The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Fracking Panel Finds (Some) Common Ground

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 26, 2011

Good discussion of hydraulic fracturing Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute, which hosted a panel that included Reason magazine science writer Ronald Bailey, University of Wyoming economist Timothy Considine, the Environmental Defense Fund's Mark Brownstein and the Natural Resources Defense Council's Amy Mall. The key takeaways:

  • In terms of fracking methods and technology, so-called "best practices" are coming from free-market competition, not the prod of government regulation, Bailey said. Although Brownstein is more of a regulation proponent, he acknowledged government rules aren't always needed to coax innovation.
  • Hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania has produced 50,000 new jobs, according to Considine, who authored a 2010 report to API on the impacts of shale gas development in Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia. Evidence that shale gas production is bringing economic benefits around the Marcellus play is apparent in the numbers of new vehicles and barns, Considine said, as landowners receiving lease payments turn into consumers.
  • New technologies to capture natural gas that previously might have escaped during extraction are coming on line, Bailey said, because companies have an interest in increased efficiency.

The challenge is to advance conversations like the one at AEI, where important common ground was apparent, into the larger public discussion - where individual political interests and policy agendas can waylay the facts, slowing or even blocking access to a secure American energy source.

Additional resources:

API government-cited and safety documents

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.