Responsible energy production would seem to have an obvious positive roadmap; have energy companies include environmental groups in guiding pollution standards and participating in studies about natural gas extraction.
But for entrenched constituencies, that is unacceptable.
Hydraulic fracturing - fracking - has been around since the 1940s, it's actually far safer today than it was in the past, but it has replaced nuclear power as ground zero in the anti-science culture war and now various groups claim it causes ill health, cancer and even that it may cause the earth to deflate. Fracking is a lot more popular than in the past, and that can lead to more things that can go wrong, but making the precautionary principle a trump card in all business means we can't drive cars or plug in a toaster. Some common sense is warranted.
Toward that end, the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, based in Pittsburgh, was created. It is a coalition of energy companies and environmental groups designed to draft and support standards that will protect air and water from pollution in the Appalachian region. That's win-win. Pennsylvania was the first state to embrace oil when it was new (thanks for not sticking us with a Whale Oil future, Titusville) so it is fitting they embrace modern natural gas - it is cleaner than coal, it has kept energy costs down even while the population and income goes up, and these are union jobs in a union state.
The Center would like to be even more inclusive but a number of environmental groups are not having it.
Why would they not want to help? An obvious reason would be that compromise and being part of the solution is a direct threat to the fundraising of extremist groups like Sierra Club, which stays in business portraying energy as evil and who must bounce from cause to cause as once-lauded ideas are vilified (see ethanol, which was never a good idea to anyone but environmentalists) after being adopted. Natural gas was once promoted by environmental groups as well.
Green lipstick on a pig?
The environmental groups critical of this industry-environmental initiative say it's because the 15 standards drafted by The Center are voluntary and corporations will ignore them. These people have never sat in an actual corporate boardroom so they think all people in business are some variation of Scrooge McDuck, cackling while they sit on a pile of money and smoke cigars. The wave of 'green' initiatives in America in the business sector before the economic collapse were done by corporations populated by people who care about the environment, not because the government made them do it. Likewise, this initiative was done by moderates who see a lot of common ground in a health standard that isn't simply an excuse to promote anti-science and anti-business beliefs.
Obviously, there are extremists on both sides. Some regard any additional compromise as unnecessary because state and federal standards are already strict - they believe the companies in the center are just caving in to 'eco-nuts' who will never be satisfied anyway. If not overt hostility like that, the majority view is still cautionary. As Kevin Begos of Associated Press notes, the fact that 4 of the largest 10 companies in Pennsylvania have joined the initiative means 6 have not.
Forget Science, Fracking Must Go
- Environmental Scientists Make The Environmental Case For Fracking
- Californians Worry About Extreme Genetic Engineering
- New York City Voters Just Fine With Fracking- In Pennsylvania
- Can You Be Pro-Science And Pro-Environment In 2012?
- Conflict Of Interest: Anti-Fracking Study Authors Didn't Disclose Financial Ties To Environmental Group