House Panel Sheds New Light on Critical Role Hydraulic Fracturing Plays in Delivering America’s Energy Future

Testimony from independent gas producer, state regulators, and preeminent groundwater protection agency underscores safety, necessity of hydraulic fracturing

WASHINGTON, DC – Extraordinary concentrations of clean-burning, American-made natural gas are ready, willing and able to be produced deep underground and more than a mile beneath the water table, a House subcommittee was told today – but only if producers are allowed to continue utilizing a safe and critical well-stimulation technology known as hydraulic fracturing.

“As the campaign to curtail the responsible development of America’s abundant energy resources ramps up, and efforts are made to achieve that end by targeting hydraulic fracturing, today’s hearing introduced some important facts to this debate that ought to be considered,” said Lee Fuller, policy director for the Energy In Depth, a newly formed coalition seeking to bring to light the real facts on modern-day energy production. “Among the most important: that hydraulic fracturing is safe, that it’s well-regulated, and that it’s an essential, non-negotiable tool in bringing massive reserves of shale gas to American consumers.”

The hearing, convened by the House Natural Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources, took a closer look at two recently published reports investigating the systems and processes in place for making sure the development of America’s shale gas regions doesn’t bring undue and unintended harm to our drinking water supplies. Both studies were authored by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The first report, published in April and titled “Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer,” concludes that technologies such as hydraulic fracturing allow us to “produce more natural gas from the shale formations” across the United States with “less disturbance of surface environments” – all while “protecting and conserving water resources.”

The second report, released just last week, takes a more thorough and focused look at how individual states are regulating and overseeing the practice of energy development, finding the process “is managed best at the state level where regional and local conditions are understood.”

The GWPC, considered “one of the nation’s leading groundwater protection organizations,” reiterated those findings at the hearing today – also highlighting a number of other core findings from the report. Among them:

  • “Current state regulation of oil and gas activities is environmentally proactive and preventive.”
  • “The only alternative to fracturing the producing formations in reservoirs with low permeability would be to drill more wells in an area.”
  • “Based on over 60 years of practical application and a lack of evidence to the contrary, there is nothing to indicate that when couple with appropriate well construction, the practice of hydraulic fracturing in deep formations endangers ground water.”

GWPC’s testimony, delivered by Council president Scott Kell, is available here. Also available are electronic copies of testimony given by Chesapeake Energy’s Mike John, along with letters sent to GWPC by Texas Railroad Commission chairman Victor Carrillo, Alabama’s State Oil and Gas supervisor Nick Tew,  Mark Fesmire of the New Mexico Natural Resources Department, and Joseph Lee of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

More from Energy In Depth on the long record of safety and clear economic benefit of hydraulic fracturing:

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