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CrainsClevelandBusiness.com – A driller and environmentalist find they have little in common and even less they can agree on when it comes to shale gas.

flag_cclblogoIf you want to know how far apart environmentalists and drillers are on the subject of fracking, Chris Faulkner and Michael Brune would be more than happy to tell you.

Mr. Faulkner, CEO of Dallas-based Breitling Oil and Gas, and Mr. Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, got together for a series of interviews in early May, including one with SHALE Magazine.

It was not a love fest.

While generally respectful, the two men could not be further apart on even the most basic elements of energy policy — and they echo much of what we hear regularly from members of their respective camps both in Ohio and around the country.

“I believe climate change is caused by natural sources and that man contributes very little to climate change,” says Mr. Faulkner.

“That’s like saying that leprechauns rule the world . . . climate change is here,” blasts back Mr. Brune.

Renewable energy?

A “pipe dream” that wastes millions of dollars in the United States, where it will never supply even 10% of the nation’s energy needs, according to Mr. Faulkner.

No way, Mr. Brune counters: Renewable energy already is proving successful in places such as Germany and California, and only will get better, more efficient and able to meet more of our needs as we continue to develop it.

Do we even need to ask about fracking itself? Not really. Mr. Faulkner says we aren’t doing it fast enough, given how much money we spend abroad on oil, while Mr. Brune says we are drilling at a rapid pace toward inevitable accidents and disasters.

 

In about a 40-minute conversation, only two concrete ideas met with the approval of both men. They both think that, if fracking is going to take place, drillers should need to disclose the chemicals they use in the process.

And they both believe the United States needs to abandon coal because it’s too dirty and there are better alternatives. Just don’t ask about the alternatives, because all agreement ends there.

Nonetheless, the two have done dozens of interviews together. On May 1, by noon when they spoke to SHALE, they’d already been on the phone with 20 local newspapers and radio stations around the country, with more interviews planned.

Why?

They each want to draw more attention to fracking, because they think the public will side with them, if people research the matter and read the facts. They disagree, of course, on which facts should be considered.

There is one last thing they agree on: They both think environmentalists have gotten the upper hand on the oil and gas industry, by getting ahead of it and framing the conversation about fracking as a risky activity.

Which it is, or isn’t, depending upon whether Mr. Brune or Mr. Faulkner is talking.