Hydraulic Fracturing Continues to Help Create Tens of Thousands of American Jobs, Economic Opportunity

Last week was quite a week for shale gas production enabled by hydraulic fracturing, a 60-year old tightly regulated technology used to stimulate oil and gas production in 9 out of 10 wells nationwide.

There was plenty of positive and welcomed economic news. An updated Penn State University economic impact study released last Tuesday finds that the development of the Marcellus Shale’s clean-burning natural gas reserves, through the use of fracturing, has the potential to add an additional 212,000 new jobs to the state’s employment rolls over the next decade. Energy In Depth’s executive director, Lee Fuller, said this about the study:

“The release of this report from Penn State today serves to reinforce that status in a modern context, and also make clear to those who oppose this critical work on political or ideological grounds that, at least on practical economic grounds, that opposition could lead to fewer jobs, greater dependence, and a lot less revenue for the state.”

But Appalachia isn’t the only region of the country that is booming thanks to fracturing. The Shreveport Times reports this under the headline “Haynesville Shale spares local economy”:

The huge amounts of money injected into the local economy via the Haynesville Shale activity has spared northwest Louisiana from the worst effects of the national slowdown, according to an economist whose second-year study of the industry was released Tuesday.

In the report, Dr. Loren C. Scott pointed out that the seven firms participating in his study “pumped an amazing $7 billion into the state’s economy” in just one year. That sizeable injection of new money into the state can be equated to tossing a boulder into a pond.

Scott’s study serves as tangible evidence to the “tremendous economic benefits of natural gas extraction operations in northwest Louisiana,” said Don Briggs, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association president.

And in a report yesterday from KENS 5-TV, “Texas oil and gas boom paying dividends for San Antonio,” thanks to 21st century fracture stimulation technologies. This from the region’s CBS affiliate:

A huge, underground oil and gas field is promising big results, and that’s having an economic impact on San Antonio.

“I wish I had a crystal ball.” No one knows, no one knows. They just pick up the phone and start ordering equipment,” said Chase Hooker, Director of new business development for APPCO; a company that makes equipment called Frac-Sanders.

These huge, $250,000 machines deliver a special sand mixture to a well. The “frac” sand helps force fossil fuels out of the ground. Despite making a dozen of these 25-ton machines a month, APPCO is back-ordered through 2011.

Unfortunately, some in Washington – despite this overwhelmingly positive economic news in an otherwise struggling national economy – believe that the energy-producing states should be stripped of their proven ability to effectively regulate fracturing.

Last week, Colorado Rep. Dianna DeGette, an advocate for burdensome, duplicative and potentially devastating federal regulations on American energy production, offered and withdrew an amendment at a House Energy and Commerce Committee mark-up that would have stripped energy-producing states of their ability to effectively regulate fracturing. Like her bill, the FRAC Act, Ms. DeGette’s amendment would give the federal government – for the first time ever – authority to oversee this critical and heavily regulated practice.

Thankfully the amendment was withdrawn amidst pressure from Energy In Depth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and scores of Democrats and Republicans on the panel.

EID’s Fuller wrote this in a letter to members of the committee leading up to the hearing:

The fact is, hydraulic fracturing has been ably and aggressively regulated by the states almost since the moment of its invention, with regulators compiling an impressive record of enforcement and oversight during that time. It’s a record that continues to be acknowledged by regulators and lawmakers on the federal level as well, most recently by EPA’s director of drinking water protection, who told a reporter in February that there existed “no evidence” that “states aren’t doing a good job already” when it comes to regulating fracturing activities.

But it’s not just America’s energy producers and job-creators speaking out about fracturing’s long and clear record of effectiveness and safety. Major newspapers are speaking out, too. Today’s Investor’s Businesses Daily writes this in an editorial:

Environmentalists, aided and abetted by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, now want to stop us from unlocking our vast reserves of natural gas locked up in shale using a technique called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The technique involves injecting liquids under pressure, 95% of which is water, into the shale rock to release the trapped gas.

Casey has introduced legislation to remove fracking’s long-standing exemption in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows energy companies to use the process. He claims the process endangers America’s drinking water, though fracking is done thousands of feet below the groundwater table and there’s never been a case of groundwater contamination caused by fracking.

“This 60-year-old technique has been responsible for 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,” according to Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “In hydraulic fracturing’s 60-year-history, there has not been a single documented case of contamination.”

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