President Obama has long been touting the U.S. oil and natural gas boom as the product of his administration’s “all of the above” energy plan. But a new report from Senate Republicans finds the White House supports oil and gas drilling publicly while partnering behind the scenes with eco-activists to regulate it out of existence.
Environmentalists have launched a massive campaign to impose stricter regulations and even bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in states across the country. Their efforts have been complemented by federal agencies working to crack down on fracking and horizontal drilling, according to a report by Republicans on the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.
“Far-left environmental groups have teamed up with President Obama’s federal bureaucrats and the Hollywood elite in a coordinated effort to distort the truth about hydraulic fracturing and try to sway public opinion against it,” reads their report, which looks to dispel eco-propaganda surrounding fracking.
Building on evidence from a landmark Senate report from this summer about the multi-billion environmentalist campaign to rid the U.S. of fossil fuels, Republicans took aim at fracking “myths” propagated by environmental groups that the well-stimulation technique is harming air and water quality across the country and exacerbating global warming.
“Many of the organizations and foundations pulling the strings behind the war on affordable energy are made up of wealthy individuals who have already made their fortune and can thus afford gasoline prices above $4.00 per gallon and skyrocketing utility bills,” the Senate report continues. “Out of touch far-left environmental extremists have unprecedented access to the Obama Administration and have helped coordinate the blueprint for their attacks on fossil energy both through the federal government as well as with phony grassroots campaigns.”
Fracking is a well-stimulation technique in which water, sand and chemicals are injected deep underground to unlock vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Fracking has been around since the 1940s, but in 2008 the practice took off along with horizontal drilling which allowed for drillers to extract lots of resources from a single drilling pad.
Fracking has made states like North Dakota and Pennsylvania economic hotspots. North Dakota is now the second-largest oil producing state and has the lowest unemployment rate at 2.8 percent.
The Senate report details the economic benefits that have come with the fracking boom. For example, oil and gas industry jobs have boomed 40 percent while the rest of private sector job growth was an anemic one percent.
The fracking boom has also filled the coffers of local and state governments. One IHS study estimated that local and state governments got $63 billion in revenues from oil and gas activity in 2012 alone. This is on top of a $1,200 increase in household disposable income in 2012 due to lower energy bills from falling natural gas prices.
But the U.S. becoming the world’s largest liquid fuels producer has not sat well with environmentalists who want to end fossil fuel use in the crusade against global warming. Such groups have put out reports and sponsored media outlets critical of fracking, casting doubt on its positive economic impacts and claiming its bad for the environment.
A study recently put out by the Natural Resource Defense Council has tried to racialize the fracking debate by claiming that 5.4 million Californians now live within a mile of an oil and gas well — 90 percent of these people are “people of color,” reports NRDC.
“California’s communities of color have long been dumping grounds for industrial pollution—and our analysis shows that fracking is poised to pile on more if the oil and gas industry has its way,” Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist at NRDC, said in a statement.
The NRDC report says that “5.4 million Californians—already lives within a mile of at least one oil or gas well. Of that group, 69 percent—3.7 million residents—are people of color (45 percent Latino/Hispanic, 13 percent Asian, 8 percent African American and 3 percent other).”
“Fracking is moving next door to more and more California homes, schools and neighborhoods. From Los Angeles to the state’s farms and ranches, this industry must not be allowed to poison our people’s health,” Rotkin-Ellman said.
Federal agencies have also been ordered by the White House to crackdown on oil and gas drilling. President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” requires that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department look into ways to regulate methane emissions from fracking and regulate the practice on federal lands.
“Despite the Agency’s efforts and their political agenda in its three hallmark cases of abuse, EPA is zero for three as the facts led them to reverse course and end their investigations without the smoking gun they so hoped to manufacture,” the Senate report said. “These three examples have been highly criticized by state regulators, state and federal elected officials, the regulated community, and even other federal agencies under President Obama.”
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