Hydraulic Fracturing Drives U.S. Energy Revolution

Jack Gerard

Jack Gerard
Posted February 17, 2016

America’s status as the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas is delivering major benefits to U.S. families and businesses. Production increases have ensured a stable supply of affordable, reliable energy, helping drive down prices for gasoline, electricity and home heating. Carbon emissions have also dropped – to near 20-year lows – thanks to abundant supplies of clean-burning natural gas.

It’s all possible due to hydraulic fracturing and advances in horizontal drilling. According to the Energy Department, at least 2 million oil and natural gas wells have been hydraulically fractured in this country, including up to 95 percent of new wells that account for more than 43 percent of U.S. oil production and 67 percent of its natural gas production.

Fracking technology’s 65-year track record of success and safety continues to be reaffirmed by studies that show no impact on groundwater. The University of Cincinnati recently completed a three-year study in which researchers examined water samples three to four times per year from 23 wells in the Utica shale region. The study found no evidence linking fracking to groundwater contamination. In fact, says a geologist involved with the study, “The samples that we collected that were very high in methane clearly did not have a natural gas source… Some of our highest observed methane concentrations were not near a fracking well at all.” The researcher speculated that the study is not receiving as much publicity as might be expected because the study’s funders -- who “were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban” fracking -- “were a little disappointed in our results.”

Those findings are consistent with other studies, including the EPA’s landmark, five-year, $31 million study that “did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” EPA’s exhaustive study includes more than 950 sources of information, published papers, technical reports, contributions from stakeholders and peer-reviewed EPA scientific reports.

Despite such findings and clear evidence that robust state regulations – which are continually updated and tailored to each area’s unique geology and hydrology – are successful, the Obama administration continues to propose additional, duplicative federal regulations that could stifle production.

At some point, the administration must accept the science and stop pursuing policies that could unnecessarily limit hydraulic fracturing, the engine of the American energy revolution.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack N. Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. He also has served as the president and CEO of trade associations representing the chemical and mining industries. Jack understands how Washington works. He spent several years working in the U.S. Senate and House, and co-founded a Washington-based government relations consulting firm. A native of Idaho, Jack also is very active in the Boy Scouts of America, a university graduate program on politics, and his church’s leadership. He and his wife are the proud parents of eight children, including twin boys adopted from Guatemala.

Energy Tomorrow is a project of the American Petroleum Institute – the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry – speaking for the industry to the public, Congress and the Executive Branch, state governments and the media.