by Jessica Goad
This morning, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the future of oil and natural gas development — the 20th oversight hearing that House Republicans have called on drilling, compared to only four on renewable energy development.
While Rep. Don Young (R-AK) took home the quirk prize by sporting a propeller-topped beanie that he said represented President Obama’s energy policy, one of the strangest assertions came from Representative John Fleming (R-LA), who followed up a question to Secretary Salazar about whether fracking had caused any “deaths or serious injuries to humans,” with a claim that the bankruptcy of Solyndra has “harmed more people” than hydraulic fracturing.
Fleming: So, I think that it’s very easy to understand why no one’s had serious harm as a result of [hydraulic fracturing]. We can speculate, we can talk about hypotheticals all the time, but the point here is it is a regulated industry, it’s producing inexpensive energy and is doing a great job, it is not harming people. And certainly I would say that the Solyndra affair has harmed more people than hydrofracking has in 60 years.
Surely, 1,100 people losing their jobs after the closing of Solyndra is a very sad affair. But Fleming’s comments make a mockery of the dozens of communities all around the country seeing their wells and aquifers contaminated by fracking, sometimes making people sick, and often making it impossible to drink from local water sources.
In making such a statement, Fleming ignores the documented environmental and health impact of fracking and equates it to the bankruptcy of a poorly-managed company. Neither the Solyndra layoffs nor the impacts of fracking should be taken lightly.
— Jessica Goad is manager of research and outreach for the Public Lands team at the Center for American Progress