- - Monday, June 8, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s a “man bites dog” story, but with a modern twist: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that fracking does not cause widespread harm to America’s drinking water. In an era when there seems to be no end to left-wing prosecution of innovators for the “rape of Mother Earth,” who would have expected a verdict of “not guilty?”

The EPA reported last week that after an investigation into the effects of fracking, the short name for hydraulic fracturing, it “did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

Triggered by a claim in 2009 of water contamination in Pavillion, Wyo., the study found fracking to be safe, though the agency warned that “hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources” under certain circumstances, such as when chemicals are spilled or drilling encounters an underground water reservoir. With an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 wells drilled annually between 2011 and 2013, the EPA found such incidents “were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country.”

Fracking, a drilling technique that pumps water, sand and chemicals into underground seams, cracking shale rock and releasing trapped pockets of oil and natural gas previously unreachable, has led to a boom in fossil fuels that has made the United States the world’s No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, a low-emission fuel used for heating, cooling and to power vehicles.

The EPA announcement was hardly welcome in Hollywood, being a real-world repudiation of actor Matt Damon’s “Promised Land.” The 2012 agit-prop film portrayed the fictional struggle between a rapacious natural gas company eager to unleash fracking machines on pristine farmland and townspeople trying to save their water from the contamination.

The EPA’s finding paints the 2010 docudrama “Gasland” as more drama than documentary. The movie claimed that a Colorado homeowner could put a match to his tap water owing to natural gas in the water from nearby fracking. Director Josh Fox didn’t tell viewers that state officials found the water contained methane from natural underground coal beds. It’s the usual liberal formula: environmentalists good, capitalists bad. Like most of Tinseltown’s offerings, it’s fantasy. Now the EPA, of all villains, confirms it.

It was a bad week for the Left Coast anti-fracking forces. California Gov. Jerry Brown, usually a reliable ally, refused to impose a statewide ban on the drilling technique, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo had done in New York. Their complaint is actually with the fossil fuels. As the oil industry has succeeded in tapping previously irrecoverable reservoirs of petroleum-based resources, oil and natural gas prices have fallen, making it more difficult for trendy forms of renewable energy, like solar and wind power, to compete with the fossils.

Accusations that the governor’s smile at natural gas threatens to worsen “global warming” ring hollow. Mr. Brown’s green credentials are unassailable.

With the issue of contaminated drinking water put to rest, anti-fracking activists can be expected to pour energy into Plan B: persuading the public that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes. The U.S. Geographical Survey concludes that tremblors caused by fracking are small and insignificant. We’re not doomed, after all.

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