This week, former Maryland Governor and current Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley declared his support for hydraulic fracturing and natural gas. At an Iowa campaign stop, O’Malley described natural gas as a “bridge” fuel that can help promote renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. As the Des Moines Register explained, O’Malley said fracking “to harvest cleaner-burning natural gas should be allowed with strict regulations as part of a broader strategy to reduce reliance on other fossil fuels.”
O’Malley’s comments are especially interesting considering that he is running on an environmental platform and has vowed to make climate change the priority of his campaign. As the Des Moines Register also noted,
“The Democratic presidential hopeful and former Maryland governor has aggressively campaigned as a champion for the environment, promising to push the United States toward fully powering its electrical grid on renewable energy sources by 2050.”
In 2014, O’Malley said Maryland was “ready” for fracking in the western part of his state. According to a report conducted by the O’Malley’s administration, estimated benefits from drilling and extraction in the region could “support as many as 3,400 jobs and generate millions in tax revenues.”
Gov. O’Malley was not the only Democrat to tout the benefits of natural gas this week. Well-known climate activist, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), recently announced his support for a 900 megawatt natural gas-fired power plant that will be constructed in Burrillville, Rhode Island.
In an interview, Sen. Whitehouse said,
“I don’t think that it’s valuable from a Rhode Island’s perspective to make Rhode Islanders pay higher gas prices when it doesn’t change the overall complexion of the gas market.”
The $700 million natural gas-fired power plant – labeled the Clear River Energy Center – “would be the most efficient generator of electricity that burns fossil fuels in New England,” according to the Providence Journal. And, according to estimates done by a consultant hired by the plant’s owner Chicago-based Invenergy, total carbon emissions from New England’s power plants would be reduced by nine percent if the plant were active today.
Governor O’Malley and Senator Whitehouse – Democrats who have both made climate change a top priority – offer important context, showing just how marginalized ban-fracking activists have become.