Echoing Obama, let’s have more fracking and faster – by Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail – June 14, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Something good is happening in the United States. All of a sudden, energy is getting much cheaper and cleaner. Dirty old coal-fired plants are shutting down because they no longer make economic sense. In fact, the U.S. appears to be the only major emitter that’s actually reducing emissions.

Since 2006, U.S. emissions have fallen by 7.7 per cent, according to the International Energy Agency – despite the absence of a global carbon treaty, or stiff new regulations, or a cap-and-trade regime. To be sure, the recession helped. But even when the economy comes back, greenhouse-gas emissions are set to fall even more.

You’d think that environmental groups would rejoice at this great news. Instead, they’ve gone to war. The main reason for the fall in greenhouse gasses is a new technology known as hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), which they claim is a menace to the planet. Fracking promises to unlock vast new reserves of shale gas, which emits roughly half as much CO2 as coal, and 30 per cent less than conventional oil. But environmentalists warn that fracking will poison the water, pollute the air and trigger earthquakes that will bring doom and destruction raining down on us all.

The fracking wars have broken out here, too. In Quebec, where opposition is most intense, fracking has been banned pending further studies. In New Brunswick, protest groups have marched on the legislature. Thomas Mulcair, the NDP Leader, hates fracking as intensely as he hates the oil sands. This week he accused the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers of “pulling a con job” because it says that fracking is safe.

To the chagrin of environmentalists, fracking’s biggest cheerleader is Barack Obama. He may have stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, but shale-gas development has replaced green energy as the heart of his energy policy. It’s easy to see why. This is rocket fuel for the economy. New gas and oil extraction is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, many of them in depressed states such as Pennsylvania. Cheap, abundant energy is revitalizing manufacturing. It’s also great news for consumers, who can look forward to lower hydro and heating bills. Best of all, the U.S. will become less dependent on nasty authoritarian petro-states.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/echoing-obama-lets-have-more-fracking-and-faster/article4257923/

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