A natural gas distributor’s perspectiveAmerica's Natural Gas Alliance responds: The Truth About Gasland
Piedmont Natural Gas is a natural gas distribution company focused on delivering safe, reliable natural gas to customers. We support the sustainable and responsible development of natural gas in the United States, which includes the hydraulic fracturing process, commonly referred to as “fracking."
While Piedmont is not directly involved in the exploration or extraction of natural gas, we believe hydraulic fracturing offers tremendous benefits to our customers and to the economy in general. Our position on hydraulic fracturing is based on the science, and it is simple – hydraulic fracturing is safe to people and the environment when performed in a responsible way and with the proper oversight.
Hydraulic fracturing definedHydraulic fracturing is the process of pumping water, sand and other chemicals underground to extract natural gas from shale formations deep within the earth. Hydraulic fracturing has been used to safely produce more than 1 million natural gas wells in the U.S. during the last 60 years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission have all examined the process and found it to be safe. In 2012, the EPA is scheduled to release a report examining this technique, and we are confident it will affirm our position.
Economic benefitsNot only is proper hydraulic fracturing safe, it has contributed to reliably low natural gas prices for customers. For example, new discoveries of deep shale natural gas combined with increasingly innovative hydraulic fracturing techniques, such as horizontal drilling, have contributed to natural gas prices falling from nearly $12 in 2008 to just more than $4 in 2011.
The economic benefits reach deeper when you consider that falling prices now save natural gas-powered homes an average of $400 per year. These savings have enabled consumers to reinvest an estimated $100 billion into the United States economy. In addition, more than 2.8 million people in the United States have well-paying jobs directly related to the natural gas industry.
Environmental impactEPA studies on hydraulic fracturing have shown no negative impacts on water supplies. The process uses much less water than other methods for generating power, and a new “closed loop” system protects water supplies by keeping all hydraulic fracturing fluids contained.
Increased availability of natural gas has made it even more beneficial for businesses to adopt this clean form of energy. Not only are they experiencing reductions in operations costs, they are contributing less pollution to the environment as well. This is because natural gas releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other fossil fuels like coal and oil, especially when used to generate electricity. In North Carolina alone, five coal-powered energy plants are being converted to natural gas for an estimated carbon output reduction of nearly 50 percent.