(House of Representatives - April 07, 2011)

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[Pages H2514-H2521]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              {time}  1620
                      MARCELLUS SHALE NATURAL GAS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 5, 2011, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Reed) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. REED. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with many of my colleagues on 
both sides of the aisle to talk about an issue that I believe is a game 
changer when it comes to America's future.
  As we deal with the issue of dependency on foreign energy supplies 
and we come up with--hopefully in this Congress--a national energy 
policy that once and for all will put us on a path that will lead to 
our independence from our dependency on foreign energy supplies across 
America, one issue I would like to talk about tonight in particular is 
the exploration and development of our natural gas supplies right here 
on our domestic lands.
  As I come and hail from the great State of New York, we have located 
under our great State a formation known as the Marcellus shale natural 
gas formation. That natural gas formation has been identified by many 
experts across the field as to contain one of the world's largest 
supplies of natural gas. That supply of natural gas is located within 
our continent, within our borders, and will take off the table those 
risks to our future that are demonstrated by the upheavals that we see

[[Page H2515]]

in the Middle East that supply our energy supplies on a constant basis. 
So I am proud to be joined tonight with colleagues from the great State 
of Pennsylvania on both sides of the aisle to talk about the issue of 
Marcellus shale natural gas.
  At this point in time, I would like to recognize my good friend from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Thompson) to offer some comments in regards to this 
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. I thank my friend and colleague from 
the great State of New York, where our congressional districts adjoin 
at that New York-Pennsylvania border. I am really proud to be with you 
on the floor today to talk about this game changer, as you referred to.
  Mr. Speaker, we are facing critical times--record debt, $14 trillion; 
skyrocketing gas prices, in some places over $4 a gallon and climbing; 
energy dependence and addiction to Middle Eastern oil; and a volatile 
Middle East. All those things tie together. And, frankly, we're here to 
talk about something that is a part of the solution on how to get out 
from underneath each one of those critical issues that is just piling 
on this Nation, the United States of America, and that is the Marcellus 
shale natural gas. We are proud to also have Marcellus shale underneath 
much of Pennsylvania. We have New York and Pennsylvania, West Virginia, 
parts of Ohio, parts of Virginia.
  The Marcellus is just a tremendous natural gas play. It's something 
that we have known has been there for a very, very long time, but the 
technology to access it is more of a recent advent, and it is just so 
exciting. I'm glad we are here to talk about all aspects of this 
  Over the last month, the development of the Marcellus shale natural 
gas play has been given national attention, in particular, a technical 
industry term known as ``hydraulic fracturing,'' or ``fracking,'' a 
process utilized in oil and gas production for almost a century and 
regulated now for decades. Oil and gas workers have completed nearly 1 
million fracking jobs nationally, safely and without adverse 
environmental impact. Over the years, these technologies have been 
refined and improved for more efficient and environmentally safe use. 
In fact, Mr. Speaker, I find that the rapid increase of technology as 
it comes from the natural gas industry right now is just incredible. 
This is an industry that is literally very solid but is always looking 
for that new opportunity on how to do things even better.
  Recently, the New York Times attempted to discredit the wealth and 
experience employed by the industry over the years and the successful 
work of government officials to properly regulate natural gas 
development. Through half-truths and, frankly, calculated quote 
shopping, the New York Times made unsubstantiated claims regarding 
fracking and its impact on water quality and the environment. They 
repackaged old stories with sensational new headlines, and they 
rehashed allegations against development of natural resources vital for 
our country's energy future.
  Now immediately following these stories, the Pennsylvania Department 
of Environmental Protection--which has, frankly, jurisdiction over the 
drilling of natural gas in the Keystone State--responded, releasing 
tests that show that water supplies downstream of Marcellus shale gas 
drilling are safe. This testing has addressed misinformation related to 
water quality in the Commonwealth and validated with scientific data 
that municipal drinking water is safe.
  Mr. Speaker, each day in my district there is news regarding the 
Marcellus shale worthy of a national headline. Through this resource 
and these technologies, 70 million homes and thousands of small 
businesses are paying the lowest gas prices in years to heat their 
homes. The lowest. Let me repeat that. When you have gas prices, 
petroleum gas prices that are at record highs, volatile highs for our 
vehicles, natural gas prices at the same time are at a record low. 
That's where they have a national headline. That is all because of one 
thing. Natural gas in this country is largely domestically produced. It 
is produced by American workers, and it doesn't have that volatility 
that you see when you become reliant on countries such as in the Middle 
  Thousands of jobs are being created. I have two counties in 
particular at the epicenter. Actually, one of them adjoins your 
congressional district. The lowest unemployment numbers probably in 
history, much lower than national and State averages. There's nothing 
better that you can do for a person than create an environment that 
provides them a good-paying job, and that is happening as a result of 
the natural gas industry.
  Each day, the local economy in my district gets a little better, and 
every moment the notion of an energy secure America is easier to grasp. 
For me, I define ``energy security'' as shutting off the pipeline from 
the Middle East.
  I recognize that the largest amount of our oil that we import is from 
Canada, and Canada is a good ally. I don't see any threats from 
Canadians other than maybe when we get around to hockey season between 
the teams. But when it comes to the Middle East, I think when we look 
at the volatility in the Middle East today, in Egypt and obviously 
Libya and Yemen, I mean, we should end that addiction immediately to 
Middle Eastern oil, and that achieves energy security.
  Now, when it comes to safety, there can be no shortcuts, no 
loopholes, and no exceptions, but sensationalism fails to serve any 
good for anyone. Scare tactics are dangerous when dealing with such 
complicated and technical matters as this. And that is what we see with 
many of the headlines that we have been reading, articles written with 
  I am so very pleased that you are hosting this hour today because we 
can talk about facts and put the facts out there. The same goes for 
dealing with our Nation's energy security. We need to talk about facts. 
So I am pleased to be with you, and I yield back at this time.
  Mr. REED. Reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman for his comments 
and I thank the gentleman for participating in this this evening.
  When I first came to Congress back in November of last year, after we 
took office after our special election, one of the issues, and a 
priority issue to our office, is the Marcellus shale natural gas 
development. One of the things that I noted back in my district back at 
home is that there is a lot of misinformation, as the gentleman 
identified in his comments.
  One thing that we sought to do is to establish the Marcellus Shale 
Caucus, a caucus of Members of Congress who represent districts that 
overlay the Marcellus shale formation, so that we could come together 
as a body, as a representative body, and bring the best scientists and 
bring the best data and bring the best information, not only to the 
floor of the House, but back to our districts.
  I am pleased to be joined tonight as cochair in that caucus as we 
have established in this Congress, my good friend from Pennsylvania 
(Mr. Critz), who I believe has some comments that he would like to 
share on this issue before we get into the presentation of the facts in 
the development of the Marcellus shale.
  Mr. CRITZ. Well, thank you, Mr. Reed. And, yes, serving as cochair 
for the Marcellus Shale Caucus is truly an honor because we do have 
such an opportunity before us. As Mr. Reed mentioned earlier, Mr. 
Speaker, this isn't a Democrat or a Republican issue. This is a 
bipartisan issue because it's about economic opportunity for all of our 
  Mr. Speaker, I am joining my colleagues to discuss the significant 
economic potential that the Marcellus shale natural gas play has for 
our country. As you may know, the Marcellus shale is the largest 
unconventional natural gas formation in the United States. The shale is 
estimated to hold almost 500 trillion cubic feet of extractable natural 
gas currently valued at nearly $2 trillion.
  As with most economic activity, the impacts of the natural gas affect 
more than just specific firms directly involved in the industry. There 
are also important employment and income effects on local businesses 
who supply the industry, such as oilfield service companies, 
restaurants, retailers and hotels, in addition to effects that result 
from employees spending their wages locally.

[[Page H2516]]

  In Pennsylvania, 75 percent of the natural gas it uses every day is 
imported currently. This is just Pennsylvania. The Marcellus shale 
formation that runs along the Appalachian Mountains--so it goes up into 
New York, comes down through Pennsylvania, into Virginia and West 
Virginia, as G.T. Thompson, Mr. Thompson from Pennsylvania, mentioned 
earlier, goes into eastern Ohio and down through the Appalachian 
Mountains--is really an opportunity for this country. Because, as Mr. 
Thompson mentioned, as we watch the unstableness in the Middle East, 
we're talking about the natural gas industry, which is just booming in 
our region of the world.

                              {time}  1630

  It's sort of interesting because, in a conversation with some of the 
folks from industry about a decade ago, the natural gas industry was 
told that they'd better start building processing plants at ports and 
on the shorelines because there was going to be a need for this country 
to import natural gas. Well, now that equation has flipped, and this 
country is really on the verge of producing so much natural gas just 
through the Marcellus shale that we will exceed the needs of this 
country, and we actually could be on the verge of becoming an exporter 
of natural gas to foreign economies.
  It's incredible. The high-paying jobs available today in the 
Marcellus shale gas industry are expected to multiply in the future, 
meeting the needs of gas companies' efforts to increase drilling and 
production across the region. In Pennsylvania alone, it is estimated 
that more than 110,000 new jobs have been created because of the 
development of this shale.
  Mr. Reed mentioned earlier and Mr. Thompson reiterated that this is a 
game-changer. As I said, this isn't a Democrat or a Republican issue. 
It's not a New York or a Pennsylvania issue. This is an issue for our 
country. This is an issue that bodes well for the future of economic 
development in this country. I am so excited to be co-chair with Mr. 
Reed. I use a lot of football analogies. I think, by game-changing, 
what we're doing is we're moving our economic football down the field. 
We're making progress. There is an opportunity here, and I think we 
need to take care of it.
  One of the things that was alluded to earlier was environmental 
concerns. Let me tell you that, in growing up in western Pennsylvania, 
we grew up with the steel industry and the coal mining industry. We had 
a lot of problems as those industries wound down as, in years past, 
there was not a lot of environmental protection. We had streams that 
were fouled. We had huge, what we call gob piles, of the slag that 
comes off of steel production. Let me tell you that, over the last 20, 
25 years, Pennsylvania has done some incredible work in cleaning up 
those slag piles and in cleaning up the streams so that, in the streams 
that had been dead for decades, you can now fish, and now we have 
trails throughout western Pennsylvania.
  So, from a Pennsylvania standpoint, what I can say is that, in 
government's working with industry, working with local officials, 
working with people on environmental interests, we have all come 
together in Pennsylvania and are moving our way forward, and we do a 
very good job of it in Pennsylvania. This Marcellus shale has created 
an opportunity for us that is really second to none, which is just from 
a Pennsylvanian's perspective, but I can't end with saying it's just 
Pennsylvania, because, as we've talked about, it goes through New York.
  There is so much opportunity for the future of this country and for 
the economic development of this country that I want to thank Mr. Reed 
for inviting me to be his co-chair on the Marcellus Shale Caucus, 
because, in working together, we can get a lot done for this country. I 
applaud him for his efforts, and I look forward to working with him, 
with Mr. Thompson, and with the 17 other members of this caucus in 
making sure that we do the right thing for this country and for this 
country's future.
  So, with that, I yield back, Mr. Reed. I appreciate the time to be 
able to talk.
  Mr. REED. I thank the gentleman for his comments, and I reclaim my 
  As both of my colleagues have articulated, this is a game-changer, 
but at the same time it's a game-changer, I think everybody in this 
Chamber and everyone across the Nation realizes that the development of 
this precious resource needs to be done in a safe and responsible 
manner. Nobody I've talked with in my travels on this issue has ever 
expressed a desire to just drill at any cost. What we have to do is 
have responsible, safe drilling. That's what we're all about, and 
that's what this caucus is all about. It's about bringing together both 
sides of the aisle. In Washington here, we get chastised quite often 
about being partisan, about dividing, and about not coming together to 
solve our Nation's problems.
  I see this as a game-changer for an additional reason in that we can 
come together on both sides of the aisle to promote this issue, to come 
up with a commonsense regulatory basis at the State level, to promote 
that at the State level, and to develop this precious resource 
domestically so that we can have energy that is projected to last over 
90 years. There are 90 years of domestic supplies of energy coming from 
this natural gas formation that is located, not only in Marcellus 
shale, but across the Nation in various shale formations. What I'd like 
to do at this point in time is to just go through a little history of 
what we're talking about here when it comes to natural gas in America.
  Many people think that oil and natural gas in America is something 
that's relatively new. I'll tell you that, in the western portion of my 
district, I'm proud to have located there the first natural gas well 
that has ever been drilled. That well was located, I think it was, in 
the late 1800s, just outside the district in Fredonia; and then there 
is an oil well in the Pennsylvania area that, I believe, is located in 
my great colleague's district right across the Pennsylvania State 
border. It was located sometime in the late 1800s or in the early 
1900s. Andrew Carnegie was able to generate a great amount of wealth in 
developing those oil fields that are right here in America.
  So natural gas and oil production in America is not something that's 
new. It has been around for many, many years. Actually, the first 
commercial frac job--or the job of developing a natural gas well with 
the technology and concept that we call ``hydraulic fracturing'' and 
which a lot of people have said in association with the Marcellus shale 
formation, which is a new technology and a new venture in natural gas 
development--has actually been around for quite some time. The first 
commercial frac job occurred in Velma, Oklahoma, on March 17, 1949. As 
my colleague from Pennsylvania had indicated, since that time, over 1 
million wells have been fracked right here in America without an 
identified problem. That's over 60 years of success.
  What has happened with the Marcellus shale and the new shale 
formation development potential is that they've taken that hydraulic 
fracturing, and they've created an update to it. They've kind of come 
up with a new technology of using those existing technologies and 
combining them in order to come up with new techniques that combine the 
concepts of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing into one 
combined technology that makes the development of our North American 
shale/natural gas formations economically viable. That includes the 
Marcellus shale formation here in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, 
New York, and across the Northeast area.
  Now that we've heard about this issue, I see we are joined by another 
colleague from the great State of Pennsylvania. I yield to my colleague 
from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. ALTMIRE. I thank my friend, and I thank my neighbor from 
Pennsylvania as well. It's good to have a bipartisan discussion on an 
issue that is critical to this country--our energy independence and 
using our domestic reserves.
  In Pennsylvania, we have a unique circumstance, as does New York, in 
that $4 million is invested in producing each Marcellus shale well, and 
with 2,500 wells produced annually just in Pennsylvania, we're talking 
about $10 billion that is invested in Marcellus shale sites. That's 
money that's coming right back into Pennsylvania. That's money that 
would be coming back into New York if the gentleman had his way, which 
I would support.

[[Page H2517]]

  When we talk about natural gas--and we're going to get into the 
details, and we have gotten into the details of Marcellus shale, in 
particular, and what a great find this has been for the country--we 
think about ways that we can use the natural gas that results from 
Marcellus shale, things like natural gas-powered vehicles. We're going 
to have a discussion later in the year on an energy bill here in this 
Congress--it will be a bipartisan bill--as natural gas is going to be a 
critical part of our Nation's energy future.
  Think about the great work that the scientists are doing on the 
research and development of natural gas vehicles, on the production of 
natural gas vehicles, on the purchasing and conversion in the country, 
and on finding a way to give tax credits to consumers so they can 
convert their vehicles into natural gas operating.
  Then of course you have the chicken and the egg situation of who's 
going to go first. Do you have the filling station before you have the 
car or do you have the car before you have the filling station? We have 
to do both together. We have to incentivize the stations to put natural 
gas pumps at their stations and, of course, incentivize the conversion 
of the natural gas vehicle, which helps all of us. With the price of 
gas nearing and exceeding $4 in many States in the country, this is 
only going to help with our energy future.
  When you think about North America in particular, this is so exciting 
because gas resources are much larger, and the cost of producing gas is 
much lower because of the find of the Marcellus shale. If you are in a 
household in this country that doesn't get its electricity from natural 
gas, your electricity bill is still going to be lower because of the 
resources that we have, because of the abundance of natural gas.

                              {time}  1640

  We're talking about cheap energy because of the volume that we're 
talking about, unprecedented reserves that exceed the oil under Saudi 
Arabia, as the gentleman was discussing earlier. The ability of the 
United States to store natural gas has improved dramatically over the 
  So now we're in position where we can produce the gas, we can use it 
domestically to bring down the cost of electricity, we can store it, 
and we're going to export some of this gas as well. The market for 
natural gas around the world is increasing because of the Marcellus 
shale find in Pennsylvania and in New York and West Virginia and 
Virginia, Ohio. This is really a wonderful thing for this country.
  And the total U.S. natural gas production in 2010 just last year was 
at its highest level ever. In 2010, the natural gas production in this 
country was at its highest level ever compared to oil consumption, 
which, since 2005, has dropped more than 5 percent, and natural gas use 
has risen 10 percent in that time. Of course, that's preceding the big 
find with the Marcellus shale. So we're only going to see that grow and 
  So we're keeping energy prices low. We're making ourselves energy 
independent, which is critical. There's a national security issue to 
that. There's an economic and a jobs issue which we're seeing in 
Pennsylvania firsthand. And of course there's an energy issue to that, 
how we're going to continue to grow our energy resources.
  So I congratulate the gentleman for leading the discussion tonight, 
and I look forward to continuing not just tonight but beyond because 
this has to be part of our energy future in this country. And it was 
the cover of ``Time'' magazine. So when you think about the Nation 
paying attention, the spotlight being on our region of the country, it 
truly is because this is something that's going to benefit everybody in 
this country.
  Mr. REED. I reclaim my time.
  I thank my colleague for his comments, and he's absolutely right. I 
agree wholeheartedly with your comments that the economic potential 
that we see not only with Marcellus shale but with all of the shale 
formations. When it comes to natural gas and oil development, it's 
huge. Those are real jobs.
  I have had the opportunity to go to your great State and tour many of 
these rigs that we've seen in operation. You see the workers there. You 
see the people that are employed, that are being serviced by this 
industry that are putting food on their tables, putting money aside for 
their kids' college education. The prosperity.
  I went back on multiple trips and stopped and toured some of your 
downtown areas in the locations where this development is going on. And 
I talked with residents and heard the success stories of how the 
restaurants are filled and how the hotels have ``no vacancy'' signs on 
their doors.
  One thing that struck me was a family farmer who was talking about, 
until this came along, they were struggling with coming up with a plan 
to pass the family farm on to the next generation. And when I heard 
that story, I said, This is something, because it's continuing a way of 
life, a tradition of America when it comes to our farmers and, when it 
comes to people that we share in common in our districts, being able to 
pass that on because now they have the revenue from their lands that is 
going to allow them to preserve that way of life.
  So I'm proud to be here today. Before we get into some details as to 
exactly what we're talking about, one of those issues as we have 
indicated is getting the information out to the American public so that 
the American public can have the correct information based on science 
and data. And when our elected officials at the State level deal with 
the regulatory oversight that goes into this process, that we have the 
true science and data before them to make sure that those regulations 
are appropriate and they're getting the job done.
  Because we all agree on both sides of the aisle that we want this 
resource to be developed if it can be done so in a sound and 
environmentally safe fashion.
  So I will yield at this point in time to my colleague, Mr. Thompson.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. I want to thank my good friend from New 
York. It's an honor to be joined by Congressman Altmire from 
Pennsylvania as well.
  Because this Marcellus natural gas is certainly a game changer for 
Pennsylvania. I think it's a game changer for the United States of 
America. And it is important that we educate. We're here to do that. 
And I know that's a--I think that's a vision of this caucus to make 
sure that we put out--get the science and the data out to people. 
Because there's a debate. And on most important things, most game 
changers you should have a debate, but it should be a debate that's 
based on facts and science and not on emotion and myth.
  Let me share some more economic information, a couple facts relayed 

  You've heard some of this before. Certainly Marcellus contains 
upwards of 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is an amazing 
amount of natural gas. My colleague from Pennsylvania described it as 
it's more energy than the oil in Saudi Arabia. And it's clean energy. 
There's enough gas to meet this Nation's current gas demands for at 
least 100 years because we have the Marcellus formation, and then under 
that is, frankly, the Utica formation. And so there are tremendous vast 
  According to Penn State University, a university I'm proud to not 
only be a graduate of but to represent within my congressional 
district, in 2008 natural gas production had a 2.3--I'm just saying in 
2008--1 year--a $2.3 billion direct impact on the Pennsylvania economy, 
adding more than 29,000 new jobs and $240 million in State and local 
tax revenue. Frankly, the budget in Pennsylvania is hurting right now, 
the State budget. It's like here in Washington.
  But in Pennsylvania, there's a blessing there with this revenue 
that's coming in by all of the companies and the individuals that are 
doing business in this natural gas industry of what they pay in taxes. 
Again, in just 2008, they paid $240 million in taxes to the State and 
local government.
  Another report also suggested in 2009: In slightly more than 10 
years, the Marcellus industry could be generating nearly 175,000 jobs 
annually and more than $13 billion in value added. And more recently in 
2011, more recent data, facts, planned spending by Marcellus producers 
could generate more than $10 billion in value added, nearly $1 billion 
in State and local revenues. Now, this is just Pennsylvania.

[[Page H2518]]

  I know that New York could use that type of tax revenue as well as 
West Virginia and Virginia and Ohio. The figures I'm sharing with you 
are really just about Pennsylvania. And more than 100,000 jobs.
  This is not a short-term development. This is not a fly-by-night. 
This is not going to come in and leave in a matter of years, frankly. 
This resource means development for at least 50 years and beyond. When 
you start to take into account the Utica shale, it really multiplies 
out. The economic benefit is tremendous.
  According to Penn State, the Marcellus could make Pennsylvania the 
second largest producer of natural gas in the United States by 2020. 
You know, there were pipelines that were installed decades ago and from 
the ports of the northeast coast because we were preparing to import 
natural gas from Russia, from overseas. Today, there's work to convert 
those pipelines so that we can export natural gas and that we, 
Pennsylvania in particular, can be an exporter. That's good news.
  Mr. REED. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Certainly.
  Mr. REED. I think that articulates a great potential that we see with 
the Marcellus shale formation in particular. Its location in the 
northeast area of our great Nation opens it up to development to that 
densely populated area around New York City, up and down the northeast 
coast, the manufacturing hub of yesteryear that is there.
  The opportunity that this energy supply that has this infrastructure 
in existence and also the potential to invest in that infrastructure to 
deliver this energy supply to a vast number of people and to a vast 
number of small businesses is going to put people back to work. I think 
that further articulates the game-changing nature of this find in 
northeast America.
  I yield back.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Thank you. I thank my friend for 
yielding back.
  You had mentioned the history of drilling. I very proudly represent 
Titusville, Pennsylvania. It's where one of my district offices is. 
It's the Drake well. It was 151 years ago that Colonel Drake used a 
wooden drill bit, drilled down 37 feet and hit oil. So drilling is not 
new to Pennsylvania. As you said, the first natural gas is just within 
or just outside of your congressional district, natural gas well.
  And in terms of Marcellus wells, I think it's important we talk about 
that. I think you have a great chart there that demonstrates exactly 
what we're talking about when we're talking about the Marcellus 
geological formation, which is not a shallow formation.

                              {time}  1650

  This is a deep well. This is 8,000 to 9,000 feet, well below when you 
think the water table in our area is normally maybe 1,000 feet. This is 
8,000 to 9,000 feet below that. And the horizontal drilling that was 
developed, directional drilling, there has been 1,900 of those wells 
already on the ground put in. So I think it may be good to take the 
opportunity to talk at some point about exactly how these wells work.
  Mr. REED. I was just going to move onto that, but I will yield to my 
colleague from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. ALTMIRE. I was going to actually segue into that exact point, 
because I know the gentleman from New York was going to talk about the 
process. And it's important to keep in mind there, of course, are 
always going to be concerns with doing the drilling as safely as 
possible, limiting any impact on the drinking water. And I know we are 
going to talk about the process.
  Consider the fact that we're talking about drilling that has been 
done for decades safely, thousands and thousands of wells drilled in 
this process without any repercussions, any negative impact all across 
the country, and now beginning in the Marcellus shale area. We are 
talking about a water table, the drinking water at approximately 500 
feet. The drilling takes place a mile below that, 5,000, 6,000 feet 
below the water table. It has been proven in the decades and decades 
and thousands and thousands of wells that have been drilled that if you 
do it correctly, if the company is diligent, if they follow the proper 
procedures, they can do it without harm. It's been proven.
  Now, yes, as happens in any industry, energy or otherwise, if you 
have bad actors and you have people that don't follow the right 
procedures, that cut corners, then the potential would exist for a bad 
outcome. But that happens in any business, in any industry. So we do 
need to make sure that the drillers, and by and large they have shown 
the ability do this safely, continue to do that and pay attention to 
the rules and the regulations. But we can't in any way put a burden 
upon the drillers that exceeds the risk factor.
  We need to make sure that we are cultivating the resources, we are 
doing it in the appropriate and proven safe way as we have done for 
decades. I turn it over to the gentleman from New York.
  Mr. REED. I thank my good friend from Pennsylvania. I do want to get 
into the process. I have a chart here today on the floor of the House 
to kind of go over exactly what we are talking about when it comes to 
this--I thank my colleague for joining us this evening--to talk about 
what we are dealing with here, this process of tapping into the shale 
formations, and in particular Marcellus shale formation. Really what we 
are talking about is kind of the combination of the existing 
technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. That's 
kind of the game-changing combination of existing technologies that 
have been joined together to in an innovative way come up with a way to 
tap these deep, large natural gas reserves in an environmentally safe 
way that will allow this gas to be recovered in an economically viable 
  So with that being said, I have got a chart here. And as many people 
know, there is the old traditional vertical well drilling which is 
represented, before we go into the horizontal role here, as straight 
down. The old vertical well is to punch a hole in the ground, as you 
said, 37 feet with a wooden bit, to one of the original finds in your 
district. That's what we're talking about.
  But the horizontal drilling, the change in the horizontal drilling 
techniques that we're talking about is the ability to go down very deep 
into the Earth's crust. We are talking that this formation in Marcellus 
shale is about 6,000 to 8,000 feet below the surface. What happens is 
they drill from the surface down to that formation.
  Then what they are able to do, and I have seen this with my own eyes, 
and I am sure my colleague from Pennsylvania has seen it also, they are 
able to turn that drilling bit, and turn the drill horizontally. So 
they go down vertically, and then as they get to the point where the 
formation is located and where the natural gas has been identified in 
the Marcellus shale formation, in the natural gas supply we are talking 
about tonight, and they turn that drill bit and they go out 
horizontally. And they go out thousands of feet. They go out and drill 
and open up that formation, that shale formation, to potential 
development for natural gas recovery.
  After they turn that drill bit and they take that horizontal turn, 
they go out and then they engage in the process which is called 
hydraulic fracturing. Now, hydraulic fracturing has been around quite a 
long time. What essentially that means is that they are going in, they 
drill the well, and then they detonate some small explosives in order 
to crack the formation, in order to open up the formation, open up this 
shale rock that is not shale or slate that you are accustomed to on the 
surface of the Earth.
  I held it the other day. A gentleman came into my office, had a piece 
of shale in the Midwest area, and it's as solid as granite. There are 
natural gas molecules that are trapped into that granite formation, 
that shale formation. What they have to do is they have to detonate 
small fissures and open up cracks in that formation so that the natural 
gas molecules have a path to go back up the bore, up the well site and 
be recovered at the surface.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. REED. I will. Please.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Those fractures, folks will sometimes 
be scared by that. They envision these huge caverns that are opened up 
under the ground. And in fact, these fractures, or fissures I think 
they are best described, and you have probably seen

[[Page H2519]]

them portrayed as spider webs. In fact, they are so small that they are 
held open by a grain of sand. That's the proppant that is put down into 
with water, and put in there to hold those fractures open. Just a grain 
of sand. So I think that, as we are talking about facts, so the people 
have a vision of what exactly we're talking about when this takes 

  Mr. REED. My colleague's exactly right. And if you can join me in 
this conversation, because by no means am I an expert in this 
technology. But what I have read and researched and what's been 
presented to me makes sense. Because you're absolutely right. What 
happens is then they take, after there is some fracturing of the 
formation of the shale--there is a hydraulic fracture, hence the 
hydraulic fracturing, the hydraulic portion of that technology name--
what they do is they pump volumes of water, primarily water and sand, 
down the well site and into that horizontally-drilled well site and 
bore, and pump in water at high pressures. We are talking high pressure 
when we are talking about this process and this technology that not 
only pump into those fissures, those microscopic fissures that we're 
talking about that are the result of this fracturing process.
  As they pump that water and sand into those fissures, when they 
withdraw the fracked material, those proppants as they are called, as 
my colleague's identified, keep those fissures open so that natural gas 
has the ability to have a natural, by way of pressures, ability to 
migrate to the well, to the bore site, to the hole, if you would, and 
then flow back up to the surface and be recovered and developed, and 
put into our pipeline systems to supply the energy that we all have 
become dependent upon.
  Does my colleague have anything to add to that process?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Sure. Absolutely. I think that if my 
good friend would go ahead and put that other board that's up, because 
when you are talking about the fluid, there is a lot of discussion 
sometimes about hydrofracking fluid. And this is I think a great poster 
that really captures what exactly is in that hydrofracking fluid. That 
sometimes is called brine, sometimes it's called slick water.
  Mr. REED. Will my colleague yield for a question?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Certainly.
  Mr. REED. That's one of the great myths. I've heard these myths 
throughout my travels throughout the district and down here in D.C. 
that the hydraulic fluid, that there is some secret, that they don't 
want to talk about it, they don't want to disclose it. My understanding 
is that that truly is a myth. And you have here today I see on this 
chart kind of identified the ingredients. Would you agree?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Yes. If the gentleman would yield, 
absolutely. It's 99.5 percent is water and sand. The other half a 
percent is made up of basically ingredients that you would find in many 
household items as referenced from the chart. You know, there are some 
things there such as sodium, there is things that are used to reduce 
friction going down into the pipeline. It's the same things that you 
can find in water treatment or candy.

                              {time}  1700

  There is a gelling agent, also used in toothpaste, and other types of 
things, things that we use. The most important thing, though, this is 
all public record.
  In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection, which is 
the agency that oversees this drilling activity, requires that this 
list of ingredients is made available publicly; on the drilling sites 
they are available, standard, like any industry that uses materials. I 
would trust in our congressional offices somewhere we have a manual, an 
MSDS manual, material safety data sheets.
  Because whether it's whiteout or it's some other cleaning fluid or 
Windex, you have to list all those things. You have to have an MSDS for 
them in any type of business or industry.
  And so through MSDS, frankly, and requirements through agencies, 
oversight agencies as the Department of Environmental Protection, the 
ingredients that are required are available publicly. That is a great 
myth that has this is such a secret and people don't know what's going 
down into the wells.
  Not all of this water comes out; that's important to recognize. Just 
a percentage of the waters that do come out, a lot of it actually is 
left 8,000-9,000 feet down. And the water that does come back, in my 
experience, being, observing these operations, much of it is recycled.
  Mr. REED. On the chart that we have here this evening, what we are 
talking about is that hydraulic fluid is pumped into the horizontal 
area. Primarily that water is hitting that area, and it is then coming 
back up the well bore to a certain extent.
  If you could continue as to what happens to the water that remains 
down there.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. It just stays with the geology down 
there, and this is like it's a mile below the aquifer. It's actually 
encased in layers of limestone, especially in Pennsylvania and in New 
York. That's our geology. We have this Marcellus shale, but it's really 
encased with what could be hundreds of yards of thick limestone on top, 
and certainly limestone in the bottom. And so the water stays down. The 
most important thing, though, is what happens to the water that comes 
up and especially when it passes through that area, 5, 6, 700 feet 
where the aquifer is, frankly, our water, fresh water comes from.
  The casing that is on your poster is incredibly important to where 
it's encased through that area. The wells are encased multiple times 
with both steel and with concrete, multiple layers. The safeguards are 
just tremendous so that you absolutely cannot get any cross-
contamination with our aquifer.

  Mr. REED. My understanding of the processing, correct me if I am 
wrong, is we are essentially dealing with a two-step process, if you 
would, in developing the well site. You have the surface up here; you 
have got the initial, where there is a drilling operation that goes 
through the--I forget the actual technical name--but the upper end of 
the well that we are tapping into.
  And that's the area in the first 1,000 feet, plus or minus, that's 
going through the aquifer. I think we have highlighted kind of a cross-
section and kind of highlighted that area because it is a legitimate 
concern, in my opinion. I know the regulatory agencies have identified 
this as a legitimate concern, and this is a critical portion of the 
well development that I think we need to spend a little bit more time 
  As we punch through the aquifer, what we are talking about is there 
are casings, there are steel casings, it's my understanding, that are 
pushed down the well site after it's been drilled, that are pushed down 
the bore, the well bore, and then going through that aquifer. And then 
what is happening once you get to that point that has been identified 
as the break-off point, or I forget the term that's in the industry, 
but what happens is they pump it up with a cement, with a material, 
that provides a barrier between the casing, the aquifer and the other 
formations and essentially fills in the area, if you would, between the 
casings and the aquifer and the other area that's kind of primarily 
going through that first 1,000 feet of well development. Is my 
understanding correct?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. I think the gentleman is very accurate, 
and it's multiple, multiple piping with cement in between each one.
  Mr. REED. But it's redundancies built into the process.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. A lot of redundancy built into it 
because it's extremely important not to get that cross-contamination.
  Mr. REED. I think that's a point that needs to be stressed is the 
redundancy of how the initial 1,000 feet, plus or minus, whatever the 
regulatory agencies say we have to have for that break-off point and 
that multiple protection to make sure that that aquifer is protected.
  Then my understanding is the second stage of the process is where 
they continue to drill down deeper to reach the actual formation, which 
again is 6,000 to 8,000 feet below, because it's not a fluid level 
location throughout the Northeast, as many of us know from geology from 
our high school days. There are elevation changes in that formation.
  That's the amazing part of the technology in my understanding is that 

[[Page H2520]]

that formation goes up and down, and you go from the 5,000 foot, the 
6,000 foot to the deep at the 9,000 foot, the technology can actually 
trace into that formation. I hit those marks where the engineers have 
identified that this gas is located.
  Essentially what they do in that second phase is they continue to 
drill down to the formation. As they turn the drill bit to do that 
horizontal drilling technique, that actually goes through that shale 
rock--and it is rock, I literally held it the other day, as I indicated 
earlier. It really feels like granite, but that gas is trapped within 
that rock and drills through and then reaches out thousands of feet 
from the well site up on the surface.
  I think that's a point I would also like to articulate right now and 
stress that one of the things that I saw as a benefit--because I have 
seen vertical wells, I have seen horizontal wells. Vertical wells is 
one hole essentially going to the formation, and they take a shot at 
getting to the sweet spot, so to speak.
  Then if they miss--and the general rule I believe in the industry is 
one out of three of those are not successful in the Northeast--and we 
are dealing with the Trenton rock and the Black River formation, which 
is a higher level formation, is my understanding. They would then have 
to move the well site, and they would have to disturb the surface, the 
area that they would have to clear in order to put the rig and the 
development facilities on the surface.
  Now, what they are doing with this whole horizontal drilling 
technique is that they have six different well sites from the one 
platform. Is that understanding correct?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. That is my understanding, my 
observations, where on one site, where this drilling activity goes on, 
takes up to perhaps 90 days to drill and to frack one of these wells, 
you can put multiple, at least up to six, on one site. So in terms of 
not disturbing, minimizing disturbing the surface area, it's a great 
technology for the maximal production of a very clean and very 
affordable energy source for us.
  Mr. REED. That's exactly what I saw in your district, in your great 
district as I came down and toured one of those sites. You got a real 
sense of the difference of having the multiple vertical locations that 
would talk about clearing trees and clearing the area and building 
roads to get access to those areas.
  You would then essentially take six of those vertical sites and put 
them in one location where they could horizontally tap into this 
reserve from one location rather than six locations. I think that's a 
great point to put that education and that information out to people, 
because I think that people think this is just a one-hole operation. 
It's a multi-hole operation.
  That's also what makes it economically viable, because this is not 
cheap. I know these are millions of dollars of investment in order to 
tap into this resource, and that has to be recognized and respected.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. I think as we are talking, the 
environmental record is certainly an area of concern that folks have 
  As you have noted, or as my other colleague across the aisle from 
Pennsylvania noted, hydraulic fracturing was first used 60 years ago, 
actually in Oklahoma. Fracking has been common practice and 
successfully used in over a million wells across the United States.
  When performed correctly, the process of hydrofracturing has not once 
contaminated any aquifer or drinking-water supply. In Pennsylvania, 
there are 11 State laws that govern oil and gas development. In 
Pennsylvania, drilling companies have to disclose the names of all the 
chemicals to be stored and used at a drilling site in the Pollution 
Prevention and Contingency Plan that must be submitted to the State 
Department of Environmental Protection as a part of the permit 
application process.

                              {time}  1710

  In addition to regulations used in Pennsylvania and at the State 
level, oil and gas production is subject to eight Federal laws. More 
specifically, there are five Federal laws that regulate 
hydrofracturing, hydraulic fracturing. This includes the Clean Water 
Act in various stages of the process; the Safe Drinking Water Act when 
discharging frac fluids; the EPCRA, Emergency Planning and Community 
Right-to-Know Act, which mandates that operators maintain material 
safety data sheets at every well site in America where a minimum amount 
of chemicals were present, which, in part, is maintained by the State.
  Now, these plans contain original copies of the material safety data 
sheets for all chemicals, and DEP recommends to operators that a copy 
be kept on each well site. So that comes back to the question of: What 
are the ingredients? What's going into this frac fluid?
  Frankly, most companies exceed the State requirements in the 
Pennsylvania operations, not to say that, like any other industry, 
there aren't some outliers, some folks who don't follow the standards. 
I'm proud to say that in Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental 
Protection, when they find those folks, they not only have to correct 
their problems, but if they're chronically doing this, they are put out 
of business. This is something that we have the technology. We are 
blessed with not just this resource from God, but we are blessed with 
the technology to do it right, and that should be a standard that we 
subscribe to.
  There are some here in Washington that want the Federal Government to 
come in to Pennsylvania to regulate this. I don't have confidence in 
Washington. I have confidence in Pennsylvania's Department of 
Environmental Protection. They've been doing a great job, and they 
continue to look at their standards, their regulations, and I think 
they do a great job of making sure that we are protecting our 
environment and producing a great resource which is adding jobs, 
growing the economy and, frankly, providing us a very affordable energy 
  Mr. REED. I would echo my colleague's comments about the State 
agencies being the appropriate agencies to oversee this development. In 
New York State, right now we are under a moratorium at the local level 
that has stopped any development of the Marcellus shale until our local 
DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation, issues its environmental 
impact statement to come up with the regulations that can deal with 
this issue in a responsible and safe manner. And to be perfectly 
upfront with my colleague from Pennsylvania, we've learned a great deal 
from what happened in your district and my other colleague's district 
in the State of Pennsylvania as to how to deal with these issues and 
make sure they are done safely and responsibly. And I think the DEC has 
done a good job in New York State of taking the time out and studying 
the issue. It's going on 3 years. I'm ready to move forward, in my 
opinion, to come up with regulations to unleash this game-changing 
opportunity for our Nation and for our areas.
  I do also agree with my colleague that leaving it up to Washington to 
come up with a one-size-fits-all solution, to me, is just not the 
appropriate policy. Let our State agencies, the ones that live and 
breathe in our communities, the people that work in those agencies, 
that know our State best, let me deal with these issues and come up 
with the regulations that are reasonable to protect our environment and 
yet at the same time recognize the potential and opportunity that is 
located in our Marcellus shale formation. And I think that is best 
served in order to allow the State agencies to do that.
  One thing I did want to stress as we're going through this chart, 
I've heard some concerns of people that, well, the fluid that remains 
down in the well site in the formation--because these are millions of 
gallons, there are millions of gallons of water that are pumped down 
the hole to create the pressures and to access this natural gas 
formation. There has been concern raised to me, and I would be 
interested to know what my colleague's thoughts are as to that water or 
that hydraulic, that slick water, that brine, as you had indicated, as 
it sits into the well site and into the formation, the potential risk 
of going back up through essentially a mile of sedimentation, of 
limestone, of different formations. Have you heard the same concern?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. I have heard those same concerns. But 
when you look at the geology in where

[[Page H2521]]

this drilling is done and you have the layers of Marcellus, and I think 
you only fracture maybe 18 inches, perhaps, from that horizontal 
pipeline, so you haven't permeated the entire Marcellus shale, and that 
is encased with a layer of perhaps hundreds of yards thick, hundreds of 
feet thick, at a minimum, of limestone. The geology is very, very--it's 
almost--you never say ``never,'' but it's impossible in order to get 
that what would be called migration for that fluid to move outside.
  Mr. REED. I believe the chart identifies what we're talking about 
here. We're talking the aquifer up here within 1,000 feet of the 
surface. Mostly, in our area, I know the water table is at about 500 
feet, maybe 200 feet, people are putting their wells into those 
aquifers. And we're talking 6,000 feet, 8,000 feet.

  I think this chart demonstrates it fairly accurately that we've got a 
ton of material, literally material, that is protecting this formation 
and that area down there from our aquifer. And I think that that 
concern is a legitimate concern, but because of the oversight and the 
ability of our local agencies to do their job, in my opinion, I think 
they can handle it appropriately and that Mother Nature will protect 
that aquifer from the development of this.
  I think the standards of how these wells go in need to be enforced, 
and that means that the type of cement, both the steel that's used and 
even, as importantly, the cement casing that's utilized to make sure 
that it's of a high quality and to make sure that it's put in a way and 
tested so that there are no air pockets, there are no quick pathways 
somehow for migration to occur through the casing, and that is all done 
in a very high quality way with a lot of quality controls. That's where 
the oversight is important.
  In Pennsylvania, again, I come back and put a lot of trust in the 
Department of Environmental Protection. There's a lot of folks on the 
other side that would be opposed to this. And I don't like to really 
promote anything, especially this, but there was a film series called 
``GASLAND.'' Let me just share with you some thoughts from John Hanger.
  Who is John Hanger? John Hanger used to be the head of an 
environmental group, and he became the secretary of the Department of 
Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania. And Secretary Hanger did a 
great job. He was concerned about the environment. He had an 
environmental record that was tough. He said that ``GASLAND'' is 
``fundamentally dishonest'' and ``deliberately false presentation for 
dramatic effect.'' He called the producer of that a propagandist 
because of the way the information was presented.
  Again, it comes back to how we started this. This is an important 
thing to have a debate on. But make the debate on fact and science, not 
on myth and emotion.
  And there were pictures of fire-spewing faucets that have been 
repeatedly found to be the result, frankly, of naturally occurring 
methane migration. People that drill their shallow wells for water, 
unfortunately, where they tend to drill, they sometimes drill them into 
methane pockets, naturally existing ones. I saw a picture yesterday of 
a gentleman farmer from Colorado, and it was a pretty cool picture 
because it showed a large flame in the middle of a river, but it was 
from a naturally occurring methane pocket. It had nothing to do with 
mining. It had nothing to do with drilling. But it was, again, 
naturally occurring. It had nothing to do with fracking.
  The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reviewed the 
specific location of the film numerous times and remarked ``dissolved 
methane in well water appears to be biogenic''--that is, naturally 
occurring in origin--"and there are no indications of oil and gas 
impacts to the well water.''
  The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed that there 
have been no confirmed cases of threatened animal health in 
Pennsylvania, because, obviously, a lot of this occurs on our farms.
  I would tell you that the Marcellus gas has saved more dairy farms in 
my district than probably anything else in the past couple years when 
dairy farmers were losing an average of $100 per cow per month, based 
on the fact that the Federal Government prices milk, and it is such a 
flawed system that this really has been a blessing for our farmers. I 
have a few farmers running around on new John Deeres, or whatever their 
choice of tractors are, for the first time in their lives, actually. 
And so it's been a really good thing so that we don't lose our farms.
  We are losing our agriculture acreage at an alarming rate even on a 
daily basis across this country, but in Pennsylvania, there has been a 
blessing that has helped to keep that land in production. There's a 
little bit of a disturbance, a small site for drilling, but once the 
rigs all go away and you have just that wellhead that you look at in 
the insert on the poster board there, you can farm around that.
  Mr. REED. I hope we can have this conversation many more times as we 
go forth and bring forth science and data on these issues. The 
operation, when it originally comes in and the development of the well 
site does require some industrial-type activity. I do recognize that, 
and I think my colleague would recognize that. But, again, I believe 
you said 90 days is the estimated period of time for that development 
to occur.
  I hear the Speaker giving us the sign that our time is up. I do thank 
my colleagues for joining me tonight, and I thank the Speaker for the 
opportunity to be here tonight.