To the Editor:
RE: "God Will Help Us Fight for Our Lives Against Fracking Threat" (The NEWS, Dec. 9).
Readers of The Athens NEWS need to know that hydraulic fracturing and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive. While shale development is only a few years old in Ohio, we have been utilizing hydraulic fracturing as a completion technique for over 60 years in this state. During that time, there has not been a single confirmed case of groundwater contamination. This fact has been repeated by regulators across the United States, as well as current Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former U.S. EPA chief Lisa Jackson.
Thanks to the advent of horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracturing, Ohio is seeing resurgence in oil and gas activity. The safe and responsible development taking place is well regulated by both state and federal agencies. Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) requires operators to meet 54 different well casing standards to ensure our environment is well protected during oil and gas activities. In addition, ODNR inspectors visit these sites on a regular basis to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable laws.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has also determined that no fewer than eight federal laws apply to shale development.
Furthermore, a recent air quality study by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection found "there are no indications of a public health emergency or threat" following their monitoring of drilling and production sites in the state. This mirrors what other state regulators have found, from Pennsylvania to Colorado to Texas.
Shale development is providing the energy we consume every day while also reducing the amount of CO2 that is emitted into our atmosphere. The Energy Information Administration has found that CO2 emissions recently fell to their lowest level in 20 years, thanks largely in part to the increased use of natural gas developed from shale
It should also be noted that the proposed cracker plant in West Virginia would provide thousands of new jobs as well as the plastic we use on a daily basis. That plant will have to meet several rigorous regulatory standards to protect the environment, while also providing much-needed work and revenue to our communities.
University of California-Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller said it best in a report he authored on shale development: "Environmentalists who oppose the development of shale gas and fracking are making a tragic mistake." Shale development should be heralded, not condemned with hyperbole that invokes God Himself.
Energy In Depth