Will Washington Politics Kill the U.S. Energy Revival?

August 30, 2013

Although there is no gas yet being mined in New Jersey, it's been one of the major beneficiaries from the economic revival that has rippled across the country. New Jersey is home to the world's largest industrial gas company, Linde, which little more than a decade ago was facing a bleak future. It supplies carbon dioxide and nitrogen to companies that are developing shale through waterless hydraulic fracturing. Since the fracking technique was perfected, Linde has added hundreds of new jobs and now employs more than 1,000 people, says Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project.

This is just one story among many around the country, as once moribund industrial manufacturing, petrochemical and steel companies have experienced a business resurgence. That's all happened under the radar -- one of the many unexpected benefits as the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling has freed up formerly untapped gas deposits.

  • The economic benefits from the increased supply of shale gas in the Northeast are tangible and growing.
  • Home and industrial energy costs are at an all-time low.
  • But while Pennsylvania has embraced its reserves, adding an estimated 250,000 shale related jobs in recent years, New York is entering its sixth year of a fracking moratorium.
  • Although the science community has urged that the moratorium be lifted, Governor Cuomo now finds himself trying to deal with a radioactive issue driven by dedicated ideologues.

The debate over shale gas has intensified in recent weeks in the wake of the release of activist filmmaker Josh Fox's latest anti-shale gas "docu-prop," Gasland II. Like the original Gasland film, it revolves around iconic images of homeowners setting ablaze or otherwise getting sick from hydrocarbon-tainted tapwater -- brazenly implying that it's caused by methane and other chemicals leaked as the result of hydraulic fracturing.

What Fox does not tell you is that methane leaks naturally at the locations where he filmed. Pictures of flaming faucets and springs caused by leaking methane have been around for decades, well before fracking arrived on the scene -- one of dozens of factual missteps in Fox's films.

Considering how politicized this issue has become, can the public be sure that Washington will resist the pressures and environmental interest group lobbying that often drives policy into an ideological ditch? If not, the shale gas revolution and the energy and economic boom that it has sparked could easily be derailed.

Source: Jon Entine, "Will Washington Politics Kill the U.S. Energy Revival and Shale Gas Revolution?" Forbes, August 22, 2013.

 

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