Green complaints about fracking reached a fever pitch over the past year, but Pennsylvania apparently wasn’t listening to them. The Wall Street Journal reports that the state legislature passed a bill on Wednesday that will make state laws more favorable to fracking, culminating a debate that has been raging ever since massive quantities of shale gas were discovered in the state in 2008.
The vote was close, and fell roughly along party lines. Republicans supported the bill because it promises cheaper energy and job creation in an economically depressed state; Democrats opposed it because of the potential for environmental damage and safety hazards.
Don’t doubt for a minute that legislators in other states in the region—many of which may also have shale gas deposits—are reading the tea leaves in this bill’s passage. The industrial states of the Rust Belt desperately need jobs, and judging by the rapid recovery of energy-rich states like North Dakota and Texas, fracking is beginning to look like their best bet for getting them. The historically warm relationship between the greens and local Democrats could grow downright chilly.
And the Big Chill may come sooner rather than later. With election season drawing near, the Rust Belt and its abundance of swing states will increasingly become the central battlefield of Red vs. Blue—and brown vs. green. With brown jobs fueling the recovery while green jobs founder, Dems should brace for a GOP onslaught.