The time for the United States to begin seeking replacement energy sources has arrived. The ideal choice for this nation in Natural gas or Marcellus Shale. There is an ample amount of evidence to support this in every sense of the idea. For years, the United States has been dependent on importing foreign oil and thus, allowing the foreign nations to dictate the price of petroleum, ultimately at the expense of Americans who just want to fill up their car with gas. Natural gas affects the environmental, domestic, and economic realm of the United States. Each of these pieces working in collaboration and the extreme abundance makes natural gas the right direction for America’s energy source. The environmental aspect of drilling for natural gas is one that concerns yet appeals most people in the United States.
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America’s pristine environment beautiful grounds attracts many American across the country. It is very important to preserve these lands as best as possible. Some believe that if fracking is taking place that natural land will be destroyed, free of wildlife forever. With these concerns in mind, many regulations have been put in place to prevent destruction. Almost every precaution is calculated and taken in order to create the smallest environmental footprint possible.
There are many misconceptions about natural gas drilling and the environment. Some believe that land and soil contamination is a direct result from natural gas fracking. This, however, is not the case. By law, natural gas drilling companies, Mark West and Range Resources, must follow the rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection. Procedure is monitored by environmental inspectors to make sure the rules are followed. Environmental inspectors are individuals hired by both the drilling companies and the government agencies to ensure proper drilling procedure takes place, so that no negative impacts will affect the environment. Environmental inspectors also advise the companies when some procedure may be in violation of a rule or law of any sort. This allows the companies to make any adjustments that may be needed to remain within the guidelines. If companies fail to comply with the laws, they may face heavy fines and even forced cancellation of the project (Oil and Gas Reports). With all these precautions in place, damage to the land and soil that occurs from natural gas drilling is slim and none. There are also claims that, because thousands of gallons of water are required for the successful drilling of the gas, much of the United States’ water supply is being ruined. This is, again, where the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Protection come into play. All requests for water by the drilling companies must be processed through the E.P.A. (Clean Water Act). The Clean Water Act, which was originally passed in 1972, has been observed closely and amended a great deal, due to the rapid increase in Natural Gas production (Clean Water Act). The companies are required to submit an exact amount of water needed and reason for use (Clean Water Act, § 309). The companies are also required to recycle as much as the water as possible and are prohibited from intentionally wasting the water (Clean Water Act, § 308). All water usage that is involved with the drilling of natural gas must be documented. Again, if the companies violate any of these polices they face severe monetary penalties as well as project shutdown. The final misconception that most people care about is the claim of noise pollution and disturbance of the peace of humans as well as animals. This is the most easily refuted and outrageous claims. Drilling companies cannot begin to drill wherever they please. They must first lease or purchase the land they are interested in (Oil and Gas Reports). This means that the owner of the land would be consenting to the company to drill and acknowledges the fact that there will be noise due to construction. In most cases, this occurs on secluded farm lands where little to no persons would be disrupted by this process (Oil and Gas Reports). In the case of animals being disturbed, natural gas pipelines run underground, therefore, allowing animals to continue to live freely and happily while their environment remains unaltered. The construction of the pipelines is closely supervised so the chances of environmental contamination are extremely low. A major problem with any major energy source is pollution. A plant run by natural gas emits 50% to 60% less carbon dioxide than a typical coal plant. Also, every 10,000 homes that are powered with natural gas rather than coal cuts down on about 11,000 tons of harmful pollutants (Gotlib). This means less air pollution and reduced amount of greenhouse gases, the cause of global warming, asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease. Although the environmental outlook seems most relevant to people, the domestic aspect is what affects the people of the nation the most.
Immigrants from around the world move into the United States to find a better life for themselves. The job opportunities are plentiful and long lasting. However, many American companies outsource their jobs to other countries such as Asian or Middle Eastern countries. Oil being included in this list. Natural Gas is an extremely effective way to introduce more jobs into the United States. The combination of a surplus of natural gas in our soil and the job creation fracking and natural gas has an insurmountable upside for this country.
The United States continues to use oil from foreign countries while there is a plentiful amount of natural gas underneath its own soil. Natural gas is formed from the accumulation, burial, and transformation of organic material. The remains of once living material such as plants or animals decomposes, and chemical reactions take place over many, many years creating natural gas beneath the earth. This has left a reservoir of energy to be scooped up by the people willing to take advantage of it like Americans today. It is estimated that there is about 2,462 trillion cubic feet of natural gas able to be retrieved and used today. At a consumption rate of 27.5 trillion cubic feet per year this amount of resourced would last the U.S. about 90 years (How much natural gas does the United States have, and how long will it last?). However, with constantly increasing technology new methods of drilling could be introduced allowing even more gas to be retrieved. Natural gas has the capability to fuel and power houses into the next century without relying on other countries
The domestic contributions natural gas drilling provides for America is immeasurable and cannot be put to scale. The increase in Marcellus Shale drilling has allowed the nation to begin to take the strain off the country’s reliance on foreign oil. With oil dwindling more and more and becoming increasingly expensive, natural gas is extremely cheap to consumers and easily purchased due to the production of it in the United States. It is expected that production levels of oil are to be down to fifteen million barrels a day, which is 20% of what production is today, by as early as 2040 (Oil Pipelines). Production of natural gas continues to grow as well as price continues to drop. The price of natural gas dropped 36% in the past year and production increased to the point where the nation will rank number one in the world in natural gas production in the foreseen future (How Much Natural Gas Does the United States Have?). With the production of natural gas growing rapidly, the demand for more and more jobs increases as well. This is one of the most important impacts the natural gas industry makes. The job market is introduced to hundreds of thousands if not millions of new middle-class jobs which is exactly what the country needs to recover from the recession, and even begin a prosperous boom economically (Oil Pipelines). This keeps the American people happy and assists in reducing the unemployment rate. Manufacturing will finally return as a major contributing source to the United States. Although most of the natural gas drilling occurs in Appalachia, the impact of the growing industry would be felt nationwide (Gotlib). The companies, having locations all over the nation, would allow most Americans opportunity for new employment. The natural gas industry would increase the job market on all levels. Jobs in the middle and upper class would become available. Entry level jobs, as well as administrative positions would all be needed. Companies such as Mark West and Range Resources have begun marketing the jobs via television commercials. The companies have always begun massive hiring sprees all over the country and are expected to continue to grow in mass soon (Careers). The Marcellus Shale industry could also potentially improve the standards of the middleclass. With entry level jobs starting around seventy-five to eighty thousand dollars a year, this would make a huge impact on the living standards of millions of Americans. Most natural gas companies also provide their employees with health insurance and a retirement plan of some kind (Careers). This could potentially take some of the stress off Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security. Domestic production has always seemed to be a big issue with Americans as well. Natural Gas companies are also beginning to assist employees on going back to school. They are setting up programs to allow current employees to return to school and become educated in certain fields, for little to no cost (Careers). Many of the people of America tend to feel more comfortable purchasing goods that were manufactured in the United States, and not outsourced to a foreign land. The high domestic production of natural gas also gives America the opportunity to export and make higher profit for the nation, thus allowing Americans to live more comfortably. Although the domestic aspect of natural gas drilling would affect the American people most directly, the economic standpoint of is just as important if not more.
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The way it is operating now, the United States abstracts most of its energy from oil. This oil coming from foreign nations such as Saudi Arabia giving them the power of price. Often time offering absurdly high prices. The United States can obtain deals to lower the price however, the overall power lies within other countries. Natural Gas can flip this in the opposite direction. Natural gas can offer America true economic expansion.
With the nation still slowly recovering from the recession, natural gas may finally give the United States the boost that it needs to see a long term economic boom. With the increased productivity, it will increase the job market and provide stimulus to the starved U.S. economy. The gas revolution gives the nation an opportunity to assist our account deficits and empower other industries that are power intensive. It allows America to finally get back into manufacturing. A huge profit booster would be the exporting of the natural gas harvested. With prices just about even with China’s, The United States can now slowly export the gas and allow the free market to determine the worth and value of the gas (Carlock). It is important not to follow in the shoes of OPEC and set extremely high and ridiculous prices and allow the free market to determine where the direction of the value goes. If it is left up to the free market, there will always be a steady flow of profit. No matter where the price lies and fluctuates, the profit will always remain average to high. It is predicted that demand of natural gas will only increase as time goes on due to the slow convergence of power sources (Carlock). The stock opportunity in the natural gas industry has a very high potential. Although still considered young in the stock market, a share at Mark West costs roughly seventy dollars, given the fluctuation of the stock market. (Investor Relations). If value increases as predicted the value of a share at Mark West could approach a huge corporation such as McDonald’s which is at ninety-four dollars per share in a matter of no time (Mark Investor Relations). The natural gas industry also shows strong stability and little possibility of failing. The Industry is structured well and has huge potential economically. An additional plus to investing in the natural gas business is that natural gas is an actual physical object. In the recent past wall street began investing in artificial ideas such as the housing marking and interest rates, making fluctuation severe and unstable (Carlock). With natural gas being a physical object, it allows investors to be a bit more predictable. If the economics aspect of the industry is successful, it allows the scientific progress and advancement to move quicker and smoother.
The environmental, domestic, and economic aspects are the reason to why sixty four percent of Americans trust natural gas to power their homes. It is dependable, clean, safe, and cheap. Natural gas is still a young idea. Some think it is foolish to give up on petroleum so soon. Some believe it wise to wait and see what happens with the price of oil, and if it can stabilize. This is incorrect. The world is changing. Oil is a thing of the past. It is time for America to get back to work. It is time for manufacturing to rebirth in America. It is time for the nation to come together, take advantage of the opportunity that has been provided, and be proud of being able to call something truly American Made.
- “Careers.” MarkWest Energy Partners, MarkWest, www.markwest.com/careers/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2018.
- Carlock, Happy. “The Coming Natural Gas Boom.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 8 Aug. 2013, www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/08/08/how-natural-gas-will-power-the-new-economic-boom. Accessed 28 Sept. 2018.
- Gotlib, Louis. “Natural gas.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 5th ed., Gale, 2014. Student Resources in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CV2644031514/SUIC?u=pl2755&xid=501af972. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.
- “How Much Natural Gas Does the United States Have?” EIA, United States Energy Information Administration, 9 Apr. 2018, www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=58&t=8. Accssed 28 Sept. 2018.
- “Investor Relations.” MarkWest Energy RSS, MarkWest, investor.markwest.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=135034&p=irol-irhome. Accessed 30 Sept. 2018.
- “Laws & Regulations.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 24 Aug. 2018, www.epa.gov/laws-regulations. Accessed 28 Sept. 2018
- “Oil and Gas Reports.” PA.gov, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, www.dep.pa.gov/dataandtools/reports/oil%20and%20gas%20reports/pages/default.aspx. Accessed 28 Sept. 2018.
- “Oil Pipelines.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/NFYIOL600284267/OVIC?u=va_s_117_1220&xid=5597bed0. Accessed 12 Mar. 2018.
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