Whether reporting for ABC or FOX News, reporter John Stossel has been cutting for years through all kinds of slime. He does it here as well, on a number of issues related to natural gas development in the U.S.:
Frack to the future
By John Stossel
Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Celebrities are now upset about fracking, the injection of chemicals into the ground to crack rocks to release oil and gas. With everyone saying they want alternatives to foreign oil, I’d think celebrities would love fracking.
I’d be wrong. Lady Gaga, Yoko Ono and their group, Artists Against Fracking, don’t feel the love.
Stopping fracking is the latest cause of the silly people. They succeeded in getting scientifically ignorant politicians to ban fracking in New York, Maryland and Vermont.
Hollywood gave an Oscar to “Gasland,” a documentary that suggests fracking will pump gas into some people’s drinking water so that the water will burn.
But another documentary, “FrackNation,” shows that gas got into plumbing long before fracking came. There’s gas in the ground. That’s why it’s called “natural gas.” Some gets into well water. Environmental officials investigated the flames shown in “Gasland” and concluded that the pollution had nothing to do with fracking.
Even some homeowners who filed a lawsuit claiming that their water was poisoned by fracking weren’t happy to learn that their water is safe. I’d think they would be delighted, but “FrackNation” shows a couple reacting with outrage when environmental officials test their water and find it clean.
The real story on fracking, say scientists, is that the risks are small and the rewards immense. Fracking lowered the price of natural gas so much that Americans heat their homes for less, and manufacturing that once left America has returned.
Still, the process sounds dangerous. It requires chemicals and explosions. So fracking is now scapegoated for the usual litany of things that peasants feared when threatened with curses centuries ago: livestock dying, bad crop yields, children born with deformities.
None of it is supported by scientific evidence. Even environmentalists who usually are too cautious (by my standards) see little danger. President Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, told Congress that the EPA cannot show “that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Time and again, as humans make a good-faith effort to find new, cleaner ways to produce the energy a growing population needs, environmentalists find a reason — often very small or nonexistent — that makes the new method unacceptable.
Some won’t be happy unless we go back to what we did before industrialization: burn lots of trees and die young.
Nothing is completely risk-free. Companies make mistakes. Chemical spills happen.
But those risks are manageable. They are also far preferable to the risk of paying more for energy — thereby killing opportunities for the poor.
So far, most regulators outside New York, Maryland and Vermont have ignored the silly people. So thanks to fracking, Americans pay less for heat (and everything else), the economy is helped, new jobs are created, we create less greenhouse gas, and for the first time since the 19th century, America may become a net exporter of energy.
Good things happen if the silly people can’t convince all politicians to ban progress.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He’s the author of “No They Can’t: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed.”