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Syracuse Profs Say Hydraulic Fracturing is a “safe method to capture a huge supply of underground natural gas”

When it comes to the facts surrounding the 60-year old energy stimulation technology called hydraulic fracturing, which has been safely used more than 1.1 million times throughout the United States, several top New York academics believe that the facts – based on science and not fear or hyperbole – speak for themselves.

In yesterday’s Syracuse Post-Standard, under the headline “Scientists say Hydrofracking benefits outweigh risks”, a trio of Syracuse University experts echoed the fact that anti-shale gas production advocates – who “rely on fear ” – “are exaggerating the risk” of fracturing, and that “many of those concerns have been sensationalized” and “overblown.”

This from the article:

The debate should be about the science, he contends, as do two retired SU professors, Bryce Hand and Joe Robinson — who have defended high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a safe method to capture a huge supply of underground natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.

But opponents of hydrofracking have “dispensed with science and rely on fear” to turn the public against drilling, Siegel said.

The voices of scientists are being drowned out, the professors said.

“What I’m finding is that no matter how you make the argument about shale bed methane to the local community, they refuse to understand it or refuse to even consider it,” said Siegel, a 62-year-old Syracuse resident.

And speaking of the facts, Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster – a member of the House Energy and Mineral Resources panel – took to the pages of the Johnston Tribune-Democrat today to highlight the overwhelmingly positive economic impact that the safe, responsible development of the Marcellus Shale is having throughout the Commonwealth. Under the headline “Marcellus Shale: Reigniting state’s energy potential,” the congressman writes this:

There is enormous economic potential for Pennsylvania to take advantage of this reserve as new drilling techniques have unlocked vast resources previously impossible to reach.

Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale will generate $14 billion and has the potential to create 98,000 jobs in 2010 alone, and bring in $800 million in state and local tax revenue.

From steel to rail, other industries are already responding to the needs of the growing gas industry. This will lead to more jobs and economic growth throughout the state.

It is important that we recognize the enormous potential shale gas holds for Pennsylvania and encourage this growing industry with smart policies that encourage economic development.

The congressman also underscores how effectively the state regulates this production, especially as it relates to fracturing:

Natural gas drilling is effectively regulated at the state level by the Department of Environmental Protection. I believe the state continues to be in the best position to manage and regulate the industry.

The federal government is considering regulation of a critical drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, which is necessary to recover gas from the Marcellus Shale.

Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for 60 years; more than 1 million wells have been hydraulically fractured and there has never been a single documented case of groundwater contamination.

The practice is regulated effectively at the state level and there is simply no need for the federal government to step in with unduly burdensome regulations.

While Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) believes that unelected Washington bureaucrats are best suited to regulate fracturing, a chorus of key congressional supporters have recently weighed-in, sending a loud and clear message that energy-producing states are best able, equipped and situated to oversee this critical technology.

In fact, a bipartisan group lawmakers who serve on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee – led by Reps. Sullivan (R-Okla.), Ross (D-Ark.) – wrote Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, leaders of the panel, last week, urging them to reject a one-size-fits-all Washington takeover of fracturing regulations.

Following the release of the bipartisan letter, Congressman Sullivan said this:

“In 2004, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing poses no threat to groundwater. In fact, in the past 60 years, close to one million wells have been hydraulically fractured in the United States with no known harm to water supplies. I firmly believe that  putting hydraulic fracturing under the grip of the EPA as some in Congress seek to do, would be a mistake and a bureaucratic nightmare that would lead to delays in recoverable domestic natural gas extraction and would hurt job growth in Oklahoma our nation.”

Congressman Mike Ross added this:

“Natural gas is one of our cleanest and most abundant energy resources in America. This industry also employs nearly 4 million Americans, including about 40,000 Arkansas families. Hydraulic fracturing is an important technology that allows us to safely recover natural gas from shale formations like the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas, reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources. It is absolutely critical we have the most recent and relevant scientific data before making any decisions, which will most likely have a far-reaching impact on Americans’ access to natural gas.”

And in a separate letter last week, Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner – the top Republican on the House Energy Independence Committee and former Science panel chairman – told EPA administrator Lisa Jackson this:

“EPA can help promote our nation’s energy independence by making it easier for the U.S. to rely on our domestic resources. We should let states regulate fracking guidelines instead of establishing federal mandates, or a government takeover of yet another industry.”

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