President Obama delivered his third state of the union address last night. One topic he spent a fair amount of time on was gas drilling or hydrofracking, its relation to job creation, and the necessity for American-sourced energy. And it seems as if he feels that American sourced energy could be natural gas.
President Obama says we don't always see payoffs from shale gas immediately, and it doesn't always go smoothly, but he won't walk away from clean energy. Last month we spoke with the Chairman of the Otsego County Democratic Committee, who was urging Governor Cuomo to ban fracking in the area. We asked him Wednesday how he felt about the president's stance. "I think he recognizes that shale gas and shale oil have some potential. I trust that he will if he allows hydrofracking to go forward," says Ed Lentz, will let it go forward on a basis that is safe."
But how safe is hydrofracking? The debate continues every day. And who decides what 'safe' is?
"There will be accidents. There have been accidents, so in that sense, it's not safe," says Lentz, "But how much risk are we willing to accept and I think that's where the debate has to take place."
He says that answer depends on who you ask. According to an Associate Professor of Geosciences at Hamilton College, there's been only one scientific peer-reviewed study done about hydrofracking. But he says at this point, the development of drilling safely is going well. "The whole process of extracting natural gas is evolving into an environmentally safer sort of way," says Professor Todd Rayne.
The President says experts believe developing gas drilling could bring over 600,000 jobs to the country by the end of the decade. "I think there will be considerable job growth in the energy sector," says Lentz, "The problem is that many of these jobs will be temporary and with transient workers.
Both Professor Rayne and Chairman Lentz say they really don't know how much power the president has over gas drilling. They say, instead, it's mostly a state issue.