Politics & Policy

Fracking’s Missing Fans

Hydraulically fractured natural gas should be liberals’ fuel of choice.

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?


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.

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.”

Furchtgott-Roth and Gray add that, “over the past decade, had New York State counties on the Marcellus Shale been allowed to use these resources, economic growth would have been substantially higher — at up to 15 percent for a given four-year period, or 6 percent greater than would otherwise be expected. This corresponds to a potential $8 billion in extra income in upstate New York.” This is an enormous cost that real men and women are paying in lower incomes, harder times, and shattered dreams.

Fracking defunds sexists and homophobes. American natural-gas revenues stay in the land of the free and the home of powerful women and 17 states that celebrate gay marriage. These dollars stay out of OPEC countries like Islamofascist Saudi Arabia (where burqa-clad women cannot drive) and Nigeria (where jail sentences up to 14 years await those who participate in gay relationships and gatherings, thanks to a law signed January 13 by President Goodluck Jonathan).

Despite these liberal dreams come true, Lefties fret over fracking’s supposed danger to tap water. In fact, pipes extract gas from shale deposits some 5,000 feet beneath the water table. Multiple layers of steel and concrete isolate fracking fluids (99.5 percent water and sand, 0.5 percent chemicals) from the drinking-water supply at the birth of a typical well’s 20- to 40-year productive life. After only about five days, fracking stops for good. Before long, gas starts flowing into the stoves and water heaters of American homes and the furnaces of U.S. factories.

Remember: Liberals should embrace fracking as the best demonstrated, available technology to do what they want. No such luck. They have their panties in knots over natural-gas fracking’s potential risk to water supplies, rather than the actual higher atmospheric emissions and greater water and land consumption associated with more Earth-hostile energy sources. This is like staying home for fear of incoming meteors instead of heading uphill as Hurricane Katrina blows Lake Pontchartrain into one’s living room.

Top Obamites reject such baseless frackophobia.

“In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater,” Obama’s former EPA chief Lisa Jackson told Fox News on April 27, 2012.

“I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe,” Obama’s first Interior secretary, Ken Salazar, stated last September 18 at the Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces, N.M.

“I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater,” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told journalists last August.

None other than Obama himself declared in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that natural gas is “the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”

If liberals sincerely want what they say they want, they should cheer fracking. But if their mindless hatred of fracking continues, they will confirm that they are fueled solely by an irrational fear of dead dinosaurs.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended since its initial posting.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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