In January, the documentary Gasland won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary attacked the process of “fracking,” which involves pumping a solution that is 99 percent sand and water, plus a few trace chemicals, underground at high pressure. This creates fractures in the rock formations that allow oil and gas to flow to collection points. The film claimed that the process pollutes groundwater with devastating consequences. (For more on Gasland and fracking, see this article from the Examiner’s “Big Green” series in September.)
Multiple EPA studies have shown fracking is safe and effective, but the propaganda effort got the attention of congress. In March, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., held hearings on whether the practice should be federally regulated rather than regulated at the state level. After issuing subpoenas to eight energy companies, Waxman dropped the probe.
Now fracking is being defended by a very unlikely source — the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the biggest and most active environmental non-profits in the country. Appearing on the Energy and Environment program “On Point” EDF Senior Policy Advisor was utterly dismissive of the concerns about fracking:
E&E TV: “Do you believe that [hydraulic fracturing] can be used safely?” (5:23)
EDF’s Scott Anderson: “Yes I do. I think in the vast majority of cases, if wells are constructed right and operated right, that hydraulic fracturing will not cause a problem.” (5:19)
E&E TV: “How difficult is it for states to regulate this practice? And should it be done on a state-by-state bases, a region-by-region bases or nationally?” (2:11)
EDF’s Scott Anderson: “The states actually have a lot of knowledge and experience in regulating well construction and operation. We think that states have every reason to be able to tackle this issue and do it well. We also think that if states fail in that and the federal government has to takeover, the states will have no one but themselves to blame.” (2:00)
E&E TV: “Without this practice of hydraulic fracturing, what would our natural gas supplies look like?” (1:38)
EDF’s Scott Anderson: “Our natural gas supplies would plummet precipitously without hydraulic fracturing. About 90 percent of gas wells in the United States are hydraulically fractured, and the shale gas that everyone talks about as being a large part of the future of natural gas production is absolutely dependent on fracturing in each case.” (1:33)
E&E TV: “So you would say that this is a necessary part of our energy future?” (1:09)
EDF’s Scott Anderson: “Yes. At the Environmental Defense Fund we don’t pick fuels, we are realist, we recognize that fossil fuels will be around for a while, a long while most likely. We recognize that natural gas has some environmental advantages compared to other fossil fuels, so we do believe that natural gas will be around, and has a significant role to play….” (1:05)
It’s not every day you get a big environmentalist organization exposing a big environmental cause du jour as being totally without merit.