Obama’s Interior Secretary Says Fracking Bans are ‘Wrong Way to Go’

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has offered a sharp rebuke for local, regional and statewide bans on hydraulic fracturing in comments made to Northern California NPR affiliate KQED. Citing the regulatory confusion created by a patchwork of local and regional bans and her belief that fears associated with hydraulic fracturing are not founded in “sound science,” Jewell was very clear in where she stands on the issue:

 “I would say that is the wrong way to go,” Jewell told KQED in an exclusive interview.

Jewell, who has previously stated that hydraulic fracturing “has been done safely for decades,” also specifically addressed New York’s recent permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing. Citing misinformation and a lack of understanding of the science behind the process, Jewell did not mince words on where she stands on the state’s course of action:

“There is a lot of misinformation about fracking,” Jewell told KQED of New York’s decision last month to ban fracking. “I think that localized efforts or statewide efforts in many cases don’t understand the science behind it, and I think there needs to be more science.”

As Energy In Depth has previously reported, New York’s decision, based upon a report by the state’s Department of Health (DOH), included numerous studies that have been discredited or shown to have been reliant on faulty research methods. In fact, one study cited by the DOH was even publicly disavowed by Colorado health officials who stated that the public “could easily be misled” by the research team’s work.

As a top land use regulator, Jewell’s comments quickly raised the ire of “ban fracking” activists who pounced on the interview. Also quoted in the story is Kassie Siegel from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) who called Jewell’s comments “troubling,” and offered a sharp criticism of the Interior Scretary’s approach:

“It’s insulting, and quite simply wrong.”

The CBD is a fringe “ban fracking” activist organization that has built a reputation for deploying scare tactics and misinformation in their efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing. Siegel’s comments are well in line with the CBD’s previous attempts at scaring and misleading the public which are well documented. In fact, Kierán Suckling, the group’s executive director has even boasted that science has little to do with their efforts:

“I’m more interested in hiring philosophers, linguists and poets. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. It’s campaigning instinct. That’s not only not taught in the universities, it’s discouraged.”

The purely-political approach of the CBD comes in sharp contrast to Jewell’s call for a reliance on “sound science.” Perhaps that is why even other environmentalists are disturbed by the CBD’s tactics. In a 2011 column titled “Extreme Green,” environmental advocate Ted Williams said the CBD is guilty of “bending the truth like pretzel dough,” and that the group “gives every environmentalist a bad name.”


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