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Smart Greens Change Tack on Fracking


Some of the environmental movement’s smarter members are ditching the knee-jerk, emotionally-wrought strategy to bash fracking as an evil phenomenon. The shale energy debate is extremely polarized, its middle ground deserted, but some notable “fracktivists” are crossing the green picket line. The AP reports:

In one northeastern Pennsylvania village that became a global flashpoint in the debate over fracking, the switch has raised more than a few eyebrows.

A few weeks ago, Victoria Switzer and other activists from Dimock endorsed a candidate for governor who supports natural gas production from gigantic reserves like the Marcellus Shale, albeit with more regulation and new taxes. Dimock was the centerpiece of “Gasland,” a documentary that galvanized opposition to fracking, and Switzer was also featured in this summer’s “Gasland Part II,” which aired on HBO.

“We had to work with the industry. There is no magic wand to make this go away,” said Switzer, who recently formed a group that seeks to work with drillers on improved air quality standards. “Tunnel vision isn’t good. Realism is good.”

This is what progress looks like. Yes, fracking can incur some environmental risks, but these risks are relatively small and can be managed with proper oversight and best practices; we’re already seeing the industry get safer as bigger players displace the first wave of wildcatters. And for a number of reasons, chief among them that it displaces dirty-burning coal, shale gas is fracking green.

There’s special symbolism in the fact that residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania—which featured so heavily in the anti-fracking polemic Gasland and its equally fallacious sequel Gasland: Part II—are acknowledging the shades of gray that exist in what many on both sides of the debate see as a black and white issue. Let’s hope the mainstream green movement follows Switzer’s lead.

[Oil rig image and plant image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Boritz

    Jumbo shrimp and military intelligence can’t be far behind.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The best ballerina in Galveston

  • Corlyss

    In policy circles this is what we call the “fatal embrace.” One should always be concerned when the bitterest enemies of a policy suddenly convert or, as VM calls it, changes its “tack.” More like changes its tactic. The fatal embracers become stakeholders, who ostensibly agree with the overall goal, but delay, obfuscate, and regulate the policy to the point that it is de facto destruction of the policy and the goal. The overall goal is never achieved.

  • Jeff Jones

    These people will not be able to convince the far lefties in the environmental groups. WRM still seems to think it is about the environment with those people. It never was. They hate capitalism and big business.

    If they cared one whit about the environment, they would have cheered the US’ nearly 18% reduction in carbon emissions, largely due to natural gas. Instead, they have left all environmental summits in the last few years all pissed off that they didn’t realize their dream of redistributing our wealth through ridiculous carbon trading scams.

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