Natural Gas Subcommittee

Tue, 2011-10-04 14:54Carol Linnitt
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Senate Hearing on Obama's Fracking Panel Excludes External Testimony, Glosses Over Threats

When President Obama decided to include unconventional gas as a central pillar in his “Blueprint for a Clean Energy Future” he must have had an idea that this was going to create controversy. Some would say that a clean energy future and fracked gas are, to put it lightly, at odds with one another.  Perhaps that is why the President directed his Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to form a special advisory board to investigate the growing number of scientists, doctors, independent experts, environmental NGOs, and media outlets - DeSmogBlog included - concerned that fracking for unconventional gas threatens public health, the environment and the global climate.

Secretary Chu’s panel is officially known as the Natural Gas Subcommittee and is a project of the U.S. Energy Advisory Board. This panel, now often referred to as Obama’s Fracking Panel, has been formally discredited by a coalition of leading scientists and also by a collective of leading citizen and environmental groups. Most notoriously, the panel was called out for its strong financial ties to the gas industry.   
 
The panel was given 90 days to document their preliminary findings, which they released in a report on August 18th. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to examine those early findings.   
 
From the outset, the hearing looked like the perfect opportunity for the subcommittee to congratulate itself for its own work. 
Thu, 2011-08-11 06:53Carol Linnitt
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Scientists Say Obama Fracking Panel is Financially Tied to Gas Industry

The Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of the Energy Advisory Board released their draft report today, which outlines immediate actions to improve the health and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. The report, a culmination of 90 days of research, is a part of President Obama’s larger plan for unconventional gas in his “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future.” 

The panel, handpicked by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, is directed to investigate the safety of shale gas development and to make recommendations for both improvements to the process as well as ‘best practice’ strategies that can act as recommendations to relevant agencies. 

The 41-page report makes clear the conviction that the current state of distrust surrounding the gas industry is bad for business. The industry, the panel suggests, needs to become more transparent, well-regulated and engaged. “And industry response that hydraulic fracturing has been performed safely for decades rather than engaging the issues concerning the public will not succeed.”

Besides, the report goes on, modern hydraulic fracturing has really only been performed since 2002 or 2003 and not since the 1940’s

Despite the panel’s recommendations to make the gas production process more transparent to the public, there is still a strong industry back-bone running throughout the report’s body.

Wed, 2011-06-15 16:14TJ Scolnick
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President Obama’s Fracking Panel Unmoved By Pennsylvanians’ Water Concerns

On Monday, the Natural Gas Subcommittee, from Energy Department Secretary Stephen Chu’s Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), held its second public meeting.  Around 400 people packed a cramped auditorium at Washington Jefferson College in western Pennsylvania to discuss the effects of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) on water supplies, air quality and other threats from the controversial practice.

The crowd split into two camps, those opposing and those supporting the highly contentious drilling method which has spread across Pennsylvania. Fracking opponents argued that fracking is a dangerous and destructive process that must be banned immediately, while those in favour yelled out “drill, baby, drill.”

Given the circumstances it was not surprising that the pro-frackers won the evening. This was due, in large part, to the work of gas industry front-group Energy in Depth who sent out emails to Pennsylvania and New York residents supportive of fracking, offering them airfare, hotels and meals to attend. Tickets to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the New York Mets were even offered, although later retracted.

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