By James Inhofe
Oklahoma has a long and illustrious history of being a leading energy producer in the country. Whether its oil, natural gas, coal, or wind, Oklahoma has led the way in the development and implementation of technologies that are making America energy independent.
One of the clearest examples of our leadership has been in the development of hydraulic fracturing. Most people didn't know what it was five years ago, but the technique to extract our natural resources is not new. It was first used in 1949 near Duncan, Okla., and has since been used to improve the production of over 1 million oil and gas wells.
The technology rose to fame when producers started combining it with horizontal drilling in the late 2000s, a combination responsible for unlocking the new American energy boom. This newfound fame, however, has brought with it a number of foes.
Most critics have expressed concern that the use of hydraulic fracturing could result in the contamination of groundwater. The President's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expressed similar concerns, but after accusing three oil and gas companies of contaminating groundwater, the EPA and critics were shown to be vindictive and wrong.
To date, there has not been a confirmed, documented case of groundwater contamination as a result of hydraulic fracturing. We know this because states have always been at the forefront of developing and enforcing regulations governing the process and have maintained robust track records. Each state has different geologies, different mineral deposits, and different conditions that make best practices vary by state and across industries. States have been in the driver's seat regulating hydraulic fracturing and nearly all other aspects of the energy industry for a century, and as a result, our environment and economy are much better for it.
Unfortunately, the President does not respect the ability of Oklahoma or other states to effectively regulate energy development. In fact, since the beginning of his administration, he and his environmentalist allies have been engaging in an all-out War on Fossil Fuels. Their aim is to use the Administration's regulatory powers to put the oil, natural gas, and coal industries out of business so that Americans are forced to rely exclusively on renewables, dimming our economy's brightest spot.
The president's agenda is going to make energy more expensive and less abundant for all Americans, and it will keep us from becoming energy independent. This is clear because since President Obama took office, oil and gas production has declined significantly on federally controlled lands -- it has skyrocketed everywhere else. The more federal involvement there is in the national energy landscape, the more our private lands will perform like federal lands. Production will fall; we'll all be worse off.
The federal government's involvement in the energy sector must be limited. If it doesn't, Oklahoma has much to lose. About a third of our economy is either directly or indirectly impacted by the oil and gas industry, and it supports the employment and economic wellbeing of nearly 350,000 people across the state. If the President and his bureaucrats are successful in their effort to overregulate the oil and gas out of business, then Oklahoma will be among the worst hit states. Oklahoma has been leading the way for the last century, and I am committed to helping keep our state a leader by working to put a halt on President Obama's overregulation nightmare.