Backyard Brawl: WVU, Pitt Profs. Confirm Hydraulic Fracturing’s Environmental Safety Record

AP: “The number of millionaires in ND rose by more than 40 percent in one year alone”, thanks to fracturing

Last week, PA’s DEP secretary, John Hanger, once again confirmed the fact that hydraulic fracturing has never impacted groundwater, a fact that a host of PADEP officials continue to reinforce. And last night, in a KDKA-TV segment, Sec. Hanger once again confirmed that fact that fracturing – a tightly regulated, 60 year-old technology used to stimulate oil and natural gas production – has never contaminated groundwater, which is what top EPA officials told a U.S. Senate panel this year.

And earlier this week, Radisav Vidic – a University of Pittsburgh professor with a Ph.D. in environmental engineering – told the Wheeling News Register that he has “not seen any evidence that fracturing itself poses a danger to the environment. The process has been around since the 1950s.”


Not to be outdone, though, West Virginia University’s Donald Lyons, an engineering professor, writes about the economic potentials of responsible Marcellus Shale development, fracturing’s long and clear record of safety, and the devastating impact that the FRAC Act could have on job creation and domestic energy production in a Charleston Gazette op-ed this week entitled “Natural gas means more jobs”:

Underlying West Virginia is the Marcellus Shale, which is another great source of natural gas. Last year, shale-gas drilling in the Marcellus provided 57,000 new jobs — mainly here in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. An economic study estimated that drilling throughout the Marcellus Shale, which extends from Kentucky to upstate New York, could create 280,000 new jobs and add $6 billion in tax revenues over the next decade.

State agencies do a commendable job of overseeing the process of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that has been used for decades to produce oil and natural gas, to assure the process is done safely and without a negative impact on the environment.

Opponents of shale-gas drilling … want regulatory oversight to be shifted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is conducting a study of hydraulic fracturing practices at the direction of Congress. But adding one more layer of bureaucratic red tape will stall natural gas production by raising drilling costs by as much as $100,000 per well, without making shale-gas production any safer than it already is. This could force most of the independent companies that account for the bulk of natural gas production to shut down their operations. In that event, gas production would drop 45 percent within five years, according to an industry study, and thousands of jobs would be lost. Shale gas production should be increased, not decreased.

So what does the public think about this historic opportunity? Well, according to a Lycoming College poll released yesterday, folks in the communities where Marcellus production is underway overwhelmingly support this activity and believe strongly – nearly 80 percent – that “the creation of many jobs was very likely.”

But hydraulic fracturing is not just helping to create thousands of good-paying jobs, stable supplies of homegrown energy for consumers, and much-needed economic activity in the Rust Belt exclusively. In North Dakota, through the responsible development the Bakken Shale’s abundant, job-creating oil reserves, small towns are expected to “double in the next 5 years,” according to a WDAY news report this week. This from their dispatch under the headline “Workers needed to fill thousands of jobs in western North Dakota”:

Williston’s Economic Development Executive Director Tom Rolfstad says the surge out west is not an oil boom, but an oil industry, saying it isn’t going away anytime soon. He expects Williston and other western towns in the Bakken Shale to double in the next 5 years. It’ll leave them in need of everything from oil workers, to doctors, bakers, and waitresses.

It’s a problem much of the country would like to have. Tom Rolfstad is pleading for workers.

“We need a lot of help! How are we going to grow this fast?” He says he needs thousands of people. It’s part of the “Invest in the West to Fund the Rest” campaign. Rolfstad and other economic development leaders are trying to get more North Dakota workers out west to fill about 3-thousand jobs.

The Associated Press also reports on the incredible amount of economic opportunity, job creation and prosperity that fracturing is helping to make possible for North Dakotans:

In recent years, oil companies have been extracting oil from the Bakken shale deposit, the largest such formation ever surveyed in the United States by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The number of millionaires in North Dakota rose by more than 40 percent in one year alone, to 388 in 2006.

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