Dems Need A Fracking Clue About Drilling And $4 Gas
Birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones offer a good opportunity to reflect. With last month marking the one year anniversary of the Gulf spill, the public should take a moment to review America’s energy landscape.
They won’t like what they see. The White House has declared open season on our domestic oil firms. As Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel has noted, Democrats’ motivation for attacking “Big Oil” is self serving:
The Democratic scramble to come up with convenient bogeymen for higher gas prices comes in the wake of growing criticism of the Obama administration’s de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf… And President Obama’s State of the Union proposal to further load taxes on oil companies, which would also raise prices, is now hanging over the White House.
Long story short, Washington policymakers are passing on the high cost of their political spin to America’s consumers – with the average price of a gallon of regular gas now pushing or topping $4, depending on where you live.
The political landscape doesn’t become less rugged beyond the drilling moratorium, dismally slow offshore permitting process and calls for vindictive tax increases. Opportunistic politicians and radical environmental activists have set their sights on our clean, abundant, affordable supply of natural gas as their new bogeyman du jour.
Most of this frenzy has centered on the natural gas production technique known as hydraulic fracturing (“hydrofracking” or “frac’ing”), and the shale gas it is deployed to recover. Bombastic headlines over the past several months have done nothing less than smear this process.
For instance, the anti-gas drilling lobby has recklessly enlisted the New York Times to make erroneous claims involving “radioactivity.” Cornell University’s Robert Howarth and his colleagues, moreover, have recently published a paper to much hooray, which makes both faulty claims about shale gas’ emissions impact and asserts that it is “dirtier” than coal.
In addition to the fact that Howarth used a flawed method to calculate the carbon dioxide emissions from shale gas, he has even admitted that he and his team used lousy data and did not examine coal carefully. As an engineer and a professor, I wouldn’t call this work “scientific” in either my office or my classroom.
These types of tactics are employed with one purpose – to deliver a skewed examination of hydraulic fracturing toward frightening the public and creating momentum for unfounded federal intervention. In essence, the media feeding frenzy over these claims distracts from the real issues at hand, namely the need to empower America’s oil and natural gas sector so that it can produce the energy that U.S. consumers increasingly demand.
The natural gas industry contributes roughly $385 billion to the U.S. economy each year. It also provides jobs for over three million American workers, while our national unemployment rate remains at 8.8 percent. (Let’s not forget that President Obama promised that the nation’s unemployment rate would not surpass 8 percent if we passed the financial stimulus.) If our leaders are serious about real stimulus, natural gas provides a real solution to not only our current economic woes, but also a stronger, cleaner energy supply base in the future.
As we enter into the summer driving season shortly, the Obama administration must awaken to the fact that its energy policies are curtailing job creation, stifling investment and, worst of all, draining the wallets of many consumers.
When it comes to regulating domestic energy production going forward, it must be understood that the resources of our regulators are best focused on ensuring proper well design and technical compliance, not pursuing questionable allegations over water contamination and other media-hype.
Instead of encouraging the strong and getting us back to production, government has chosen to support the weaker energy options-throwing tax dollars and borrowed money at feel-good fuels when what really makes us feel good is American jobs on US soil. No wonder we are slipping.
President Obama has increased subsidies for wind and solar power, and other renewables including biofuels like ethanol, in his 2012 budget. These alternatives cost more and do not work as well. They are not a better mouse trap. Someday advances may allow them to handle the load. It is possible for a modern sailboat to top 50 knots, but powerboats now hit 250. America needs energy today.
The cheering crowds on May 1 were not the product of an organized Tea Party rally. They were not “left” or “right.” There were Americans feeling good about a strong America.