Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.
At a campaign stop in Iowa Monday night, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) claimed that the Obama administration is “trying to scare people” about natural gas fracking. He told the attendees of a house party in Cedar Rapids that natural gas drilling with hydraulic fracturing has never damaged groundwater, and expressed concern that Iowans would miss out on the natural gas boom:
You have this administration talking about stopping hydraulic fracking, trying to scare people, saying that hydraulic fracking somehow or other is going to damage the groundwater, and so we’ve got to stop this. Not one time that I’m aware of has hydraulic fracking impacted groundwater. And if we don’t have the ability to frack, then all of the Pennsylvania Marcellus shale — you know, we don’t know what’s under the surface here in Iowa. There may be copious amounts of natural gas down there. Because the Eagle Ford in Texas, no one knew it was there until four or five years ago. New technologies finding new ways to bring this energy source. And we need to be, we need to be talking about ways to make America as independent energy-wise as we can. And it covers the watershed.
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Under President Obama, natural gas drilling has enjoyed a renaissance, so much so that overproduction has led to a collapse in natural gas prices [PDF]. The heads of the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, and the EPA have all praised natural gas as an “important energy resource,” and have expressed confidence that fracking can be done safely.
Criticism of the explosion in fracking has primarily come from concerned citizens, who have seen their water catch on fire, their land seized by drillers, their rivers contaminated by spills, and found wells gone dry or poisoned. Most of the damage is caused by other steps in the drilling process than the deep, high-pressure injection of a secret mixture of toxic fluids that is fracking, but the EPA documented contamination of groundwater by fracking in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was president.
The Obama administration is considering whether to enforce clean air laws at drilling sites, which have blanketed Wyoming with poisonous haze. An industry-friendly panel for the Department of Energy recommended that frackers stop using diesel fuel and that they disclose the ingredients in fracking fluid. Perry might not be aware of the dangers of unregulated fracking, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.