The Gazette's Viewpoint: President Barack Obama Deserves Two Cheers for Pro-Fracking Appointments
Two significant pieces of good news last week deserved more attention than they received.
First, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that recoverable natural gas resources in the northern Plains states are three times greater than previously thought.
Second, President Barack Obama's newest secretary of the interior, Sally Jewell, said "we must develop our domestic energy resources armed with the best available science, and this unbiased, objective information will help private, nonprofit and government decision makers at all levels make informed decisions about the responsible development of these resources."
Jewell was referring to hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the process by which a pressurized mixture of (mostly) water and chemicals is injected into shale rock formations deep underground. The process provides access to natural gas deposits that would otherwise be impossible to reach. The technology has been in use for 60 years in Texas and Oklahoma, but its phenomenally successful use more recently in Pennsylvania to develop the Marcellus Shale and in North Dakota to develop the Bakken formation has sparked an energy revolution in this country.
Big Green environmentalists oppose fracking, claiming it threatens groundwater even though the evidence for this claim is all but nonexistent. Even so, "No fracking" has become a rallying cry even louder than "No nukes." But the Obama administration hasn't quite jumped on the anti-fracking bandwagon. Former Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson, for example, called natural gas the "bridge fuel" to a renewable energy future. More recently, Obama's pick for Secretary of Energy, MIT scientist Ernest Moniz, has described water and air pollution risks associated with fracking "challenging but manageable" with proper regulation and oversight. …