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Fracking’s Missing Fans
Hydraulically fractured natural gas should be liberals’ fuel of choice.

Fracking rig near Burlington, Pa.

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Deroy Murdock

Imagine an energy source that reduces production of greenhouse gases, conserves water, and preserves natural habitat. It also creates manufacturing jobs, reduces income inequality, and defunds sexists and homophobes. Liberals would scream for this fuel, right?

Wrong!

Natural-gas fracking satisfies these liberal demands, in spades. Yet leftists won’t take “yes” for an answer. Instead they fight fracking, as if it were concocted by Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin at Dick Cheney’s ranch.

“I don’t see any place for fracking,” New York’s Democratic mayor, Bill de Blasio, declared last week. New York State environmental commissioner Joe Martens says he has “absolutely no plans” to lift a five-year fracking moratorium. Activist Yoko Ono claims: “Fracking kills.”

These and other liberals are either grossly ignorant of or willfully blind toward the environmental and socio-economic benefits of fracking, technically known as hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

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Leftists hyperventilate over so-called greenhouse gases, the alleged cause of their biggest bête noir, so-called global warming (which, parenthetically, much of the country would welcome right about now). Luckily, fracking reduces greenhouse gas emissions. As the EPA reports: “Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and 1 percent as much sulfur oxides at the power plant.” Versus oil, natural gas emits 32 percent less CO2, 57.5 percent less NOx, and 99.17 percent less SOx. Natural gas yields 88 percent less CO2 and 42 percent less NOx than diesel fuel, the Marcellus Shale Coalition calculates.

(For further details, please consult the table posted here.)

Fracking conserves water. It takes just three gallons, on average, to yield 1 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) of energy from fracked natural gas, according to the Groundwater Protection Council and the U.S. Energy Department. One needs 23 gallons to generate 1 million BTUs from coal, 15,800 gallons from corn ethanol, and a staggering 44,500 gallons from soy biodiesel. Fracking foes should decry federal biofuel mandates and subsidies.

Fracking preserves habitat. To fuel 1,000 households for one year, SAIC/RW Beck researchers concluded, natural-gas companies use 0.4 acres of land. Coal needs 0.75 acres. Windmills consume six acres, while solar cells cover 8.4 acres for the same output. If they voted, plants and animals would pick fracking over wind or solar power.

Fracking creates jobs. In a May 2013 Manhattan Institute study, Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Andrew Gray explain that in frack-rich Pennsylvania, between 2007 and 2011, “Counties with more than 200 wells added jobs at a 7 percent annual rate.” However, “where there was no drilling, or only a few wells, the number of county jobs shrank by 3 percent.”

Fracking curbs income inequality. According to the same paper, “between 2007 and 2011, per-capita income rose by 19 percent in Pennsylvania counties with more than 200 wells, by 14 percent in counties with between 20 and 200 wells, and by 12 percent in counties with fewer than 20 wells. In counties without any hydrofracking wells, income went up by only 8 percent. It is important to note, too, that counties with the lowest per-capita incomes experienced the most rapid growth.”



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