Bipartisan House Lawmakers: New, “Hastily Proposed” Hydrofracturing Regs Will “Increase Energy Costs for Consumers, Suppress Job Creation”

Just hours into the first session of the 112th Congress, a strong, bipartisan chorus of House lawmakers underscored how critical domestic energy production, enabled by the 60 year old technology called hydraulic fracturing, is for our nation’s economic competitiveness, security and environmental objectives. More than 30 House Democrats and Republicans – members of the bipartisan House Natural Gas Caucuspenned a letter to Interior secretary Ken Salazar, urging “Restraint from Interior Before Ordering Any New Hydraulic Fracturing Rules.”

This from Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), co-chair of the caucus and vice chair of the House Environment and Economy panel:

Congressman Tim Murphy said the decision would discourage domestic natural gas production at a time when the country needs it more than ever. “The Administration has already decided to block offshore oil and gas exploration. Making it more difficult to safely access America’s natural gas supply will only serve to enrich OPEC and stymie job growth.”

Congressman Dan Boren (D-Okla.), also a co-chair of the Bipartisan Natural Gas Caucus, weighed in on the Obama Administration’s “bad policy”:

Circumventing the United States Congress by carte blanche issuing new burdensome regulations on natural gas development will not only hurt the economic recovery – it’s bad policy,” said Congressman Dan Boren.

Here are key excerpts from the bipartisan letter to Secretary Salazar:

We also would note that the vast majority of scientific evidence shows hydraulic fracturing to be safe, less resource-intensive for the environment than traditional methods, and properly managed and regulated at the state level. Consequently, hastily proposed regulatory burdens on natural gas will increase energy costs for consumers, suppress job creation in a promising energy sector, and hinder our nation’s ability to become more energy independent.

We entrust that you will proceed in a manner that respects the legislative process and yields to the Congressionally-directed study that the Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting. Our Caucus looks forward to working with you on this issue during the 112th Congress.

And while Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a key member of the Senate Energy panel, have urged the Interior Department to not move forward hastily with new and unnecessary hydraulic fracturing regulations that could undermine job creation without adding environmental benefits, state lawmakers are also making the case for responsible shale gas development.

A pair of Maryland state lawmakers – Sen. George C. Edwards and Del. Wendell R. Beitzel, both of Annapolis – write this about hydraulic fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety in a recent Baltimore Sun column:

Natural gas has been drilled in Garrett County since the 1950s. … Further exploration into the Marcellus Shale could have a positive impact on our local economy by providing much needed jobs and added revenue.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s April 2009 report entitled “Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer,” water and sand make up over 98 percent of the fracturing fluid used to extract natural gas. Also, in Maryland the drill sites will be encased with cement and other materials to minimize the risk of escaping gas. The thousands of feet of rock and the hard shale itself also act as a buffer to minimize this risk. Further, shale gas extraction has developed to the point that horizontal wells can be drilled into the shale formation and numerous wells can be drilled from one well site. This minimizes the overall surface footprint needed for gas exploration.

Through our conversations, it is apparent that Marcellus Shale exploration can be done while still protecting the environment.

Though this technology is still developing on a daily basis, such fear and misinformation expressed by our colleague does nothing to further this developing resource for Maryland. It is a disservice to our constituents and our local economies. Yet, even more dangerously, the half-truths spread nationally ensure that we will continue to rely on foreign sources of yet another energy commodity.

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