Saturday, May 14, 2011

Leave hydraulic fracturing fight to states

By Michael J. Economides - 05/11/11 11:06 AM ET
More than 60 years ago when the technique was first pioneered, discussion of hydraulic fracturing was limited to a small cabal of engineers and academics. After it evolved as the premier oil and gas production technique and a $13 billion industry, the term is now echoing through the halls of Congress and beyond.

Already this year, numerous regional meetings, congressional hearings, expert task forces, and federal workshops have been convened to address the issue. Treatment of fracturing as a new technology by these numerous panels is telling. Despite decades of use in millions of wells, many public officials and opinion leaders have been caught off guard by the ever expanding opportunity to apply the fracturing process to extract previously unobtainable supplies of natural gas.

Not everyone’s surprised, though. For instance, this week’s House hearing on best practices and standards for fracturing turned to those who have been most engaged with it in the field – state oil and gas regulators.

Despite controversy over the status of state regulations, when our leaders wish to put politics and posturing aside and learn the true state of affairs, it is these local officials -- rather than EPA regulators or NGOs -- they turn to for answers.

It’s important that these experts continue to be the main source for directing natural gas development as well.

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