Posted June 14, 2016
Advanced hydraulic fracturing – the foundation of America’s historic, game-changing energy revolution – is under attack. On the presidential campaign trail, in conversations in Washington and other places, fracking faces ideologically motivated challenges from those who ignore its science and misrepresent its safety record.
It’s critically important that we have an honest conversation about hydraulic fracturing because it is responsible for at least 2 million wells and up to 95 percent of new wells being drilled – accounting for more than 43 percent of oil and 67 percent of natural gas production. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that fracking, which now accounts for about half of U.S. dry natural gas production (14 trillion cubic feet or Tcf), will account for 69 percent of production in 2040 (29 Tcf):
This is significant because increased use of clean-burning natural gas is the primary reason the United States is leading the world in reducing energy-associated carbon emissions. Without fracking and the natural gas produced by it, the United States would be with the other nations of the world who’re in search of climate solutions. Erik Milito, API upstream group director in remarks for EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) this week :
Hydraulic fracturing has been the catalyzing force behind the recent decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to near 20-year lows. This is because HF has unleashed vast supplies of clean, affordable gas, and this in turn has allowed natural gas to produce much more of America’s electricity – with natural gas emitting half the carbon emissions as other sources and virtually no hazardous air pollutants. In other words, but for hydraulic fracturing, our carbon emissions would be much higher.
In addition to climate benefits, energy from hydraulic fracturing is benefiting U.S. consumers in lower prices at the pump and reduced household energy costs. Globally, the U.S. has much greater leverage because domestic production as a result of fracking is feeding world supply, effectively diminishing the ability of some countries to use energy as a geopolitical tool.
Here’s the key point: All of the benefits mentioned above – climate, economic, security – are built on the science of safe hydraulic fracturing. That’s not our conclusion but EPA’s, following a five-year, multi-million dollar study that found “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” Milito to the SAB:
The evidence is overwhelming – and sound science, the data, and the facts support, by 100 percent, EPA’s statement … This technology has been applied than 2 million times with no documented cases of groundwater contamination. The terms “widespread” and “systemic” are far from vague – they are clear and used properly by EPA in its draft assessment. You can only conclude that there are no widespread, systemic impacts.
All other credible studies arrive at the same conclusion – there is no link between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water impacts. There have been numerous studies by the U.S. Geological Survey, the state of California, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and others that all reach this same conclusion. And a recently conducted study by Molofsky and others tested 1,701 water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania and found that shale gas extraction has not resulted in regional gas impacts on drinking water sources and that methane in water wells is best correlated with topography and groundwater geochemistry, rather than shale gas extraction. The science in support of EPA’s conclusion of no widespread, systemic impacts is credible and clear. Any other conclusion would simply ignore the science.
API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“Hydraulic fracturing is the driving force behind an American energy renaissance that has helped lower fuel, utility and manufacturing costs while also contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions through an abundance of affordable, clean-burning natural gas. In this election year, any energy policy proposal that rejects hydraulic fracturing rejects the American energy revolution.”
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.