I have a slam-dunk plan for creating jobs: Frack baby, frack. Move like Shaq. Let’s beat the buzzer, Shaq-style, and score points for the U.S. economy. Frack Attack!
Like basketball referees, ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch Ratings are signaling they may join Standard and Poor’s in calling a foul on the U.S. economy. The good news is that we can move toward recovery by fracking shale for gas and oil—producing energy and creating jobs simultaneously.
Fracking only recently became a profitable extraction technology. In 2003, a Texas speculator named George Mitchell bucked conventional wisdom. He discovered that he could force impenetrable shale rock thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface to give up its methane (natural gas is primarily methane) by combining horizontal drilling with hydrofracturing. In 2007, natural gas company Range Resources perfected Mitchell’s discovery and developed a cost-effective technique to commercialize fracking.
America’s shale-gas cache is the Marcellus Shale Deposit, a 575-mile formation extending through four states, primarily Pennsylvania and New York. Marcellus is arguably the second largest shale-gas field in the world.
Fracking is an economic boon: Pennsylvania landowners who once struggled to make ends meet have signed six-figure leases with shale drilling companies. In addition, landowners earn 12-to-15 percent of the royalties from the gas extracted from their property. Marcellus brought Pennsylvania 18,000 new jobs in the first half of this year alone. Pennsylvania leaseholder Rick Baker told the New York Times: “We need this natural gas to keep functioning. There are still people sitting in bars waiting for the steel mills to reopen.”
States like North Dakota have experienced historic economic growth now that fracking technology has also made it possible to recover oil from shale. North Dakota’s Bakken formation holds over 24 billion barrels of shale oil. The Institute for Energy Research reports that North Dakota’s GDP is now nine percent above the national average while its unemployment rate is far below average.
Fracking is safe. Nevertheless, the EPA and the media claim that shale companies keep the fracking chemicals they use “top secret” and that these chemicals could contaminate groundwater.