Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy says he didn’t see a lot of love in the City of Brotherly Love as he entered the Marcellus Shale Conference in downtown Philadelphia on Wedesday. Several hundred activists are protesting the environmental impacts of natural gas outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
But McClendon says they’ve got their facts wrong. He says he’s glad to be inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center with the “factivists” and not outside with the “fractivists.”
McClendon is telling the luncheon crowd that natural gas brings jobs, and has little harmful effects on the environment. With a powerpoint presentation, he’s outlining his own facts. Chesapeake has fracked 16,000 wells and he says critics can point to only one or two instances of groundwater contamination in the entire history of gas drilling. McClendon says only a couple dozen homeowners in northeast Pennsylvania have suffered from methane migration. And yet, he says, hundreds of thousands of dollars of wealth has been created in Pennsylvania.
McClendon is pitching the economic benefits of drilling in the Marcellus. He calls each well a $30 million dollar factory that will never close, and will employ at least a dozen people each. Chesapeake itself employs 12,000 people and has openings for thousands more, he says, from PhD’s to high school drop-outs. But wait there’s more, McClendon says Chesapeake has one million landowners under lease across the country, paying out $9 billion in lease bonuses, and $5 billion in royalty payments within the last five years.
“What jobs have the protestors created?,” he asked.
McClendon says the environmentalists outside live in a “fantasy land of a world without fossil fuels.” He’s fighting back against gas drilling critics, dismissing their claims, and saying environmentalists want to turn the clock back to a time without electricity.