Reporting on shale gas andhydrofracturing, the public radio program Marketplace Morning Reporttoday captures the classic American phenomenon at work: Innovationcreates opportunity, investment and wealth, and trial lawyers followwith bogus, hyped, shake-down lawsuits.
From “Fracking employs plenty of lawyers“:
Sarah Gardner: The U.S. is awash innatural gas. But the latest drilling technology that’s made the glutpossible isn’t winning any popularity awards. “Fracking” involves a highpressure cocktail of water, chemicals and sand injected into shalerock — deep underground. Gas companies are drilling wells fromPennsylvania to Wyoming, and it doesn’t always go smoothly.
Richard Lippes: There have been explosions of homes, there’s a lot of people who can now actually light their water.
Not winning any popularity awards? Too bad this worthy report starts with such a clunker. Every job that hydofracturing creates wins a popularity award with the worker. Every stream of income from a producing well wins a popularity award with the property owner. Every hundred million dollars of tax revenue wins a popularity award with the taxpayers and citizens of a state.
As for the assertion from Lippes, the trial lawyer, that there aremany who can now actually light their water? It’s false, a claim that’ssupposed to inflame NIMBY sentiment against natural gas development andscare up clients. One scene of a fellow lighting water in his kitchensink appeared in the agitprop film, “Gasland,” but the claims about fiery faucets have since been refuted and the entire movie debunked.
The Marketplace report also covers that activities of New Yorklawsuit engine Marc Bern, who specializes in environmental claims. Nextup? The class-action lawsuit. Bern declares: “Wherever there is shaleand there is natural gas trapped underneath, there will be litigation.”Isn’t that the sad truth. Just as where there is any creation of wealthin the U.S. economy, there will be trial lawyers. The more wealth, themore lawyers, which makes shale natural gas such a tempting target.
“Trial,” the monthly magazine of the American Association for Justice, hyped environmental litigation in its March issue, “Poisoned wells: dangers of natural gas drilling,” a piece authored by another plaintiffs’ attorney, William S. Friedlander.Environmental activists and litigators often team up in campaignsagainst energy, both exaggerating the risks to increase their potentialincome via membership dues or settlements, respectively.
Do we want a prosperous society, a growing economy, and a strongmanufacturing base fueled by affordable natural gas, or do we want anelite class of trial lawyers and winners of the litigation lottery?
The House Science Committee on Wednesday, May 11, held a hearing on shale gas development,the technology used to develop it, the attacks against it, and theEnvironmental Protection Agency’s apparent bias against the energysource. The witnesses gave strong testimony, including that from Dr. Michael Economides, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Houston:
- It is important to realize that this gas production wouldn’t be possible without hydraulic fracturing. … Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming each have over 60 years of extensive experience with the hydraulic fracturing process and these States have well developed regulatory processes in place.
- The chance of propagating a fracture upward into groundwater is nil. You have a better chance of winning the lottery. … My contention is that the hydraulic fracturing process is safe, already well regulated by the various States, and the hysterical outcry over this process is completely unjustified.
- Ultimately, the frenzy of arguments over hydraulic fracturing distill to this single fact: Either the United States wishes to utilize its natural gas resources, or it doesn’t. For development of shale or tight gas goes hand-in-hand with hydraulic fracturing. Saying “no’ to hydraulic fracturing really means you are saying “no” to natural gas production in the United States.
Energy in Depth, the industry-supported group, has other highlights from the hearing here.