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Toomey correctly pushes against fracking ban

Call it a pre-emptive strike.

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Zionsville Republican, has heard of the plans of presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders to ban natural gas fracking in the United States.

While he is not handicapping the 2020 race and predicting one of them will win, he is thinking there will be a Democratic president at some point in the nation’s future.

So he has introduced a resolution that would prevent a future president from having the legal authority to ban natural gas fracking.

He is on the right track — for both economic and environmental reasons.

If this were 15 years ago, environmental pushback against the industry may have carried some zip. But the industry has made great strides in the environmental safety aspects of hydraulic fracking. Experience of the past decade has shown that, with the warranted strict regulation and engineering advances, natural gas energy production and distribution can co-exist with a safe and clean environment.

Banning the industry would drive up energy expenses for consumers, cost tens of thousands of jobs, negatively impact both state and local government budgets and increase reliance on foreign sources for energy. While those negatives would apply to a number of states, Pennsylvania is the No. 2 producer of natural gas in the United States and would be more heavily impacted than almost any other state by a fracking ban.

We understand the need to be vigilant about the industry’s environmental impact. Strict regulation of the industry must continue.

We understand and advocate for development of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.

But those sources do not put out the volume necessary to meet the energy needs of a nation and, for that matter, the world.

Natural gas is needed. Nuclear power is needed. Coal and fossil fuel are not the enemies of the people some claim them to be, given the improvements in the processing that have been made in recent decades.

The doomsayers who believe the world will crumble environmentally in the next decade don’t seem to have much faith in scientific advancement in the energy industry. A look back at the past 50 years would provide mountains of real-life evidence that we can be stewards of our environment while meeting energy needs. At least in this nation. Sen. Warren and Sen. Sanders need to take their environmental platform to China, the real enemy in this fight.

This does not have to be a good vs. evil debate. It needs to be a cooperative effort by supporters of the environment and energy producers.

And no future president should get to unilaterally abort that effort.

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