When does responsible use of natural resources turn into “tree hugging”?
When advocates insist that we cannot grow an economy and protect the environment at the same time.
There is no reason we cannot develop the science to do fracturing safely. There is no reason we cannot develop feasible ways to make renewable wind, solar, and geothermal energy for our energy needs. However, there are political reasons why so little innovation is taking place.
The tree-hugger says at the outset that it is impossible to frack safely for natural gas. No, it is not impossible, and for all we know, it might actually be quite easy. But we don’t know. Part of the reason that environmental issues lead us into a political thicket is that we focus on methods before we decide what results we want to accomplish. Tree-huggers insist that no pollution is acceptable, but some pollution occurs in nature. Algae clog up lakes. Cows emit methane. Volcanoes spew ash into the atmosphere and pollute nearby rivers.
The intelligent way to approach environmentalism is to determine what levels of which substances are not toxic to people, vegetation, or animals. Environmental science has been around long enough that such levels should be well known by now. Pass laws to enforce those standards and to facilitate public involvement in identifying and prosecuting violators. However, those laws should not set the methods by which those standards are met. Let free enterprise innovate and profit from their innovation.
In addition, we make it clear to everyone that the state will no longer subsidize polluters by cleaning up after them. Nor will it impose fines; but what it will do is to ensure that polluters pay all the costs of cleaning up their messes until the affected area meets the standards set by law.
We do not have to wait for the feds. Federal law enables states to set and enforce higher environmental standards than the federal government. All we need (as with so many other things we need) is the political will to do it.