Human Events Blog

The EPA pulls back on fracking, but the Vice President thinks it causes earthquakes

 

On CNBC Monday morning, Mad Money host Jim Cramer appeared on Larry Kudlow’s show to wonder if recent retreats on some of its more extreme actions mean we could be seeing the beginning of a “less adversarial, more thoughtful EPA.”

Cramer salutes the EPA for taking a few baby steps away from letting “ideology interfere with rational thinking” in the matter of fracking.  The Wall Street Journal offers some more details on the situation:

The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped its claim that an energy company contaminated drinking water in Texas, the third time in recent months that the agency has backtracked on high-profile local allegations linking natural-gas drilling and water pollution.

On Friday, the agency told a federal judge it withdrew an administrative order that alleged Range Resources Corp. had polluted water wells in a rural Texas county west of Fort Worth. Under an agreement filed in U.S. court in Dallas, the EPA will also drop the lawsuit it filed in January 2011 against Range, and Range will end its appeal of the administrative order.

In addition to dropping the case in Texas, the EPA has agreed to substantial retesting of water in Wyoming after its methods were questioned. And in Pennsylvania, it has angered state officials by conducting its own analysis of well water—only to confirm the state’s finding that water once tainted by gas was safe.

Taken together, some experts say, these misfires could hurt the agency’s credibility at a time when federal and state regulators seek ways to ensure that natural-gas drilling is done safely.

Part of the extremist ideology Cramer spoke of is the core assumption of radical environmentalism: all industry is guilty until proven innocent, and the burden of proof rests heavily upon industry.  Only the most aloof, unaccountable, heavily concentrated federal power is suited for conducting these prosecutions.

This subverts both the American understanding of limited government and the scientific method, but it’s justified by the argument that no margin of error can be permitted, because the fate of the Earth is at stake.  In the Range case, the EPA arrogantly bypassed the relevant state agency, the Texas Railroad Commission, because it had “failed to address an ‘imminent and substantial endangerment’ to public health,” according to the Journal.  The agency in question had determined that gas was seeping into the aquifer from a natural pocket nearby, which had apparently contaminated local wells long before the fracking operation began. 

The Texas Railroad Commission ended up accusing the EPA of “fear mongering, gross negligence, and severe mishandling” of the situation, and demanded the sacking of the regional administrator for the Texas area.  They haven’t gotten their scalp yet, but the EPA fallback vindicates both their original work and their complaint against the Obama Administration.

You can see this “guilty until proven innocent, and maybe not even then” ideology expressed in its most concentrated form by looking at the “global warming” scam, which for decades was based on the notion that an entirely hypothetical (and, as it turns out non-existent) problem was so incredibly severe that the most draconian “solutions” had to be imposed immediately, at a staggering cost in money and liberty.  No debate could be permitted – not even the most basic application of the scientific method, which involves testing hypotheses against verifiable data – because the slightest delay could spell doom.

The EPA’s fracking fallback is widely seen as a political “defeat,” but it’s a victory for science, reason, and sound economics.  The agency stated that its settlement with Range Resources would allow it to shift “focus in this particular case away from litigation and toward a joint effort on the science and safety of energy extraction.”  Sounds great!  Isn’t that what they should have been doing all along?

Jim Cramer might have been a bit premature in hailing this as the beginning of a new age of reason in the Obama Administration.  The day after Cramer appeared on Kudlow, Vice President Joe Biden rolled into a campaign stop in Virginia to explain that fracking causes earthquakes.  The Washington Times reports on this latest regression to primitive superstition by the most anti-business Administration in living memory:

“We know we can get [natural gas and oil], but we have to do it environmentally soundly. There’s a thing called fracking. They’ve got to go crack the rock in order to get it out. You can environmentally do that well or you can environmentally do that poorly,” the vice president said.

“If you do it poorly, you use up the water aquifer. You can create, in some cases the argument is, earthquakes,” he concluded.

Mr. Biden was referring to a string of minor tremors over the past year in the Youngstown, Ohio, area, including a 4.0 quake that shook the city on New Year’s Eve.

But state officials have confirmed that the temblors were the result of a wastewater-disposal well, not fracking itself. Some drilling firms dispose of the millions of gallons of water needed to frack a well by simply pumping it back into the earth. Others opt for the more expensive method of treating the water and reusing it.

Doubtless the media will invoke The Biden Exemption, and tastefully avoid mentioning this latest outburst by the Vice President, or wave it off as a harmlessly amusing example of comical stupidity.  “That’s just Joe being Joe!” they’ll say. 

Well, this man is the Vice President of the United States, and he made these remarks while campaigning for the re-election of the man who placed him in the office.  His Administration already has a track record of imposing immense costs and economic damage upon American citizens, in the name of junk science, as part of the quest to accumulate centralized power.  There is no reason voters should be willing to dismiss him as a highly-paid court jester, a luxurious indulgence by the diamond-studded royal court of the most bankrupt government in history.  The Obama EPA has a long way to go before it proves Biden is more of a jester than a mascot.

 

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