NOW with Alex Wagner | December 07, 2012
>>> the international energy agency predicts that the u.s. could overtake saudi arabia and russia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020 . much of the current energy boom comes from the increasing use of a process known as hydraulic fracturing or more common name fracking. in which oil and natural gas are extracted by shooting huge quantities of water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high speed to break up shale rock formations . in his state of the union address in january president obama haled the economic benefits warning of potential safety risks.
>> we have a supply of natural gas that can last america nearly 100 years. [ applause ] and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.
>> although burning natural gas releases only half as much carbon emissions as coal or petroleum many remain concerned about fracking harmful effects on the water supply , air equality and live stock. the cause has found a number of prominent spokes people.
>> people understand that fracking is not safe and no matter what the gas and oil industry tells them, they're not willing to leave a toxic legacy for their children.
>> france has banned the practice outright the epa is to release a report examining its environmental affects. here's chris haze host of "up" for a segment we call "up now." we're going to get a little annoying.
>> nailed it.
>> the president, you see the sort of internal conflict over fracking.
>> evidenced by the president at the state of the union . we haves this energy supply , although it's super dangerous.
>> i think people, the fracking story is interesting to me for this reason. i think there's a mismatch between the intensity of interest and transformation and revolution that is happening on the ground and the amount of national coverage. there are places all over this country where there is literally one issue, town council meetings, zone boards and that is fracking and the revolution and the economics of energy that the fracking technology has done in natural gas is unprecedented. anything in our lifetime, anything probably in about 100 years, it is completely transforming american energy and the american landscape and i don't think that we niecely have yet had the national political conversation.
>> i think we have a map of the shale deposits in the u.s. massive fracking booms in texas , north dakota , ohio, pennsylvania. it's much of the middle of this country.
>> yeah. an there's huge -- i mean what's fascinating about fracking the way it transforms the landscape, texas oil fields are texas old fields and west texas is oil and had the oil industry there for years. places where new fracking deposits and gas deposits are discovered it could be a little league field, a ranch house with about five acres and all of a sudden you are at the center of this very intense extractive industry that ten years ago it was nothing but farm lands and ball fields.
>> and part of the problem is, you know, when we have this debate, we know what the economic impacts are. they tend to be good in terms of creating revenue and getting us more dependent on fossil fuels, but the sort of scientific repercussions if you will, the environmental repercussions are sort of unknown and in some part because companies can put whatever they want into the ground and there's no sort of oversight on that.
>> a problem of data transparency. first of all, the ingredients in the fluid that is pushed at great pressure into the ground to force out the natural gas and oil, what's in there, which is mostly sand, water and a little bit of unspecified chemicals are generally not released to the public. we don't know what's in there. all sorts of basic standardized tests that you would run to find out whether the process was safe, what are your air emissions, ground water samples they don't have to do and report and if they have that data they don't release. imagine a universe in which we had a much more radicallyn which the data was publicly accessible and debated and have an impurecle debate about its effects but that's not where we are.
>> the extent like this to is so many issues, people like hollywood people saying fracking is bad, stop all fracking when the economic benefits are there, the job creation is there.
>> governor ed rendell is -- there are plenty of -- go ahead.
>> can we have a more sort of science based and intellectually based argument about, you know, the harmful environmental effects versus the economic benefits and come up with the stuff chris is talking about the disclosure on how it's done. there has to be a mechanism of how to do that.
>> a lot is behind the curtain of proprietary information. the second thing about the economic benefits of this, mine one is, it's driving down the cost of electricity and it's killing the coal industry from my perspective someone primarily cared about the climate, that's great. coal is a nasty substance. it's bad for people's lungs, bad for the climate, et cetera . driving costs so low it's crowding out renewables. this other effect that can be bad. in terms of jobs, we have the highest levels of employment in natural gas and oil extraction since 1992 . the total jobs in extraction 200,000. not creating a lot of jobs in the industry.
>> you're going to have more on your show this weekend, my friend.
>> a little tease.
>> tomorrow there's going to be an in depth conversation of fracking.
>> and i understand it all after that?
>> all made clear to us as it always is in on "up".
>> thank you to ben, joy, chris , catch chris on "up" tomorrow and sunday at 8:00 a.m . eastern. all for now.