Posted September 20, 2013
Encouraging words on shale development via hydraulic fracturing this week from former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
First Salazar, who as Interior boss was the lead federal official on access to U.S. onshore and offshore oil and natural gas reserves. From coverage of Salazar at the Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces, N.M., by the Las Cruces Sun-News:
“(Hydraulic fracturing) is creating an energy revolution in the United States alone," Salazar said. He recognized the concerns many environmentalists have with the process, often called fracking, that pumps high-pressured water into holes drilled in the ground to extract gas and oil. Environmentalists are concerned the process contaminates water and air quality, along with other environmental impacts. "I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe," Salazar said.
The paper reports that Salazar said American energy security is at a “good place” that’s worth celebrating. Later in the article Salazar notes business efforts to limit emissions and the need for a non-partisan approach to energy security:
“The nation must come together to effectively address energy security regardless of political affiliation, he said. "The concept of red states and blue states real has no meaning at the end of the day in terms of United States energy security," Salazar said.
Amen on both counts. The United States is in a good place energy-wise – because it has been blessed with vast shale reserves and because of advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. As Interior secretary, Salazar no doubt was aware of this convergence.
“Environmental groups have campaigned for stricter controls on fracking. But Chu said it is a “false choice” to say that the country must decide between inexpensive natural gas and preserving the environment. “This is something you can do in a safe way,” he said. Later, in a session with reporters, he said that most of the environmental problems with fracking are because of errors that can be fixed.
Amen again. Goals for energy development and environmental stewardship can advance together. Effective regulation, led by the states, combined with industry standards that are regularly updated to incorporate what’s being learned in the field can manage the production of the oil and natural gas our economy needs while protecting the water and air.
As public discussion of energy development and hydraulic fracturing continues, it’s important that Salazar, Chu and other credible figures be heard – to allay fears and encourage the cooperation necessary to make America’s domestic energy wealth a true game-changer.
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.