The Freedom to Frac — and Its Enemies

This Washington Times article gives a helpful summary of today’s politics of frac’ing–which, unfortunately, are scary.

Here we have a technology with an unbelievably good safety record and, more fundamentally, an unbelievably good record and future prospect of increasing our well-being across the board through the production of cheap, plentiful, reliable energy.

And yet all this potential can be destroyed by politicians and regulatory agencies, regardless of the facts. Thus, energy companies, instead of focusing their efforts solely on producing abundant natural gas, are waiting anxiously to see what arbitrary opinion the Obama Administration will come up with.

Industry leaders won’t have to wait long for their first clue to what the future holds.
Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release a draft of its long-awaited report on suspected links between water pollution and fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, combined with sand and chemical mixtures, to crack underground rock and release trapped oil and gas.

The completed EPA study won’t be finished until 2014, but the draft will provide an early indication to which energy path the Obama administration will take in the next four years.

Many in the energy sector, along with congressional Republicans, fear the report will paint fracking in a negative light and give the White House political cover for cracking down on it in the name of science, something environmentalists have hoped for since Mr. Obama came into office in 2009.

Here’s a question: What could the EPA possible “report” about frac’ing that would justify any sort of large-scale restriction? That there is some inherent, unpreventable, toxic danger from frac’ing? That is on its face impossible, given that this technology has been around for three quarters of a century with hundreds of thousands of safe frac-jobs.

The only legitimate safety questions about frac’ing pertain to individual cases–determining if there is some evidence that a particular well has been drilled improperly so as to endanger others? Such laws apply to any underground activity, whether drilling a water-well or an oil-well.

America is supposed to be a country with clear, objective laws–laws defined in part by the principle of innocent until proven guilty. That enables productive individuals to flourish, knowing that if they respect the rights of others, they will not be interfered with.

Unfortunately, if you are in the energy industry, you are guilty until proven innocent–proven innocent to the satisfaction of politicians and bureaucrats who often have a deep-seated fear of new technology.

As the White House weighs its options, fights over fracking are heating up in state capitals.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must decide whether to allow the practice in the Empire State, though he continues to equivocate, and it’s unclear when he will make a decision. Last month, a coalition of environmental groups sued California to stop fracking, claiming that the toll it may take on water supplies has not been fully studied.

As a resident of California, who must pay electricity bills that have been dramatically inflated by anti-energy environmentalist policies, and who faces a future of crushing state-wide debt combined with environmentalist-crushed state-wide productivity, let me say this. I have studied both the impact of frac’ing on human well-being and the impact of  that environmental groups on human well-being. The first is overwhelmingly positive, and should be left free–the second is overwhelmingly negative, and should, along with other pressure group policies, be replaced by a government of objective laws, not activists.