Fracking is back in the news. It’s been a focus of recent election debates, and today, President Obama announced new methane regulations would be developed, affecting hydraulic fracturing operations.
Recent calls to limit or prohibit fracking ignore the important role it has played in spurring both economic and environmental progress in America. Fracking is a technology that should be embraced and encouraged by anyone in favor of a clean energy economy.
As the Financial Times put it: “Fracking is not a bad word, and politicians should not try to make it one.”
Hydraulic fracturing is credited for ushering in today’s era of energy abundance in North America. Recent innovations in fracking have enabled oil and natural gas producers to unlock vast new energy supplies from “tight” rock sources such as shale. This energy abundance has brought with it new jobs, lower prices for consumers, and a manufacturing renaissance.
Fracking is also the source of the most consequential environmental progress we have seen this decade.
Because natural gas emits up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when used for power generation, the shale revolution – made possible by fracking – has played a pivotal role in reducing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to levels not seen since the 1990s.
Fracking is a proven safe technology that has been used for decades. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently affirmed fracking’s safety in a draft report finding no evidence of any systemic groundwater impacts.
Furthermore, EPA data show that methane emissions from hydraulic fracturing have decreased even as natural gas production has increased. We should be careful, then, about imposing costly rules and regulations that could stifle innovation and threaten continued progress.
At ExxonMobil, we are well aware of fracking’s benefits, which is why we have heavily invested in the technology and have become the leading producer of cleaner-burning natural gas in the United States.
Our scientists and engineers are constantly working to advance hydraulic fracturing processes and techniques as part of our efforts to produce the world’s energy in safe, reliable, and responsible ways.
We are reducing methane emissions in natural gas production by implementing leak detection and repair programs, limiting completion emissions, and installing lower-emitting devices. We also support and participate in the disclosure of fracking fluids to help provide for increased transparency.
Hydraulic fracturing has been a game-changing technology for our economy and our environment, and it remains an important solution to securing a brighter – and cleaner – energy future.