance, and examines the environmental and human health risks it has brought forth.

At one time not long ago, these lands were considered largely barren of energy value, and the U.S. relied heavily on foreign countries to fulfill their insatiable energy needs. That narrative changed rapidly once a team of expert geologists discovered a way to tap shale and other previously impenetrable rock formations for their oil and gas reserves. Today, the U.S. is not only producing this energy at an alarming rate, but it's also become a major energy exporter.

Fracking is the name of the process by which these energy sources are extracted. It's a practice that's proven both lucrative and controversial since its invention in the late 90's. Fracking has lined the pockets of many struggling land owners throughout Texas, built an industry worth untold billions, employed hundreds of thousands of American citizens, and altered the energy profile of the entire country. Technologies have allowed companies to extract these reserves cheaper and more efficiently than ever before, and costs have become increasingly competitive with other parts of the world.

But this bounty of riches has also come at a price. The promise of clean, renewable energy has taken a backseat to this emerging oil and gas boom. Meanwhile, fracking has the potential to pollute fresh water reserves, promote earthquake activity, and harbor a harmful and long-term environmental impact.

According to the industry experts profiled in the film - most of whom are direct financial beneficiaries of fracking - the benefits far outweigh any potential risks. Shale Cowboys drills deep to explore each facet of this divisive industry.

Directed by: Nordin Lasfar

16 Comments / User Reviews

  1. j.smith

    Yet another video that's blocked in the Netherlands..

  2. dutchguy
  3. dutchguy

    because its from the netherlands and you can watch it for free on the tegenlicht.vpro website

  4. Teotl
  5. Teotl

    This is what happens when technology and congenital mental retardation come together. Just listening to them talk reveals generations of probable inbreeding...

  6. HurrDurr
  7. HurrDurr


    That is a lot of fancy words just to say... "Dem retards talk funny! muss be inbreeding! dey so dum!".

    They have engineered their way into affecting global energy markets all while "talkin' funny" like it or not...
    ... you....
    You posted a thinly veiled insult on the internet.

    KUDOS INTERNET CHAMP! You're the hero the internet has been longing for!
    So brave... so suave... so hip... how will we EVER make it till you post again?!?!

  8. Enstein
  9. Enstein

    This short-sighted documentary skirts the issue of external costs, including the impact of rising sea levels on coastal cities, the impact of rising temperatures on agriculture, and the impact of tropical diseases and pathogens reaching populations in higher latitudes.

  10. Student
  11. Student

    Fracking is nothing but more pollution, has shown to cause fault lines to expand and thus create earthquakes, AND it is not needed. In fact, oil has not been need for over a 100 years, due to hidden and sequestered inventions, starting with Tesla and many others that have had their patients denied under the guise of "natural security". But wars would not have been fought, and sky's would not have been polluted if other, non harmful forms of "free" once the device is made, energy, had been employed. Soon, this too shall be known and forsaken. As far as rising temperatures, view the whole picture , as our Universe is heating up, as part of the changes occurring to our solar system and our star, the sun.

  12. XonEarth
  13. XonEarth

    It is sheer stupidity to frack, refine and burn any more oil. The planet is in its death throes and these complete idiots want to ignore and accelerate it. They are the absolute worst excuses for human beings.

  14. Mason
  15. Mason

    The comments as usual just descend into slanging insult.....why publish such dross...?

  16. D Ford
  17. D Ford

    The description of fracking said they put water down the bore hole. What wasn't mentioned was the included chemicals.
    Avarice indeed.

  18. Otis
  19. Otis

    Simple question that D Ford hits on: What exactly is the chemical cocktail that is injected into the bore hole? Must be secret cause no one will tell us but please don't worry about our underground aquifers. Right?

  20. Greyhair
  21. Greyhair

    The problems associated with burning of fossil fuels and indeed the use of all natural resources, is the scale at which it is taking place. And this in turn is driven by the ever increasing demand of our ever increasing population. And in a world who's only economic model is growth, population thus demand thus environmental degradation will continue unabated. There are too many people on earth. A stable earth human population of about 1 billion may be sustainable, but a stable population will only be achieved if we have an economic system who's prime objective is not growth, but will still reward hard work, initiative and enterprise - just not reward it with "more". Bottom line, there are too many of us, and THIS is what's driving our environmental and resource problems.

  22. Jerry
  23. Jerry

    Yup, this is what Peak (conventional) Oil looks like. Yes, massive amounts of oil and NG are being produced, but the EROEI is a joke compared to conventional rigs. There's a time-lapse video on Vimeo of the dozens of different specialists who have to constantly babysit those pads (something they didn't show in the video). Also, you never hear about the real external costs, like damage to infrastructure (oil trucks damaging roads, etc.), or the actual short production curves on these wells: They play out usually within five years.

    All this fracking technology does is to steepen the curves of the 1972 MIT Limits to Growth study: More expensive extraction, growing rates of pollution and diminishing pollution sinks (Everything is still on track to becoming unhinged by the 2030's, in other words).

  24. Greg
  25. Greg

    Twisted truths and shortsightedness. US daily production is still only around 10M barrels a day yet we burn 20M. If we're exporting it's only for convenience (maybe it's cheaper to ship it from where it is, etc.) because we're still importing a LOT. Also, a fracked we'll only puts out a small amount of oil for a short amount of time. Lastly we're only getting 6 or so barrels out for every one it takes to set up the well and truck the low quality oil. If these people really do believe this will lead to true energy independence then they are southern simpletons as was mentioned above.

  26. D.McDo
  27. D.McDo

    This doc reminds me of the movie "THE BIG SHORT"! except they're using fracking not wall street.

  28. DustUp
  29. DustUp

    If they didn't get into the 100+- chemicals they pump down the well hole along with water and sand to help keep the product pathways open upon the pressure frack ...and refuse to disclose them under some BS Critical Energy Infrastructure nonsense enacted years ago that oil, gas, and pipeline companies get to hide behind regarding too much of what they do, then the video doesn't get into some of the real dangers of fracking is to you and the environment.

    Much like the Japan nuclear incident (not accident), it seems only a matter of time until very serious impacts will occur to a larger group than a landowners water well here and there as has already occurred.

    Much like many things, oil, gas, coal, uranium, plutonium, etc. is better left in the ground.

    It is truly unfortunate that so much misinformation has been and still is fed to people via govt schools and the major media. I highly recommend checking out independent news sites and ask around to some independent types for suggestions since there are some bad ones also. The fellow who wrote The Creature From Jekyll Island, G. Edward Griffin, about the Federal Reserve has a decent one and that could lead you to others. i.e. the ocean isn't rising, just ask folks whose families have lived along the coast for generations. The population increases are tapering off and greatly so in some countries. And of course all who claim there are too many people should volunteer to remove themselves from that equation; even though all the people on the planet could fit in Texas. Math is funny that way. Getting out one's calculator seems to be a herculean effort comparing to sucking up whatever the socialists-communists-progressives are pushing. I think it could be interesting to travel to some unique floating cities in the future. They too may have to figure out defense mechanisms from terrorists who abscond with a freighter with intent to do some damage.

  30. urban dweller
  31. urban dweller

    You miss the point of over-population if to regard it as insignificant because you can fit all the people on Earth into Texas. That is "red herring" argument! In other words stop being stupid!

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