Former Mobil Oil Exec Urges Brakes on Gas Fracking
Former executive says the drilling cannot be done safely
By Brian Nearing
Published 7:01 pm, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
As a retired high-ranking oil company executive, one might expect Louis Allstadt to sing the praises of opening up New York to natural gas hydraulic fracturing.
But Allstadt, who worked 31 years for Mobil Oil, stood among elected officials from several upstate communities Tuesday to urge the state not to allow hydrofracking, and instead encourage development of more renewable energy.
“Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed,” said Allstadt, retired executive vice president of Mobil. He spoke during a news conference called by Elected Officials to Protect New York, a group which represents more than 800 officials from all 62 counties statewide that have adopted anti-fracking resolutions.
Allstadt became Mobil’s head of exploration and production in North America in 1996 and was promoted to lead oil and natural gas drilling in the Western Hemisphere in 1998, about two years before the company merged with Exxon.
The fracking boom was still in the future of the energy business when Allstadt retired in 2000 to Cooperstown, where the 70-year-old splits his time between a town house near the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and a waterfront house on Lake Otsego.
Allstadt said he began studying fracking a few years ago after friends asked him if he thought it would be safe to have gas wells drilled near the lake.
“Now the industry will tell you that fracking has been around a long time. While that is true, the magnitude of the modern technique is very new,” Allstadt said.
A fracked well can require between 50 and 100 times the water and chemicals compared to older wells, he said.
“And this requires thousands of trucks coming and going. It is much more a heavy industrial activity,” Allstadt said. And frack wells’ leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas linked to ongoing man-made climate change, is another issue that troubles him.
“Methane is leaking from wells at far greater rates than were previously estimated,” said Allstadt, who also is a Cooperstown village trustee.
At Tuesday’s new conference at the Capitol, other officials from municipalities also touted local resolutions adopted that urge caution on fracking and support for renewable energy.
Such resolutions have been adopted by the cities of Albany and Syracuse, Tompkins County, and the towns of Brighton, Danby, Otsego, New Paltz, Rochester (Ulster County), and Ulysses.
Said Syracuse City Councilor-at-Large Jean Kessner, “Given critical and alarming data emerging each week, it’s clear from the existing science that fracking poses a very real danger to our health and water. That’s why we feel so strongly that the state must maintain the moratorium until and unless comprehensive, cumulative studies are completed and it’s proven that fracking can be done safely.
“To date, there’s only significant evidence to the contrary.”
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