Fight Over Fracking Heats Up at the Democratic Convention
Image by David R. Tribble
July 28, 2016
Wednesday, POLITICO hosted a panel on energy at the Democratic Convention in
Philadelphia sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association
of the oil and gas industry. The group, whose members include EXXONMobil,
Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell, lobbies against federal regulation of
greenhouse gases and has tried to cast doubt on climate science.
American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard,
who welcomed everyone to the panel.
“From the oil and gas perspective we see this as a
unique historic time in our nation’s history, now that we’re not the world’s
number-one oil and natural gas producer,” he said.
“Today the United States is near a twenty-year low in
carbon emissions. That was brought to you by abundant, affordable,
clean-burning natural gas.”
Panelists included Trevor Houser, Hillary Clinton’s
top energy advisor; Heather Zichal, Former Deputy Assistant to President Obama
on energy and climate; Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who is seen as a
friend of the environmental movement; and Governor John Hickenlooper of
Colorado, who has fought anti-fracking activists in his state.
Environmentalists worry that fracking, a process for
extracting natural gas using drilling, high pressure water, and chemicals, can
poison groundwater and cause tremors in the Earth. Hickenlooper explained why
he opposed a law that would have kept fracking away from people’s homes.
“My job is to make sure that fracking is done
absolutely safely,” Hickenlooper said.
But, he explained, senior citizens who own mineral
rights on rural land in his state could lose everything if rich people from
Denver move in and build second homes nearby, and then invoke the law to forbid
fracking near their fancy dwellings. “So are we as governor going to say, ‘You
no longer have that private property?’ ” Hickenlooper asked.
The panel was interrupted by a protester who jumped up
“You guys are liars! . . . Fracking cannot be made
safe! I hold you personally responsible for poisoning America!”
The panelists chuckled and continued