- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2012

President Obama taking credit for higher oil and natural gas production is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise. Contrary to the words on the teleprompter at last week’s State of the Union address, any success for these fossil fuels has come in spite of administration policies. Unless the president sticks to his promise of an “all-out, all-of-the-above” energy strategy and keeps the carbon haters at bay, America’s energy future will be at risk.

Just as Mr. Obama made no mention in his speech that he had just shut down the Keystone XL oil pipeline, he also skipped over “fracking,” the process of natural gas extraction that has become a dirty word among his radical, self-proclaimed environmental allies. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into underground seams to crack shale rock and release trapped pockets of natural gas. The industry is employing this process throughout the expansive Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches from Ohio southeast to Virginia and northeast to New York, containing hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of gas.

Booming natural-gas production has driven prices to a 10-year low, so leftists have seen the need to thwart this supply of affordable energy. They’ve cooked up fear-mongering tales over its impact on water and air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating the impact of fracking on drinking water following a charge that the practice contaminated a well in Wyoming. Industry officials dispute the claim, noting that a million gas wells have been in service over decades without any instances of groundwater pollution. Mr. Obama’s call for drillers to disclose the chemicals they employ is largely superfluous because most companies already do so voluntarily.

Because there’s not much evidence of actual environmental harm, the next trick has been to turn to imaginary ills. The day after the president’s Keystone XL pipeline rejection, researchers at Cornell University charged that methane emissions from the use of fracking in the Marcellus Shale formation could increase the risk of “near-term climate change.” “The large [greenhouse gas] footprint of shale gas undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over coming decades, if the goal is to reduce global warming,” said professor Robert Howarth.

America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry group, has countered that methane emissions from shale are a natural occurrence and there is insufficient evidence to conclude that emissions have increased due to fracking.

Natural gas has a proven record as an inexpensive and clean fuel. In contrast, “renewable” energy requires a steady renewal of taxpayer subsidies to come anywhere near affordability. The United Parcel Service trucks Mr. Obama touted in Las Vegas on Thursday are powered by natural gas, not solar panels, and that’s at least partially because of fracking.

If the president were serious about solving America’s energy woes, he wouldn’t allow his environmental allies to stand in the way of fracking progress.

The Washington Times

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