The development of homegrown American energy is giving communities across the country a fighting chance to overcome our current economic malaise. By one estimate, oil and natural gas development supports 9 million U.S. jobs and contributes more than $1 trillion to the economy every year.
That said, the communities blessed with oil and gas resources often have reasonable questions about how energy production will proceed.
Here’s the good news: the independent companies that develop the vast majority of oil and gas wells are good neighbors with a strong record of responsible development, and interlocking state and federal environmental laws ensure the industry’s operations are tightly regulated. That’s not just the industry’s view – it’s also shared by the energy and environmental experts who enforce those laws.
Still, some communities want to hear from other folks, including scientists. That’s perfectly reasonable, too, as long as anything presented as “science” meets some basic scientific standards. The first and most important of those standards is rigorous and effective peer review. Without it, anything a scientist says is just an opinion, not the kind of hard evidence that’s needed to craft effective environmental laws and regulations.
Unfortunately, that lesson was completely ignored recently in Erie, Colo., a small town nestled in the northern suburbs of Denver. A single government scientist – Steven Brown of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – appeared before the town’s Board of Trustees at the behest of activist groups that oppose oil and gas development. Armed only with a slide presentation, Brown swayed the board into approving a six-month ban on new oil and gas development in Erie.
Energy in Depth wants to set a few things straight about Brown’s presentation, the way it’s being spun by activists and how it’s been covered by the news media. EID’s concerns are serious, and we hope they’ll be taken seriously by the Town of Erie, NOAA and anyone else with an interest in sound science and the responsible development of America’s abundant oil and gas resources made possible by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.