June begins the Legislature’s interim period, during which we have regular meetings with our committees. I serve as the chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and in this capacity, I recently toured a gas and oil drilling and fracking site in Knott County with the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association to observe and learn more about Kentucky’s natural gas well production and fracking treatments. Fracking is the common term to describe the process during which a natural gas well is fractured after drilling is complete. It is an essential process that stimulates the flow of natural gas by fracturing the geological formation. Fracking has been used by Kentucky’s oil and gas industry since the 1950s and, without it, oil and natural gas production would be uneconomical in our state.
During my visit, I observed a fracking stimulation which used nitrogen. The discussion focused on the careful steps the oil and natural gas industry take to protect Kentucky’s groundwater resources and reclaim the well site, as well as the job creation associated with oil and gas drilling in Kentucky.
Of course, our main energy producer in Kentucky is coal, which is used to create over 90% of our electricity. However, with the federal government increasing regulations on coal mining, and the competitive prices of natural gas in the U.S., we continue to investigate solutions to meet the energy and economic needs of our state and region.
One of the benefits Kentucky’s residents and businesses enjoy is the relatively low cost for electricity. This is also an important factor for economic development. Low energy costs entice businesses and industry to locate here. The increase of federal regulations on energy production, which raise those costs and continue to make self-reliance on our resources difficult, endangers not only those directly employed in areas such as coal mining, but also the employees of industries that locate here in our community and our ability to attract new economic investment.
It is estimated that every natural gas well drilled, fractured, and completed in Kentucky supports 200 jobs with an annual average salary of $60,000. We have the advantage of a variety of energy resources in Kentucky, and through intelligent use, our economy and job market will benefit.
I encourage you to keep up to date with the interim period activity. I serve on the following committees: Banking and Insurance, Education, and I chair both Energy Special Subcommittee and Natural Resources & Environment. Banking and Insurance and the Energy Special Subcommittee meet the first week of June. You can find more information, as well as schedules by visiting www.lrc.ky.gov.
If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or leave a message toll free at 1-800-372-7181. I appreciate your participation and input.
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Note: Senator Jared Carpenter (R-Berea) is Chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee, and a member of the Education Committee. He represents the 34th District including Madison and Rockcastle Counties and the southern portion of Fayette County.