New Study Dispells Anti-Fracking Myths

A new report from The Heritage Foundation calls attention to the many lies and distortions of opponents of hydraulic fracturing. From the first page:

While Americans continue to be disappointed by dismal jobs reports and a high unemployment rate, one of the few recent bright spots in the U.S. economy has been energy production, particularly the shale oil and shale gas revolution. In fact, the Yale Graduates Energy Study Group calculated that in 2010 alone, the consumer surplus (the consumer savings or gain from reductions in price) from shale gas production was worth over $100 billion. The technological one-two punch of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has created a remarkable energy boom and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. The possibility of continuously low natural gas prices is turning the United States into a prime destination for chemical companies and other businesses that rely on abundant amounts of natural gas. While
the energy development has been substantially positive, the process of hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny over concerns about contamination of drinking water, the use of chemicals, wastewater management, and the potential for causing earthquakes.

Indeed. Oil, natural gas and mineral production are one of the few bright spots remaining in the economy today. Why has the shale revolution been so successful? Author Nic Loris points out: it’s in part due to allowing states to regulate hydraulic fracturing and not subjecting it to the heavy-handed federal bureaucracy machine:

One of the reasons why hydraulic fracturing has been so successful in promoting oil and gas development, while maintaining a strong environmental record, is the state regulatory regime. States in which fracturing takes place each have comprehensive regulation that ensures that oil and gas companies operate safely and in an environmentally sensible manner, and administer fines and implement punitive measures to correct any wrongdoing. In November 2011, the EPA’s Lisa Jackson acknowledged the states’ role: “States are stepping up and doing a good job. It doesn’t have to be EPA that regulates the 10,000 wells that might go in.”23 But states are not just now stepping up—states have effectively regulated oil and gas production and hydraulic fracturing for decades. In Pennsylvania, fracking has been taking place since the 1960s with nearly 100,000 oil and gas wells fracked and no instances of contamination of groundwater. The same clean record is true for Ohio, where over 70,000 oil and gas wells have been fracked since the 1960s. The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission has compiled statistics for all 50 states, each of which has a flawless record when it comes to fracking and groundwater protection.

Imagine if fracking was regulated at the federal level, and drillers had to apply for permits — which at times have taken over a year to secure approval. The shale gas revolution would have taken off at a snail’s pace.

It was also interesting to learn that Lisa Jackson publicly praised the successful regulation of fracking at the state level, yet still plans to attempt to exert federal authority over fracking in the future.

Read the entire report here (PDF), which includes an excellent state by state breakdown of fracking regulations in the appendix.



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