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Energy dominates opinion page

December 31, 1969
OIPA board member Mike Cantrell, acting in his role of president of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, and Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony offered their opinions on energy production in the state's largest newspaper.

Anthony, chairman of the Commission, put pen to paper to defend hydraulic fracturing. Cantrell used his space to say both policymakers and producers must take a responsible approach when reacting to the Gulf oil spill.

From the Oklahoman:

Arguments against hydraulic fracturing unfounded


Many people are aware of the debate surrounding hydraulic fracturing and the accompanying claims of pending environmental disaster from those who want it stopped or placed under strict federal regulation.

In more than 20 years as a corporation commissioner, I've never seen anything that approaches this current unfounded and growing national hysteria.

Simply put, hydraulic fracturing (HF) is an essential oil and gas production technique used for reservoir stimulation. Ironically, given the opposition in the name of the environment, HF is also used for environmentally friendly applications such as geologic storage of carbon, developing water wells and "green" geothermal energy and even cleaning up Superfund sites.

Opponents portray hydraulic fracturing as some horrible practice that endangers our water supplies, polluting them with cancer-causing chemicals.

In fact, 99 percent of the materials injected are water and sand.

Other HF ingredients are no stronger than chemicals found around the house.

Furthermore, the fracturing process takes place thousands of feet below treatable (meaning potentially drinkable) groundwater, with layers of rock in between.

We've used HF for some 60 years in Oklahoma, and we have no confirmed cases where it is responsible for drinking water contamination nor do any of the other natural gas-producing states.

Thanks to HF we have the ability to extract hydrocarbons from shale formations, and America now has a 100-year supply of natural gas, the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.

This supply can and must play a key role in reducing our dependence on foreign energy, from transportation fuels to electric generation. As we expand our wind and solar power capacity, natural gas-fired electric generation is the only practical way of providing necessary supplementary power when needed.

Much of the debate is being orchestrated by those who seek to remove all fossil fuels from the American economy or those who want to make natural gas less competitive with other energy sources. However, don't be fooled.

Even though the rhetoric focuses on environmental issues, this is a fight about money. America is making multibillion-dollar infrastructure decisions about powering our economy. Without hydraulic fracturing, Oklahoma's oil and natural gas production would plummet, as would our economy. Our state is the nation's third-largest producer of natural gas and its fifth-largest land-based oil producer.

Maintaining regulation of oil and gas at the state level is essential. Doing the job properly requires knowledge of the unique geology and hydrology of formations. At the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, our oil and gas field inspectors and technical staff live, work and raise their families here.

We are committed to protecting our state resources and do not believe in a "one-size-fits-all" federal approach as advocated by some.

Many know at least part of the story of Chicken Little, who proclaimed, "The sky is falling!" Many don't know how the story ends. It ends badly for those not willing to find out the facts for themselves.

Anthony is chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Gulf oil spill demands reflection, open-mindedness

Our nation has been impacted by the disastrous Gulf oil spill.

Some of us in the oil and natural gas industry were quick to defend BP. Others were quick to point out that "as land-based producers, we simply don't take those kinds of risk or have problems we can't contain."

Many openly chastised BP for its shortcuts and faults before, during and after this catastrophic event.

Ultimately, all of us are deeply concerned about the long-term environmental effects. We also are concerned about the future of U.S. oil and natural gas exploration and production.

President Obama quickly used the disaster to call for a "significant" tax increase on all American oil and natural gas production.

Members of Congress immediately proposed to raise the oil spill cleanup assessment from 8 cents a barrel to as high as 44 cents on all U.S. production. While this seems sensible in theory, I struggle with why land-based operations are asked to pay for and take responsibility for something that has occurred offshore.

Even more problematic are the new layers of costly environmental regulations proposed by congressional representatives, whose goal is to end the use of fossil fuels.

These regulations don't offer additional protection, but merely raise the cost of energy across the board ultimately impacting the American consumer.

In the face of these unbelievable actions, raw emotions and mounting concerns, perhaps those of us engaged in exploration and production of America's oil and natural gas should spend at least a moment in reflection.

I experienced my "moment" recently while staring out the airplane window at the earth 20,000 feet below.

First, I thought of the 11 men who lost their lives. They were simply doing their jobs, providing for their families, and performing the dangerous and difficult work that had been asked of them.

Thoughts then drifted to what we do as land-based producers and the responsibility that accompanies our chosen vocation. We penetrate the earth to harvest the oil and natural gas that has fueled the industrialization of our world, and we must remember that our actions come with tremendous responsibility.

While we oppose unnecessary laws and regulations, we must be vigilant in ensuring that we accept and even embrace scientifically based procedures that promote safety and protection our environment.

We must resist a "siege mentality" that occurs in the face of what has been perceived as an unwarranted assault.

We must be open-minded when working with policymakers to identify solutions and to address our nation's concerns.

The BP spill has been a wake-up call for all involved in the oil and natural gas industry.

We must be as diligent in fulfilling our responsibility to protect the earth as we are in harvesting the oil and gas that America so desperately needs.

This is not just our responsibility; it is our moral obligation.

Cantrell, of Ada, is president of Domestic Energy Producers Alliance

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