The Facts About Fracking

The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

From the Wall Street Journal
The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don’t mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.

Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).

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The resulting boom is transforming America’s energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America’s gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports. Continue reading

Sundown for Krugman

Another day, another misrepresentation of natural gas in the New York Times.

As you know, we’ve spent considerable time debunking articles in the New York Times that question the benefits and safety of natural gas production, particularly as it relates to hydraulic fracturing. Unfortunately, the folks at the Times still haven’t gotten the message.

This week, Paul Krugman used one of his weekly columns to extol the future of solar power, but not before baselessly demonizing shale gas development.

Speaking of propaganda: Before I get to solar, let’s talk briefly about hydraulic fracturing, a k a fracking.

Fracking — injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels — is an impressive technology. But it’s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

First and foremost, let’s give Mr. Krugman some credit. He does refer to hydraulic fracturing as an “impressive technology,” which it most certainly is. Unfortunately for Mr. Krugman and his readers, though, it’s all downhill from there. Continue reading