About 500 protesters marched across the Rachel Carlson bridge on Wednesday morning waving anti-fracking signs and chanting. They then gathered near the Convention Center where DUG, a natural gas industry meeting is being held. Approximately 2,500 attendees were at the conference representing different aspects of the gas industry.
Randall Albert, senior Vice-President of Emerging Business Units for Consol Energy spoke about the obstacles the industry has been facing in drilling The Marcellus Shale, a 500 trillion square foot natural gas formation that lies underneath several states, mostly Pennsylvania and is estimated to be worth about a trillion dollars. The problem. The way the oil is extracted is a controversial method called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. It consists of blasting millions of gallons of water and over 150 chemicals deep underground, over a mile to break up the shale and release the gas. Most of the frack water stays underground. He said the current regulations that different municipalities have enacted have made it difficult to drill in the state but he is confident that with the newly elected administration, his job will be easier. Consol Energy has leased 750,800 acres of the Marcellus Shale.
Guest Speaker Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff to George W. Bush spent nearly an hour rehashing election night results, and speaking poorly about the current administration. He said that looking at election results, federal and state regulations will not be enacted that will prohibit hydraulic fracturing.
"Fracking. I don't think you have to worry about the house of energy and commerce working to build or remove the so-called Halliburton loophole," he said, "As you know its not a loophole. It simply says the EPA will not regulate fracking under the safe water act and the states will be in charge of regulating it...as it should be. I am a little worried about the 2 year EPA study."
Outside, protesters spoke of their concerns of water, air and noise pollution and the urgency in which land is being leased by drilling companies. Pete Ventura came to protest from Fayette County where he said the land surrounding his property is being leased at a rapid pace. He said he is worried about the effects of fracking and is considering moving.