O'Reilly: The case against fracking is cracking

Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site on Jan. 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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William F. B. O'Reilly Portrait of Newsday/amNY columnist Bill O'Reilly (March 28,

O’Reilly is a Republican consultant who is working on the Rob Astorino campaign for governor. ...

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"From my opinion and from what I've seen . . . I believe hydraulic fracking is, in fact, safe. We know that, from everything we've seen, there's not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone."

What right-wing, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal uttered that inanity?

Why none other than former Obama Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who also served as a Democratic U.S. senator and a Democratic attorney general of Colorado.

How about this one?

"America is closer to energy independence than we've been in decades. One of the reasons why is natural gas, if extracted safely, it's the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change."

Why, that was President Obama himself. He said it during his recent State of the Union speech. In a fact sheet distributed along with the speech, the president even called on Congress to establish "sustainable shale gas growth zones."

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Last one: "Thirty states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency have all deemed , on balance, to be safe, and in particular to pose no significant threat to the drinking water supply. And New York's own Department of Environmental Conservation also, by all accounts, produced its own study which would have green-lighted the process."

That was former New York State Democratic Party co-chairman John Sullivan in a Jan. 14 opinion piece. "Upward of 200,000 jobs could be created (many directly in fracking, more in related industries), substantially boosting Upstate's sagging economy," the former mayor of upstate Oswego continued. "Billions of dollars in new tax revenue and other benefits, including reduced energy costs, hang in the balance."

These remarks suggest, at a minimum, three possibilities: 1. Obama, Salazar and Sullivan inexplicably want to foul U.S. drinking water. 2. Obama, Salazar and Sullivan are in the pocket of the natural gas industry and dont care about the environment, or 3. there are leading Democrats, who have determined that hydrofracking is, indeed, environmentally safe when done properly. Option three seems most plausible to this New Yorker.

But if liberal politicians including the president are okay with hydrofracking, why are New Yorkers approximately split in poll after poll on whether to allow natural gas extraction in a state sitting atop a large swath of the Marcellus Shale Formation? Wouldn't New Yorkers, who face an unemployment rate higher than the national average and the second-highest electric bills in America, want to release clean energy and wealth from the ground? Wouldn't post 9-11 New Yorkers, of all people, want to achieve energy independence and end America's reliance on middle eastern oil?

One would think so. But the public scare campaign waged by the environmental activist left has been extraordinarily effective. It has convinced many New Yorkers that fracking will poison their children or set tap water afire. It has convinced others, almost certainly, to keep their mouths shut and to nod approvingly when the barroom conversation turns to the latest Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon or Lady Gaga diatribe against hydrofracking. I think hydrofracking is a Godsend, yet even I feel guarded saying that in polite company for this very reason. No one, including elected political leaders, wants to sound ignorant and uncaring where drinking water is concerned.

Meanwhile, states that are allowing fracking, like North Dakota and Pennsylvania, are enjoying booming energy industry job growth, lower natural gas prices . . . and clean water.

My eldest daughter returned from school recently boasting how progressive the French are for deriving 75 percent of their energy needs from nuclear power. The notoriously liberal French, evidently, were one of the few nations able to resist the anti-nuclear hysteria of 1970s.

Will New Yorkers be able to do the same today?

William F. B. O'Reilly is a columnist and a Republican political consultant.

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