Appalachian Basin

Former Obama Energy Secretary Touts Safe Shale Development

This week, during America’s Natural Gas Alliance Think About Energy Summit in Columbus, audience members were educated about the amazing potential that increased natural gas development holds for the United States.  From transportation to powering America’s electric utilities, the abundance of natural gas is absolutely transforming our energy future for the better.

Ohio is a fitting place to host the conference since Utica Shale development is a perfect microcosm of what shale development is delivering.  With over 38,000 jobs attributed to Utica Shale development, natural gas is playing an important role of bringing Ohio out of our recent recession.

Many important topics were discussed at the event, but the main attraction of the day was a keynote speech by former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who spoke on the role natural gas plays in America’s energy future. Secretary Chu is an outspoken supporter of wind energy, but knows clean burning natural gas will always be an important component of America’s energy portfolio – now and in the future.

While Chu focused upon the benefits of natural gas, he also took the time to make light of a widely rejected Cornell study that alleged astronomically high methane leakage rates from shale gas development.  The timing seemed fitting, since on Monday the Environmental Defense Fund and University of Texas found methane emissions were far less than speculated by the Cornell authors.  In his comments today, former Energy Secretary Chu reaffirmed the Cornell study was not a credible study.

“There were numerous studies on fugitive emissions of methane.  There was a very famous Cornell report which we looked at and decided was not as credible as…well we didn’t think it was credible, I’ll just put it that way and it was over estimating fugitive emissions.” –Steven Chu

But hey, what does Steven Chu know? He’s only a Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a Ph.D. from Cal-Berkeley.

Secretary Chu also discussed the findings of the Department of Energy’s hydraulic fracturing white paper, which examined the positive and negative impacts of the process and was released while he was still in the Obama administration.  What DOE found was that hydraulic fracturing could be done safely and responsibly, much to the ire of anti-shale activists.

“Hydraulic fracturing of gas, natural gas liquids and oil can and should be done in an environmentally responsible manner.  So to use a typical expression, you can have your cake and eat it too.  I think it’s a fools choice to say either you develop natural gas and oil in the United States with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and live with the environmental consequences or stop because of the environmental consequences. You can develop it in an environmentally safe way.” –Steven Chu

Thanks to Ohio’s stringent regulations and industry best practices, shale development is being done in an environmentally responsible manner.  As we continue to develop our natural resources, Ohio is poised to be a leader in proper development of oil and natural gas.  If there was ever a place for Secretary Chu to discuss responsible development of oil and natural gas, Ohio definitely is the template of how to it right.


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