LETTER: Fear should not thwart state’s energy potential

Feb. 25, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

American-made products have a reputation for quality. State and federal regulators ensure our products are safe, meet high standards and provide value to consumers.

Hydraulic fracturing(fracking) also is scrutinized closely by regulators. And despite claims to the contrary, it has been proven to be safe, effective, and environmentally sound.

Although fracking has been used in more than 1 million U.S. wells during the past 60-plus years, there has been no confirmed case of fracking operations contaminating groundwater. Testifying before a congressional panel, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

Because fracking occurs below the aquifer and in impermeable rock, groundwater is not affected. In North Carolina, the energy-rich formation is 5,000-6,000 feet below the surface, which is nearly a mile below potable water supplies.

What those who are opposed won’t tell you is that Michigan has fracked and re-fracked more than 12,000 wells since the 1970s. These wells are between 300 to 2,000 feet below the surface, well within the water table, and not one instance of pollution.

As an oil and natural gas field worker, I have witnessed the economic benefits of fracking, including the creation of jobs. According to economic analyses by IHS Global Insight, shale oil and gas development involving fracking will create 3.3 million U.S. jobs by 2020 and add $468 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product annually.

The IHS analyses also show North Carolina stands to gain more than 35,000 jobs by 2020 due to shale energy development, many of which pay twice the national average salary. Energy production can lead to greater prosperity for all of us in North Carolina. The underground shale formations in the Deep River Basin could help mineral rights owners pay their bills and fund their children’s college educations. Those who own homes, rental property and businesses within and outside of the basin’s boundaries could see their property values increase.

This is not meant to imply there are no risks associated with energy development. People can make mistakes, and accidents can occur. But fear spread by fracking’s critics should not impede North Carolina’s energy potential. The facts show fracking can be conducted safely and reap benefits for all of us.

Mark Cares

Bear Creek