It is ironic that President Obama happens to be in Poland on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. offshore drilling moratorium, imposed by his administration in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon incident. The irony lies in the fact that Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has applauded his country’s plans to utilize its bountiful amount of shale gas to help get the country’s economy back on track, stating that “this is a great chance for Poland to strengthen its energy security and its position overall.” In contrast, President Obama, his administration, and many of the Democratic members of Congress reject the idea of drilling for natural gas using new technology, no matter how economically beneficial, and no matter how many studies prove it safe.
A recent study estimated that in 2009, the development of the Marcellus Shale created 44,000 jobs in Pennsylvania; added $389 million in state and local revenue; over $1 billion in federal tax revenue; and almost $4 billion in value added to the state’s economy. These economic gains were realized in just one state, whereas shale plays and basins can be found throughout many of the lower 48 states.
Despite revolutionizing the production of natural gas, some Members of Congress such as Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette are waging war against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”—the extraction technique that is enabling Poland and the U.S. to access greater amounts of shale gas trapped in tight underground formations. In her attacks on natural gas and fracking, DeGette hides behind the alleged dangers of natural gas production. She says that “natural gas is an important economic driver and a significant bridge fuel – particularly for Colorado – but we must ensure the process for extracting is done safely and responsibly.”
DeGette neglects to mention that two studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ground Water Protection Council (the national association of state ground water and underground injection agencies whose mission is to promote the protection and conservation of ground water) found that there have been no confirmed incidents of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing. Given this compelling evidence, we have to wonder what additional studies would convince DeGette and her allies that natural gas production is safe.
Americans can only hope that President Obama will not only learn how to polka in Poland, but will also the benefits of increasing natural gas production through the use of hydraulic fracturing.