Sen. Landrieu: Hydraulic Fracturing, Shale Gas Opponents in Washington (Hinchey, DeGette, Casey) Are Wrong

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu knows a thing or two about what it takes to safely produce energy in America today. As senior senator from Louisiana, she represents the fourth-leading petroleum-producing state in the country – and that doesn’t even account for what’s produced along the federal OCS off the Pelican State’s shores.

Now, with the emergence of the Haynesville Shale in the northwest part of the state, Louisiana is poised to be a national leader in the development of natural gas as well. It’s an effort supported by Democrats and Republicans – and, not for nuthin’, probably a half-decent, instructive example for folks in hyper-polarized Washington to take an look at. Looking for new jobs? Congressman Steve Scalise writes that well-regulated energy production in the Haynesville “created almost 33,000 jobs and generated $3.2 billion into our state’s economy” in a recent Energy In Depth “Guest Blog” post.

Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging these economic and energy security benefits, and promoting them as aggressively as they can, some in Washington are working to add layers of burdensome, duplicative and unnecessary regulations to the 60-year old technology called hydraulic fracturing.

Landrieu, a member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources panel, “made a stop by the Haynesville Shale play near Mansfield Monday.” NWLA News tells us what comes next:

Fracking critics claim the process can contaminate drinking water. However, in 2004 the Environmental Protection Agency found that the process does not contaminate drinking water and needed no further study. “There are people in Washington want to claim that fracking cannot be done environmentally safely and they’re wrong it can be done in an environmentally safe way,” said Landrieu.

The Shreveport Times reports this about Sen. Landrieu’s recent visit to DeSoto Parish:

County officials in New York “need to hear from you that it is not dangerous,” [Sen. Landrieu] said of the fracing process.

Hear that, Sen. Casey? Ask someone who knows: Hydraulic fracturing is safe. It’s heavily regulated. And it’s helping to create tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs, and delivering stable, clean-burning, homegrown energy to families and small businesses at the same time.

Brad Gill, a member of Energy In Depth and executive director of New York’s Independent Oil & Gas Association, sheds some additional light on the supposedly “secret” aspects of this commonly used process, in the form of a letter-to-the-editor in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin today:

Your readers should know that the fluids used in the fracturing process are made of more than 99.5 percent water and sand. It’s true that chemical additives are commonly used in the process, but great efforts are made to reduce the likelihood those ingredients would ever come in contact with people, animals and all sources of fresh water. These ingredients – even those that are no longer used – are available on the DEC Web site.

The writer is correct on one thing: “Rural landowners badly need an economic break.” Safe, environmentally sound, well-regulated natural gas production – enabled by hydraulic fracturing – represents such a break.

But the tens of the thousands of jobs being created through environmentally sound shale gas development are not limited exclusively to the energy industry. Scores of good-paying, permanent indirect jobs are being created at breakneck rates. Despite this, some continue to lodge baseless attacks on hydraulic fracturing, the linchpin to shale gas development.

At a recent meeting with the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader editorial board, senior American Petroleum Institute economist Sara Banaszak said “this concern [about hydraulic fracturing] is misplaced,” noting that the fluids used in the process – made up of more than 99.5 percent water and sand – “are the same chemicals we see in our everyday use.”

As it relates to the new jobs associated with responsible shale gas development, Ms. Banaszak said the “economic potential cannot be ignored.” This from the paper:

For example, 50,000 jobs were created in Pennsylvania as a result of natural gas drilling in 2009. That number is expected to rise to 98,000 this year. That economic boost is why Pennsylvania lawmakers cannot afford to impose a severance tax on natural gas companies. “If you impose a tax, you get less investment and the government could see less revenue,” she said.

“This is an opportunity that is sort of unprecedented,” Banaszak concluded.” Not just for Pennsylvania, but for the entire country.”

Speaking of indirect economic benefits tied directly to shale gas production, the Associated Press reports this yesterday under the headline “Railroads booming with Marcellus Shale business”:

“The need to transport millions of pounds of sand and other materials to the rapidly increasing number of Marcellus Shale natural gas well drilling sites in Pennsylvania is bringing big business to railroads.

The new business is arriving as Pennsylvania’s railroad operators – the state has the most in the nation – were suffering shrinking demand for loads of traditional materials, such as coal.

Lorain, Ohio’s Morning Journal writes this a recent editorial:

Lorain seems to be in the right spot to capitalize on the nation’s desire to drill for more clean-energy natural gas.

U.S. Steel is considering spending $250 million to expand its Lorain Tubular Operations because of the Lorain plant’s proximity to an immense Appalachian Marcellus shale deposits that include parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

Natural gas is locked in that shale and energy companies need specialized steel tubing to drill for it. Some of the best steel tubing is made by U.S. Steel in Lorain.

Local government and business leaders should work together to make the U.S. Steel expansion in Lorain a reality.

And in a recent Philadelphia Bulletin op-ed, the Commonwealth Foundation’s Elizabeth Bryan writes this about responsible shale gas development:

The Marcellus Shale boom is accomplishing something that all of Governor Rendell’s economic development programs cannot: permanent jobs and more state tax revenue without a dime of taxpayer subsidies. Resisting the calls to tax natural gas producers will ensure Pennsylvania maintains a competitive edge without compromising our fiscal health or natural resources.

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