A commentary by Lucas Vebber, Director of Environmental and Energy Policy of the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
Wisconsin jobs will be decimated if Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton have their way on hydraulic fracturing (sometimes referred to as "fracking"), a process that has helped foster job growth here and lower energy prices nationwide.
Hydraulic fracturing is a safe method of extracting oil and natural gas and Wisconsin sand is essential to the process. If hydraulic fracturing is banned, our state will be hit hard and our families will lose middle-class jobs.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is clear: He will ban fracking. Former Secretary of State Clinton said at a March 6 debate that she would impose so many restrictions that fracking would be virtually eliminated. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a fracking ban for New York in 2014. Sanders' home state of Vermont has banned fracking, as has Maryland. Banning fracking is a chic cause for the Hollywood and radical environmental left.
Movie stars and environmental radicals don't care about Wisconsin families, clearly.
Called "Northern White" by industry experts, Wisconsin sand is a prized commodity that gets shipped out to hydraulic fracturing sites all over the country. Our Industrial sand industry has employed thousands in Wisconsin with well-paying family supporting jobs, and contributed millions to our state and local economies.
Wisconsin's industrial sand industry has boomed because we have the perfect mix of a well trained workforce, easy to access raw materials, and a robust rail transportation network to get finished product to market. These factors keep Wisconsin well positioned to experience growth in this industry in the future.
Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for decades. This is a process whereby a well is drilled deep into the ground, and a mixture of water and industrial sand is then pumped into the wellbore at high pressure. The high pressure pushing the water into the well causes fracturing underground which creates tiny fissures and these tiny fissures are held open by the industrial sand.
Once opened, oil and natural gas can flow through these fissures and back to the surface for collection and processing. Advances in hydraulic fracturing mean we can recover more and more oil and natural gas than ever before, which is leading to true American energy independence as more and more proven reserves are discovered each year.
Hydraulic fracturing is an ingenious process and a testament to both modern engineering and entrepreneurship. Although it has been used safely for decades, due to technological advancements that have brought down costs and increased efficiency, hydraulic fracturing use has steadily risen over the past decade.
This growth has brought the hydraulic fracturing industry under fire by radical environmentalists who quite literally want to shut down all fossil fuel use. These groups are well funded and are operating throughout the country to attack new fossil fuel developments.
It is worth noting that this industry is nothing new - Wisconsin has been mining industrial sand for more than a hundred years, since well before the first hydraulic fracturing took place. Industrial sand is used regularly in foundries, glass making, construction, chemical production, paint and coatings, and even in filtration. Industrial sand mining is a vital Wisconsin industry.
As technology continues to develop and hydraulic fracturing becomes cheaper and even more efficient, the demand for industrial sand will increase in the future, and Wisconsin is well positioned to benefit from that increase in demand. Fracking is safe for the environment and it's good for Wisconsin jobs. Do not let Hollywood liberals and radical environmentalists tell you otherwise.