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Democrats Embracing Shale Boom Ahead of Midterms

In the run-up to this fall’s midterm elections, Democrats seem to be stifling some of their green sensibilities and embracing the recent U.S. energy revolution. Fracking has completely transformed the American energy landscape in just a few short years, and environmentalists, a key component of the Democratic base, aren’t happy. As the WSJ reports, many on the left seem willing to weather the criticism of this increasingly out of touch interest group as they tout the numerous benefits of the shale boom:

The energy boom is shaping a new kind of Democrat in national politics, lawmakers who are giving greater support to the oil and gas industry even at the risk of alienating environmental groups, a core of the party’s base. The trend comes as oil-and-gas production moves beyond America’s traditionally energy-rich states, a development that also is increasing U.S. geopolitical influence abroad. [...]

It is a theme playing out ahead of November’s midterm elections, with some Democrats trying to balance environmental groups’ concerns about climate change and an industry they see as carrying economic benefits.

But politicians on either side of the aisle would be remiss if they saw economic growth and environmental stewardship as mutually exclusive pursuits. True, fracking has unlocked a new bounty of fossil fuels, and greens are quick to remind the public that neither oil nor gas is renewable, at least on a human time scale. But the natural gas being drilled out of shale across America is green. Shale gas is displacing coal as a baseload power source (a type of power production renewables cannot yet provide), and it emits roughly half the greenhouse gases that coal does. As a result, shale gas is actually helping the U.S. lower emissions.

Moreover, natural gas plants are cheaper to bring on- and offline, which makes them a perfect fit to complement wind and solar energy, typical green favorites (when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas plants can provide necessary power, and then have their output curtailed when the skies clear and turbines start spinning again).

Fracking is opening up new oil and gas plays all across the country, and Democrats who previously might have vocally criticized fossil fuel production are finding plenty of reasons to hop on the shale bandwagon. Stay tuned; this is a narrative to watch during this year’s midterms.

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  • Boritz

    (when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas plants can provide necessary power…”

    Or when the gerbils get tired of running on the treadmill.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    They’re just running scared because a difficult election looms. As soon as the electon is over the democrats will go back to normal and normal is doing whatever their green donor base wants.

    • Pete

      Exactly right. The Dims can’t be trusted to stay true to natural gas development. What they are doing now is just to get them elected. After that, they’ll be back to the kooky green agenda.

    • SineWaveII

      That’s pretty much their party platform. Pretend to move to the center and run as a republican and then govern from the left once elected.

  • Andrew Allison

    This suggests either that the Democrats are hearing from the voters that fracking is good, or that the wealth being created by the fracking industry is being redistributed as campaign contributions. I’m inclined to bet on the latter.

    • LarryD

      http://www.citywatchla.com/lead-stories-hidden/7304-california-politics-democrats-risk-blue-collar-rebellion

      But, at least here in California, much of the working class is made
      up of minorities, who are increasingly the economic victims of the
      enlightened ones. One place to see this is in Richmond in Northern
      California, where a Green Party mayor and a similarly aligned planning
      department have tried to block the refurbishing of Chevron’s large
      refinery there, which is also the economic bulwark of the area.

      The dispute over the refinery suggests divisions that may become more
      commonplace. Essentially, you have on one side overwhelmingly white, often very-affluent greens, allied
      with powerful Democratic politicians, arrayed to obstruct the refinery.
      On the other side, you have minorities, many of them union members,
      whose livelihoods and high-paying jobs depend on the refinery.

      The working class is getting restive.

  • Duperray

    In other words Dems politicians are Opportunists, nothing else. As politicians, their duty is to lead America development in the right direction, not to blindly promote their ideologically based mantas. All these persons shall give up politics (for having been wrong in the past, can they be trusted to be right in the future?) and replaced by other Dems, rather younger with uncontaminated mind.

    • Andrew Allison

      Most politicians of any stripe are opportunists, and the longer they are in office, the more determined to stay in office they become. The solution is term limits.

      • LoneStar78730

        Term limits have been proposed for decades and go nowhere – generally because (besides the determined opposition of the incumbents) the voters like their own Congresscritters.

        The REAL solution (and no more difficult)? Raise the minimum age limits – 50 for the House, 55 for the Senate, and 55 or 60 for the Presidency. Higher ages will term limit a lot more, and higher age limits will force some people to get actual jobs in the real world before they go into ‘public service’.

        • Andrew Allison

          I think lowering the maximum age (mandatory retirement) would be better. As I’ve written previously, the spectacle of octogenarians who’ve been in office for most of their lives is sickening.

  • windy2

    Dems will say anything to get elected and prevent loss of Senate control but once elected will put a bullseye on gas fracking just like they did coal and oil. Do you think Dems are going to fight against POTUS executive orders? If you fall for this pre election nonsense Bill Engvall has your sign.

    http://image.spreadshirt.com/image-server/v1/compositions/19285812/views/1,width=280,height=280,appearanceId=16.png/im-not-drunk-im-just-not-very-smart_design.png

  • rheddles

    except in the people’s republic of new york.

  • jim

    The main reason there’s a fracking industry is because about 10 years ago the natural gas companies bribed the Greenies, particularly the Sierra Club, to the tune of millions for their “War on Coal”. Instead of challenging every new drilling site in court, the Greens were busy modernizing their fund raising and getting nice carpets for their offices!

    When there’s drilling in New York State and on federal lands, then I’ll believe the Democrats are pushing the Greens to the side,

  • Diggsc

    Democrat are willing to crap all over the Greens come election time. Where else are the Greens going to go? They check under their beds every night for a Koch Brother or Big Oil boogeyman. The Dems learned a long time ago that neither Greens or Blacks will vote for anyone but a Democrat as long as they can keep the boogeymen alive in weak minds.

  • crocodilechuck

    Hmmmmm.. ” “Fracking is opening up new oil and gas plays all across the country” [snip]

    Read much?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-27/dream-of-u-s-oil-independence-slams-against-shale-costs.html

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