Potential Hydraulic Fracturing Legislation Now Has a Sponsor

Rumors are circling around Washington that an amendment seeking to give EPA authority over the regulation of hydraulic fracturing will soon be added to massive climate change legislation sponsored by Congressman Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. It appears the amendment’s author will be Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado, who sponsored similar legislation in the last Congress (H.R. 7231).

The Colorado Independent reports:

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is leading the charge to increase federal oversight of the nation’s natural gas industry, reintroducing a bill that specifically targets a process called hydraulic fracturing.

DeGette and hydraulic fracturing detractors claim the practice harms the environment and is damaging to public health. But Energy in Depth readers (and the EPA) know that’s not the case-and that states already effectively regulate hydraulic fracturing.

The fluids used in the process are more than 95 percent water, and fracturing activities take place thousands of feet below the water table. What’s more, extensive precautions are taken to case wells near the surface to prevent any leakage of fracturing fluid, oil or natural gas.

And while the Independent refers to highlighting the economic consequences of eliminating this safe engineering practice as an industry “tactic,” we’re sure the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose jobs rely on hydraulic fracturing might think differently.

Here are the facts:

  • Hydraulic fracturing is responsible for 30 percent of our domestic recoverable oil and natural gas, and has aided in the extraction of more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • Up to 90 percent of the wells currently operating today have been fraced, and in the future, 60 to 80 percent of new wells may have to undergo fracturing in order to remain viable.
  • In 2007, $226 billion was invested in domestic exploration and production. Those investments drive economic growth, support local businesses and keep Americans working. Royalties paid by producers totaled $30 billion in 2007, and billions were paid to federal and local governments in the form of severance and income taxes.
  • Hydraulic fracturing accounts for a significant portion of the total economic activity attributable to domestic energy production. More than 300,000 Americans are employed in the exploration and production of domestic oil and natural gas.

What’s more, regulating hydraulic fracturing out of existence would have disastrous economic consequences, including the loss of thousands of jobs, billions in government revenue and the closure of 150,000 natural gas wells.

America can’t afford to unnecessarily curb domestic energy production and destroy jobs-and the DeGette amendment would do just that.

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