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Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas Is a False Solution

Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas Is a False Solution

Oil and Gas Industry Aims to Build 19 New Facilities to Export Natural Gas U.S.  New Report Explains Why Fracking for Oil and Gas Will Not Deliver U.S. Energy Security and Independence.

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683.4905, kfried@fwwatch.org

Washington, D.C.— A new report released today by the national consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch takes aim at the oil and gas industry’s claim that fracking and drilling for natural gas and tight oil will deliver U.S. energy security. U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas is a False Solution reveals that as of October 12, 2012 the Department of Energy has received 19 proposals to export liquefied natural gas. If approved, these projects would allow the oil and gas industry to sell huge amounts of natural gas overseas—as much as 40 percent of current U.S. consumption.

“The hype over fracking is giving Americans a false sense of energy security,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “The industry is making empty promises about U.S. energy security to prolong America’s destructive dependence on fossil fuels. At the same time, it is laying the groundwork to sell natural gas overseas to maximize profits. The gas will go wherever it can fetch the highest price—and right now that’s not the United States.”

According to the report, the industry is also misrepresenting U.S. natural gas and tight oil supplies. Its claims rely on uncertain estimates of shale gas resources and on allowing the oil and gas industry to drill not just throughout the Marcellus Shale and other shale plays, but also all along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Even if the industry’s vision holds true, Food & Water Watch calculates that plans to create increased demand for U.S. natural gas translate to a supply of just 50 years and would require drilling hundreds of thousands of new shale gas wells.

As for tight oil, Food & Water Watch argues that no amount of conceivable production will lower the prices American consumers are paying at the pump. This is because the price of oil is set on a global market. Even so, the U.S. EIA estimates that there are 33.2 billion barrels of recoverable tight oil—enough to last the U.S. just under five years based on 2011 consumption.

Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (S.A.F.E.), a grassroots group working to ban fracking in Illinois, raise serious doubts about the risks associated with fracking outweighing the benefits.   “We consider that the IEPA has documented a contamination history in Illinois just from the industry’s disposal of waste water from conventional (vertical) oil fracking, coupled with decades of insufficient state funds to monitor and repair existing wells.  Throw in over six thousand abandoned wells (known migration channels for toxic frack fluids), and the fact that Illinois New Albany Shale situated among three seismic zones.  To top it off, the New Albany Shale is documented as having a naturally higher radioactivity than other shale plays, leaving us to deal with unprecedented volumes radioactive wastewater.  Then consider that the resources extracted won’t even be used in the United States. How can the people of Illinois allow the industry or government justify the promotion horizontal hydraulic fracturing to create fuel for sale in any market?”

Reduced oil consumption is the only way to protect the American economy from the consequences of increased global demand for oil as conventional supplies decline. Meanwhile, proven energy efficiency and conservation solutions, coupled with renewable energy technologies, avoid the environmental or public health costs of fossil fuels and promise a foundation for sustained economic growth.

Food & Water Watch instead urges local, state and federal governments to:

  • Enact aggressive energy conservation policies, including large public transportation investments and widespread energy efficiency solutions, to reduce energy demand
  • Establish ambitious programs for deploying and incentivizing existing renewable energy technologies to increase clean energy supplies
  • Modernize the U.S. electrical grid so that it caters to distributed renewable power generation
  • Invest in research and development to overcome technological barriers to the next generation clean energy solutions
  • Terminate public funding for the fossil fuel industry.

 

Using natural gas to displace oil to fuel transportation and coal to generate electricity is suppressing the promise of renewables and keeping us dependent on fossil fuels. The potential expiration of production tax credits, generally low electricity demand due a struggling economy and the currently low prices of natural gas are combining to threaten the domestic wind industry.

“Gas is no bridge fuel, and investing in the infrastructure to support this would make the U.S. dependent on dirty fossil fuels for several more decades and would sacrifice our health and communities to the industry’s thirst for profits. We need to ban fracking and remake our energy system now,” concluded Hauter.

U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas is a False Solution is available here:

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.