Energy Tomorrow: No New Regulations Needed on Fracking

No one can argue that shale oil and natural gas development has not been a gigantic economic success, and that such economic success is a rare thing these days.  A recent post on the Energy Tomorrow blog says that this is a big reason that adding further layers of federal regulation on fracking is unnecessary.

While the benefits of shale development have been clear and are being experienced by many already, by most accounts what has happened so far is only the tip of the iceberg.  This blog post points out that the industry is committed to extracting oil and gas as safely as possible, and that federal and state regulations have already been refined in order to provide adequate government oversight, as well as adequate penalties for failure to drill safely.  More after the jump...

Yet there are now 10 different federal agencies determined to look more closely at fracking and add further regulations.  Energy Tomorrow argues that this would be unneeded and counter productive in a nation that is still badly in need of the jobs and economic benefits that this drilling activity would bring.

To help make the point, the blog gives an excellent summary of some of the opportunities shale development have already brought about.  Here is an excerpt:

  • Just yesterday, a new study in Ohio said development of the Utica Shale could mean 65,000 new jobs in the next two years.
  • In Pennsylvania, development of the Marcellus Shale created 72,000 new jobs from late 2009 to early 2011.   
  • In North Dakota, shale development helped drive down unemployment in the state to the lowest level in the nation, helped produce a state budget surplus of $1 billion, and elevated North Dakota to the nation’s fourth largest oil producer.  
  • In Arkansas, shale development has boosted state revenue by more than $1.5 billion over the last few years. 
  • Houston is the first metropolitan area in the United States to regain all of the jobs lost during the recession, an analysis by the Texas Workforce Commission has concluded.  Many of the new jobs likely relate to the oil and natural gas industry and to shale development.
  • A study by former Census officials of U.S. household income in nine geographic regions between 2007 and 2010 found it increasing only in the four-state oil patch region: Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas – all centers of shale energy development.
  • Nationwide, shale gas development was supporting 600,000 jobs in 2010, according to a December IHS-Global Insight report.
  • Also, natural gas prices have fallen by half from their level three years ago.  That is benefiting families that heat their homes with natural gas, as well as businesses and consumers that buy their electricity from utilities that generate it with natural gas.  
  • Low natural gas prices are also benefiting chemical manufacturers and other businesses that use natural gas a raw material, and they are encouraging businesses to locate new facilities in America rather than overseas.  Dow Chemical, for example, plans to reopen an ethylene production plant near Hahnville, Louisiana, this year and build another one on the Gulf coast by 2017.  It also plans to build a new propylene plant in Texas by 2015.
 So, in order for these benefits to continue, Energy Tomorrow argues that the administration should look carefully at the potential regulations being considered and tread lightly when it comes to anything that may slow the shale oil and gas exploration.  In addition, they suggest that each individual citizen should take responsibility and learn more about these energy sources and political candidates' stances on further exploration when making voting decisions.

How do you feel about that?  Should further regulation of fracking be on the government's agenda, or is enough already being done to protect the environment and public health?

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