Salazar Endorses Hydraulic Fracturing

Oct 6, 2011

Workers on natural gas rigYesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said hydraulic fracturing is "a necessary part of the future of natural gas." He went on to note that natural gas is "a very important domestic source of energy for us."

I'm glad that the secretary appreciates the role hydraulic fracturing has to play in developing our energy resources.

As noted in Free Enterprise magazine, the benefits from a "natural gas renaissance" are real in terms of the number of jobs created and new revenue for governments in the Eastern United States:

“The potential is enormous,” Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, who now leads Ridge Global, his own international security and risk management firm, headquartered in Washington, D.C., told Free Enterprise magazine. “I see natural gas potentially as a transformational fuel at least for the first half of the 21st century. Pennsylvania is only a drop in the bucket. We only have 2,000 wells, and they’ve created about 50,000 to 60,000 jobs, with an average salary of more than $60,000.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says that drillers have paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006. The revenue department also identified some $214 million in personal income taxes paid since 2006 that can be attributed to Marcellus shale lease payments to individuals, royalty income, and asset sales.

As with any activity, commonsense regulation is needed to efficiently extract natural gas while protecting the environment. That's what is happening in North Dakota, which is sitting on top of the energy-rich Bakken Formation:

A big part of what's happening where shale formations are being tapped, through hydraulic fracturing, is partnership with state regulators. [Former U.S. Senator Byron] Dorgan said one reason the Bakken is thriving in North Dakota is the cooperation between industry and state officials. It's not a question of whether hydraulic fracturing will be regulated, he said, but how.

Let's hope policy makers in Washington heed Secretary Salazar's words and let hydraulic fracturing continue to provide much-needed jobs and domestic energy.

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