Few have heard of George Mitchell, other than energy industry specialists and residents of The Woodlands – a model city Mitchell designed and developed from scratch north of Houston. But when history is told, Mitchell will have transformed the energy industry, the economy, environment, U.S. foreign policy, and geopolitics more than our self-declared “transformative” President. It is ironic that President Obama may owe his re election to a successful entrepreneur-risk taker, unappreciated in Obama’s world as one of those lucky people who “didn’t build it on their own.”
Obama’s lexicon automatically places Mitchell among the greedy
one-percenters, who refuse to “give back to society” what they owe.
Mitchell, however, has given back a thousand or a million fold. The
federal government could pay him billions and still be in Mitchell’s
debt. It was Mitchell, whose entrepreneurial spirit, risk taking, and
perseverance gave us the fracking revolution.
Fracking is Mitchell’s achievement (more than any other single
person), not that of the government’s roads, schools, and ports, as the
President would like us to believe.
Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames tell George Mitchell’s story in their Freedom Manifesto, required reading for the right and left alike. They write of Mitchell’s fifteen year quest to develop hydraulic fracturing:
“In the 1980s, energy experts believed that the supply of natural gas
was dwindling. This concern spread to Mitchell, a Houston-based
independent energy producer…..to look for ways to replace his critical
reserves….The problem was that (gas) was locked in shale, the extremely
dense layer of rock under Dallas and Forth Worth.”
Despite skepticism from all sides,
“Mitchell persisted, working for fifteen years at his own expense.
The result was an enhanced version of a technique called hydraulic
fracturing – “fracking” – that extracts natural gas by expanding natural
or man-made fractures in rock.”
The 86-year-old Mitchell, the son of a Greek immigrant, father of ten, and self-made man, ranks as the 347th
richest man in the world. Demanding that a George Mitchell “give back”
implies he took something that was not his. Not true at all. Mitchell’s
$2.4 billion wealth is a pittance compared to the value he added to
go to forbes.com