Mayor Bloomberg came out recently in support of what he calls “fracking sensibly,” which is interesting to me, because this means that Bloomberg thinks people that are not him can be trusted to do things “sensibly.” This kind of runs counter to, oh, EVERY piece of legislation that he has passed during his tenure as mayor, from the smoking ban, to the soda ban, to the breast-feeding boost. But I guess when it comes to what big corporate entities—like energy companies—want to do, well, why not trust them? After all, energy companies are notoriously altruistic and sensible, right?
Anyway, Bloomberg co-wrote a pro-fracking editorial in the Washington Post last week with George P. Mitchell, who “pioneered hydraulic fracturing technologies as chief executive of what was then Mitchell Energy & Development Corp.” Hmmm, I wonder where Mitchell’s sympathies lie?
Well, as it turns out, Bloomberg and Mitchell wrote this op-ed in order to tell everyone just how GREAT fracking is and why the state of New York should embrace it. For the uninitiated, fracking is not just an easy word with which to make mediocre puns all day. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about fracking in New York state that describes fracking this way: “Fracking involves using high-pressure water and materials such as sand and chemicals to break open cracks in rock deep underground. That is combined with a method called horizontal drilling to extract natural gas.” Bloomberg and Mitchell make several points in favor of fracking and the resulting access to natural gas including that natural gas “reduces U.S. dependence on coal, which is one of the best things we can do to improve air quality and fight climate change,” and that “fracking spurs economic growth by bringing industrial jobs back to the United States,” plus “it’s good for consumers’ pocketbooks by helping to reduce energy costs.”
All of which are positive things. But—and this is a huge, honking but—benefits to fracking are contingent on fracking being conducted safely and responsibly, or as Bloomberg puts it, “sensibly.” The op-ed contains several suggestions for optimal regulation and better safety protocols, but, well, this is not hugely reassuring. You know what happens when safety protocols with energy companies aren’t followed correctly? People die. Animals die. Ecosystems are devastated.