NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The War on Natural Gas

August 8, 2011

Politicians, activists and lobbyists have pushed for new taxes and fees on natural gas drillers and even an outright ban on all natural gas in Pennsylvania.  Their obstruction of the industry's growth efforts has also consisted of a public relations campaign to distort the reality of the industry and spread myths about drilling activities, say Paul Chesser, executive director, and Mark Newgent, a research fellow, at the American Tradition Institute.

  • Heinz Endowments -- Grants totaling more than $680,000 for the study of gas drilling "impacts," outreach, organizing, legal issues and oversight have been given to universities and nonprofits.
  • International WOW -- The company created a film called "Gasland," which shows a distorted picture of the connection between natural gas and methane in water wells. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission even issued a fact sheet that corrected errors in the documentary.
  • National Groups Feeding Pennsylvania Affiliates -- Grants made by wealthy donors to anti-oil and gas nonprofits have been a key part of the obstructionist effort against gas drilling.
  • Local Activism Tries to Thwart Development -- Certain local groups have focused their efforts around specific areas, while insisting on drilling moratoriums and additional "impact studies."
  • PennFuture -- Otherwise known as Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, this organization has been hypocritical in their accusations of natural gas companies for their lobbying and political campaign expenditures. For years they did not disclose to the Internal Revenue Service their lobbying and grassroots activities on behalf of the alternative energy industry.

Despite what the critics of the industry claim, natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania is not a danger to the environment.  The hydraulic fracturing process is much safer than they have suggested and has helped create jobs, access natural resources and keep energy prices down.

Source: Paul Chesser and Mark Newgent, "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas," Commonwealth Foundation, July 2011.

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