The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Mischaracterizing the Fracking Debate

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 18, 2011

With all due respect to Tulsa World columnist Mike Jones - who should know better being from oil and natural gas country - his Sunday piece wrongly depicts the two sides in the public debate over hydraulic fracturing. Jones wrote:

"Stopping hydraulic fracturing in gas wells altogether or allowing unlimited and unregulated fracking are the two sides of a controversial issue that we are hearing most these days."

Sorry, but that's just plain wrong. This is a contest between those who're opposed to fracking - and most likely to abundant, affordable natural gas as well - and those who support effectively regulated, responsible development of a key American resource.

Industry is demonstrating its commitment to sensible state and local regulation wherever hydraulic fracturing is under way. Here's a previous post that includes information on efforts in Pennsylvania, where natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation is being tapped with fracked wells - producing vast quantities of clean-burning energy and an economic boom. Key point: Industry supported an increase of more than 1000 percent in the state's permitting fee with the understanding the state would hire more inspectors, which it did. That's not the behavior of companies that want "unlimited and unregulated fracking."

In fact, industry has helped state and local regulatory efforts through its compilation of hydraulic fracturing best practices. These are field-tested, regularly reviewed guidelines, many of which are referenced in federal and state regulations. That's not the behavior of an industry that opposes any governmental oversight.

Industry also works closely with STRONGER, a non-profit that helps states formulate environmental regulations associated with oil and gas development. And it is helping to strengthen the FracFocus disclosure registry on fracking fluids. Neither is consistent with an industry that wants, as Jones suggests, wild, wild West conditions for hydraulic fracturing.

The fact is industry is deeply invested in the development of natural gas. It wants to refine procedures, improve safety and be a good neighbor to the people and communities that benefit most from it. Effective regulation is a critical part of that effort.

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.