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The fracking debate moves on to Washington

Jan 19, 2011 6:46 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="There are some saying there may be a tinge of Frank Capra's classic "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" as the gas drilling "fracking" discussion enters Congress in the coming term."][/caption]The Watershed Post out in the Catskills has an update on how hydraulic fracturing is shaping up to be one of the big battlegrounds for the new 112th U.S. Congress, where "the various actors are already hinting at how the debate will unfold."

President Barack Obama's administration has hinted that gas drilling could emerge as a major issue this year. The day after the midterm elections were swept by Republicans in November, Obama surprised gas industry advocates and critics alike by singling out natural gas drilling as a point of compromise with the newcomers in Congress. But despite the President's professed enthusiasm for natural gas, according to a January 4th article in the New York Times by the environmental news source Greenwire, the Obama administration has continued to tread a middle ground. with fossil fuel enthusiasts saying they have seen no change in Obama's approach since the Nov. 2 election that he dubbed a "shellacking."

The report goes on to note a number of inconsistencies in the administration's stance on gas drilling, then charts GOP clear support for hydraulic fracturing.

On the first day of the new congressional session, January 5th, a pro-fracking contingent of the House of Representatives issued a challenge to Salazar's proposal (to regulate chemicals used in the process). Thirty-two members of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus showed their support for natural gas development by signing a letter opposing any regulations that would require the disclosure of the ingredients in fracking fluid used in drilling on public lands.

Watershed Post goes on to quote Pro Publica's report that indicated that, "if money is an indicator, the anti-regulatory group has the upper hand. A back-of-the-envelope analysis of campaign finance dollars contributed to the members of Congress who are speaking out on the issue shows that the Natural Gas Caucus received 19 times more money from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010 than the group who signed Rep. Hinchey’s letter (in support of Salazar's regulations and disclosure requirements for the industry)."

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