While everyone was foaming at the mouth over impeachment, the Democrats held another primary debate. Odd timing, because I don’t think many people were paying attention. Perhaps they didn’t want a large viewership? I couldn’t possibly imagine why.
This will really go over in those swing states…
This increased insanity that infects any rational discussion of the fossil fuel industry and how it pertains to climate change and the environment really needs to be addressed by people who know a little bit about the topic. While I’m not an engineer or a chemist, I have spent a significant amount of time around oil and gas production work in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. I have also been around some fracking operations in Oklahoma and Wyoming. I feel comfortable saying that I have a better understanding than some Bernie bro in New York City.
I saw first hand what this industry can do for a local and regional economy. Towns that were dying were revitalized. Hotels, restaurants, and stores popped up out of nowhere. I’ve heard the anti-drilling crowd talk about how these oilfield jobs come and go, which is partially true, but completely ignores the other jobs that come as a result. This is capitalism at its finest. Yes, those big evil gas companies get richer, but everyone else wins as a result.
Another thing I’ve noticed from experience is that the environmental impact of drilling and fracking is overblown. Sure, things can happen and have happened. An argument I’ve heard from the anti-fossil fuels crowd is that the air quality near these sites is very poor. This ignores the obvious: these sites are like any construction site. It has nothing to do with the idea that the sites are producing fossil fuels, but simply that heavy machinery is being used. This point is made very vaguely in order to make people draw an association from air pollution to oil and gas development. The facts here aren’t completely wrong, but are delivered in a way that is dishonest.
Big oil and gas companies know that their actions are under the microscope. When you’re operating in rural areas with small towns, people know what is going on in their communities. When something happens, word spreads fast. Having worked around this industry, gas companies are very proactive when dealing with any issues pertaining to safety, the environment, and being a good neighbor. They have to. It’s not like they can just get away with everything as some people seem to think.
No industry is perfect. Things can happen in oil and gas development that can be detrimental to the environment. However, it is obvious to me that the pros outweigh the cons, and by a large margin. Fracking transforms dying communities and stimulates local economies. Environmental risks can honestly be mitigated relatively easily.
This fear mongering has very little basis in reality and most of the people who spout these talking points have never developed anything in their life. It’s easy to say ban something from a cozy, urban bubble hundreds of miles from a fracking site. It’s easy to brush aside all the positive economic growth, all the lives transformed because it doesn’t affect them personally. Plus, how come leftists are so quick to demand the shutdown of fracking in the United States but apply far less scrutiny to other nations? Drilling in the U.S. can be done in a safe, respectful manner with plenty of oversight. The fear mongering over fracking is largely due to pure ignorance.
These industries are important for many reasons. For example, natural gas development has helped the United States lower its carbon emissions. They also pose less destructive environmental risk than off-shore drilling sites, which is a plus seeing as how disastrous oil spills can be.
Ignorance is key here, and the odds are that anti-fracking messages based purely on emotion will continue to be espoused from leftist strongholds. When people talk of a complete overhaul of the economy and job market to “save the world”, think about their motivation. We can have our cake and eat it too, don’t let anyone tell you that we can’t.