Chamber speaker: Fracking, off-shore drilling could help U.S. economy

2012-11-29T15:47:00Z Chamber speaker: Fracking, off-shore drilling could help U.S. economyBy Karina gonzalez | kgonzalez@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON — Expanding hydraulic fracturing across the nation or launching new off-shore drilling sites are among efforts that would help restore the nation’s economy, according to one business leader.

Matt Koch, vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Energy, addressed a group of about 130 Twin City business leaders Thursday. Koch served as keynote speaker at the McLean County Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Vision Luncheon, held at the Parke Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington.

“If we find ways to allow for the energy sector to grow, such as drilling on federal lands, you will see more revenue coming into the country and more people going back to work,” said Koch, who made a stop in the Twin Cities Thursday in a speaking tour across the country. “(Energy) is one piece of the solution. The other piece is tax reform.”

Koch said shale gas is predicted to create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio; more than 115,000 jobs in Pennsyl-vania and more than 100,000 jobs in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi by 2020. He didn’t have any job estimates for Illinois. Shale gas is locked about a mile beneath the Earth’s surface and hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a method used to extract the gas from the shale.

Koch admitted that fracking is a controversial issue with opposition from residents who are concerned for environmental impacts from the practice which requires the use of fresh water to be pumped into the ground for gas extraction. In McLean County, government officials have begun collecting information on fracking and some residents have raised concerns regarding Mahomet Aquifer, a major water supply for Central Illi-nois.

“There is a lot of misinformation, but there is genuine concern,” said Koch. “The industry is recognizing (those concerns) and they have to be more efficient.”

Tom Mercier, president and chief executive officer for BOPI, a printing and marketing company in Bloomington, said fracking practices in Illinois would be beneficial for the state’s finances.

“Can you imagine the jolt the economy of Illinois would get if we allowed drilling to begin?” Mercier asked, after the presentation. “We might even get out of debt.”

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(10) Comments

  1. barelynormal
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    barelynormal - December 03, 2012 5:54 pm
    Mr. Koch mentions there are "geniune concerns," and the industry has to become "more efficient." But take a look at the thousands of environmental regulations the oil and gas industry has violated in the fracking process, in Pennsylvania and Colorado alone. Paying a fine and moving on is the cost of doing business for these major corporations, using our precious water resources, leaving the landowners and local residents with polluted water that can never be restored, farmland destroyed, and carcinogens in the water and air. Don't fool yourself. Fracking can't be regulated safely. For our kids and grandkids' sake, we need to ban fracking in Illinois.
  2. Bill Rau
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    Bill Rau - December 01, 2012 12:30 pm
    Zarah,

    You've hit the nail on the head. Here's some supporting information on the Chamber under Tom Donahue: "According to the Wall Street Journal, '[Donohue's] most striking innovation has been to offer individual companies and industries the chance to use the chamber as a means of anonymously pursuing their own political ends.' Major corporations donate funds to the Chamber, earmarked for particular political topics, and the Chamber spends them under its own name. Furthermore, '[t]hose companies helped the chamber raise $35 million in 2000 for general operations, up sharply from $3 million four years ago, and kicked in another $20 million for special projects'."[5] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_J._Donohue)

    It doesn't even represent large corporations. It's a "pay to play" front group for ultra wealthy, right wing interests, like the Koch Brothers.
  3. Zarah
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    Zarah - December 01, 2012 6:58 am
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents huge corporate interests, not local businesses as it claims to do. In recent years many local Chambers have ended their association with this lobbying organization. Only G.E. spends more on lobbying than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This organization promotes short-term profits for its huge corporate members. It does not represent truly local concerns.

    Also, Mr. Koch fails to mention that even the perception of fracking's ability to foul water supplies is enough to depress property values by 20%. Properties in Pennsylvania that have actual contamination, ruined wells or methane gas leaking into their houses, have lost 85% of their value. Those homeowners are left to deal with catastrophic losses while the shale gas company sails off to exploit its next community.

    Mr. Koch gave only part of the shale gas story. We need to keep this nightmare out of Illinois.
  4. Latinos United for Change
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    Latinos United for Change - November 30, 2012 11:58 pm
    AMEN!!!
  5. Latinos United for Change
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    Latinos United for Change - November 30, 2012 11:53 pm
    Keep big oil's bottom line out of our drinking water!

    It's time to get off of fossil fuels and invest in "real" clean energy alternatives. Climate change is here, we no longer have the luxury of keeping our fingers crossed and waiting to see what the environmental impact/destruction will be to our environment.

    Like Sen. Bill Brady said "No amount of economic development is worth destroying our environment"

    Ban Fracking NOW!!!
  6. puppy1
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    puppy1 - November 30, 2012 10:09 pm
    At the heart of this fracking issue is our water supply. Hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – takes lots and lots of fresh water. Billions of gallons. Currently 65 to 72% of the contiguous US is under a severe draught. This precious life sustaining resource is diminishing folks due to climate change .... Fracking not only guzzles it .... It poisons it, thus making it dangerous and unusable for drinking..... for farming .... for anything but more fracking! Good grief folks, the Mighty Mississippi and Missouri are desperate for water right now! Yes we need good jobs, but right now we need good sense....... good solutions that sustain this most precious resource that we are suppose to be "good stewards" of.

  7. Annette McMichael
    Report Abuse
    Annette McMichael - November 30, 2012 8:52 pm
    I was a strong supporter of the Chamber of Commerce for many years and have served on several local chamber boards in other parts of the country. I'm not sure when the chamber turned into a political lobbying entity. But, I dropped out of the chamber a couple of years ago because of it. How disgusting that they'd parade an oil & gas man in front of the community at a time when we have serious concerns about the water that would be used for fracking. Where is the massive amount of water going to come from? Fracking would be a disaster to our beautiful area.
  8. Jack Porter
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    Jack Porter - November 30, 2012 8:25 pm
    If this is the Chamber's economic vision, it needs major eye surgery. Fracking has devastated the environment in many parts of the U.S. However, it has provided employment for many lawyers dealing with very unhappy landowners finding themselves with ambiguous leases, mortgage holders and leaseholders in conflict because of wiped out property values, and regulatory bodies trying to protect the public. In our area we could experience the asbestos industry all over again.
  9. 9 miles of bad road
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    9 miles of bad road - November 30, 2012 8:10 pm
    Fracking is destroying this country environmentally, politically and economically. The only things that benefit are big energy corporations, like the kind the Chamber front for. Koch should talk to people in Ohio and PA who live next to these frack wells and ask about their quality of life. Or maybe he should talk to the guy out west who can light his tap water on fire due to leaking methane. Notice Koch uses the word "predicted to create...jobs". Yea, go to Pittsburgh and find out the jobs really are just workers from Texas who Halliburton shipped north and who now live in every Motel 6 in the region. The misinformation comes from the natural gas industry (see their TV commercials every 3 minutes?), me too. Koch says the "industry is recognizing those concerns and they have to be more EFFICIENT." Huh? Its sad he couldn't use the word TRUTHFUL, but that's far from what he meant.

    So 130 local Chamber folks showed up. Did anybody walk out? Did any of them push back on this nonsense? Didn't read about that, thanks for nothing McLean county chamber. IPA had 160 people came out AGAINST FRACKING a few weeks ago. So more concerned residents come out against fracking than local chamber members who also got a free lunch.

    I do appreciate Mercier telling me what business he owns. At least I know where not to give my business, along with sharing that info with all my friends and colleagues. BTW, Illinois is around $8 billion in debt. According to the Illinois State Dept. of Revenue 2/3 of all major corporation headquartered in Illinois don't pay any state income tax. The IL Chamber is against a bill requiring simple disclosure of who pays their fair share and who doesn't. Maybe if Mercier told corporations to pay their state income tax we might actually get out of debt rather than his hair brained idea. Finally Mercier, you can't drink money.
  10. coreymattson
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    coreymattson - November 30, 2012 6:55 pm
    Mr. Koch glosses over the numerous serious problems with fracking experienced by communities across the country: contaminated water (methane, carcinogens), severe health problems experienced by people, plummeting home values, industrialization of rural lands, and use of eminent domain to drill and store waste water on people's lands. I guess this is to be expected from a slick PR presentation by an oil and gas man.
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