Thursday, February 04, 2010

What A Gas!

Here We Go Again

It was an incident at Three Mile Island that relegated the nuclear power industry to an also ran energy solution for this country. Not one person died as a result of TMI, in fact I don't think anyone was actually even hurt except the industry itself. TMI was no Chernobyl. The safety record of the nuclear power industry worldwide (Russia not withstanding) is exemplary. Nonetheless the environmentalists, for whom the word compromise does not exist successfully doomed the whole domestic industry to the point of causing Obama Administration officials incapable of even uttering the words nuclear power.

Next stop: Natural Gas
How many times have we heard the hue and cry "we must end our dependence on foreign oil" or "energy independence". To the environmentalists these phrases mean windmills and solar panels (except when they are proposed for their neighborhoods). They know as well as you and I that these poor excuses will never provide the energy a country like United States needs to maintain an economy and a standard of living we have come to expect. Every one of these so called alternative energy solutions, including ethanol require massive grants, subsidies, and tax breaks from state and federal government agencies. Enter natural gas, a clean burning, domestically abundant energy source that already employs a mature infrastructure from sea to shining sea - and - requires no government handouts. So what's not to like?

There's a relatively new technique that uses horizontal drilling with a process called hydraulic fracking that has the potential to transform America into the first natural gas society. The problem is that it requires massive amounts of water. Environmentalists and public health officials believe it should be regulated because of concerns that water supplies could be threatened by the chemicals left underground or in the open pits. Yes, regulation is one thing - not to say it isn't already being regulated today - but environmentalists and their Democrat pals intend to squash it altogether.

One can only surmise their actual motives. Protecting ground water is a worthy cause, but saving "green energy industries" is a major driver, make no mistake about it. Despite the abundance and cleanliness of natural gas it doesn't fit the narrative the Greens and the ultra-liberals desire. An energy independent America threatens them on so many levels... Altruistic high-minded environmental protection motives always seem to come back to one thing - money.

The actual worry about ground water contamination may be overblown. Interestingly the EPA has in fact investigated this issue and was unable to find even one case where fracking fluid had actually contaminated a water supply. The Groundwater Protection Council found the same thing. And the Department of Energy did too. Protections should be investigated and regulations should exist, no one is arguing that. The oil and gas industry reminds us that hydraulic fracturing is performed tens of thousands of times each year, with an exemplary safety record, and there are no documented cases of contamination to drinking water.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Range Resources Corp., one of the gas field's most active operators, pipes its wastewater into a central holding pond, then dilutes it with fresh water and reuses it. This practice saves about $200,000 per well, or about 5 percent, more importantly it keeps the wastewater from being processed in municipal treatment plants which typically returns it to rivers.

As well, a new $15 million treatment plant that distills frack water is opening in Fairmont, W.Va. The 200,000 gallons it can treat each day can then be trucked back for use at a new drilling site. These are examples of the industry developing ways to mitigate the impact facking will have on ground water. While it's true that water contamination has been documented near drilling sites, still a definitive link between drilling and contamination has never been made. Environmental Protection Agency officials investigated and ruled regulation was unnecessary.

All this will not enough for the Democrats and the environmentalists. Horror stories are already popping up in the "concerned" media. NPR and the New York Times have done their share of heartfelt anecdotal testimonials to be sure. These people need to be taken to task for scaremongering and the politicians who would shoot this gift horse in the head need to be run out of office.

Not to be left out the tort lawyers have already began setting up their web sites. Weitz and Luxenberg offer these words of comfort: If your community has been affected by well fracking, we may be able to help. Please complete the form below for a free legal review of your potential environmental lawsuit. A representative of our firm will be in touch shortly.

The real comfort is your warm home and falling prices on your gas bill every month. Or the comfort of knowing that if our own natural gas reserves are developed to the full potential America can stop spending so much blood and money protecting the global oil supply.