Obama's former energy secretary says fracking can be done safely

Availability of natural gas from shale likely will lead to decades of low gas prices, Chu says
MCT Regional News
Sep 18, 2013

Drilling for shale gas can be done safely, and at least one prominent study about the risks is not credible, said Steven Chu, until recently the U.S. secretary of energy, speaking in Columbus on Tuesday.

The availability of natural gas from shale, including from Ohio, likely will lead to decades of low gas prices, Chu said. He also thinks the energy can be extracted in an environmentally responsible way.

“You can have your cake and eat it, too,” he said.

That is the kind of comment that has made some environmental activists accuse Chu and the Obama administration of glossing over concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process used to extract oil and gas from shale.

Chu was the keynote speaker at a conference put on by America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade group. He is now teaching at Stanford University, after leading the Department of Energy from 2009 until earlier this year.

He gave critics more fodder later in his speech, when he dismissed a 2011 study that raised concerns about methane leakage from gas production.

“There was a very famous Cornell report which we looked at and decided it was not as credible as it — well, we didn’t think it was credible. I’ll just put it that way,” he said.

The study has often been cited by environmentalists to make the case that the gas industry is bad for the air. It was in the news again this week because University of Texas researchers issued a study that contradicts many of the prior report’s claims.

Anthony Ingraffea, the Cornell University professor who is a co-author of the 2011 study, said he is not aware of any previous example of Chu criticizing the work.

“It’s surprising he would use such dismissive language,” Ingraffea said, reached at his office to respond to Chu’s comments. “He’s intimating that there’s something sinister with our paper. But there is nothing sinister. It’s just that the paper said a thing a lot of people didn’t want to hear.”

Environmental groups have campaigned for stricter controls on fracking. But Chu said it is a “ false choice” to say that the country must decide between inexpensive natural gas and preserving the environment.

“This is something you can do in a safe way,” he said.

Later, in a session with reporters, he said that most of the environmental problems with fracking are because of errors that can be fixed. He drew a parallel with building-safety rules.

“When you built buildings in the past, skyscrapers or bridges, (with) industrial accidents and construction deaths, we were saying, ‘That’s part of the business,'" he said. “Nowadays, it’s not part of the business. Every construction company, every time you build a building ... you’re aiming for no accidents and certainly no deaths.”

Because of a plentiful supply of natural gas, he expects the price to stay in the $4 to $6 per million BTU range for several decades. That would be slightly higher than the current level, but well below the $10-plus prices that popped up as recently as 2008.

While he is somewhat confident in predicting the price of natural gas, he will not do so for oil, which has remained volatile. “If I had to guess, (the price of oil) is more likely to go up than go down.”

Low natural-gas prices have led electricity utilities to build more gas-fired power plants.

American Electric Power, a company closely associated with coal power, doubled its use of natural gas from 2009 to 2012, said Mark McCullough, the company’s executive vice president for generation.

“We’re on a push to become a better-balanced portfolio,” he said, also at the conference.

AEP generates 60 percent of its power from coal and about 23 percent from gas. Coal’s share likely will drop below 50 percent in the next few years as the company shuts down several old coal plants.

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By Dan Gearino - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)

©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

JACKEL

Bozo ,will never agree to that, it will not work into his plan to turn us into a Muslim Nation !

Really are you ...

Fracking will not bring down gasoline or diesel prices. Future supply and demand or projected future consumption is bologna. See a cycle comparative to this anywhere? Hint. Cell phones, with their added signal towers, satellites, and a handful of major carriers. After the initial investment of a tower or satellite is paid off, why should the consumer pay more for usage after the initial purchase of a high end cell phone? These cell phone carriers did not invent texting or the internet, the cell phone companies should be paying us. We are the ones doing the work by pushing the buttons to communicate or enter a website. The cell phones did not come with a secretary to translate our texts verbatim. We are not charged for blogging from our home computers. On a oil rig, it takes quite a few men to operate the drills, but after they hit pay dirt, there are computer's and PLC's that monitor sweet crude extraction. Less man power, but still pay more. Same thing at a refinery. After the initial investment of an oil rig, the parent company reaps the rewards of sweet crude and neglects the rigs upkeep. Exxon boat crash in Alaska, or the BP oil spill in the gulf, the pitiful attempts at coverups. Wildlife suffered in Alaska, and peoples lives were ruined for a bit down in the gulf states. Let them drill in our potable water tables, and let the owners of these fracking companies drink the first glass of water from their newly found fracking sites.

Contango

Re: "Fracking will not bring down gasoline or diesel prices."

But it's essentially crashed the price of nat-gas.

"Midland, Odessa lead U.S. cities in GDP growth"

"Midland and Odessa ranked first and second in economic growth for U.S. metro areas in 2012, thanks to the booming oil and gas industry in West Texas, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis."

Ohio should be so lucky.

http://www.dallasnews.com/busine...

JACKEL

Just in case you think the Dumacrats in D.C.couldn't sink any lower,they did.They walked out of the hearing from the parents of two of the dead from Benghazi.I guess the parents were Christians.