Oil and gas drilling in the United States are surging despite industry claims that new government regulations would slow development, ProPublica recently reported. The pace of drilling is close to the 20-year high it reached before the recession. Gas drilling has slowed a bit as the price of natural gas has sagged, but oil drilling, spurred by high oil prices, has more than compensated. (Bloomberg News says there are now more rigs drilling for oil than at any time since 1987.)
In recent years, industry has darkly warned that government oversight would stifle development. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, representing the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, predicted last year that new rules on the release of wastewater into streams would hurt business, saying in a press release: [T]these rules will make responsible shale gas development more difficult, and the jobs and economic benefits created throughout this process less likely.” In fact, gas drilling has expanded apace in the Marcellus Shale. “I don’t think, short of moratoriums, regulations materially impact the pace of drilling,” a former Pennsylvania regulator tells ProPublica.
In fact, says the piece, “new regulations have driven innovation and led to greater recycling of wastewater.” Pennsylvania recently announced that drillers had stopped discharging wastewater into streams. “It’s hard to argue that the industry doesn’t have the flexibility it needs to respond to … market signals,” Julia Haggerty, a policy analyst with a nonpartisan research organization tells PP.
• Oil and Gas Drilling Surges Despite Increased Oversight [ProPublica]