Oh, no. No, no, no. I take it all back.
Last weekend, I wondered whether the Obama administration might finally be honestly getting on board with natural gas, seeing as how the EPA has been dropping their cases against private natural gas companies in various states, and that their new set of greenhouse-gas regulations are designed to kill off traditional coal and boost up natural gas. (And, of course, there's the tiny little fact that environmentalists have never been able to prove that fracking causes the many ills they attribute to it -- and it sure ain't for lack of trying, either.)
But, sadly, I was wrong. So wrong. 'Cause that would've been just too darn easy:
President Obama signed an executive order Friday establishing a high-level task force charged with coordinating federal oversight of domestic natural gas development.
The task force is charged with ensuring that rapidly growing efforts to tap vast natural gas supplies in the country’s shale formations, which require advanced drilling techniques including “fracking,” are “safe and responsible.”
The order seeks to find a balance between encouraging expanded domestic natural gas development, a position Obama has touted in a series of speeches in recent months, and ensuring that the administration protects the public.
“[I]t is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised,” the order says.
The Obama administration is taking new steps to increase federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling method that has helped usher in a natural gas boom but brought with it environmental concerns.
The Environmental Protection Agency is slated to unveil final oil-and-gas air pollution regulations next week that would cut smog-forming and toxic emissions from wells developed with fracking. Separately, the Interior Department will soon float rules for fracking on public lands.
It must be the optimist in me, but I thought that maybe, just this once, the Obama administration might actually do something mildly intelligent in their energy policy and just leave natural gas be. The industry has enormous potential, and is successfully growing just fine on its own -- no government assistance necessary. But I underestimated the environmental lobby's capricious influence over government policy, and now the Obama administration is trying to have their cake and eat it, too. In a nutshell: "Suuure, natural gas is cool, so we'll allow it and tout how we're working to grow America's energy sector. Buuut, just to be safe, we're going to extensively regulate and oversee its development, to quell the greenies' rage." It's a conniving bit of strategery and, I might add, completely unapproved by Congress. But when has that pesky ol' legislative branch ever deterred Obama from using his divine right -- er, I mean -- executive fiat?
To my mind, the camel's back is officially broken. Again and again, the Obama administration had denied the American people the wealth and opportunities that would come from taking fuller advantage of our own resources, because environmentalists will never be happy with any form of energy that doesn't feel clean (a.k.a, wind and solar). Regulations and oversight throw bureaucracy into the economic mix and, in this case, will only serve to waste resources, retard growth, and gum up the business works, since fracking does not pose the foul threat to public health and environmental safety the greenies claim it does. Oh, natural gas. Ya' could've been a contender.