The Times West Virginian

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October 15, 2013

Cooperation on fracking offers model for Washington

Some opponents of and proponents for fracking are putting aside their differences and working together to accomplish mutual objectives.

The Associated Press reported that opponents of drilling in Pennsylvania have joined forces with the industry to work on improved air-quality standards.

“Tunnel vision isn’t good,” said Victoria Switzer, a noted Pennsylvania activist in the fight against fracking. “Realism is good.”

Certainly, the fight against fracking is not positive to anyone. Hydraulic fracturing is a process used by gas and oil drillers that pumps fracking fluid — mostly water with some chemicals and sand — deep into shale formations to fracture the rock and allow for oil and gas to be extracted, where it ultimately is used as a home heating and industrial fuel.

The development of this process more than a dozen years ago has stimulated the drilling industry, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Huge reserves of natural gas that were once thought untappable are now economically retrievable, reviving both the energy and manufacturing industries in the United States.

It only makes sense. Americans aren’t using any less energy every year and that energy needs to be produced somewhere. Many concerned about the environment point to renewable sources as an alternative. Yet reliable projections show that renewables cannot realistically or economically provide a significant amount America’s energy mix.

The fracking boom allows natural gas and oil to be produced here in the United States instead of imported from half a world away. That means the dollars paid are spent in America, spent on American labor, with royalties going to landowners here.

Sure, there is a cost of this fracking boom. That’s what caused former fracking opponent Switzer to co-found an organization — Breathe Easy Susquehanna County — that seeks to persuade companies to use advanced technologies to limit emissions. The group has won plaudits for its non-confrontation style, the AP reported.

“You have to sit down and not be the enemy,” Switzer said.

Another collaborative group representing diverse interests is the Center for Sustainable Development. Their work shows that former opponents can come together and work toward mutual goals.

 Perhaps those former adversaries can take a field trip to Washington D.C. and give a primer to the president and leaders of each house of Congress.

— Charleston Daily Mail

This editorial does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Times West Virginian editorial board.

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