Cumberland Times-News


February 8, 2014

It’s time to start drilling

A recent letter to the Times-News takes fear-mongering about fracking to a new level (“Here’s what the Marcellus Shale gas drilling looks like,” Feb. 1 Times-News).

It draws a dire picture replete with fictionalized accounts of surly oilfield workers, erratically driven trucks, and warnings about tainted land and water.

But the facts about fracking paint a very positive portrait of U.S. oil and natural gas development.

Furthermore, opinion surveys indicate that a clear majority of Americans favor U.S. energy development, including fracking.

A poll conducted by the Tarrance Group for the Western Energy Association last April found that 78 percent of respondents supported increased U.S. oil and natural gas development.

A majority (53 percent) also said they had a favorable view of how these traditional forms of energy are produced today.

A similar survey conducted by Robert Morris University’s Polling Institute discovered that nearly 74 percent of respondents believe new drilling technologies including hydraulic fracturing are leading the United States to energy independence, and more than 80 percent suggest fracturing has the potential to help the U.S. economy.

Fracking has unleashed massive supplies of clean-burning natural gas, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and shale oil which lessens our dependence on foreign oil.

Fracking has been used successfully since the late 1940’s. When conducted safely and in accord with regulations, it poses no threat to the environment or drinking water.

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress there have been no confirmed cases of drinking water contamination caused by fracturing operations.

At a New Jersey conference, she added that the technology produces “a huge return on the investment.”

And the return on investment is not relegated only to energy companies. All Americans are benefitting from the increased domestic production of oil and natural gas.

According to an IHS economic analysis, the average U.S. household has gained $1,200 in real disposable income due to fracturing and the shale energy revolution.

Fracking also is making the United States the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

In the past two years alone, it has boosted U.S. liquid energy production, including oil and natural gas liquids, by 27 percent.

One would think that environmentalists would applaud fracking’s success because it is making more clean-burning natural gas available.

As utility companies switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation, carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere decline.

America’s CO2 emissions are at the lowest levels in nearly 20 years. This is a big win for the environment.

In Maryland, fracking could hold the key to harvesting the state’s energy resources, putting people back to work, and boosting the economy.

The time for scare tactics and political posturing is over.

Let the drilling begin.

 Steven R. Pottle, principal

Victoram Energy Research & Consulting

Raleigh, N.C.

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