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Another Reason to Oppose Fracking

The General Assembly returned to Raleigh last week and a controversial method of natural gas drilling – known as fracking – is already on the Republican agenda with the introduction of the Clean Energy and Economic Security Act – S820 (don’t be fooled by the title).  A recent development in the gas industry may foretell the future of the most cavalier of gas companies.

Remember last fall when State Senator Rucho, State Representative Mike Hager and others took a trip quietly northward to tour fracking sites, followed by Governor Perdue in early spring. They all met with representatives from Chesapeake Energy – described by its CEO Aubrey McClendon as “the biggest frackers in the world.” (actually Chesapeake is second to ExxonMobil). Chesapeake is now having some serious financial problems and its future is uncertain.

Over the past five years, Chesapeake has signed approximately 600,000 leases, covering nine million acres in several states. Payments for gas royalties on the leases cost the company $9 billion. In only a few years, gas drillers have been like cowboys on the frontier –   with few rules to regulate fracking at the federal or state level, it’s been a “get it while you can” mindset.

The result of this whirlwind pace and a warm winter has been a glut in the gas market that has pushed down prices and slowed down drilling for many companies. Yet Chesapeake didn’t seem to take notice of the shifting sands and kept right on its fever drilling pitch.

Now Chesapeake is singing the blues. It recently took a nearly $4 billion bridge loan to help calm investors. This was followed by Standard and Poor’s downgrading the company’s credit rating to a “BB-“ and then came the 14% drop in its stock value. S&P raised concerns about “mounting turmoil” in the company as well and skepticism about the company’s ability to generate enough cash to pay its debts.

Now the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the company’s financial dealings.

In case you were feeling any sympathy for this company, no need. According to Source Watch, in 2011 Chesapeake was a director level sponsor of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s annual meeting – at a price of $10,000. ALEC is a corporate lobbying group with non-profit status that works to introduce “model” right-wing legislation on many issues – from education to global warming.

Chesapeake’s greed and mismanagement is just another good reason on a long list of why communities are rightfully opposing fracking across the country.

 

10 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    May 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    There are no good reasons to oppose fracking if all the required safety procedures are applied to protect the groundwater, unless you are just against progress and energy security.

  2. Jeff S

    May 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

    And what “required safety procedures” would those be Frank?

    While you’re at it, please show me one mining operation – just one – that has ever violated safety procedures – or never polluted the surrounding environment. Just one Frank. I bet you can’t do it.

    But since you brought it up, why would corporations (and their Republican lackeys) be opposed to regulation if such procedures are necessary to protect the groundwater? Surely if they weren’t going to pollute they wouldn’t be opposed to being fined for doing so right?

    I wonder how many of our legislators would be willing to maintain personal liability for this drilling? If we could hold these legislators responsible when these companies pollute I bet they would give a little more thought to how freely they sell their votes.

  3. Jeff S

    May 21, 2012 at 10:04 am

    BTW, we’re approaching this all wrong. What you should be asking is. The ones proposing the legislation should be the ones to establish its value.

    So, give us a reason to support fracking.

    Would it employ more people than casinos and the associated tourism? Would it generate more state revenue than legalizing marijuana? Or taxing all the churches violating the Johnson Amendment? Would it pollute less than not legalizing it?

  4. Sark

    May 21, 2012 at 11:29 am

    The only “safety procedure” that truly protects “ground water” is no fracking drilling, an absolute ban on fracking drilling. And, for the record, there is concern for all water in the fracking area, not just ground water. And, there is concern about the amount of water needed to do hydro-fracking, interesting how there has been a push to privatize water systems in the state. There is also the pollution of the air and land to think about.
    Jeff S, I would like your comments if I could.

  5. Frank Burns

    May 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    You all are attempting to make this a political issue when it shouldn’t be one. It’s an engineering problem that can be designed to protect the ground water and the environment. Jeff and Sark are just against this because it’s what the left does, by oppose anything that will give us energy security and jobs. Are you telling me that engineers cannot safely design a solution that will facilitate fracking? If you are saying that what is your basis? The environmental office in NC has evaluated fracking for natural gas and stated that it can be done safely. What is your basis for saying that it cannot be done safely?

  6. david esmay

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I oppose fracking on the grounds, that if Major Burns is for it, it must be bad. Gasland, Frank, Gasland. The reserves in NC are miniscule, and the danger this method of extraction poses, far out weighs any possible benefits.

  7. Frank Burns

    May 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    David,
    I didn’t realize that I held such influence over your opinions. Thanks for your input, but I prefer to rely upon the experts to determine the volume of natural gas reserves. They’ve done the exploratory drilling and computed the volumes, I don’t believe you’ve done any of that.

  8. Sark

    May 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Frank, you are the one that brought up politics, not me so that is your issue. You also make personal attacks rather than presenting facts that support your position.
    LOL about your engineering, this is more than about ground water although that is a major concern, it is the aquifers also and the air and land. Yes, I’d say they, the engineers, can’t because if they could they wouldn’t need bought and paid for legislatures to pass bills protecting them and having language excluding trade secrets.
    David also make an excellent point.
    As far as jobs and energy security, NC could be a leader in solar and wind production providing much more in the way of jobs and security. There could also be bio-fuel production in NC. All would provide more jobs and more energy security than fracking while not contaminating the water, air and land and being toxic to life as fracking is known to be.
    Below are a few links, there are hundreds more, but here is a start on some information.
    http://chathamcitizens.wordpress.com/
    http://www.southernenvironment.org/cases/fracking_in_north_carolina
    http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2012/04/26/economic-realities-makes-rush-to-legalize-fracking-a-waste-of-time/
    http://ecowatch.org/2012/must-read-npr-takes-deeper-look-into-fracking-boom/
    http://dearsusquehanna.blogspot.com/2012/05/snake-creek-bubbling-with-methane-in.html

  9. Frank Burns

    May 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Sark,
    My position is the correct position and was just endorsed by Gov Perdue today. We will proceed with the protective requirements put into place. It is after all an engineering solution. I looked back over my replies and I can’t see any of the personal attacks you accuse me of.

    Solar and wind, at this point in time require large government subsidies and are therefore a dead end business. We cannot afford those subsidies anymore. It’s a leftwing fantasy that we can power everything with wind and solar. Let Solyndra and other similar business serve as the bad example and lesson for all of us.

  10. Bigal

    May 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

    If prices are tanking, businesses on the brink or already headed over it, what is the gall-darned RUSH to do ANYTHING? We’ve all seen and read enough to know that NOTHING is a sure thing. North Carolina’s geology is very different from the areas currently getting all of the attention. Our resources are much smaller and not likely to even be considered by the big corps for years, and all those “jobs” being talked about for OUR CITIZENS will not amount to a hill of beans ACCORDING TO INDUSTRY SPOKESPERSONS. (They will be bringing in their OWN expert engineers and workers to get things started, then will hire a few folks to maintain the pumps.) While it may take a few people (read in the hundreds) to maintain the well heads, equipment and so forth) gas wells are not labor intensive once up and running. We are talking about something that could affect our state for literally CENTURIES if done wrong, and there are NO GUARANTEES that it can be done RIGHT. NONE. So what is the unmitigated RUSH to run headlong into this? (besides lining political pockets of course).