Policy: Environment & Energy

Anti-fracking/Keystone groups make desperate 'cancer' claims to push agenda

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Colorado,Ashe Schow,Keystone XL,Energy and Environment,Fracking,Oil Sands,John Podesta

Did you know that hydraulic fracking and the oil sands that would be transported by the Keystone XL pipeline cause cancer?

It makes sense: Environmentalists don’t like fracking or the Keystone XL, therefore, they cause cancer, right?

Well, actually, no.

It turns out that despite Dr. John O'Connor's decade-old claim that his town of Fort Chipewyan in Canada had absurdly high cancer rates due to oil sands, the facts tell a different story.

A report from Alberta's chief provincial medical officer found that cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan were absolutely normal. Three types of cancer had a few more cases than expected, but none of those cancers are linked to environmental pollutants.

This kind of hysteria surrounding energy production should sound familiar, as “documentary” filmmaker Josh Fox used patently false “science” to push myths about fracking in America.

An even more eerie coincidence, a study claiming that fracking caused cancer rates to increase that was pushed by Colorado anti-fracking activists was discredited as well.

If the anti-energy crowd were winning the argument, they wouldn’t have to resort to inflammatory and demonstrably false accusations to push their agenda.

And we know they're losing the argument because every major poll says so. A Washington Post poll from March 7 showed that Americans support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by a nearly 3 to 1 margin. A Pew Research Center poll found that even 49 percent of Democrats support the pipeline, as opposed to 38 percent who are opposed.

On fracking, a Robert Morris University poll found that 56.4 percent of people with an opinion about the natural gas extraction procedure approved of it, compared to 43.6 percent that oppose it. In Colorado, the bellwether state in the debate over fracking, a majority supports the practice.

Even the Obama administration is against environmentalists when it comes to energy production, as White House adviser John Podesta said that calls for for ending fossil fuels outright are “impractical.”

More abstractly, Americans care more about the availability and affordability of energy than they do global warming, further demonstrating that environmentalists are on the wrong side of the debate.

Steve Everley, spokesman for Energy in Depth, a pro-energy group funded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the cancer claims show “desperation.”

“Defeat lends itself to desperation, so these groups have essentially become political activists, and they’re increasingly using inflammatory talking points and divisive language to try to scare the public,” Everley said. “It’s a last-ditch effort to remain relevant.”

With polls continuing to show that Americans support fracking and the Keystone pipeline, expect environmentalists to continue escalating their attacks. Today it’s cancer, tomorrow, who knows? Poverty? Death? Long lines at Starbucks?

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