August 13, 2014

CHANGE: 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. . . .

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.

At least for the next few months.