Left, Right, Center: Members of All Stripes Cite Shale Gas as Key to Energy Future

House panel examines unique role that shale gas, hydraulic fracturing can play in delivering Americans clean, secure and affordable energy future

WASHINGTON – America’s abundant reserves of clean-burning, shale-derived natural gas have the potential to create thousands of high-wage jobs and billions in new revenue, all while helping our nation pursue a clean, affordable, and secure energy future. That’s the message that members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and the environment heard today, as the panel sought to gain additional information on the proposed merger of ExxonMobil and XTO Energy – a leading independent producer of shale gas resources.

Subsequent to the hearing, Energy In Depth executive director Lee Fuller issued the following statement:

“Certainly today’s hearing considered a range of topics that extended well beyond hydraulic fracturing’s remarkable record of safety and performance, but when those issues came up, it was clear that support for this commonly used technology was not limited to one end of the dais.

“While different members approached the issue from several unique perspectives, the points on which everyone seemed to agree are that natural gas is critical to our energy future, critical to our economic future, and critical as a means of significantly reducing our dependence on foreign energy. Thanks to the technology available to us today, each and every one of those objectives is well within our reach.”

Among other key elements included in its legislative portfolio, the subcommittee on energy and the environment maintains jurisdiction over the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974, a statute that some lawmakers would like to re-write with an eye on handing EPA regulatory authority over hydraulic fracturing – a process that has been aggressively and successfully regulated by states for the 60 years in which it has been in commercial use.

Although not a member of the subcommittee, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) appeared at the hearing today for the purpose of defending her effort to amend SDWA, assuring members of the panel that the FRAC Act would not have the effect of impeding the safe and responsible use of fracturing technology.

Rep. DeGette characterized the bill as a measure that would promote the additional reporting of chemicals. Unfortunately, the actual text of her bill suggests a very different outcome – potentially creating a situation whereby the fracturing process is shut down for several years while EPA develops the regulations needed to execute its new and potentially onerous mandates.

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