By Bill Maher
Russia took 97 percent of the vote in Crimea, but I predict the big winner of this crisis won't be Russia, it'll be fracking.
The U.S. doesn't have a Cold War with Russia anymore, but we still have a pissing contest with them. Not over nukes; over gas. In fact, we've recently overtaken them as the number one producer of natural gas in the world. This hasn't been good for Gazprom, Russia's/Putin's oil company, because they can't gouge like they used to. Still, Russia gets most of its leverage geopolitically because it supplies Europe with 30% of its gas, and Gazprom threatens to cut off the tap to the former Soviet satellites anytime they get too cozy with the EU. After Crimea, however, they're all getting fed up with Putin and looking for alternatives.
Ukraine sits on huge shale deposits. It's resisted going that route so far, but will it anymore? Doubtful. You know who else is getting in on the action? China, which has the largest shale gas reserves in the world, and will likely accelerate the billions it's been investing in oil and gas exploration now that Russia has pissed off all its customers.
Of course, the gas lobby here in the U.S. must be champing at the bit to brag about how they've given the good guys a one-up on Russia. They're also giving us earthquakes, cancer, and water that sets on fire, but we've got the gold in gas while Russia has to settle for the silver, so who gives a damn? Basically, what I'm saying is, we're not going to be destroyed by an escalation in nuclear arms; we're going to be destroyed by an escalation in earthquakes.
If we wanted to, we could avoid this energy arms race by taking half of the $650 billion the Pentagon spends annually - mostly on antiquated war machines - and instead invest it on developing and delivering energy sources that are cleaner, renewable, and more democratic. But then we'd be sane.