“YOU want to go ban fracking for a year? Knock yourself out.”
So said Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, in an interview last month with The Wall Street Journal. Rarely bashful about speaking his mind, McClendon was unsparing in his criticism of environmentalists run amok and indeed of President Obama, whose “all of the above” energy strategy has a particular bent toward the color green.
The Journal's interview with McClendon came just as questions began being raised about his management of Chesapeake, including a program that allowed him to personally invest in new wells drilled by the company. The company is in the process of replacing McClendon as board chairman in an effort to improve its corporate governance.
The president's governance has drawn McClendon's ire. Obama's Environmental Protection Agency, and other groups, have been critical of the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, because they say it can harm the water supply. Fracking and horizontal drilling have produced the energy boom of the past few years.
Anti-fracking voices complained originally that the process used too much water, although as McClendon pointed out to the Journal, the amount used to complete a gas well is roughly equal to what it takes to keep a golf course watered for two weeks.
The idea of a ban on fracking “would be marvelous for our share price,” McClendon said, because it would limit supply and thus push prices up. But it's also “completely unthinkable” because doing so would cut off the energy used by so many utilities and consumers.
Speaking of cutting off supply, McClendon blasted Obama's decision not to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to move crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
“I'm not surprised that this president made that decision,” McClendon told the Journal. “I'm surprised that a president made that decision. But knowing what I know about the sway that environmentalists have ...”