Policy makers in Washington need to remember that America’s abundant supply of natural gas is both an economic and environmental asset. Gas burns twice as clean as coal, and the natural gas industry contributes $385 billion a year to the U.S. economy while supporting 4 million American jobs, many of them right here in Louisiana.
Improvements in the technology known as hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) have made it practical to extract natural gas embedded in shale rock as deep as a mile below ground. This is producing more natural gas and generating badly needed jobs and tax revenue in some states. But just as we begin to see economic progress from fracking, the Department of the Interior is showing interest in restrictive regulations that would make this technique more difficult and expensive.
The Department of the Interior says it’s motivated by fears that fracking could contaminate underground water supplies. But those fears ignore the study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EP A) finding no evidence of groundwater contamination by fracking. If the Interior department decides to go ahead with unnecessary restrictions on fracking, it would be a serious economic setback for the whole country and particularly for Louisiana.
Northwestern Louisiana sits on top of the Haynesville shale formation. This is potentially one of the richest sources of natural gas in America, and fracking technology makes this resource accessible. Louisiana literally can’t afford to have this opportunity snatched away by misguided federal regulation.