Their dueling documentaries — the sequel to Fox’s Oscar-nominated “Gasland” aired July 8 on HBO and McAleer’s “FrackNation” aired the following night on AXS — have clear aims when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the gas drilling method by which chemical-laced fluid is injected into the earth to free natural gas trapped deep underground.
Experts say the pro- and anti-drilling movements represented by the filmmakers each have some good points — even though Fox claims the process is an environmental and public health disaster while McAleer says Fox distorts facts and ignores the benefits of drilling.
Jeff Frankel, an economics professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said, “The fracking revolution is clearly good news from the national security and economic standpoint” since it reduces imports and generates jobs and investment in America. He said the most extreme fracking critics don’t seem to understand how much the gas boom is reducing pollution by cutting the amount of coal that gets burned in power plants.
Yet the fracking critics have legitimate concerns, Frankel said.
It makes sense that they would want to be cautious about drilling in some areas such as sensitive watersheds, Frankel said. Residents should get to choose whether they want drilling locally, he said.
With the glut of natural gas and low gas prices in the United States, energy producers are seeking to liquefy and ship domestic natural gas to foreign markets. Exporting natural gas would provide a huge boon to the U.S. economy since it would expand market opportunities for American companies, and the higher prices would act as incentives for more exploration and production domestically. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy has delayed decisions on export licenses, preventing America from realizing its energy export potential. The Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris explains how the economic benefits of exporting natural gas are immense, why the economic concerns are exaggerated, and why Congress should lift restrictions on natural gas exports.
Technological advancements in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have led to an abundance of natural gas production in the United States that is fundamentally changing the energy landscape. The result has been more jobs, economic growth, and consistently low domestic natural gas prices in what has been known to be a historically volatile market. In fact, the current price of natural gas may be too low to sustain the current rate of development, as producers are flaring gas and in some cases not even drilling for new dry gas wells. Many producers are seeking to expand to foreign markets where prices are also much higher.
Unfortunately, the current regulatory regime surrounding natural gas has not adjusted to this huge influx of supply, particularly in the area of export regulations. The Department of Energy (DOE) is delaying decisions to approve applications due to concerns raised by some policymakers and energy-intensive companies that domestic prices will increase and adversely affect American energy consumers.