Fracking has dominated US headlines over the past few months and is certainly proving contentious. Its potential impact on the environment has prompted protests by civil society groups, while some industry protagonists have described the US as ‘the Saudi Arabia of natural gas’ and highlighted the benefits that can be derived from the continued development of natural gas supplies – such as job creation and energy security.
There are certainly signs that renewed impetus in the natural gas industry has contributed to unemployment rates below the national average in areas such as Texas and Louisiana. Meanwhile, job fairs like the one that took place in New York recently, suggest that industry remains hopeful that previous bans on fracking will be lifted.
Natural gas provides an energy source that could help reduce the US dependence on foreign oil, but with gas prices still relatively high, the energy issue will no doubt also remain a point of contention for US voters.
As the election debate continues to heat up over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how the presidential candidates field questions over their energy policies, especially as far as their position on fracking is concerned.
So far, it seems that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a concrete energy policy in place – a situation compounded by the sustained political attacks and negative advertising that have come to be associated with elections.
More effort will therefore be required on the part of the political parties to clearly communicate their thoughts on the future of US energy and help voters to sort ‘fracked’ from fiction.