Opinion

The Science-Free Fracking Views Of Hillary And Bernie

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Keith Mauck Principal, American Energy Communications

If you want America to become energy independent, I suggest avoiding a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders presidency. In their most recent debate, Sanders said he was against hydraulic fracturing, and Hillary said fracking would not occur on her watch because drillers would be suffocated with her conditions and regulations.

In Sanders’ case, it’s obvious that he has not looked at the science of fracking and its clean environmental record. With Clinton that is not the case.

While serving as Secretary of State, Clinton was quite active in promoting fracking to the nations of Bulgaria and Romania. These efforts eventually led to the Global Shale Gas Initiative, which aimed to help other nations develop their shale potential — but that was so 2010. Things have changed — there is now a primary to win. Today, both candidates are listening to the naysayers — President Obama’s political base — whose opinions are filled with unsubstantiated fears, not facts. Let’s consider the facts regarding the practice of fracking — no doubt the same facts that Hillary used to sell the drilling technique to the world.

Fact #1: After researching fracking for five years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 gave fracking a clean bill of health. It found no evidence of what it called “widespread, systemic” drinking water contamination caused by fracking. The EPA’s findings have been peer reviewed and upheld by the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).

Other studies conducted directly in shale drilling areas by the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the California Council on Science and Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and many others have failed to find a link between fracking and poor water quality. Several studies, including a “landmark” study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, also have found no connection between fracking and gas migration into water wells.

Fact #2: Fracking and directional drilling are the key to unlocking energy from shale formations. Since the beginning of the so-called “shale gale,” the United States has become the largest oil and natural gas producer on the planet. Imports of foreign oil have been cut substantially, and prices for both oil and natural gas have declined. Last week natural gas prices hit historic lows, but production remained strong.

Fact #3: Low-cost natural gas is helping the environment by supplanting coal for electricity generation. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal—emitting up to 60 percent fewer emissions—making it the fuel-of-choice for utilities that are complying with new federal carbon dioxide rules.

Prior to the collapse of oil and gas prices, the shale gale also was creating jobs. As drilling activities increased, American workers were finding good-paying jobs both in the drilling industry and in companies that support energy production. These industries will rebound when oil and gas supply and demand regain balance.

Fact #4: Demand for oil and natural gas will continue for many years to come. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), oil and natural gas will comprise 62 percent of U.S. energy demand in 2040. Renewables, which are an important part of the overall energy mix, will account for about 10 percent of demand. This means the United States must continue to produce oil and natural gas and rely on fracking to extract energy from America’s abundant shale formations.

Fact #5: Some of fracking’s loudest critics are failing to make their case in court. In a suit filed in 2009, residents of Dimock, Penn.—home of the discredited Gasland documentaries— claimed fracking contaminated their well water and harmed their property values. As fracking’s self-appointed poster children, some members of the Dimock community have traveled around the country with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups to spread fear.

However, on March 7, the judge dismissed part of their suit due to lack of evidence. And their own attorney admitted in her opening statement that fracking fluids were not responsible for the water pollution; rather the contamination came from methane gas which migrated into their water wells.

But all of these facts apparently have had little or no impact on Hillary Clinton’s or Bernie Sanders’ positions on fracking. They apparently have chosen to pander to voters who are afraid of fracking. They should be ashamed.

Keith Mauck, J.D., is Publisher of GoHaynesvilleShale.comGoMarcellusShale.com and Co-Founder of ShaleCast.com