President Barack Obama’s proposal to decrease foreign oil imports by a third over the next 10 years is not nearly ambitious enough, said Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, at the annual convention of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in Dallas. There is far more natural gas available in this country than anyone suspected as recently as five years ago, he said, and retrieving this gas would significantly reduce dependence on foreign oil and help spur a U.S. industrial renaissance.
He acknowledged that the natural gas drilling was not a perfect science, and that there are incidents in which people or the environment are hurt. “We can’t change the fact that this is an industry that uses a lot of big equipment, and there are a lot of people that stand near that equipment,” he said.
He continued by saying that it was his goal to meet every one of the objections raised against the drilling industry, and he argued that there was either an engineering or human solution to every problem. He was especially vocal about defending “fracking,” a drilling technique that involves fracturing rock with high-pressure fluid mixtures. Allegations that fracking has tainted underground wells are simply not true, he said.
Among his other arguments about the merits of the natural gas industry:
- It could strengthen the U.S. economy. The funds that flow to the Middle East every year as a result of oil transactions would be repatriated if U.S. natural gas reserves were properly utilized, McClendon said. He also noted that emerging gas-to-liquid technologies could be especially instrumental in bringing about an economic revival.
- Global geopolitics would change. The need for the U.S. to involve itself in the political conflicts of oil-rich countries would lessen if the U.S. did not depend on these countries for energy. McClendon emphasized that a greater separation is needed between the fates of the Middle East and the United States. “What will the next American century look like, if what we do depends on what they do?” he asked.
- The environment would be cleaner. Increasing our domestic production of natural gas will decrease the need to burn coal, which generates greater emissions.