New report: You can all calm down about fracking and earthquakes

For some peculiar and irrational reason, the environmental lobby has perpetuated a particularly fierce campaign against hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, the practice of using high-pressure injections of water, chemicals and sand to extract natural gas from underground. Greenies seem to take umbrage with anything that even apparently violates our ancient Mother Earth, but fracking has been around for decades and natural gas is a cheap, abundant, and relatively clean form of energy that fits well in our infrastructure — even the EPA admits that “natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future.”

The natural gas jobs-and-investment scene is going gangbusters, but despite the boon to our economy and energy portfolio, environmentalists just can’t abide forms of energy that a) make money, and b) provide affordable energy to the masses. They’ve got all sorts of projects going to shoot the whole industry down.

The battle plan is called “Beyond Natural Gas,” and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune announced the goal in an interview with the National Journal this month: “We’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can.” The big green lobbying machine has rolled out a new website that says “The natural gas industry is dirty, dangerous and running amok” and that “The closer we look at natural gas, the dirtier it appears; and the less of it we burn, the better off we will be.” So the goal is to shut the industry down, not merely to impose higher safety standards.

This is no idle threat. The Sierra Club has deep pockets funded by liberal foundations and knows how to work the media and politicians. The lobby helped to block new nuclear plants for more than 30 years, it has kept much of the U.S. off-limits to oil drilling, and its “Beyond Coal” campaign has all but shut down new coal plants. One of its priorities now will be to make shale gas drilling anathema within the Democratic Party. …

The federal Energy Information Administration reports that in 2009 “the 4% drop in the carbon intensity of the electric power sector, the largest in recent times, reflects a large increase in the use of lower-carbon natural gas because of an almost 50% decline in its price.” The Department of Energy reports that natural gas electric plants produce 45% less carbon than coal plants, though newer coal plants are much cleaner.

I know — go figure. Part of the environmentalists’ main argument against natural gas is that fracking causes a whole host of ills, from contaminating groundwater to causing earthquakes. Well, that contaminating-groundwater thing turned out to be a bust, and now there’s a new study out that oh-so-cautiously reports that, actually, fracking is not causing horrible humanity-ending tremors within the earth’s crust.

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas does not pose a high risk for triggering earthquakes large enough to feel, but other types of energy-related drilling can make the ground noticeably shake, a major government science report concludes.

Even those man-made tremors large enough to be an issue are very rare, says a special report by the National Research Council. In more than 90 years of monitoring, human activity has been shown to trigger only 154 quakes, most of them moderate or small, and only 60 of them in the United States. That’s compared to a global average of about 14,450 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater every year, said the report, released Friday.

The state of New York was under such an advanced state of environmentalist-influence that they went so far as to enact a fracking-moratorium pending further review. With the evidence decrying the hydraulic fracturing quickly wearing thin, however, Gov. Cuomo is considering allowing the practice in selective areas — a proposal that could never be considered without outrageous outrage from those greenie-types, of course.