Energy. Environment. Economy.

“Fractivists” vs. “Factivists”: Chesapeake CEO Says Opponents Have Facts Wrong

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 were protesting the environmental impacts of natural gas outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon speaks to the Marcellus Shale Coalition's "Shale Gas Insight" conference

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 told the luncheon crowd that natural gas brings jobs, and has little harmful effects on the environment. With a powerpoint presentation, he outlined his own facts. Chesapeake 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.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Drilling opponents protest outside the convention.

McClendon pitched 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.


  • David Meiser

    Again the same talking points and tired rhetoric that environmentalists wan to turn back the clock! also note how he states “e says critics can point to only one or two instances of groundwater contamination in the entire history of gas drilling” (first time the gas drillers ever admitted that!)

    When you buy silence with non-disclosure agreements with property owners it is next to impossible to document the number of incidents of contamination. the real issue is that hydro-fracturing does contaminate groundwater! it does not matter the number of times it matters that it happens!

    • Mike Knapp

      The number of times doesn’t matter? Are you kidding me? By that same logic, you should be taking your car down to the scrap yard… it emits hundreds of pounds of carcinogenic compounds and GHG’s. Stuff that is much worse than anything that is put into fracing fluid. Stuff that would kill you in a matter of minutes if the car was left running in your garage. How can you drive around knowingly blowing deadly toxins into the air that everyone breathes and then turn around and try to criticize the gas drilling industry for their handful of environmental impacts?

      • guest

        I’ve heard from folks inside the industry that Chesapeak is a particularly bad actor in the industry – a review of violations records shows that they are. Pointing out that other industries are also bad doesn’t make fracking any cleaner. That’s a false argument.

        I’ve never lived anywhere that a CEO of an out of state company can be cheered for poking fun of over 2000 residents. It shows a real disdain for the Commonwealth.

  • ckuniholm

    As one of those “fractivists” protesting outside McClendon’s conference, I have to say, McClendon is wrong on every count. I’m not an environmentalist, I’m a parent, grandparent, and concerned citizen tired of being lied to.

    The facts against hydrofracking are overwhelming – and McClendon should know. Chesapeake Energy has already been fined millions for illegal dumping, illegal drilling, illegal transport. At least one rResponsible investment firm has dumped their stock after asking them to come clean ( offers scores of responsible independent studies, dozens of sad stories, and some scary photos and videos documenting the damage done by “horizontal drilling.” As most of those studies show, there is no safe way to frack. We have the technology to do it – we don’t have the technology to fix it.

    Before I did the research, I would have voted for a tax or fee for the fracking industry, and maybe some improved regulations. After reading what I’ve read, and hearing what I’ve heard, I won’t be satisfied until fracking is stopped completely. Anyone who thinks it’s possible to frack near our water supplies without harming us all is living in a fantasy land.

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