Thomas F. Schaller, Political Science, in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Examiner

Watching the new academy award-nominated documentary “Gasland” on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) prompted UMBC political science professor Thomas F. Schaller to examine the practice for his latest Baltimore Sun column. Through fracking, oil and gas companies drill thousands of feet into underground shale deposits to reach natural gas, pumping a combination of water, sand and combustible chemicals. Schaller notes: “Though motivated by profit, the oil and gas industry is correct to assert that developing domestic natural gas reserves creates jobs at home and decreases America’s dependence on foreign oil. The question is whether the economic and security benefits outweigh the domestic risks and environmental pollution of groundwater and aquifers caused by fracking.” House Democrats, including Maryland’s John Sarbanes and Chris Van Hollen, have requested that a full list of chemicals used in fracking be publicly released, so that people can become aware of the toxins it can release into their water supplies. What the end-goal? Schaller argues: “People smart enough to design sophisticated systems to retrieve natural gas from thousands of feet below ground should be able to devise ways to do so not just profitably but safely.”

Schaller also appeared in the today’s Washington Examiner article on the president’s recent trips around the country to discuss FY 2012 budget priorities. “It is a time-honored tradition for presidents to escape the political heat of Washington by taking their message on the road and delivering it directly to citizen audiences,” he said. “Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the president has to negotiate on the budget with a new Republican majority.”

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