From Weakness to Strength: CNBC Highlights America’s Energy Revolution. But What’s Up Their Sleeve Next?

In a new online video — the first in a multi-part series — CNBC breaks down an otherwise complex issue: America’s historical quest and march toward energy security and independence.

Drawing on the views of experts to contextualize this important story, including world-renowned energy scholar Daniel Yergin, CNBC provides a concise overview of America’s early oil days, geopolitical events that shaped energy trade, as well as the shale revolution that has enabled America to secure our position as the world’s top natural gas and oil producing nation.

Against the backdrop, CNBC also focuses on various political responses over several decades aimed at moving America toward “energy independence.”

On balance, the segment covers critical inflection points that have influenced energy markets over many decades and tells the unique story of how America’s position of energy weakness has been transformed to one of strength, thanks to technological advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (along with hard work for countless Pennsylvanians proudly working across our industry!).

That said, the segment’s ending includes individuals casting doubt on shale development in Pennsylvania. Who are these individuals, who funds their activities, and what are their claims that CNBC intends to “tell”?

Well, we’ve seen these same individuals work to advance their narratives over the years, so it’s nothing new whatsoever. One individual, Bryan Latkanich, has been “featured” by news outlets and blogs – many of whom have had to issue corrections to their stories due to his false and misleading claims. In fact, Marketplace, ran a three-part correction to their story in November 2017:

Correction (November 20, 2017):  This version of the story eliminates a statement that Pennsylvania cited Chevron for dumping frack water on Latkanich’s property; the citation concerned Chevron’s pumping of rainwater.  This story has also been updated to include Chevron’s position on whether Latkanich’s wastewater pit was lined, and when the liner was removed.  Also, the original version of this story incorrectly reported that Latkanich sold land rights to Chevron; Latkanich sold those rights to another company — rights which Chevron later acquired. 

We also know that Mr. Latkanich has campaigned in other states alongside Clean Water Action and other fringe and well-funded activists that want to ban strongly regulated shale development, which is keeping energy costs low for families, creating good-paying local jobs and literally saving thousands of lives annually.

Further, two other individuals appear in the CNBC clip, one of whom questions the effectiveness of Pennsylvania’s regulatory agencies as the other – Dr. John Stolz, a well-funded anti-energy activist – runs tests out of the trunk of a car. What isn’t disclosed to viewers, unfortunately, is that Dr. Stolz ran as a Democrat for Congress in 2017, and, when withdrawing his bid, wrote on Facebook that he is now “free to continue my outreach and advocacy for the new economy with a fossil fuel free future.”

Despite the deeply misleading activists’ claims, the truth is clear: Pennsylvania’s regulations are among the nation’s most rigorous.

Consider these facts:

  • Pa. DEP Secretary McDonnell (2018):“We have very good oil and gas regulations.”
  • Safe, Tightly-Regulated: Shale development is a safe, tightly-regulated process that’s governed by nearly 70 federal, state and local regulations and monitored by 30 state and federal agencies.
    • New regulations, which took effect in 2016, “create some of the most protective regulations in the nation and ensure safe development of this important resource,” DEP Secretary McDonnell said. (Post-Gazette)
  • State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations report on Pa. oversight:DEP is commended for its hydraulic fracturing program.”
  • Annual Pa. DEP Inspections: In 2018, DEP conducted 19,617 inspections of unconventional well sites – the highest number of inspections on record, and a near 60% increase from 2013. Pennsylvania’s unconventional industry had a 98.3% compliance rate, demonstrating a clear commitment to environmental protection. (Pa. DEP)
  • Pa.’s Modern Regulations on Air Emissions: Pa. has adopted aggressive permitting standards with a key component of Pa.’s requirements covering a robust Leak Detection and Repair program.
  • Strong Setbacks: Act 13 specifically enhanced setback requirements from 300 to 1,000 feet from water wells and springs and 500 feet from structures. While the Pa. Supreme Court ruled these provisions unconstitutional, industry remains committed to adhering to the more stringent setbacks.
  • Pa. DEP:There is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a direct impact to water supply in Pennsylvania.”
  • Pa. DEP Comprehensive Well Integrity Report: In 2018, DEP released an in-depth, comprehensive report on the integrity of unconventional natural gas wells, concluding that more than 99% of wells were structurally sound and “operated in a manner that greatly reduces the risk for groundwater impacts.” Commenting on the report, DEP Secretary McDonnell said we have “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States.” (2018)
  • And a Bloomberg News editorial writes this about the Commonwealth’s forward-leaning water management regulations: Pennsylvania has the right approach. Before withdrawing water in that state, drillers must win approval for a water-use plan that discloses how much water a well will use, from where and what effect that will have on local sources. To be approved, these plans must include wastewater recycling. … Other states…should follow Pennsylvania’s lead.”

Given these clear and well-understood facts, why would CNBC rely on previously debunked claims? We hope they stick with the facts rather than relying on false and misleading claims aimed at purposefully generating a scary headline.


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