API: Fracking benefits are economic and environmental

By Patrick C. Miller | June 08, 2016

In advance of a meeting of the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board next week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) wants the public to know about the economic and environmental advantages of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry.

“We have this major environmental benefit that we are seeing from hydraulic fracturing, and it’s important for the public to recognize that this technology is driving greenhouse gas emissions down,” said Erik Milito, API director of upstream and industry operations. “It’s one of the direct reasons why we’re having the success we’ve had on the climate issue from a power generation standpoint.”

Some environmental groups and critics of fracking have questioned the science behind an EPA report released a year ago showing no systemic or widespread impacts on groundwater as a result of the practice.

“Yet since releasing the report, EPA continues to face a barrage of politically-based attacks attempting to tamper with scientific conclusions,” Milito said. “While this may not be a surprise during a year full of political rhetoric, it has no place in scientific discussion.”

He noted that there are no documented cases of hydraulic fracturing leading to groundwater contamination. Milito said the report’s conclusions were “accurate, unambiguous and supportable with the science and facts the EPA has reviewed.”

“A substantial amount of peer-reviewed work supports the conclusion,” Milito noted.

Fracking has not only benefited the U.S. economy by driving down gasoline prices while creating energy savings for families and businesses, but has also led to reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases by providing clean-burning energy for power generation, he said. According to Milito, all of this occurred at the same time U.S. oil and gas production significantly increased.

“Competitive forces and industry innovation drive technological advances to produce clean-burning natural gas which has led to reducing carbon emissions from power generation to their lowest level in more than 20 years,” Milito said. “Environmental progress and energy production are not mutually exclusive.”

He also pointed out that the same technology that made the U.S. an energy superpower and the world’s leader in oil and gas production has made the world a safer place.

“It has helped to reduce the power of unstable regimes that utilize energy for political reasons,” he explained.

Milito said that the oil and gas industry has also worked to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane and ethane that occur during production.

“State and federal regulations are based on technologies industry has developed,” he explained. “Industry has been at the forefront of developing technologies to make sure that we’re capturing methane. We have every incentive to make sure it’s not being released.”

Milito believes it’s important for people to understand what has been accomplished with fracking.

“At its core, hydraulic fracturing is an advanced engineering technology, and coupled with horizontal drilling this technology has catalyzed an energy movement in the U.S. that has been witnessed nowhere else in the world,” he said.


For more on the Bakken, follow us on Twitter @TheBakkenMag