Preserving Energy’s (and the Economy’s) Big Success Story

By May 26, 2010Energy, Regulations

The House Energy and Commerce Committee today reported out H.R. 5320, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act, which amends the Safe Water Drinking Act. (Summary sheet.)

Fortunately, the committee did not include in it an amendment by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) that would have unnecessarily limited the use of hydrofracturing practices in the drilling for natural gas. Hydrofracturing is the practice of injecting fluids under high pressure into thousands of feet below the surface to fracture the strata and free up embedded natural gas. DeGette is the sponsor of H.R. 2766, which would replace proven state regulation of the practice with EPA regulation. The National Association of Manufacturers’ Keith McCoy, our vice president of resource policy, wrote a letter to the committee registering the NAM’s objection to DeGett’e amendment, which was withdrawn. From the letter:

[The amendment] and will seek to rewrite the Safe Drinking Water Act in a manner that will limit energy producers’ ability to deploy a key technology, known as hydraulic fracturing, which is needed to access abundant energy resources from shale formations onshore. Congress is already addressing this energy extraction technique by commissioning EPA to perform a study that will assess the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a process it found to be safe as a result of a study performed in 2004. If the committee adopts such an amendment, it will undermine congressional and EPA action already initiated to address the issue, while limiting the manufacturing sector’s ability to access domestic energy and grow jobs.

Manufacturers rely on natural gas not only as a source of electricity, but as a feedstock for products such as plastics, fertilizer and pharmaceuticals. U.S. manufacturers use approximately one-third of the nation’s natural gas supplies. Because natural gas is a regional commodity, U.S. manufacturers need reliable and increased access to domestic supplies, especially to the large reserves contained in the nation’s natural gas shale formations.

For more, see the Energy in Depth blog entry, “ICYMI – Rep. DeGette Withdraws Potentially Destructive Amendment Targeting Hydraulic Fracturing.”

UPDATE (1:55 p.m.): Economic recovery is linked to hydrofracturing. Seriously. From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Study: Marcellus Shale will bring 212,000 jobs“:

By 2020, the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry will have created or supported 212,000 Pennsylvania jobs, according to a Penn State projection released Tuesday and paid for by the industry.

“The Economic Impacts of the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play: An Update,” revises some of the projections made last summer by Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, which had said that 107,000 Marcellus Shale-related jobs would be created in the state by 2010.

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