The Dec. 16, 2009, letter in the Gazette headlined "Gas problems" by Jay Hanas requires a response since it contained either inadvertently or intentionally misleading information about the natural gas well-completion process called "hydraulic fracturing," which has enabled companies like Chesapeake to safely and successfully explore and extract clean-burning natural gas from deep below the earth's surface.
Hydraulic fracturing is a well-proven process of injecting water, sand and a small volume of additives into a steel and cement-reinforced well bore to create tiny fissures in dense, natural gas-bearing shale. This allows substantial volumes of natural gas to flow to the surface, where it is transported to help generate electricity and heat for millions of Americans.
Hydraulic fracturing occurs near the end of the well-completion process. The steel and cement-cased well bore ensures liquids do not come in contact with anything outside of the well bore. Furthermore, it is critical to note that this process occurs at depths ranging from one to two miles below fresh water tables, depending on geologic conditions.
Here is a key fact often conveniently overlooked: According to state environmental regulators, whose primary responsibility is to protect groundwater, there has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, and you can read more about it at www.hydraulicfracturing.com, which is a site created by Chesapeake to provide factual, scientific information on the process.
Also, hydraulic fracturing did not receive an exemption from the federal Clean Water Act, as the author of the editorial stated. It has never been covered by that act even though Congress has had the opportunity to amend it eight times since 1974. The reason: The process has proven to be safe. The U.S. natural gas industry, and Chesapeake in particular, has developed techniques to responsibly produce enormous new reserves of this superior fuel from deep shale formations in many areas of the country. We take great pride in that, especially during the incredibly cold periods like we've experienced early this year.
Providing America with access to plentiful supplies of indigenous energy gives us the opportunity to improve our environment, our economy and energy security. Here's the deal: If you are not supportive of developing America's natural gas, then you are supportive of using carbon-heavy coal and imported oil.
This opportunity is too great for America's future to allow others to foment falsehoods and for Oklahomans not to be presented with the facts about our top natural resource.
"Tom Price Jr.
Price is senior vice president"?corporate development and government affairs for the Chesapeake Energy Corporation.