Editorial: Phony ‘Safety’ Fears Cripple U.S. Oil

Posted 05/09/2011 06:55 PM ET
IBD Editorials

Regulation: The Energy Department wants to find ways to make hydraulic fracturing, a fast-growing method of extracting natural gas, safer and cleaner. Say, isn’t that how the administration justified its offshore drilling ban?

We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you drill safely. That was the canard thrown out by President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when they announced the ban on offshore drilling following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill.

Since then the drilling industry in the Gulf of Mexico has collapsed and output has dropped. Although the ban was ostensibly lifted, it has been replaced by a new permit system that is so slow that rigs have left the Gulf for foreign shores. At least one drilling company has filed for bankruptcy.

The safety mantra was raised once again last Thursday when Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the appointment of a seven-member panel to study hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” and come up with new safety standards that address concerns raised by environmentalists.

The process involves the injection under high pressure of fluids, mainly water with a few chemicals added, to fracture the porous shale rock found in huge formations in the northeast and Rocky Mountain West and get at the oil and gas trapped inside the porous rock.

Environmentalists contend these chemical additives contaminate ground water supplies.

“America’s vast natural gas resources can generate many new jobs and provide significant environmental benefits,” Chu said. “But we need to ensure we harness these resources safely.” It was a similar “but” that led the Obama administration to impose a seven-year ban on offshore drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, off both coasts and in the energy-rich Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska.

The new panel includes such friends of domestic energy as Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and an aide to Al Gore when he was a senator, and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

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It was a similar panel created by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the Deepwater Horizon blowout that led to the current moratoria on off shore drilling.

But so committed is this administration in its opposition to fossil fuel extraction, except in Brazil, that it had to doctor that panel’s evaluations to make it seem they endorsed the drilling ban when they did not.

The administration was even found in contempt of court for trying to reinstate its moratorium after a judge issued an injunction on the grounds that the moratorium was too broad in its scope and totally unjustified based on the available evidence.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman argued Salazar’s original Gulf drilling moratorium was based on flawed reasoning.

“If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?” Feldman asked. “That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing.”

We think so too.

We believe the safety issue is a cover for the Obama administration’s ideologically driven animus toward fossil fuels and its deliberate campaign to raise energy prices — and thereby to make its favored “green” alternatives look more competitive and attractive.

Original Article

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Natural Gas, Oil & Gas - inland, Regulation, Shale Gas, Shale Oil, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Editorial: Phony ‘Safety’ Fears Cripple U.S. Oil.

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