As things progress in Massachusetts today, we need to be concerned about what’s happening tomorrow a few hundred miles down I-95 South in Washington, D.C., where Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey–a Democrat, co-author of the cap-and-trade legislation which passed the House last year, and chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee–is preparing to conduct a hearing looking into the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, legislation which could effectively shut down more than half of all oil and natural gas wells in the United States.
The legislation, individual versions of which have already been introduced in the House and Senate, seeks to regulate–through the elimination of a provision in the Safe Water Drinking Act which provides a certain amount of flexibility to the oil and gas industry–a practice known as hydraulic fracturing, a commonly-used process during which water and other materials are forced into the ground in order to direct oil and natural gas toward areas from which extraction will be easier.
The problem with the process, Democrats claim, is that it causes water contamination. Study after study, however, has determined that hydraulic fracturing does not pose an environmental risk, and at no time over the past six decades has a single, solitary case of drinking water contamination been credibly tied to the procedure. Furthermore, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, environmental agencies in the individual states already do an adequate job of regulating hydraulic fracturing, and have done so for half a century.
Rep. Joe Barton, the Texas Republican once deemed the “House GOP’s leading expert on energy policy” by The Wall Street Journal and, more recently, one of the core architects behind the House GOP’s legislative alternative to Democratic Party cap-and-trade policy, told America’s Right today that hydraulic fracturing–or “fracking,” to use industry shorthand–is not the danger the Democrats insist it is.
“Fracking isn’t dangerous,” he said. “Trust me, I know. There are gas wells less than 2 miles from my home that have used the process. I would not have allowed it if I thought it put my family’s health in danger. In my hometown of Arlington, Texas, gas wells are being fracked within 1000 ft. of homes, schools, hospitals and churches, with no affect on our groundwater.”
Somehow, though, I doubt that Markey and his flunkies care. Just like his cap-and-trade legislation is more about governmental control and the forced erosion of American exceptionalism than it is about saving the environment or addressing the increasingly costly manufactured crisis known as “climate change,” this bill is just another example of Democrats looking to increase the cost of doing business in America. The oil and natural gas industry in America is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs, from people working on drilling platforms to overnight workers brewing coffee at service stations. It accounts for billions in taxpayer revenue each year, and is responsible for nearly one-third of recoverable oil and gas reserves in the United States. To Ed Markey and the Democrats, however, it’s a political playing card.
Tomorrow’s hearing is being held under the banner of addressing plans by Exxon Mobil to purchase XTO Energy, Inc., an independent natural gas firm known for its expertise in extracting hydrocarbons. The merger would be an enormous win for the prospect of energy independence, as Exxon Mobil’s vast resources combined with XTO’s extraction acumen would boil down to a giant step toward extracting, through hydraulic fracturing and other measures, the vast reserves of oil shale buried beneath the United States.
Markey, in calling for the hearing last month, called into question “a number of issues with respect to the future direction of the U.S. domestic oil and gas industry,” including “the potential environmental impact of increased unconventional natural gas development.”
Barton, however, believes that the federal government is overstepping its authority in even considering the augmented regulation.
“There is no federal issue here — none,” Barton said this afternoon. “It should be decided locally. If federal environmental bureaucrats get involved, they will screw it up – big time. If fracking is stopped it will absolutely kill all the natural gas drilling under shale deposits in the U.S. and keep us from accessing our largest reserves.”
Make no mistake about it, however — the Democratic Party fervor in going after the fracking process is more about stunting any expansion of those evil, profit-hungry oil companies than it is about any environmental concern. Markey’s track record shows it, and this particular bill gives Markey and his friends a chance to impress their base and look busy by placing oil and natural gas executives in the hot seat on Capitol Hill. But at the end of the day, however, increased and redundant regulation only means higher energy prices for everyday working Americans, which translates into higher cost of foodstuffs and anything else which depends upon oil and natural gas for delivery.
By pushing for this legislation and increased regulation, the Democrats are not only looking to increase the cost of doing business for American industry and the cost of living life for American families but also, taken alongside the regulations intrinsic in cap-and-trade legislation which would, according to President Barack Obama, “bankrupt” the coal industry, they are dramatically slowing down any chance of becoming truly energy independent. Through efforts like cap-and-trade and the FRAC Act, Democrats are forcing jobs overseas, placing unnecessary regulations on American business, and installing unnecessary roadblocks which will only ensure that more money from hardworking Americans is sent overseas in exchange for oil from nations that simply do not have America’s best intentions at heart.
“Local people understand the economics,” Barton told America’s Right. “This shouldn’t be another way for the federal government to hinder development of our natural resources. States get it. Local property owners get it. They should be making these decisions.”
Call your congressman and senators today. Do it now, before you forget. Inform them that, even with the devastation in Haiti and the special election in Massachusetts, you’re paying attention. And tell them to get out of the way. Tell them that you simply cannot afford higher energy prices, and that until they provide actual proof that processes like hydraulic fracturing are damaging the environment in any way, they should keep their regulatory hands to themselves.