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fracturing or “fracking” to ground water contamination. Understandably, the stakes are high for both America’s energy industry and consumers alike who rely on the products eventually produced through the fracking process.

Fracking technology has been around since the 1940s and used in more than 1 million wells over the last 60 years. It has helped to produce more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to date. In the years ahead those numbers will only grow exponentially as shale formations continue to be targeted in places like North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Shale discoveries like the Bakken will undoubtedly play a continued role in the extraction of crude for decades to

come. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 80 percent of new wells drilling for both oil and natural gas in the future will involve the fracking process.

The strong track record behind the process is hard to argue with. Extensive studies by the EPA have found no direct link between it and ground water supplies to date despite constant scrutiny. This can be attributed to the drilling process and steps taken to ensure that no contamination occurs. The use of steel casing and surrounding layers of concrete create a safe and reliable seal between wells zeroing in on oil formations and aquifers targeted for drinking water. Also, depths at which oil production and fracking occur are usually significantly below usable

water wells.

The current administration has identified natural gas as a clean burning fuel that will play an important role in securing the nation’s energy future. With many of the country’s natural gas reserves locked in shale formations, hydraulic fracturing technology will have to be sustained in order to meet that goal.

With billions of barrels of recoverable oil, the Bakken itself is a resource almost impossible to ignore in the years ahead. It will almost certainly be a critical contributor towards our nation’s energy independence helping to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Its riches are an asset to the state and country alike. The opportunities it presents through responsible

stewardship of the land are countless.

It’s imperative to do things right to minimize impact to the land. Ecologically friendly drilling techniques continue to be developed and must be pursued further. We’ve learned over time that modern societal needs and desires can sometimes create situations where we’re at odds with nature; it’s a current reality in the world we live in.

Along the way though, if energy companies, state leaders and local communities work together and communicate effectively, a safe and productive balance can be struck allowing the Bakken to reach its full potential. ■

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