Hydraulic Fracturing Helping to Bring Hope to Arkansas … And Louisiana, Pennsylvania

Hope, Arkansas is the hometown of William Jefferson Clinton, our nation’s 42nd president. And while Little Rock may be the state’s capital, and largest city, the Natural State’s former governor Mike Huckabee also hails from the southwestern town of Hope.

But because of the tightly-regulated 60-year old energy stimulation technology called hydraulic fracturing – which has been safely used to enhance oil and natural gas production in the United States more than 1.1 million times without every impacted groundwater – there’s much more hope, genuine economic opportunity and job growth potentials flowing into Arkansas, and other regions of the country.

A quick history lesson, compliments of Southwestern Energy: “Southwestern Energy Company discovered the economic viability of the Fayetteville Shale and was the first company to drill and successfully produce its natural gas.”

This discovery, enabled by fracture stimulation coupled with advanced horizontal drilling technologies, “continues to help boost the economy,” says Arkansas’ Channel 11-THV. This from their recent story on the responsible development of the Fayetteville Shale:

Kathy Deck, an economist with the University of Arkansas, even says the Fayetteville Shale play provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the state when it needed it most. She says that while the shale has not developed as quickly as projected, the recession has had a lot to do with that, and that — going forward — the shale will continue to be an important part of the state’s economy.

The Arkansas Business Journal reports that this environmentally-sound development has been “A ‘Shot in the Arm’ to Economy”:

“You have to say, especially in Arkansas, the Fayetteville Shale Play provided a much-needed shot in the arm for the state when it needed it most,” said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the UA’s Sam M. Walton College of Business, which has twice attempted to project the shale play’s impact.

And despite the sluggishness that the national economy continues to experience, similar benefits are being experienced in other shale gas-producing states and regions of the country. In northwest Louisiana, where the development of the Haynesville Shale continues to safely hum along, KTBS-TV reports that the “Mansfield Economy Booms; Construction On Every Corner.” This from their story on this economic growth, which is a direct result of homegrown energy production:

Construction crews in Mansfield are hard at work with two new restaurants, two new hotels and a new bank.

Shelby Spurlock of Claiborne Parish says the Haynesville Shale is the reason she decided to open Cafe 171 in Mansfield. “It’s an ant bed of activity and we just wanted to come and join it,” said Spurlock while getting ready for Thursday’s grand opening.

City Alderman Troy Terrell says the Haynesville Shale has given Mansfield one of the biggest economic boosts in the state. “In the next two years, Mansfield won’t even look the same, ” said Terrell while standing at one of many construction sites.

Terrell says the economic boom has lead to several new roads. The city recently spent 10-million dollars on a new sewer and water system. City leaders say the new system will bring even more businesses and jobs.

Who said we don’t build things in American anymore? But wait, the news gets better.

While this days of service in the U.S. Congress are counting down, true to form, Sen. Arlen Specter is not mailing it in. Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat-turned Republican-turned-Democrat, understands that the responsible development of the Commonwealth’s Marcellus Shale reserves is a true game-changer for the region’s economy, its workforce, and for our nation’s energy security. The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reports this yesterday:

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Philadelphia, sees great economic potential for the local area from the Marcellus Shale and believes the gas industry can help ensure drilling does not adversely impact the environment.

Natural gas, he noted, represents a bridge between fossil fuels and renewable energy resources.

If we find a way to free ourselves from OPEC oil, that would be great,” he said. “It will be an economic opportunity for Williamsport.”

Speaking of the local area, workforce training programs continue to spud across Pennsylvania, helping to equip men and women from the region with the tools, skill sets, and know-how they will need to contribute to the responsible development of the Marcellus Shale’s abundant, clean-burning natural gas reserves. This from yesterday’s Scranton Times-Tribune:

With the hope of landing a high-paying, stable job in the burgeoning natural gas industry, 24 men embarked Monday on their first industry course at Lackawanna College in New Milford.

Larry Milliken, the course instructor, spent his career working in the industry all over the country from exploration and mineral development to working as an oil and gas “land man.” “(Lackawanna College) set up this program to help people from this area find a career in the natural gas industry,” Mr. Milliken said. “It’s a diverse background of people and ages coming into this class.”

Joshua Houck, 26, of Great Bend, said his curiosity about the natural gas industry motivated him to take the class. “I’m going to try to get a good job afterward,” he said.

Al Bisner, 28, of New Milford, said he returned to the Susquehanna County area after serving in the Army. Mr. Bisner has spent his working career self-employed in the plumbing and heating field but decided he could make more money working for the gas industry. He said he is worried about the rural area becoming more like a “big city” but figured natural gas development is here to stay and wanted “to get in on the ground floor.”

Toward the end of the first session, Mr. Milliken said to the class, “You, your kids and even their kids will be able to make careers in the natural gas industry.”

Think of that: careers – not jobs – in the natural gas industry. You see, our industry is committed to being good neighbors, citizens, partners, friends and ultimately stewards of the environment.

But despite hydraulic fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety, some remain fully committed to stopping the use of this technology, and therefore the benefits that it’s making possible for America, especially in small, rural communities where economic opportunity is desperately needed. But supporters of responsible domestic energy production continue to speak out. This from Norwich, NY’s Evening Sun:

Greene businessman Enzo Olivieri warns that a moratorium on natural gas drilling in New York would kill everyone’s hopes for new jobs, and the anti-drillers pushing for it will ultimately succeed because they have deeper pockets.

“That’s what it all boils down to. They, who for the most part come from downstate, have more money than we do up here, so they’re more powerful,” he said.

Olivieri’s exasperation was recently relayed in a phone call to The Evening Sun after the New York State Senate voted Aug. 3 to impose a nine-month moratorium on the controversial high water volume horizontal drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing. The restaurant owner and real estate developer said he fears that the promise of economic recovery in the area and throughout upstate New York may now simply “wash downstate along with the region’s water.”

Referring to New York City-based protesters who want to ban drilling, he said, “They are the first to use our resources, our water and our crops, and not pay the adequate amount for it. Now they want to take our jobs away?”

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