Energy. Environment. Economy.

Obama’s interior secretary says fracking bans are ‘wrong way to go’

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says fracking bans are based on a misunderstanding of science.

AP/Susan Montoya Bryan

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says fracking bans are based on a misunderstanding of science.

President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, says recent local and statewide bans on fracking are the “wrong way to go” and based on a misunderstanding of science.

Jewell, who is the government’s chief custodian of federal land and a former petroleum engineer, was speaking with San Francisco public radio station, KQED.

From KQED:

“There is a lot of misinformation about fracking,” Jewell said. “I think that localized efforts or statewide efforts in many cases don’t understand the science behind it and I think there needs to be more science.”

“These are very troubling comments,” said Kassie Siegel, who directs the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“In essence Secretary Jewell seems to be saying that communities around the country, the Governor and Public Health Commissioner of New York, and the over 600,000 people who wrote to the Interior Department urging her to adopt a ban on fracking, don’t understand the science and are just acting out of an irrational fear of fracking,” Siegel said. “It’s insulting, and quite simply wrong.”

Jewell’s comments come two weeks after New York announced a statewide ban on fracking. Officials there cited possible public health and environmental concerns, however they said the science around the issue has yet to be settled.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf called New York’s decision “unfortunate.” He hopes to enact a new tax on gas drillers and use the revenue to fund his priorities, including public education.


  • Brian Oram

    Very interesting story – thanks for putting this together.

    • DeanMarshall

      Mr Oram runs water testing BUSINESS and PROFITS from Fracking. I am sure he does find this “interesting “!

      • Brian Oram

        Always appreciate a biased and limited view of my work – thks.

        • AlSever

          Brian-you will soon notice there are a very large amount of people on this site who appear to have the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

  • Jack Wolf

    The bottom line is that fossil fuels are driving climate change. The process of fracking leaks prodigious amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas over 150 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when emitted. More fossil fuels means more misery and death. The entire idea of “clean, transitional” NG is a Madison Avenue construct, rather than reality. Lastly, considering her department is heavily dependent on fossil fuel permitting fees, would you expect to hear anything else from her other than support.

    • James Ladley


      • Jack Wolf

        Transference and insults get you nowhere. Facts speak for themselves. The production, transport and burning of natural gas produces significant air pollution. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), more than 150 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when emitted. Other natural gas emissions include carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide (CO), particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCS) including benzene, and other VOCs. Here is a link to a paper that reviews these statements:

        • disqus_wreTySFzQM

          cows release more methane than all the wells

          • Jack Wolf

            The largest human source of methane emissions is from the production, distribution and combustion of fossil fuels. This is responsible for 33% of human methane emissions. (Ref: “Contribution of anthropogenic and natural sources to atmospheric methane variability.” Nature 443, no. 7110 (2006): 439-443.) And, considering that the paper was written in 2006 with data developed well before fracking took hold, I assure you that fracking has added much to that total.

      • disqus_wreTySFzQM

        well said

  • John Pender

    .. Like not knowing what to do with Nuclear Waste, Fracking runs off the map in water usage, having no place to dispose of its contamination, other than back into the ground. It’s POISON Sally Jewell. Where are the enforced Federal Reg’s on Fracking. Who pays for the clean-up every 30 hours when there’s a pipeline leak. It appears that Sally Jewell, is still on the Oil Companies side. Get a new Interior Secretary Obama .., for the people. Fracling, is no longer cheaper than oil imports.

  • DeanMarshall

    There does not need to be “More Science”! It is obvious that we cannot continue to Foul the air with pollutants and GHG’s, contaminate Trillions of Gallons of fresh water with Chemicals, salts, metals and TENORMS, (Radiation) and then force them deep into faults causing earthquakes! One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that this is Not sustainable energy policy! Sally Jewell is no Gem! She needs to resign immediately!

  • Frackit

    “It’s insulting, and quite simply wrong.”
    So Very true!

    • kenneth weir

      “There can be no better way to control the opposition then to lead it” Lenin

      • Frackit

        Not surprising your one of Lenin’s fans

        • kenneth weir

          your lack of knowledge does not surprise me. Apparently you know not what you speak of.

          • Frackit

            Are you trying to make anyone believe you, as well as the other anti-gas fools here, aren’t just communist takeover rubes?

  • Karen Feridun

    Exactly how much science does Sally Jewell, who worked for Mobil Oil Corp. as an petroleum engineer before becoming Interior Secretary, need???

    Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy analyzed 400 peer-reviewed studies on fracking:

    96% of all papers published on health impacts indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

    87% of original research studies published on health outcomes indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes.

    95% of all original research studies on air quality indicate elevated concentrations of air pollutants.

    72% of original research studies on water quality indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.

    • John Pender

      Thanks Karen. Gov. Elect, Tom Wolf, better listen to these postings. He wants to raise the gasoline tax by 10 cents. Tax the oil companies, which is fine. I hear nothing of who pays for the clean-up of ruptured pipelines every 30 hours, nothing of new mandates, nothing of disposing the millions of gallons used fracking water. Personally, I think Pennsylvania citizens need to file a class action. The PA Sup. Ct. ruling (12/19/2013) on our Environmental Rights Act, Art 1, Sec 27, is being totally ignored by the Commonwealth. We are the Trustees, not the Legislature.

      • Brett Jennings

        That was already done with the 9.8 cent increase in taxes last week and another to go into effect later, signed by our in 3 hours former governor.

    • DeanMarshall

      Hmmm all of her Bio’s I could find state she is a Lawyer??? I tried to find earlier records and hit a road block!

  • Victoria Switzer

    OK Sally, let’s have MORE science. Lets have methane leakage monitoring, real time fence line air quality monitoring, water impact, diesel particulate monitoring, fracking operation air and chemical monitoring…let’s have more science and then let’s not edit it to suit the needs of the all powerful oil and gas industry. Let the scientists roll in as long as they are not paid for by the gas company..uh oh, we might have a problem…

    • Ray Smith

      Well said, Victoria!

    • Alan M Aszkler

      How about you try to heat your home with Solar Power Victoria? Then lets talk.

      • JimBarth

        How about you live in your dream home without water for three years Alan? Then let’s talk.
        How about you live in your home for three years, with acute chemical sensitivity, next to multiple wells, pipelines, trucks and compressors, Alan? Then let’s talk.
        Some people even heat using electricity, and pay the extra for
        “green energy”. Certainly not everyone uses shale gas extracted 500 feet from their kitchen window?
        Some use pellet stoves to heat their homes.
        Shale gas is not a savior of anyone, or, anything, Alan.

        • Alan M Aszkler

          check that city water coming out of the faucet at home you might find a few interesting things in it. I grew up in western new york and drank water from a well so infused with natural gas we could burn it off in a flame ten feet. I also have respiratory issues from growing up in the shadow of a steel plant spewing so much particulate you could watch it precipitate out of the sky, and two parents who smoked like chimneys the ten years in eastman kodak developing film in caustic darkrooms. I don’t smoke nor do I live near a steel plant nor do I whine about my health issues I deal with it.

    • disqus_wreTySFzQM

      hey Victoria get yourself a black dress and bonnet horses and a buggy and live as an amish person.

      • JimBarth

        hey disqus_wreTySFzQM, why don’t you get a real name, and then make a comment? Fred Peckham, you actually upvoted that dribble presented by disqus_wreTySFzQM? How non farmer, rural white landowner of you!

  • JimBarth

    Sally Jewell seems to be a recycled James Watt as Sec’y of the Interior.

    The incredible damage the Interior Department, and the Bureau of Land Management, have allowed to be done on U.S. public land is disgraceful. Now, as a former petroleum engineer, and obviously still an oil and gas person, Sally Jewell has the gall to lecture and insult those opposed to her fossil fuel extraction philosophy?

    President Obama should be embarrassed. President Obama should have appointed someone who would protect the public land, not lease it out to extraction companies for a pittance. I never expected President Obama to bend over and invite the frackers into our public Interior.

    Shame on him. As for her, I can’t write it.

    • Thornye Rose

      Are you aware as well that he sold out our food supply to Monsanto, unrestricted, such that they can never be held accountable for anything nor stopped from doing business? This happened without a legendary press conference or pronouncement in front of a microphone so the citizens would be informed. On this, he did not say, “Let me be clear.”

      That which humans need to live on this earth is being hijacked from us.

  • crystalpoint

    Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, I am impressed with you on the above subject! Sally, did you know that the approval for construction of all pipelines in the U.S.A., are totally under your authority and discretion to approve or deny construction! Contrary to what Obama believes, and the news media believes that, he “only”has the authority to do so?

    It’s high time that he be told such, and by you! Good luck, and God Bless!

    Ray P. Smith, Sr.

  • Mary Sweeney

    By refusing to acknowledge the very real and carefully researched concerns of the public, Ms. Jewell is doing a disservice not only to those who support the bans, but to the nation as a whole. Real scientists pay attention to all of the data–not just the data supplied by the gas industry. Moreover, some of the data supplied by the gas industry (e.g. risks listed in SEC filings) actually supports the case for a ban.

    For those wishing to contact the Dept. of the Interior re Sally Jewell’s disrespectful remarks about fracking bans and those who support them and sacrificed to get them enacted, here’s the link:

  • GrandmasThinking

    No – Ms Jewell – feeding the public lies is the wrong way to go. Would you live in a town dominated by extreme drilling techniques? Do you equate droughts with water shortage and then think nothing of removing millions of gallons of fresh water from our ecosystem and making it toxic? This NY’r is proud that someone is finally standing up for the science that is screaming we must shift to renewable green energy technologies NOW.

    • Thornye Rose

      Yet, the administration ” . . . feeding the public lies . . . ” is a favored tactic apparently.

  • PAchiefman

    Her deception is deft and measured. The secretary attempts to explain this
    as a scientific misunderstanding, all the while ignoring the fact that
    it is not the science that is unsound, it is the engineering that is
    fatally flawed. Engineering either works or it doesn’t. Sure these guys
    can get at the gas and oil, but the engineering is so last century, it
    cracks, breaks, rusts, leaks, spills and fails as it always has and
    always will.
    ~Michael Shaw

    • Tigerhaze

      Your argument could be applied to the push for “green” energy over traditional sources in the name of “climate change”.

    • Thornye Rose

      Ah, a student of Dr. Gruber, I presume . . .

  • LuAnne Kozma

    We are going to ban fracking in Michigan based on plenty of science. Join us at, the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. Perhaps Jewell hasn’t read recent reports, or isn’t aware that voters actually know how to read.

  • Steve Todd

    Former petroleum engineer, now USA’s chief custodian of federal land, says bans on fracking are the “wrong way to go”. This despite 600,000 people (each and every one her bosses) who wrote to the Interior Department urging her to adopt a ban on fracking.

    You can’t make this up, and you can no longer deny the stranglehold campaign financing has on our political policy…after lack of significant discourse, and dismissal of the voice of We The People.

  • Tribalscribal

    “A misunderstanding of science”!! Whoa! We think we know where the misunderstanding lies. This woman needs a new job where her misunderstanding of climate science won’t do so much harm. Likewise, Gov.-elect Tom Wolf could use some real public education, but we fear has has another idea.

  • Jim

    Exactly, Victoria. How fascinating it is to see an Interior Secretary whose training is in finance lecture actual scientists, engineers and physicians who have supported the ban about how they misunderstand the science.

  • Daniel Shays

    Thinly disguised peak oil wars preamble talk from another example of our President’s poor choice of advisers. She’s incompetent as well as corrupt.


    I’m not as well-researched as most in this conversation, but I represent several local Boston environmental advocacy groups involved in this issue. kkthe issues of CO2 loaded methane released into the atmosphere through the tracking process is just one of the major problems with this energy source. We are actively seeking to address the pervasive gas leaks problem (also methane) that currently plagues our pipelines–if we just fixed those leaks, no more infrastructure would be needed.

    The contamination of water sources and destruction of conservation land as well as private property to install pipelines to transport tracked gas is also a problem here in Massachusets, as well as the lack of transparency and fraudulent marketing messages in slick brochures disseminated by Spectra.

    The “science” lauded by the opposition to alternative energy sadly is often retrospective (oil drilling and massive spills, chemical spills, the ozone layer holes, the list goes on and on…)

  • Robert White

    what it is, and its not just new york, is they want a ban on jobs. this way, they have plenty of dependants, for the loser liberal party. aka dems. its not just fraking. its anything, that has the possibility of creating jobs, or sustaining them. if people work, and support themselves, who needs the democrats? we dont. they are extinct, after all, and these are just communist takeover rubes.

  • JoanneCorey

    I don’t think Sec. Jewell has been keeping up with the peer-reviewed science on HVHF. This library contains links to peer-reviewed papers: This review: shows that the vast majority of these studies find environmental and public health concerns with HVHF. This compendium updated in Dec. 2014 includes science, findings from regulatory agencies, and investigative reporting.

  • Pat Goldsmith

    If Secretary Jewell wants to talk about bad science, she should start with the egregiously flawed study that led to fracking’s exemption from the federal Safe Drinking Water and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Acts in 2005 under the aegis of Dick Cheney. (All oil and gas drilling enjoys exemptions from the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.) These sweeping exemptions have turned fracking into a rogue industry, left to the diminished regulatory capacities of the individual states in which it operates. In the case of mass deregulation, the industry does not at all mind dealing with a patchwork of states with their various laws and rules, because it constitutes a definite advantage for them. In many cases, they helped draft those regulations. Thus far only New York has dared to say no. Thank you, Gov. Cuomo!

  • karen orlando

    Wow. Marie–maybe you will cover all the non-fact based misinformation on the Rockaway Project and the Port Ambrose LNG delivery project put forth by the antifracking movement at some point. You and a number of other reporters and publications have only been asked to do so for the last couple of years.

  • disqus_wreTySFzQM

    go pennsylvania more taxes. soon you’ll be like my state New jersey.

  • Jarrod

    600,000 people complained. I bet not one of those people were land owners with mineral rights. Besides, 600,000 isn’t a whole lot when you consider there are almost 17,000,000 people in the state of New York

  • Jeff Catlett

    “Gov.-elect Tom Wolf called New York’s decision “unfortunate.” He hopes to enact a new tax on gas drillers and use the revenue to fund his priorities, including public education.

    Never miss a chance to tax more, even if the item is in question. You gotta love politicans.

  • Jules

    Finally a liberal that has some common sense.

  • Thornye Rose

    Smart communities, especially that brew beer, and have big beer fans, need to pay attention to all this. Germany has squashed it precisely to protect their beer industry, which is centuries old. They know what matters. Why doesn’t the US? Besides, who trusts *anything* the administration presents anymore? They’ve admitted they’ll lie to the voters when it suits them.

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