The gas industry
can no longer simply focus on the benefits
Aug 1st 2013 - In a rare
interview George Mitchell, known as the Father of Fracking was asked by
Are the concerns
of environmentalists over fracking justified?
As a concerned businessman and
philanthropist, I have come to understand that the natural gas industry can no
longer simply focus on the benefits of shale gas while failing to address its
We know that there are significant impacts
on air quality, water consumption, water contamination, and local communities.
We need to ensure that the vast renewable
resources in the United States are also part of the clean energy future,
especially since natural gas and renewables are such great partners to jointly
fuel our power production.
Energy efficiency is also a critical part of
the overall energy strategy that our nation needs to adopt.
What can the industry do to reassure the public
that shale gas extraction techniques are safe?
Some in the industry have been reluctant to support common-sense regulation, and
that needs to change.
Industry leaders, representing companies of all sizes, need to rally behind
solutions based on hard science and technological innovation.
To find these solutions, industry leaders
must lend their best engineers and scientists to a national campaign, teaming up
with counterparts from government, academia, and the environmental community, to
develop strong state by state regulations and effective solutions to the
environmental challenges of shale gas.
We need to replace all-or-nothing arguments with a reasoned discussion that
identifies a new path forward.
Most rules should be designed at the state level, starting with the 14 states
that possess 85% of U.S. onshore natural gas reserves.
Best regulatory practices should be shared
among state regulators and similar best management practices should be shared
among health, safety, and environmental affairs professionals.
A strong federal role is also necessary, starting with the Environmental
Protection Agency’s new rules calling for more controls over the most dangerous
air pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing.
The rules will also mitigate methane leakage
during the drilling process.
This is critical, since methane is a powerful
greenhouse gas pollutant, and uncontrolled leakages call into question whether
natural gas is cleaner than coal from a global climate perspective.