The boom in natural gas production in the U.S. may provide a very significant source of new jobs, according to a study released today by IHS Global Insight, as reported in FuelFix.com this morning.
The study estimates nearly 900,000 jobs and an addition of $1,000 to household budgets by 2015. IHS, the company producing the study, is an energy research firm based in suburban Denver. Compared to other studies the firm has done, this particular study takes a more general look at the national economy, instead of focusing on areas of natural gas production.
Questions about calculations and environmental costs
While encouraging news, the studies have been criticized by lawmakers and environmentalists. According to the report in FuelFix.com, lawmakers criticize the multipliers used to predict add-on jobs, while IHS defends the accounting techniques as conservative.
Environmentalists consider hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a major source of potential water contamination and water treatment issues, which have the potential to carry high environmental damages and cleanup costs.
EPA criticizes fracking regulations concerning air pollution
In Pennsylvania, where the gas industry has tapped into Marcellus Shale gas reserves, environmental controversy arose just today, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The EPA has criticized Pennsylvania lawmakers for air pollution rules regulating pollutants emitted by Marcellus Shale gas wells and developed sites located in close proximity to one another, according to the report. For more on this, see the original article here.
Tough challenges a job for chemical engineers
There appear to be no easy answers to these issues, but they may be a real boon for one group: chemical engineers. Given the considerable potential for energy and employment, it will be up to the gas industry and its chemical engineers to find environmentally responsible and effective means to extract these reserves. Meanwhile, chemical engineers will also play an even more significant role researching and developing alternative energy that will eventually shift the focus from carbon-based fuels to other more viable sources.