Members Discuss Natural Gas Revolution With Leading Energy Experts

November 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee met with leading energy policy experts this week to discuss the natural gas revolution. Hosted by Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), Monday's bipartisan Jobs and Innovation Forum explored how new technologies to capture shale gas have transformed the nation's energy landscape and economy. In recent years, our ability to access massive supplies of natural gas has brought down energy prices, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, and generated billions of dollars in economic output.

"It is clear the natural gas revolution is here to stay and the economic impact of natural gas development is great, bringing tens of thousands of jobs to different states, like my home state of Ohio, that have shale formations," said Latta. "The key to harnessing positive economic development is striking the right regulatory balance that allows for job creation, energy innovation, and environmental safety across this country. This meeting was one of many conversations that will help legislators develop pro-growth policies in the shale arena."

Daniel Yergin, Chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, described the dramatic job growth that has resulted from shale gas development. "This is the biggest energy innovation of its scale in the last 20-30 years, and with that has come an enormous growth in jobs," said Yergin. "We are taking about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been created since this technology has been developed. And the impacts in terms of supply chains reach very deep into our economy."

Cal Dooley, President of the American Chemistry Council, spoke about the positive impacts of natural gas development on chemical manufacturing in the U.S and predicted that the chemical industry is "poised to see a tremendous growth domestically." Dooley cited a new ACC study showing a 25% increase in natural gas supply would result in $16 billion in capital investments from the chemical industry, creating more than 400,000 new jobs and generating over $4.4 billion in government revenue. "If we do the shale gas right, it has the potential to really contribute to a renaissance in manufacturing in the United States," said Dooley.

Lou Pugliaresi, President of Energy Policy Research Foundation, explained the importance of energy production to the fabric of the national economy. He estimates that increased domestic shale development will transfer into direct savings to U.S. consumers somewhere between 40 and 80 billion dollars per year. He also explained the impact regulations can have on capital investment, stating, "Investors need to have confidence that the regulatory regime is not going to be cavalier, that it is going to be something they can predict and live with."

Conversations also focused on the safety of hydraulic fracturing and the regulation of natural gas drilling. Panelists agreed that state regulators are the most competent at managing risks and providing regulatory oversight. David Neslin, Director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, described Colorado's successful regulatory framework which he believes "strikes a responsible balance" of promoting development and offering adequate protections.

Larry Nichols, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Devon Energy, touted the strong safety record of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling process that has been practiced for over 50 years. He noted that there has never been one instance where natural gas has leaked into groundwater from fracking. Nichols pledged the industry's commitment to the continued advancement of drilling technologies to make natural gas extraction more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Professor Stephen Holditch, a leading petroleum engineer from Texas A&M University, noted the businesses opportunities for Americans created by the environmental management of fracking. Holditch said, "waste water is a problem but also a huge business opportunity if anyone can figure out how to do it better, so there's all kinds of entrepreneurs working on these issues."

In addition to Rep. Latta, members attending Monday's forum included Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), Rep. Michael C. Burgess M.D. (R-TX), Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA).

To watch a video of yesterday's event, click here.

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