Saturday, June 23, 2012

Houston Chronicle - Editorial

Editorial: Houston Chronicle Thursday, June 21, 2012 News that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering a plan to permit hydraulic fracturing in some parts of the Empire State, as reported on the Chronicle's Fuel Fix blog, is a healthy sign that this new technology is gaining wider acceptance ("Idea of limited NY fracking divides energy camps," chron.com, June 14). For many Texans, oil companies are up there with mom, apple pie and a hypothetical Texans vs. Cowboys Super Bowl. But for many folks around the country, most of what they know about the oil business comes from media coverage of the bad news - incidents like the Exxon Valdez disaster, or BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout and spill year before last. Such colossal disasters understandably foster skepticism about the business. In the case of fracking, that generates worries about environmental impact and water contamination. We share those concerns, but we also know the industry's capable of addressing them. And the benefits from natural gas cannot be denied: a cheap, clean burning fuel that can help America on the path to greater energy independence while creating solid jobs. The New York plan, which sets out a middle path, would allow fracking only in the deepest parts of the Marcellus Shale formation, at least 1,000 feet below the water table, and only in areas that agree to it. This proposal has appropriately been called a demonstration project, showing people that fracking done right is not the ecological bogeyman it has been made out to be. And requiring local approval rebuts fears of invading oil companies ruining communities. On the other side, it emphasizes to energy companies that the shale rock formations that crisscross our country are bountiful enough that we do not need to frack in risky or controversial locations. This policy of slow, limited fracking could also help ease concerns of environmentalists who recognize the benefits of natural gas but worry about the extraction process and whether emergency responders are prepared to handle potential accidents. Not every state is comfortable with a Texas-style wildcatter mindset. Gov. Cuomo's plan offers a model for other states to set them on the path to good jobs while driving national energy production. Natural gas is the future, and they should want to be a part of it. Go for it, New York.

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