by Max Brantley
Here's the side that's missing in Arkansas from the cheerleading of shale gas production at almost any cost — unpaid damage to county roads being the least of it.
There ARE responsible people who believe exploration of shale formations is essential to a bridge to a future less based on non-renewable sources. But they believe environmental concerns haven't been adequately addressed.
Joe Nocera writes today about one of them, Fred Krupp, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund. That's about as green as it gets. It says “the U.S. shale gas resource has enormous potential to provide economic and environmental benefits for the country,” but it also wants to work with states with shale gas to regulate exploration so that it's safe.
To date, the the Arkansas Shale Caucus hasn't been a force for well-regulated exploration. You can almost hear the "kill-the-goose-that-laid-the-golden-egg" speeches now.
Nocera writes, for one, about minimizing methane leaks in the drilling process. It can be done and some drillers are working on it.
The EDF thinks state-by-state regulation is a better bet than relying on a dysfunctional Congress. I look at our underfunded, inadequate regulators and a legislature controlled by the drilling industry and wonder if Fred Krupp has ever visited Arkansas.