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EDITORIAL: Fracking economy

Remember when the environmental lobby was totally on board with natural gas, and even the hydraulic fracturing required to bring more of it to market? It was only five years ago. Ronald Bailey, writing for Reason.com, noted that in an August 2009 article for the Energy Future Coalition, arch-liberals Timothy Wirth and John Podesta proclaimed shale gas “a bridge fuel to a 21st-century energy economy that relies on efficiency, renewable sources and low-carbon fossil fuels such as natural gas.”

Today, fracking is driving the economic recovery. And with Nevada poised to get in on the real energy revolution, environmentalists have deemed natural gas fracking a horror to be avoided at all costs.

As The Associated Press’ Scott Sonner reported July 2, Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking has asked a federal judge to block the sale of oil and gas leases in Nevada. The rural Nevada group claims the leases will threaten sage grouse, fish and other wildlife. The Lander County Commission and the Center for Biological Diversity — which freely admits that science and law play no role in its agitations — had earlier filed protests over the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to sell leases in 102 parcels between Austin and Tonopah.

Less than a decade ago, the environmental left was all for natural gas — when it was more difficult to obtain and the price to do so was high. They just wanted to get rid of coal. But once technology made fracking far more practical, the environmental lobby soured on natural gas. Matt Ridley, in a 2011 essay for the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, wrote: “As it became apparent that shale gas was a competitive threat to renewable energy as well as to coal, the green movement has turned against shale.”

Nevadans shouldn’t stand for that. Oil and gas leases would provide a much-needed boost to the state’s still-fragile economy. And unlike green energy projects, that sector would employ thousands of people, generating millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state and local governments. The oil and gas leases should go forward — so Nevada can get on that bridge to a 21st-century energy economy, too.

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