Raymond J. Learsy in Huff Post Business OP/ED 12/27/2012
There she was, on the December 26th letters to the editor corner of the New York Times, militating against the extraction of America's vast resources of shale gas and oil through fracking technology. Yoko Ono's condemnation is absolute and without equivocation nor codified substantiation: "But the evidence shows that there is no amount of regulation that can make fracking safe." All this after a full page ad in the New York Times some weeks ago and a monster billboard hovering over New York City's byways with its thousands upon thousands of car passers-by screaming, "Imagine There's No Fracking," a variation of her oft intoned "Imagine There's No War."
In essence, to prohibit fracking, as is Yoko Ono's wont, is tantamount to ripping out the nation's rail system and all that it would entail to the economy, to the management of carbon gas emissions, to the workforce, to the wellbeing of communities, all because of the risk of an occasional train wreck.
Yes, fracking has its problems and they became clear very early on with low budget excursions into the new realm of fracking, with little oversight and little knowledge of the full dimensions of fracking technology. But within the few years, that fracking technology has been implemented to source shale gas, that technology has improved significantly, oversight has become singularly sensitized to the downside risks, communities have heightened awareness resulting in rules of the road that take into account the need for constant oversight and regulation. This, while the industry itself is clearly aware of the issues at hand while, as one example, racing for ways to recycle the water used in hydraulic fracking (please see "Drillers Begin Reusing 'Frack Water," WSJ 11.19,12).
What has also became remarkably apparent is that we are dealing with an American resource that is in such abundant supply that it portends to become a major game changer for our economy, bringing thousands upon thousands of jobs into the field and to ancillary industries that are supplying the infrastructure hardware.
That natural gas alone, as a substitute for coal in energy plants throughout the nation, will have a major impact on the reduction of carbon gas emissions, far greater than anyone could have imagined before the application of fracking technology became a reality. Further it will be a bonanza to our balance of payments, reducing in significant measure our need to import fossil fuels.
Its resources are so extensive that it further holds out the hope and prospect of converting our transportation fleet, first trucks and eventually automobiles themselves (please see "Aspen Ideas, Natural Gas Armenia Unheralded" 07.09.12) from gasoline to being powered by compressed natural gas with vast diminution of our automobile society's massive carbon footprint.
The economies of our shale natural gas are such that its abundance and low cost serves as a core feedstock in chemical plants producing a vast range of products from plastics to fertilizers and has ushered in a flood of plant construction and siting projects by world renowned chemical companies. Companies taking advantage of this vast and available resource at gas prices significantly below those in Europe and Japan, bringing jobs and revitalizing languishing communities.
But not if Matt Damon and his bankroller Image Media Abu Dhabi can help it (as a reminder, Abu Dhabi is a charter member of the OPEC cartel).
Their forthcoming film Promised Land is meant to frighten Americans, and whomever, to resist the development of shale gas in their communities. No mention here of the long suffering communities of Pennsylvania who have celebrated an economic renaissance through the development and extraction of natural gas from the vast Marcellus Gas Formation.
Abu Dhabi will be applauding heartily if their and Damon's Promised Land film, due for distribution shortly, permits them and their OPEC brethren to continue to fleece the world with their cartel manipulated price of oil and gas.
Yoko Ono and Matt Damon, as Americans of singular standing what a significant service you could perform by making your fellow Americans fully cognizant of the full dimensions of this issue. It is a gift to be nurtured.