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Delegate Beitzel Releases Fracking Rationale

February 1st, 2017 by WCBC Radio

During WCBC's recent coverage of the PACE reception, District 1A Delegate Wendell Beitzel was asked about his support of fracking.  Today, he released the text of a Letter To The Editor on the issue:

Why Fracking?

America is experiencing an energy revolution. It really started with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. This advancement in drilling methods and technology has changed the U.S. energy picture from scarcity to abundance. Fracking enables the U.S. to tap vast oil and natural gas reserves that were previously locked away in tight shale and other rock formations. Up to 95 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is also being used to stimulate new production from older wells.

Because of fracking and horizontal drilling of tight shale formations, the U.S. has become the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas once again. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates total U.S. gas production will increase 56 percent by 2040 from 2012 levels, with natural gas from shale being the leading contributor. EIA projects the share of total U.S. shale gas production will increase 53 percent by 2040. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is the engine that is powering a U.S. energy revolution.

If all energy producing states in the Union were like Maryland and New York, one can only imagine what gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas and electricity cost would be today. Visualize what would happen, if they all passed a ban against fracking. Just a few short years ago the price of a gallon of gasoline was around $4.00. This took place while our economy took a nose dive, allegedly caused by the housing bubble but, high energy costs were most certainly a contributing factor. Our energy was being imported at the detriment of our trade balance, and for the most part it was coming from nations that really don’t have our best interest at heart.

The United States has watched manufacturing jobs leave our shores. Cheap energy produced right here, in our country, provides a real opportunity to bring manufacturing jobs back. Some of the hardest hit economies were in neighboring Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, referred to as part of the "Rust Belt". Everything changed when horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing came to the Marcellus and Utica shales.

The vacant plants in neighboring states are being given new life and creating thousands of new jobs. There is a definite connection between the increase in manufacturing jobs, and oil and natural gas production. As pipelines and infrastructure are built up, the number of manufacturing jobs will continue to increase. Even as thousands of wells have been drilled in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in almost eight years in neighboring states, actual development potential for the region is still in its infancy. In short, natural gas development must continue if we want to maintain a vibrant economy.

Unfortunately, there seems to be an invisible sign on Maryland’s border that says “Gas Companies Not Welcome”. Since the start of improved methods of utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to extract energy from tight shale formations, Maryland has banned the practice. A current ban is in place until October 1, 2017. New regulations have been promulgated and are in the final stages of being adopted by MDE. Maryland’s regulations will be the toughest in the nation, once referred to as the “gold standard” they have been elevated to the “platinum standard”.

Maryland has less than 2% of the Marcellus shale formation, the largest shale formation containing natural gas in the country. The only place any drilling is even likely to occur is in Garrett and Allegany counties, which I represent. Even if permits to drill can be issued after October 1, 2017, that’s assuming a total ban will not be enacted during the 2017 session, there will be no rapid influx of drillers coming to Maryland to punch holes in the ground. That train left the station. Neighboring states that have much larger watersheds that drain to the Bay will continue to produce natural gas from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Maryland imports most of its energy and will continue to rely on neighbors to satisfy our energy appetite. Just be grateful that our country, once again, is able to produce most of its own energy and we no longer have to rely on foreign supplies to satisfy our energy demands. 

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