Unable to persuade legislators to ban fracking on the federal or state levels, environmentalists are now waging their war on fracking one locality at a time.
In June, they won a fracking ban in Citrus County, Florida. In July, they forced a county in California — the fifth so far — to follow suit. Now, Colorado activists just submitted two referendums for November’s ballot, one of which would devolve fracking control to local authorities who may be easier to persuade.
These environmentalists claim they’re saving people and the planet. In fact, they’re hurting both.
Fracking has boosted local economies, created thousands of jobs and reduced carbon emissions. Whether malicious or simply misguided, the anti-fracking agenda causes higher emissions and more poverty.
America’s energy boom over the past decade has been astounding. Last year, the United States produced more natural gas than ever before, 27 trillion cubic feet — a staggering 50 percent increase over 10 years ago. America has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas.
Innovation in fracking is the cause of this boom. Blasting sand and water into rock formations releases previously unreachable oil and natural gas reserves.
The Harvard Business School observed that fracking created 2.7 million jobs and $43 billion in economic activity in 2014. Last year, it supported 2 million jobs nationwide.
And the average American family has saved $1,337 from fracking through cheaper gasoline and lower energy bills.
Fracking has also lowered carbon emissions. Because natural gas is much cheaper now, electricity plants have been switching from coal to natural gas for power generation. That’s good news for the environment because natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal per kilowatt hour produced.
The result? U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are now at a 20-year low.
Yet environmentalists continue to fight fracking — and all other fossil fuel development.
Bill McKibben, the far-left environmental guru, recently wrote: “We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground.” Given that renewables account for less than 14 percent of U.S. needs, McKibben’s proposal is literally a new Dark Age.
Indeed, McKibben’s agenda would cause misery worldwide – all while he continues using fossil fuels to jet around the globe scolding the rest of us as the poorest suffer from such ideological zeal.
The world’s poorest need more energy development, not less. Over 1 billion people lack access to electricity, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa and rural Asia. The World Health Organization reports 4 million deaths annually from air pollution caused by households cooking with fuels like wood and charcoal.
These deaths are preventable. Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels have helped economies grow in developing nations. China, for example, lifted 680 million people from poverty in just 30 years with help from fossil fuels.
Environmentalists’ green tunnel vision ignores how fracking improves lives and reduces emissions. Federal and state regulators understand this perfectly well. That’s why environmentalists continue pushing their agenda at lower levels, where scare tactics may be more effective.
It’s time for local officials who know better to challenge this profoundly unprogressive agenda, or at least have these brave environmentalists live under the rules they want to impose on all of us.
Michael James Barton is the Founder of Hyatt Solutions and speaks around the country on energy and energy security matters. He previously served as the deputy director of Middle East policy at the Pentagon.