With the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions now all wrapped up — and the election only two months away – many Americans across the nation are asking themselves an important question: where we are going and who is best to take us there? And while the two parties may have significant disagreements on a host of issues, the topic of natural gas has proven itself to be a truly bipartisan issue with strong support from both sides of the aisle.
We’ve all seen the frightening headlines and read about so-called “experts” linking any number of negative health impacts to oil and gas development, specifically hydraulic fracturing. But what’s more telling about these allegations is what they are missing, namely: a basis in fact.
An updated study just released by URS Corporation shows that actual methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells are substantially lower than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has claimed. The data reinforce the fact that natural gas development, including the use of hydraulic fracturing, is occurring safely and responsibly across the country.
Here in Illinois we’ve been developing oil and natural gas for more than a hundred years, and we’ve been using proven well completion procedures like hydraulic fracturing for decades. And our track record is pretty good, too: hydraulic fracturing has been used tens of thousands of times in our state, and not a single proven case of water contamination from the process. But to hear it from some opponents, the only way to achieve “safety” is to ban hydraulic fracturing, or at the very least impose a moratorium until “further study” can be completed.
Technology used to develop natural gas resources has taken giant leaps forward in recent years providing huge benefits to Michigan’s environment. These improvements have enabled the state to develops its energy resources to the benefit of Michigan’s consumers and economy while protecting the landscape that makes the Wolverine State unique.
At the end of 2011, IHS CERA released a report on the enormous benefits being created by natural gas development across the United States. This past summer, a second installment of the IHS CERA study found that, by 2015, responsible natural gas production from shale and other “tight” reservoirs will create an astounding 1.5 million jobs. Now, just months later, IHS has released its latest report – a comprehensive and exciting compilation of America’s energy awakening, undoubtedly thanks to shale.
Nate Blakeslee at Texas Monthly has decided to take the Ian Urbina route to reporting about hydraulic fracturing: just keep throwing stuff up on the wall and see what sticks. That’s too bad. Ian Urbina, of course, is the New York Times reporter who, throughout 2010 and 2011, filed a series of inflammatory, Gasland-style pieces that took about 30 minutes to fully debunk. His reports were so poorly sourced and inaccurate that the public editor for the Times felt it necessary to file not one but two separate pieces of his own apologizing to the Times’ readership for Mr. Urbina’s serial misreporting…
I was struck recently by the rather direct fundraising efforts of one of the natural gas opposition groups operating here in Michigan, especially in contrast to a much more positive type of fund-raising being done by the Michigan oil and gas industry and the state’s Department of Natural Resources (more on that later). I’m speaking of a group known as Food & Water Watch.
Earthjustice and other activist groups filed a lawsuit this week against the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). DOGGR has recently concluded public hearings gathering information for the express purpose of updating hydraulic fracturing regulations, its proposals are expected soon. It’s shameful that Earthjustice’s filing once again seeks to inject fear-mongering and misstatements of fact into what should be a scientific discussion about the safety of hydraulic fracturing at the very time regulators are seeking the most credible information.
To rational observers, it’s been clear for months that the EPA blundered in Pavillion, Wyoming, and blundered badly. But if you needed more evidence of the EPA’s missteps, and the agency’s desperation to save face, it came last week from an unexpected source: the federal government itself.
Last week, the state of Vermont made news by signing a ban on hydraulic fracturing into law — on the basis that such a law was necessary to protect the state’s clean water resources. Aside from the irony of the Governor’s support for increased natural gas use, the facts clearly show that hydraulic fracturing poses no threat to ground water.
To hear the folks at Nature and the Denver Post tell it, a recent study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado proves that producers in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of northeast Colorado are losing four percent of their total production of natural gas. But what is the extent to which NOAA’s conclusions are even relevant anymore in a modern operating context, given that most of the agency’s data is nearly half a decade old?
Last Friday, I traveled to Austin to participate in a panel discussion on the Sustainability of Shale Natural Gas at the annual SXSW Eco Conference. My basic role was to be the lone spokesperson for the natural gas industry on a panel whose other three participants were otherwise tilted (predictably) in the opposite direction. Which was fine – I actually enjoy a good debate, at least when the debate is based on facts and focused on real issues surrounding shale gas production.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examines the relative risks of shale development and hydraulic fracturing, using existing research as its guide. Unfortunately for opponents who have invested so much time stating otherwise, GAO finds no evidence of hydraulic fracturing fluids migrating from depth up into groundwater.
With an unemployment rate (9.1 percent) well above the national average, and a government in Springfield suffering from major deficits (the “worst in the nation” according to the state’s auditor), Illinoisans are hungry for economic growth. And thanks to the New Albany shale in the southern portion of the state, companies have been investing heavily in the Land of Lincoln, a trend that most of us want to continue. But for a marginal few, the need to spread fear and misinformation about proven technologies like hydraulic fracturing is unfortunately a higher priority.
Last week, Earthworks released a report that attempted to show lax state regulation of oil and gas development. The purpose was clear: build a case for more federal regulation, and by extension delay approval for additional production – if not ban it outright. Unfortunately for Earthworks, anyone with an Internet connection has access to information that proves Earthworks’ goal was not to shine on a light on a problem, but rather to repeat its old talking points in a new way.
This summer, David Letterman used his perch as a late night TV host to rant against hydraulic fracturing as some sort of environmental nightmare, reciting the same debunked talking points (water contamination, flaming faucets, etc.) that we hear from professional opponents of oil and gas development on a daily basis. So EID produced a “Top Ten” of its own.
As the U.S. works to create jobs for the 8.3 percent of Americans still unemployed, the development of America’s shale reserves is creating opportunities from the well pad to the law firm. And with natural gas development occurring in over 30 states across the nation, the possibilities are limitless. As USA Today highlighted this week: “of all the places that America’s new jobs are, the emerging energy business, directly or indirectly, might be responsible for more of them than almost anything else.”