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Policy: Environment & Energy

Examiner Editorial: EPA officially backs fracking, then uses tax dollars to oppose it

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Opinion,Editorial,Climate Change,EPA,Energy and Environment,Coal,Global Warming,Natural Gas,Washington Examiner

Seeking to explain an apparently puzzling policy move, President Reagan once quipped that “sometimes the administration's right hand doesn't know what its far right hand is doing.” President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has a left hand and a far left hand -- and they're working in concert. The EPA's left hand is its swollen ranks of career bureaucrats and political appointees - many of whom are alums of Big Green environmental groups. The agency's far left hand is the Big Green shock troops who operate in part by using tax dollars granted to them by EPA.

Ideological conformity doesn't always insure consistency, as is illustrated in the EPA's actions regarding carbon emissions and energy industry fracking of oil and natural gas. As documented Friday in the Morning Examiner, EPA's just-proposed carbon emissions reduction rule depends on natural gas prices remaining low enough to undercut coal. This is because natural gas produces significantly lower carbon emissions than coal. The 30 percent carbon emissions reduction sought by EPA can't be achieved as long as power plants continue to use coal, so keeping natural gas prices low is essential.

Three-fourths of the natural gas produced in this country comes from shale formations made accessible by fracking.

So why is the EPA funding radical Big Green groups that are actively working day and night to stop fracking? Three-fourths of the natural gas produced in this country comes from shale formations made accessible by fracking. Keeping natural gas prices down in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, requires increasing American exports of natural gas, especially to Europe. But the EPA regularly sends tax dollars to groups fighting fracking and the exports.

As Washington Examiner columnist Ron Arnold reported a year ago, the EPA has given at least $168,000 in grants to the Louisiana chapter of the Bucket Brigades. The BBs are so named for their PR stunt of using a five-gallon bucket, plastic bag and pump to take “scientific” air- quality samples that allegedly show environmental damage caused by fracking. Similarly, a Daily Caller report from 2012 dug up another $219,000 in EPA grants to the Louisiana BBs.

That the EPA is handing out such tax-funded grants shouldn't surprise anybody, considering the revolving door that continually swings between the agency and Big Green environmental groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, is a fertile recruiting ground for top EPA posts, according to E&E News: “It would be hard to find a group with more connections in state or federal agencies than NRDC, and staffers move frequently between the organization and the public sector.” Among the EPA's NRDC alums are acting assistant administrator for water Nancy Stoner and former EPA policy office staffer Michael Goo. The “Don't Get Fracked!” page on NRDC's web site makes its position clear.

The Regulatory Impact Analysis issued by EPA concerning its new carbon rule repeatedly cites the advantages of natural gas over coal, noting that the latter produces 1.7 times more carbon emissions than the former. So why is EPA funding anti-fracking groups whose actions will drive gas prices higher?

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