Last night, the anti-American natural gas film GasLand premiered in Washington, DC. The event was as well-attended as it was light on actual facts regarding hydraulic fracturing, the 60-year old energy production technology that has been safely used in more than 1 millions wells across the United States. Despite claims, this critical technology has never contaminated groundwater – a fact confirmed by Steve Heare, director of EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Division just weeks ago.
The movie – which is supported by a host of mainstream organizations (sarcasm people) such as the Damascus Citizens, Earth Justice, Environmental Working Group, National Resources Defense Council, Oil and Gas Accountability Project – was on the receiving end of a minute-by-minute Energy In Depth fact-check last night via Twitter.
And today, experts and scientists from just about every university in Pittsburgh (except Point Park) and a petroleum engineer with a PhD weigh-in on effective, environmentally sound, well-regulated natural gas production through the use of hydraulic fracturing.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rick Stouffer reports this under the headline “Gas companies eager to tap Marcellus Shale”:
This rush to develop the Marcellus region, which has an abundance of the fossil fuel 6,000 feet below much of the state, could lead to an influx of new companies in Western Pennsylvania to take advantage of low-cost energy and a boom in blue-collar jobs, the experts said.
“This region will become self-sufficient in terms of energy. There’s enough natural gas in the Marcellus to power this state for 180 years,” said Kent Moors, director of Duquesne University’s Energy Policy Research Group.
Carnegie Mellon’s Lester Lave says a “blue-collar boom” in western Pennsylvania is on the way, thanks to fracturing:
“Short term, there will be fair number of jobs developed in this area to drill the wells,” said Lester Lave, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and co-director of the university’s Electricity Industry Center.
Long term, Lave believes the lure of cheap, close-by natural gas could make this region the place to relocate for those needing cheap power to operate.
“You could have a blue-collar boom here. Cheap gas really could stimulate industry, everything from glass making, to fertilizer, to power plants — a lot of industries run on cheap fuel,” Lave said.
A Penn State University study last year projected that Marcellus-related activity by 2020 could translate into $13.5 billion of economic impact and nearly 175,000 related jobs.
Prof. Lave adds that fracturing does not affect groundwater “because it’s performed well below the water table”:
“I don’t think fracking bothers the water table because it’s performed well below the water table,” Lave said. “Companies use a lot of water to frack, but Pennsylvania has been blessed with a lot of water, so I don’t think we will run into a lot of water problems.”
And in a Binghamton, NY Press & Sun Bulletin column today, Scott Cline – a PhD in petroleum engineering – writes this under the headline “The Coming Age of Natural Gas”:
Heretofore unimagined technologies have now thrust themselves upon human history that will permit the safe extraction of this relatively clean domestic energy resource from the tight grip of the earth. The sheer abundance will also provide long-term downward price pressure on energy making the structural shift even more compelling. Miraculously America sits atop much of those resources and the fruits of that extraction will once again help propel America to energy prosperity and security. Dominant global competitive advantage, jobs, tax revenue and prosperity may result for many generations to come.
Dr. Cline adds writes this about unsubstantiated claims regarding the environmental impacts of shale gas development, like the ones featured in GasLand:
Fears of environmental ruin, undrinkable water, pollution and the like are largely unfounded, exaggerated and commingled with uninformed concerns about processes not unique to shale gas development. Horizontal drilling and [fracture] stimulation is safe.
While the public still debates and frets, industry has been busy and is already quickly approaching near 100% reuse and recycling of waste water through high technology filtering and treatment technologies using relatively little energy.