Donald Trump recently said he supports giving local communities control over hydraulic fracturing. “If some areas don’t want” fracking, the decision should be “up to them,” he commented.
Trump supports this proven and safe technology to develop America’s enormous oil and natural gas deposits, create millions of jobs and generate billions in revenues. However, his stance on local veto power is the same as Hillary Clinton’s, though she would also try to regulate fracking into oblivion.
Their willingness to cede control over this single energy technology to thousands of communities across shale country appears to reflect common misperceptions that fracking causes earthquakes, water contamination and air pollution. As explained in articles, commentaries, reports and documentary films, there is no evidence to support these claims.
Fracking-induced earth tremors are akin to vibrations from a dump truck on your street. No groundwater contamination has ever been traced to hydraulic fracturing. Methane in tap water results from water wells improperly drilled through gas-prone rock formations and was an issue long before fracking. Air emissions are below what we find in residential neighborhoods during non-rush hours.
But anti-fossil fuel activists assiduously promote disinformation about this revolutionary technology, as part of their agenda to fundamentally transform the way we produce energy to support our livelihoods and living standards. They want to replace affordable, reliable hydrocarbons with expensive, unreliable, subsidized, crony-corporatist, environmentally damaging wind, solar and biofuel sources.
Equally important, the two candidates’ stance on local fracking vetoes represents a double standard that raises important public policy questions.
What if poor communities WANT fracking? What if a state restricts or bans fracking – but some towns (like those in New York’s Southern Tier, where Marcellus Shale deposits are located) don’t believe the anti-fracking disinformation and desperately need the jobs, revenues and improved living standards they see across the border in Pennsylvania, where fracking is permitted? Shouldn’t those communities be able to permit it, in defiance of the state ban? Will Trump and Clinton support THEIR self-determination?
Suppose those same communities don’t want any more 600-foot-tall wind turbines, but the state decrees they have no choice. The locals underscore the human health impacts, bird and bat slaughter, lost tourism and high electricity prices associated with wind power. They note that a few landowners will profit, while the rest receive no benefits, and many monstrous towers will not be removed when they stop working.
They point out that people could go to jail for possessing an eagle feather, but wind energy companies can kill thousands of eagles annually with no penalty. They note that politicians support turbines because they get hefty campaign contributions from Big Wind, in exchange for mandates, subsidies and big profits.
If those NY communities don’t want more (or any) wind turbines, shouldn’t the decision be up to them?
If West Virginians want coal mining, low-cost coal-based electricity and the good jobs that these industries provide – and reject Climate Hustle assertions that carbon-based energy causes weather and climate chaos – shouldn’t the decision to continue mining and burning coal be “up to them,” too?
If they are tired of thousands of lost jobs, local families and businesses driven into bankruptcy, housing markets devastated, people forced to go on welfare, churches and charities overwhelmed by pleas for food and counseling, schools and hospitals unable to remain open – because of EPA’s War on Coal – shouldn’t their state and local communities be “given control” over their lives and destinies?
Yet another conflagration is incinerating forests, wildlife and homes, and threatening the lives of residents and firefighters west of Hamilton, Montana. Like the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs a few years ago, and countless others in between, the Roaring Lion wildfire is largely due to radical environmentalists, politicians, bureaucrats and judges refusing to allow tree thinning in national forests. They know dry summers, high winds and beetle kills make disasters in and around these forests highly likely, but they refuse to revise their policies, and don’t seem to give one spotted owl hoot.
Shouldn’t those communities have the right to thin out trees and brush, create fire breaks and take other preventive measures, before additional homes, dreams and lives are lost to more uncontrollable infernos?
Hundreds of millions of acres have already been set aside as national parks, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas – made off-limits to any development. Other federal lands (in states where the federal government controls 30-89% of all the acreage) contain vast amounts of oil, gas, coal, metals, timber, water, grazing and other valuable resources. The Institute for Energy Research has calculated that US federal, state and private lands contain five times more oil than Saudi Arabia, 575 years worth of natural gas and 4,000 years of coal, at current consumption rates.
Developing just the fossil fuels on federal lands – in an environmentally sound fashion – could create millions of new jobs, increase US economic activity by $21 trillion, and generate $5.8 trillion in federal, state and local tax revenues over the next 37 years, the IER estimates.
If the majority of Americans want to develop these resources and create jobs and better futures for their children, shouldn’t that decision be up to them? Shouldn’t they be freed from the shackles of unelected, unaccountable Big Green and Big Government? Shouldn’t decisions about responsibly developing oil, gas, coal, gold and rare earth metals be primarily up to voters at large and individual states – with guidance and assistance (but not veto power) from federal authorities – especially when the bureaucrats are in improper and illegal collusion with radical environmentalist groups?
Why should California farm families and communities be sacrificed on the altar of a fishy evolutionary failure that barely escaped extinction – while bald and golden eagles are wiped out by wind turbines?
If the majority of Americans don’t want climate change agendas jammed down their throats – including carbon taxes and restrictions, habitat-eating biofuels, wind turbines, bird-roasting solar thermal plants, and huge solar farms that smother cropland and wildlife habitats under solar panels – shouldn’t the decisions be up to them, and not just to a few greenies, politicians, bureaucrats and judges?
Why must these decisions always amount to a one-way street, a ratchet that cranks ever tighter and more restrictive – always in favor of eco-purists and fanatics?
Indeed, on a host of issues, why should small numbers of activist politicians, campaigners and judges be able to dictate our lives, livelihoods, living standards, liberties, life spans and societal norms – and asset the “right” to bend or break our laws, constitution and science to impose their will?
With our economy growing at its worst rate out of a recession since 1949, and expanding at barely 1% a year in Obama’s last year, why should every state, community, business and family have to accept the lies and edicts handed down by intolerant, dictatorial Washington, Albany or Sacramento elites?
If local control is a good thing, and it generally is, why not have it across the board, or at least on most issues? On abortion, health insurance for nuns and transgender access to bathrooms, for instance?
Why, instead, is local control almost always ignored in favor of policies that serve progressive-leftist-environmentalist-Democrat ideologies and agendas? And why isn’t our national will implemented on immigration and sanctuary cities for illegal, criminal and terrorist immigrants?
These issues dominate this year’s election. Let’s remember that when we head to the polls.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.