The United States Environmental Defence Fund is a non-partisan environmental group. So they are worried abotu the environment, not about getting elected to anything. They have over 700,000 members. Their achievements include getting DDT banned, the Safe Water Drinking Act, getting lead out of gasoline, banning ozone depleting CFCs, marine and ecosystem reserves and many more.
The EDF has blogged why they think that fracking overall is beneficial for the environment:
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is often called upon by those opposed to natural gas development to support a ban or moratorium on drilling. They argue that fighting for tough regulations, as EDF is doing, helps ensure that natural gas development will take place. Some of our friends in the environmental community have questioned why we are working on natural gas at all. They suggest that we should simply oppose natural gas development, and focus solely on championing energy efficiency and renewables. We understand these concerns, and respect the people who share them. And for that reason, we want to be as clear as we can be as to why EDF is so deeply involved in championing strong regulation of natural gas.
Our view on natural gas is shaped by three basic facts. First, hydraulic fracturing is already a common practice in the oil and gas industry. Over 90 percent of new onshore oil and gas development taking place in the United States today involves some form of hydraulic fracturing, and shale gas accounts for a rapidly increasing percentage of total natural gas production—from 16% in 2009 to more than 30% today. In short, hydraulic fracturing is not going away any time soon.
Second, this fight is about much more than the role that natural gas may play in the future of electricity supply in the United States. Natural gas is currently playing an important role in driving out old coal plants, and we are glad to see these coal plants go. On balance, we think substituting natural gas for coal can provide net environmental value, including a lower greenhouse gas footprint.
This is the hypocrisy of the Greens. They moan about job losses on the West Coast, at the same tide as they try to close mining down. They complain our greenhouse gas emissions are too high, yet oppose fracking for natural gas. Underneath the slick marketing, you have a fundamental belief system that any industry that use natural resources is wrong and must be stopped.
I reccently heard one person, who must be a Green member, advocate against trade that requires transporting of goods further than can be done on a bicycle. No, I am not kidding – this was in New Zealand.
Our analysis has led us to conclude that there are many ways to eliminate hazards and reduce risks from hydraulic fracturing and related ‘unconventional’ oil and gas production practices. Strong rules that require these steps to be taken are needed, backed up by effective oversight and enforcement with the necessary financial and human resources to make these efforts real.
There is where the debate should be.
Demand for natural gas is not going away, and neither is hydraulic fracturing. We must be clear-eyed about this, and fight to protect public health and the environment from unacceptable impacts. We must also work hard to put policies in place that ensure that natural gas serves as an enabler of renewable power generation, not an impediment to it. We fear that those who oppose all natural gas production everywhere are, in effect, making it harder for the U.S. economy to wean itself from dirty coal.
Natural gas production can never be made entirely safe; like any intensive industrial activity, it involves risks. But having studied the issue closely, we are convinced that if tough rules, oversight and penalties for noncompliance are put in place, these risks become manageable.
This is the difference between a true environmental group, and between politicians who spout slogans to attract support, such as banning fracking.