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Wrangling between natural gas drilling and political fright-mongers is looming with the Oct. 17 announcement that pipeline giant Kinder Morgan will become the largest gas pipeline operator in the U.S. This means accelerated gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, a technology developed by the company Halliburton.
The $21 billion deal for Kinder Morgan to buy El Paso Corp. will create a new network of 67,000 miles of lines to serve the rapidly-growing technological drilling advance of hydraulic fracturing, informally called “fracking.” A potential 200-year supply of needed natural gas is at stake.
A bill, Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, is pending in Congress to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act. This could slow hydraulic fracturing. The bill is sponsored by the usual suspects, including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who probably has never seen a gas well, socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is plagued by fears of progress, and Diane Feinstein (D-CA), who has no environmental legislative responsibility.
Democrats like to call it the “Halliburton loophole.” Before he became George W. Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney headed Halliburton. So, referencing Halliburton automatically rallies Democratic support.
An army of liberals also is instinctively opposed to drilling for gas because it’s a fossil fuel, even though it’s twice as clean as gasses discharged from burning coal or oil. The distaste is not like some people’s objection to, say, brussels sprouts. What gives eco-pros fits is the way the gas is obtained. Vast caches of natural gas trapped in deeply buried rock are now accessible by drilling by a proven and well regulated technology. Hydraulic fracking has unlocked enormous new supplies of clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale.
According to Energytommorow.com, “Fracking has been used in more than one million U.S. wells and has safely produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”
Yet congressional Democrats charge that hundreds of millions of gallons of cancer-causing chemicals have been pumped into underground wells by the oil and gas industry.
The Natural Resources Defense Council complains that thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South have expanded to the 600-mile-long formation called the Marcellus shale. It stretches from West Virginia to western New York. What makes the environmentalists wring their hands is the fracking process in which “dangerous chemicals” are mixed with large quantities of water and sand and injected into the wells at high pressure, making it a “suspect in polluted drinking water.”As to water safety, the gas is thousands of feet below the water aquifer and separated by many layers of rock.
The expanded pipeline will reach into practically every major region where natural gas is produced, from eastern states to southern states, including Florida’s huge market for natural gas. The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation calculates that 35,600 miles of high-pressure natural gas pipelines will have to be constructed between now and 2035 to meet demands of the market.
Besides multiplying our domestic energy supplies, shale development has “irrefutable economic benefits.” Fracking in the Marcellus and Barnett (Texas) shale has boosted local incomes—with royalty payments to property owners, furnishing tax revenues to the government and creating high-paying jobs in construction, engineering, surveying, equipment manufacturing, and other areas.
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