Some Senate Republicans have issued what they are calling a “report” on the virtues, righteousness and basic overall goodness of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.
Fracking, according to the political manifesto, i.e. report, is not only one of the most wonderful things to ever happen for the economy but has also strengthened our country’s geopolitical position in the world. What’s more, so it goes, fracking is also extremely safe and not harmful to the environment. Don’t listen to those Hollywood elites, people. All is well.
Here’s some language from the document just to show how serious it is:
This report highlights the incontrovertible benefits derived from the domestic production of oil and natural gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing. At the same time, it thoroughly discredits the leading claims made by the Obama Administration and their far-left allies who are rooted firmly in the fight against accessing America’s abundant domestic energy. It subsequently undermines the credibility of those who are seeking to devastate America’s energy security, economic opportunity and the livelihoods of families across the country through a coordinated war on hydraulic fracturing and domestic oil and natural gas.
Real scientific stuff, right? Note “far-left allies” and the hyperbolic “coordinated war.” The idea that there’s a real war of any type of oil and gas production in the country is utter fabrication. The frackers here in Oklahoma, for example, frack with impunity. If there IS a figurative war, then it’s a war against the environment, and the frackers are winning it hands down.
The report, titled “Setting The Record Straight: Hydraulic Fracturing and America’s Energy Revolution,” was prepared by the Republicans on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Oklahoma’s own U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a senior member of the EPW Committee, lauded the report, arguing “. . . this report dispels the falsehoods perpetuated by the Obama Administration and environmental extremists about hydraulic fracturing.”
Who is the extremist? Someone like Inhofe, who has long argued that the science of climate change is a worldwide leftist conspiracy or someone in Oklahoma concerned injection wells used in the fracking process are causing nerve-rattling earthquakes every other day where they live?
The report itself is such a political statement that one wonders why the Republicans even bothered to dress it up in a “study” format. Here’s another sentence from the report: “Far-left environmental groups have teamed up with President Obama’s federal bureaucrats and the Hollywood elite in a coordinated effort to distort the truth about hydraulic fracturing and try to sway public opinion against it. ” How can anyone possibly take the “report” seriously after reading that? Movie stars are ruining America’s energy independence? That’s just nonsense.
Let’s be clear that fracking is a highly intensive industrial process that needs constant monitoring and heavy regulation. In the fracking process, water and chemicals are injected by high pressure into rock formations to release oil and gas. The wastewater is then injected into underground disposal wells. Scientists and environmentalists, have argued that the fracking process can lead to ground and surface water contamination. They have also linked wastewater disposal wells to a surge in earthquakes, especially in Oklahoma. On a larger level, the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have contributed to global warming that threatens the planet.
To simply argue that the environmental impact of fracking is non-existent or negligible is, in itself, a sort of extremism that panders to rich oil and gas industry executives. Since 1989, Inhofe has received more than $1.7 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, according to OpenSecrets.org.
The larger question, then, is how to release oil and gas from the ground with the least amount of impact to the environment, not whether Hollywood elites and President Barack Obama are meeting in secret lairs plotting the demise of the diabolical fossil fuel cabal. It should be noted on a more serious level that the fracking boom has continued while Obama has been in office.
This country and the entire world needs to invest more in the development of renewable energy sources that have the least amount of impact on the environment. No report or, to be more accurate in this case, no amount of clichéd political sloganeering can dispel that argument.