Since 1947, hydraulic fracturing has been used to extract more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion feet of natural gas from deep underground shale formations.
In 2008, after the innovation gave way to a surge in resources, the wellhead price of natural gas plummeted from nearly $8 per thousand cubic feet to $3.67 per thousand cubic feet. This increase in domestic production has kept prices low for American consumers—who get 24 percent of their electricity from natural gas—when not too long ago it was considered by some a foregone conclusion that the United States was running out of gas supplies.
Despite the fact that hydraulic fracturing has been employed for half a century at comparable depths of thousands of feet, opponents of natural gas insist that groundwater is now being contaminated. This claim lacks substantive data to support its conclusions as both the national association of state groundwater agencies and the multistate governmental agency representing states’ oil and gas interests have found no evidence of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Natural gas can be produced on demand and natural gas power plants can be spooled up and down on demand as well. Both wind and solar are intermittent and thus still require the construction of coal or natural gas backup for base load and peak power capacity.
According to the EPA, natural gas electricity generation produces half the carbon dioxide of coal, less than a third of the nitrogen oxides and 1 percent of the sulfur oxides.
Strict compliance to current regulations is sufficient to protect the aquifer while allowing American companies to tap into rich U.S. reserves and free the nation from its dependence on foreign sources of energy. Simply put, without deep horizontal drilling combined with multi-stage hydraulic fracking, the U.S. oil and gas industry cannot survive.