The Great Fracking Debate

On March 19, 2014, Tulane University hosted its Annual Energy Debate which covered the subject of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The debate featured Professor Eric Smith as a proponent for fracking and Tyson Slocum as an adversary of fracking.
Both of the debates’ speakers were well informed and extremely qualified to support their opinions. Eric Smith currently serves as the Associate Director of Tulane’s Energy Institute. While working for Tulane, Professor Smith has conducted market analysis and economic research on a variety of topics in the energy sector. Tyson Slocum currently serves as the Energy Director of the Public Citizen’s program. The Public Citizens program is a Washington based green advocacy group that aims to ensure that, “all citizens are represented in the halls of power.”
Professor Smith’s position stressed the economic benefits of fracking technology and its creation of affordable energy resources. Professor Smith’s argument was supported by historic and forecasted data surrounding fracking technologies and the United States’ capacity for economic growth as a result of cheap and clean energy resources. While Professor Smith did recognize that fracking technologies were not perfect, he resiliently supported his view that the technology provides a means for a better economic future.
Tyson Slocum on the other hand stressed the potential environmental risks of pursuing fracking technologies. His argument was supported by historic data of environmental damage caused by fracking. In some of his examples he maintained that there were catastrophic impacts to communities across America. Looking forward Slocum posited the idea that future green technologies would be sustainable and economically favorable to the energy created from fracking.
In conclusion while both parties made interesting and valid points, I left the presentation supporting Professor Smith. I realized that many of fracking’s environmental costs could be avoided with a better execution as well as the installation of monitoring and capture type technologies. However, knowing as much as I do about coal, nuclear, and green energy, I feel that we cannot currently replicate the economic benefits of affordable natural gas now being provided by fracking technologies. Ultimately, I have a relatively pragmatic opinion of fracking that is similar to Professor Smith. While fracking isn’t a perfect solution to resolve America’s energy limitations, it is currently the country’s best solution.
Stefan Brozovich
Master of Management in Energy Candidate 2014
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