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Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the importance of natural gas production to America's energy security.
Natural gas production is a critical part of a new economy, a new economy where energy costs are lower. In fact, there have been several articles lately that talk about manufacturing plants in Europe moving to the United States because of lower energy costs, because of the lower cost of manufacturing products using low-cost natural gas.
And, also, recent studies have shown that our greenhouse gases in the United States are lower because of more natural gas use.
My home State of Arkansas is an energy-rich State, and the Fayetteville shale play has helped fuel our State's economy. It's one of the biggest deposits of natural gas in the United States. It spans approximately 4,000 square miles. It's estimated to contain up to 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It's considered one of the most productive shale plays in the country.
But what does that mean for everyday Americans? What does it mean, what has it meant for Arkansans?
Well, natural gas production is providing high-paying jobs for folks in my State and my district. According to the University of Arkansas, the average annual pay in the oil and gas extraction industry was $74,000 in 2010. That's good pay. That's money that pays for food on the table, for a kid's education. That's twice the average pay of all industry in the State of Arkansas.
Further, the Fayetteville shale play supports over 20,000 jobs. It's added $12 billion to Arkansas' economy since 2008. That impacts families.
Across the country, though, you've heard some detractors. These individuals have spread exaggerations, in some case, falsehoods about the environmental impacts of natural gas extraction through fracking.
And I want to point out that President Obama's own U.S. Geological Survey recently produced an important report that highlights the safety of natural gas production in Arkansas. Now, you're probably not hearing a lot about it, but it's an important study that was done in conjunction with Duke University and the University of Arkansas.
In January of this year, they published a study entitled ``Shallow Groundwater Quality and Geochemistry in the Fayetteville Shale Gas Production Area.''
What's the point of this study? The point of this study is that they tested groundwater, and they found that what's going on in the Fayetteville shale is environmentally safe.
The yearlong study examined the water quality of 127 shallow wells in the Fayetteville shale play. The report concluded there's no indication of systemic regional effects on shallow groundwater. This supports the understanding that natural gas production is safe for our environment and communities.
And as the father of two young children, I recognize the importance of ensuring that our air's clean and that our water's clean.
We must always seek to ensure that energy development is undertaken responsibly, but this report is an inconvenient truth for many out there who oppose fracking, which has given us so much natural gas and a competitive advantage.
Mr. Speaker, we must support the continuation of environmentally sound natural gas production in the United States to ensure our energy independence and further decrease our reliance on foreign sources of energy. It is absolutely critical to grow our economy so that families across the country can put food on the table and pursue happiness in this great country.
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