- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2014

The U.S. oil and gas industry is thriving despite efforts by the Obama administration and liberal environmental groups to undermine fossil fuel development and production, according to a Senate report released Thursday.

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee issued a report crediting hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for fueling an “energy renaissance,” but noted that production on federally owned lands has actually decreased due to tight administration land-use policies.

“The Obama administration and [its] far-left environmental allies are constantly attacking hydraulic fracturing in an attempt to blur the line between what is and what is not hydraulic fracturing, and to manufacture risks and associate them with the practice,” said a Senate minority staff press release.

The report, “Setting the Record Straight: Hydraulic Fracturing and America’s Energy Revolution,” is the latest in a series of probes by Senate Republicans aimed at “exposing the collusion between the Administration and well-funded environmental activists who have been targeting groups from farmers to miners to rig workers to manufacturers and fishermen.”

From the time Mr. Obama took office in 2009 until 2013, production of oil dropped 6 percent and natural gas 28 percent on federal lands, even as production on private lands “increased dramatically.” The same figures were first reported in April in a Congressional Research Service study.

Bureau of Land Management estimates show that 90 percent of natural gas and 92 percent of oil on federal lands is “either inaccessible or restricted,” the committee report says.

Mr. Obama has praised natural gas as part of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. In his 2014 State of the Union address, he said, “America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.”

“One of the reasons why is natural gas, if extracted safely, [is] the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change,” Mr. Obama said in his January address.

At the same time, the Obama administration, under pressure from environmental groups to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, has launched a Climate Action Plan that includes cutting emissions from power plants and promoting green energy.

The Sierra Club has launched a Beyond Natural Gas campaign, along with its Beyond Oil and Beyond Coal efforts, which maintain fracking is “known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes,” according to the website.

“Environmental activists insist that hydraulic fracturing itself has a devastating impact on the environment, but decades of studies and empirical evidence have debunked these claims and proved otherwise,” says the Senate report.

The report also accuses the Environmental Protection Agency of using its regulatory power to target hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

“Since in many instances the Agency does not have the direct authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, it is creatively using other avenues such as broad studies, baseless investigations, and associated regulations to make the practice so costly and burdensome, the process and development of the resources will no longer be viable,” the report says.

The 103-page document also takes a shot at Hollywood for “lionizing” the anti-fracking movement through groups like Artists Against Fracking and in the feature film “Promised Land,” starring Matt Damon. Actors Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio have also spoken out against fracking.

“Anti-fracking activists may have social media, fame, and wealth on their side, but they do not have the facts. While activists’ motives for promoting such misinformation into the public sphere are hypocritical, it is critical for the public to understand that the vast majority of assertions are easily and extensively refuted,” the report concludes.

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