Fracking dangers are overstated

While we agree with Katie Huffling that safe, responsible, tightly-regulated natural gas development must be done in a way that protects "the health of our communities and the environment," her recent op-ed ("The hidden health risks of fracking," July 20) lodges a series of claims that are simply unsupported by the facts.

Her claim that rural communities are "being destroyed by drilling" is as inflammatory as it is false. We live and raise our families in these communities and care deeply about protecting our environment. We also understand the positive economic benefits tied to safe American natural gas development. Nearly 240,000 Pennsylvania jobs are tied to the Marcellus Shale industry, and more natural gas is being used to meet our growing energy needs, bringing about cleaner air and more consumer savings.

Your readers should know, despite Ms. Huffling's claims, that Pennsylvania's new bipartisan natural gas law represents one of the most forward-leaning regulatory reforms in the nation, aimed at protecting our air and water, while ensuring natural gas is safely produced.

Indeed, the new law requires full disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids, which are made up of more than 99.5 percent water and sand, with a small portion of commonly used additives representing typically less than 0.5 percent. Our organization's members also post all fracturing fluids — on a well-by-well basis — on, an online database administered by environmental regulators. And President Barack Obama's top energy adviser, Heather Zichal, recently said, "As an administration, we believe that FracFocus is an important tool that provides transparency to the American people." Further, the new law requires 2,500 foot pre-drill baseline water tests, an important public health initiative that our industry absolutely supports.

However unfortunate it is that some continue to resort to scare tactics and fear-mongering, our industry will remain focused on a fact-based dialogue about safe, responsible, job-creating American natural gas development.

Kathryn Klaber, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The writer is president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

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