Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign promise to entirely ban “fracking” may moisten the eyes of coastal liberals, but here in Pennsylvania, our eyes are rolling.
The “green” left spent more than a decade trying to turn fracking into a dirty word, and Pennsylvania was ground zero for this fight. They told us that if we allowed fracking to continue, we’d all be subsumed in earthquakes and our tap water would turn to flammable poison. But that hasn’t happened.
We allowed responsible, modern natural gas development to go forward, allowing Pennsylvanians to take advantage of some of the world’s greatest shale gas reserves. The result has been an incredible boon to our state and our country.
Fracking and the rest of the shale gas revolution saved Pennsylvania from the worst depths of the Great Recession. When our workers were hurting the most in 2008 and 2009, the shale fields eventually catapulted Pennsylvania back to prosperity by restoring the energy dominance that we enjoyed a century earlier.
Today, 106,000 Pennsylvanians have mostly well-paid, desirable jobs in the energy sector. That’s a big part of why our state has a 3.9% unemployment rate — a figure that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago — but it doesn’t tell the whole economic story. The industry also indirectly supports an additional 216,000 jobs in the state, and in 2015, contributed more than $44 billion to the state’s economy.
Meanwhile, America as a whole has become energy independent for the first time since we became dependent on imported oil from the Middle East in the 1960s. Americans can now affordably power and heat their homes in large part thanks to Pennsylvanian shale gas.
So how could anyone — let alone a U.S. senator with an eye on the White House — justify ending something that has created so many jobs in Pennsylvania?
Warren seems to be playing on the same exaggerated fears we heard about and dismissed here a decade ago because it pleases her base.
The earthquake stuff was blown way out of proportion, as was the famous “lighting tap water on fire” scene in that propaganda film Gasland. People in gas-rich parts of the country have previously contended with the possibility of flammable methane in their water, including those who live in the part of Colorado where the infamous footage was filmed.
Which brings us to climate change, which liberals also frequently invoke while making the case for stifling domestic energy production. What Warren and her ilk consistently fail to mention is that the cheap natural gas produced in Pennsylvania has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than any of the costly, pie-in-the-sky policies the Democrats are proposing. Burning natural gas produces far less carbon dioxide as a part of a diverse energy portfolio than coal, the industry that President Obama notoriously declared “war” on as part of his quixotic strategy to lower sea levels.
Warren’s promise to ban fracking does not seem to be based on a genuine belief that it would end climate change. It’s based on a cynical calculation that she has more to gain politically by indulging the whims of greenies than by ensuring the economic success of people in places such as Western Pennsylvania.
While that strategy might win her accolades from coastal liberal elitists, it won’t earn her any fans here in Pennsylvania. We know from direct experience that fracking has been an unmitigated boon for this state, and we have no use for Warren’s fearmongering.
Rose Tennent of Pennsylvania is on the advisory board for the Women for Trump Coalition and has been a prominent figure for 20 years as a syndicated conservative political talk show host.