A Wave Of New Fracking Is About To Hit Appalachia

(Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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State governments in Appalachia have issued 229 new permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, since November, according to analysis by a trade publication.

Pennsylvania’s government issued 179 permits since Nov. 1. Ohio issued 43 permits and West Virginia issued seven. This is almost double the average number of permits issued during a similar period, indicating that a fracking boom could soon occur in Appalachia.

Ohio is producing 1,000 percent more oil and natural gas than it was in 2006 and its natural gas production grew 41 percent faster last year than it did in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

America produced 79 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in 2015, breaking the previous record by 5 percent, according to the EIA. Most of that natural gas boom was concentrated in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Together, these states accounted for 35 percent of total American natural gas production — the rest of the country saw a modest decline.

Much of this boom is due to a favorable regulatory and legal environment. Ohio Supreme Court’s struck down local fracking bans and concluded that local governments can’t hold referendums to amend charters to ban fracking.

Several state and federal courts concluded that only the state government has the legal authority to regulate fracking, as any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.”

The oil and gas industries in most states have historically been regulated by state, not local, government. Environmental groups, including The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, and Earthworks vehemently support local bans on fracking across the country.

“The energy renaissance that’s transforming our nation is bringing great benefits to Ohio including jobs in the state. In fact over 255,000 jobs are supported by the oil and natural gas industry in Ohio,” Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, wrote in Your Oil And Gas News. “Over the last decade, natural gas production has increased by more than 1000 percent in the state due in part to the technological advancements in hydraulic fracturing that has contributed to Ohio’s energy revolution.”

Fracking is estimated to have generated 4.6 million new jobs and $3.5 trillion in new wealth, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

America surpassed Russia’s energy production early last year as the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas. Today, America’s proven recoverable natural gas reserves are seven times larger than they were in 2014.

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