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This Week On The Fallon Forum

fallon forumEd Fallon is a former lawmaker who served in the Iowa House for 14 years before running for governor and US Congress. Since 2009, he has hosted the Fallon Forum, a talk show available online and on three Iowa radio stations. 

Catch this week’s Fallon Forum live on Monday from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM “La Reina.” Join the conversation by calling in at (515) 528-8122. And you can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

Fallon to walk Iowa stretch of proposed pipeline

Ed Fallon has announced his intention to walk the Iowa stretch of the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline – roughly 400-miles that would take him one month to travel. Fallon will walk 10-20 miles per day. Each day along the route, he’ll hold a public meeting to listen to area residents’ concerns about the proposed pipeline. Fallon will share his own concerns about climate change, water quality and eminent domain.

As a lawmaker, Fallon floor managed a key bill on eminent domain. From 1998-2004, both as a lawmaker and as director of 1000 Friends of Iowa, Fallon traveled the state working with dozens of communities opposed to what he and many others saw as the misuse of eminent domain.

“We won most of those battles,” recalled Fallon. “I saw how deeply Iowans valued their land and their quality of life. And when pushed by a developer who sought to take their land for a lake or an airport or a mall, people banded together and fought and won. I doubt that’s changed much in the past decade.”

Both as an activist and as a lawmaker, Fallon believes his lengthy experience preventing the abuse of eminent domain could be helpful to land owners opposed to the Bakken Oil Pipeline. But he feels strongly that climate change needs to be part of the conversation as well.

“People need to understand the seriousness of the climate crisis,” said Fallon. “While this pipeline is wrong because government shouldn’t take people’s land so an oil company can get rich, it’s also wrong because it deepens our dependence on fossil fuel and slows the expansion of renewable energy. And renewable energy is doing a lot more for Iowa’s economy than oil ever will.”

Ed Fallon, "People need to be thinking of what changes they can make in their own life."

Fallon commences his walk on March 1st, one year after the start date of the Great March for Climate Action. Fallon initiated that March and walked every step of the 3,000-mile trek. When asked why he chose to walk the pipeline route, not simply drive it, Fallon said:

“Walking puts you in touch with life and with people in a way that driving doesn’t. I want to touch the soil that would be damaged. I want to feel running through my fingers the water that might inevitably be contaminated. For me, just as with my walk across America, this is a pilgrimage of sorts, a chance to connect with people and the land in a way that makes our interaction more personal, more meaningful, more spiritual.”


Praying For Peace – Paying For War

Ed Flaherty

Ed Flaherty

December 19, 2014

To the editor:

As we approach the holidays, in many settings we will be urged to “pray for peace.” But the Omnibus bill says “pay for war.”

Over one half of the $1.1 trillion of the U.S. governments total discretionary spending is devoted to the military. The “base” budget for the Pentagon is about $500 billion, with another $64 billion for OCO. OCO is an acronym that we’d better get familiar with. It stands for Overseas Contingency Operations. It’s a very handy slush fund that the Pentagon can use to fund military operations anywhere in the world. Like Iraq, which we have been bombing for 23 years, and continue to do so with an expectation of better results. Or Afghanistan, which is a war we’ve said we’ve won many times but has no end in sight. Or Syria, where we have been launching military attacks for over three months in defiance of any legal authority. Or Yemen, or Somalia, or Pakistan, or anywhere.

My suggestion for the holiday season is to dare to seek peace. Peace will not fall from the sky. It needs effort, resolve and investment. For starters, let’s use some of that military budget to fund refugee aid and reconstruction in those areas ravaged by war. Let’s commit to a cabinet-level Department of Peace, where our investment would yield much greater returns for our true national interests.

Legislation to get that rolling would be a great goal for our fiscally conservative new senator-elect, Joni Ernst.

Ed Flaherty

Iowa City


Keystone XL And The U.S. Senate

Iowa Windmill

Iowa Windmill

During the run-up to the Nov. 18 vote on S-2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, I messaged Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, asking them to vote no. Harkin voted no, Grassley yes.

Senator Grassley sent along an explanation of his vote, which is pasted below. As he indicated, the motion failed to pass the Senate. What this letter doesn’t say is that I asked him to vote no, without any other comment. I have been around politics too long to believe that logic and rational thinking have much to do with why a U.S. Senator votes a certain way.

The framing of Grassley’s response points out the challenges opponents of the pipeline will have once the 114th Congress convenes. His arguments are rational in their way, if misguided.

It is hard to disagree with building a pipeline per se. There are many pipelines in the world, and they are a mode of transportation that serves the oil and natural gas industry, which in turn supports political stability. As Grassley pointed out, building pipelines creates jobs.

This is not a partisan issue. In Hillary Clinton’s secretary of state memoir, she mentions building pipelines several times, always as a solution to energy problems which in turn increases political stability around the globe. It will be hard to win the argument against Keystone XL because of the existential fact of it being a pipeline.

If oil prices continue to decline, the economic conditions which made the Tar Sands viable will erode. The reasons for declining oil prices are complex, but it boils down to a combination of increased U.S. shale oil production, lack of willingness by OPEC to curb production, and our society’s addiction to fossil fuels. It seems unlikely that the oil and gas industry will allow prices to get too low, and we are not in control here, except for our personal energy choices.

Something’s got to give to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Plugging an electric car into our household grid is not an answer if all we do is switch our energy source from gasoline to coal and nuclear, both of which have their own risks to human health. Grassley doesn’t directly mention decreasing reliance on fossil fuels as an issue in his response.

The argument about what happens to the oil in Texas is unresolved, despite Grassley’s assertion otherwise. The issue with refining, in light of increased U.S. oil production, is one of limited capacity. It has been a while since I was familiar with refining operations, but I suspect refineries are still running every minute they can to keep up with demand.

Could the refineries re-tool to handle Tar Sands oil? Yes, definitely. Is there an economic reason to do so when there is plenty of Middle East oil entering the Gulf of Mexico at a low price? Probably not in the short term, and there appears to be little interest in increasing refining capacity in light of the current regulatory environment. Going forward, one would expect the Tar Sands crude oil to be exported the way U.S. light sweet crude currently is—because the refineries are already doing all they can to keep up with imports.

Grassley’s right to say we should decrease our reliance on imported oil. The simple fact is there is not enough oil being produced in North America to meet U.S. needs, and as I mentioned, there are economic constraints to refining capacity. What is missing is affirmation of the need to decrease use of fossil fuels, and that’s more the problem with the response.

The trouble for opponents of Keystone XL is that Grassley takes apart many of their arguments in a way that will build political support for a likely re-consideration of the project in 2017, if not in 2015. It is important to read his response and learn from it… and hope the climate doesn’t reach the tipping point while we dance around what most needs doing: reducing and eliminating our reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels.

Charles E. Grassley
Washington, D.C.
December 4, 2014

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you.

I appreciate knowing your concerns regarding the crude oil pipeline from Canada to Nebraska called the Keystone XL pipeline. On November 18, 2014, the Senate held debate and voted on S. 2280, a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. I was an original cosponsor of this bill and supported its passage. However, the bill failed by a final vote of 59-41, one vote short of the 60 votes necessary for it to pass the Senate.

The pipeline would supply more than 800,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude oil to U.S. refineries and help to counteract both insufficient domestic oil supplies in the United States and reduce dependence on less reliable foreign sources. The Keystone XL pipeline is a $7 billion, 1,700 mile pipeline that would create thousands of private-sector jobs at no cost to American taxpayers.

In 2008, TransCanada applied for a presidential permit from the State Department to construct and operate the pipeline. Due to environmental concerns, the State of Nebraska approved a modified route in January, 2013. Following this modification, the State Department released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the new presidential permit application. The State Department noted that oil sands development would go ahead regardless of the production of the pipeline by using different pipelines or rail to get to market. The report essentially found that the pipeline would not accelerate greenhouse gas emissions or significantly harm the environment along its route.

After nearly six years of rigorous regulatory review, the State Department issued its fifth environmental review on January 31, 2014. This fifth review reached the same conclusion as earlier reviews. It found that the pipeline will have no significant impact on the environment and is the safest way to transport the oil. It also found that rejection of the pipeline will not affect Canada’s decision to develop these oil resources. The administration had been in the middle of a 90-day review period for federal agencies assessing the State Department’s environmental study when, on April 18, 2014, the State Department announced an indefinite extension of the agency comment period.

Opponents of the Keystone pipeline argue that the pipeline will not increase oil and gas supplies in the United States, rather, that all of the Canadian crude would be sold to world markets. Even President Obama reiterated this claim when he said the pipeline would allow the Canadians to “pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.” However, the Washington Post “Fact Checker” disproved this claim. It noted that the State Department’s final environmental impact statement specifically disputed claims that the oil would pass through the United States and be loaded onto vessels for ultimate sale in foreign markets. It found that the crude oil would almost certainly be refined in the United States, with at least 50 percent of the refined products remaining in the U.S. market. It stated, “market conditions could change, of course, but there is little basis to claim that virtually all of the product, or even a majority, would be exported.”

The energy and economic development benefits of this pipeline are too important to delay any longer. We need an all-of-the-above approach to meet the country’s energy needs and give consumers choice. That means oil, ethanol, electricity from wind, and nuclear power. A pipeline would be safer than transporting oil by rail. Canada will produce this oil with or without U.S. involvement in the shipment. I’d rather work with one of our strongest allies than continue to get oil from the volatile Middle East or Venezuela.

What is needed now in the United States is an increased supply of oil. It is simple economics. If you increase the supply, you decrease the price. We are still relying on a very finite amount of oil. We must increase our own domestic supply of energy while promoting the use of alternative sources of energy at the same time. I will continue to support these goals with your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate receiving your comments and urge you to keep in touch.


Are We In A New Age Of Robber Barons?

robber baronsrobber baron noun: a wealthy person who tries to get land, businesses, or more money in a way that is dishonest or wrong; an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales)

“What was different about the First Gilded Age was that people rose in rebellion against the powers that be. Today we do not see “that enormous resistance… but people are increasingly fed up… their voices are not being heard. And I think that can only go on for so long without there being more and more outbreaks of what used to be called class struggle, class warfare.”


Why The Draft Warren Movement Is Good For The Country

elizabeth warrenThere has been positive media coverage of the draft Elizabeth Warren launch in Des Moines Wednesday (links below).  One question: Has anyone ever decided to run and won because of a draft movement?  That is, since Dwight D. Eisenhower

It doesn’t seem likely that Elizabeth Warren will run for president.  But that is what political movements are all about: people joining together to effect needed change that does not appear likely to happen on its own. 

As progressives know, nothing is going to fundamentally change from the top down.  Real change has always come from the bottom up,  from grassroots politics – the suffragettes, the civil rights movement, the labor movement.  The Occupy movement was successful in pushing the problem of overly powerful banks and corporations into the national debate.  Now we have Elizabeth Warren giving ‘em hell in the U.S. Senate. 

Yes, an Elizabeth Warren presidency seems unlikely. But why not ride the wave and see what happens?  Only good can come from it.

Here’s a note from

Dear Iowa MoveOn member,

The Des Moines Register: “This is Elizabeth Warren’s time, activists tell Iowans”

Real Clear Politics: “Warren Won’t Rule Out 2016 as Draft Movement Gears Up”

The Wall Street Journal: “Iowa Liberals Try to Will Elizabeth Warren Into 2016″

Associated Press: “Effort to draft Warren into ’16 race lands in Iowa”

WHO-TV Des Moines: “Iowans Encouraging Elizabeth Warren to Run for President”
Iowans Kick Off Run Warren Run Campaign in Des Moines

Last night in Des Moines, 100 Iowans gathered to kick off the Run Warren Run effort in Iowa. The room was electric as we launched our plans to build a grassroots organization across the state—neighbor to neighbor, person by person, to demonstrate to Elizabeth Warren that she’s got the support she needs to run for president and win, starting in Iowa and across the country.

This comes just after Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post analyst, wrote, “It’s uniquely possible that the populist/’draft Warren’ movement in the party grows strong enough that it forces the senator to reconsider her past denials of interest in the race. And if Warren runs, it’s a totally different race.”1

Click here to view a slideshow of Wednesday’s kickoff. Then, please share it with your friends, and ask them to join you in signing the petition to Elizabeth Warren, which says, “Dear Elizabeth Warren: Please Run for President.”

Last night’s kickoff was an exhilarating, inspiring start to a grassroots effort that could change the future of this country. If you were there, thank you. If you missed it—don’t worry, our organizers will be reaching out in the coming weeks with opportunities to get involved.

Here’s a great snippet of what we experienced, from Peter Nicholas of The Wall Street Journal:

The people in the room were devising a strategy to entice her to jump in. They told stories about why they’d like to see her run. An Iowa State student said she was holding down two jobs and working 45 hours a week to pay for school. She said she is carrying a 12% interest rate on her student loan.

Ms. Warren, she believes, would fight to curb student debt.

“Please run for president, Elizabeth,” she said.

Standing in the back of the room, Beverly Swecker said she had never before attended a political rally. She was there with her husband, a farmer.

Why the plunge into politics now?

“I like her commitment to the common person,” Mrs. Swecker said. “That’s what we need more of in this country right now.”

President of the Iowa Senate Pam Jochum addressed the crowd, calling Elizabeth Warren “brilliant” and “courageous” and calling on her to enter the race.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan told Real Clear Politics that Elizabeth Warren “has an excellent populist message that has been well-received by Iowans and the folks who are caucus attendees.”3

And our allies at Democracy for America announced that their members had voted overwhelmingly to join the draft Warren movement, and pledged $250,000 to the effort. With our friends at Ready for Warren, we’re showing that momentum is on the rise.

You caught the nation’s attention in Iowa last night. Thank you. We’ve got momentum. Now’s the perfect time to share the energy, and the petition, with your friends.

Iowa, you’re changing the conversation in this country, and each day proving to Elizabeth Warren why this is her moment.

Thanks for all you do.

–Victoria, Alejandro, Ilya, Mark, and the rest of the team


1. “Amid Warren buzz, Clinton might do well not to wait too long to announce 2016 bid,” The Washington Post, December 14, 2014

2. “Iowa Liberals Try to Will Elizabeth Warren Into 2016,” The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2014

3. “Warren Won’t Rule Out 2016 as Draft Movement Gears Up,” Real Clear Politics, December 16, 2014

Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Start a monthly donation here or chip in a one-time donation here.
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Ebola Wins “Lie Of The Year”

corporate media liesThis story underscores what Blog for Iowa attempts to point out about the media as often as we possibly can. 

It was mostly Republicans who were making the exaggerated claims about Ebola,  but they were affirmed and supported by the media who failed to question or challenge these statements.  After the midterms, the scary Ebola news vanished into thin air.

By Nick Gass

It was the global health scare that spooked a nation.

Fear of Ebola’s potency and spread sparked “exaggerated claims” and statements from politicians and pundits, collectively earning the dubious distinction of PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year, the organization announced Monday. Editors made their pick according to “how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking.”

PolitiFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola and its spread in 2014 as mostly false.

Conservative commentator George Will drew sharp criticism for his miscommunication of how the disease spreads, after saying on Fox News that it can spread through the air. Ebola can only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, regardless of whether it’s a sneeze or cough.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN that Americans were promised the disease would never reach its shores.

“We were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States,” he said on Oct. 12, a claim refuted by public statements from administration and CDC officials.

As far as Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion that Ebola was “incredibly contagious,” “very transmissible” and “easy to catch?” Mostly false, PolitiFact ruled in October…it is “less contagious and transmissible than many other diseases.”

Weeks after the death of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, lawmakers speculated that suicide bombers infected with the virus could inflict mass casualties in the United States. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn of “reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis.”

And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted the 21-day medical quarantine on medical workers returning from West Africa would become “a national policy sooner rather than later.”

Read more:

DFA, MoveOn Launch Iowa “Ready For Warren” Campaign Tonight

elizabeth warren 2016

 What: Run Warren Run Iowa Kick-Off Meeting
When: Wednesday, December 17, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Where: Java Joe’s, 214 4th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

In November, we asked Democracy for America members who they wanted to see run for president in our 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll. The top choice was overwhelming: Elizabeth Warren.

Just a few days ago, our friends at launched a $1 million campaign to encourage Senator Warren to get in the race — and DFA launched a new poll asking our members to specifically ratify our own potential campaign to recruit Warren. The results so far? Even more overwhelming than our November poll.

And so, on behalf of DFA, I’m now in Iowa to announce our plans tonight in Des Moines at a Run Warren Run launch event organized by MoveOn, DFA, and Ready for Warren.

Can you come to the Run Warren Run Kickoff Meeting on Wednesday, December 17, at Java Joe’s in downtown Des Moines?

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends.

We’ll have free Run Warren Run limited edition, hot-off-the-press t-shirts — until we run out! And delicious snacks and beverages to enjoy. At Wednesday’s Kickoff Meeting, we’ll be joined by Ilya Sheyman, Executive Director of Political Action. We’ll learn about Senator Warren’s track record of fighting for working families and standing up to Wall Street. We’ll meet fellow supporters — including members of Democracy for America, and Ready for Warren — and share stories over good food.

And we’ll discuss plans to build an organization across the state of Iowa — including opening offices and hiring community organizers — to demonstrate to Sen. Warren that she has the support to run and win, and that Iowans want a meaningful contest, not a coronation.

The most important thing about the Iowa Kickoff Meeting — and the whole campaign — is the people. Can you join us Wednesday?

elizabeth warrenWhat: Run Warren Run Iowa Kick-Off Meeting
When: Wednesday, December 17, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Where: Java Joe’s, 214 4th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

We can’t wait to see you on Wednesday!


Annie Weinberg, Electoral Director
Democracy for America


Dave Loebsack Continues Work On LGBT Issues

email inbox from Congressman Loebsack:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

In this day and age, it is unacceptable for people to be discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus, I have always supported efforts to eliminate workplace and marriage discrimination.

Earlier this year, I joined a bipartisan group of Members in calling on President Obama to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination. I am pleased that the Department of Labor (DOL) has taken action by issuing a final rule to implement the president’s directive. This rule will offer new protections to the millions of LGBT Americans employed by federal contractors and subcontractors. While many states and businesses have made critical changes to offer workplace protections to employees, this rule will provide further safeguards. This is a major step in the right direction but there is still much more to be done to protect all Americans seeking employment from discriminatory practices, such as passing the Employee Nondiscrimination Act.

We must continue to stand up for those who have been harassed or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I welcome any suggestions or concerns regarding LGBT issues that you may have. Also, feel free to share dave loebsack updatedthis email with friends, family and colleagues who may be interested in this topic. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Dave Loebsack
Iowa’s Second District

Call Dave Toll Free: (866) 914-IOWA

125 South Dubuque Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel: (319) 351-0789 | Fax: (319) 351-5789

209 West 4th Street, #104
Davenport, IA 52801
Tel: (563) 323-5988 | Fax: (563) 323-5231

1527 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: (202) 225-6576 | Fax: (202) 226-0757

Framing The Caucuses – Republican-style

Democratic Caucus Goer

I re-read Jennifer Jacobs’ 50 most wanted Democrats article twice and have to say I disagree with her framing.

In the first place, the Republican caucuses are a place where only registered Republicans who show up get to vote, not “where each Iowan gets one vote,” as Jacobs asserts.

Second, I know very few Iowa Democrats who jumped on board some presidential hopeful’s campaign because they were able to associate with people on this list. For example, when Dave Loebsack co-hosted Evan Bayh at Jim Hayes’ home in Iowa City, a crowd gathered, but to say it helped Bayh during his 2008 presidential bid, other than to help him decide to bow out, would be optimistic and self serving. Who would even say that besides someone like Jacobs?

Third, the selection of political activists for the list also serves Jacobs’ point of view. These are folks with whom she presumably has a relationship, and depends upon to present a “balanced” view of Democratic politics. Her view is anything but balanced, and stroking this group only builds her relationship with them, rather than saying anything about how Democrats select candidates.

Finally, this group more represents the problem with the Iowa Democratic Party than a leverage point for presidential hopefuls to gain support. If this list is our set of leadership, we are doomed to defeat as long as they are around. Jacobs clearly gets that wrong. What’s needed is a new, more diverse and much younger set of faces.

If we recall Dunbar’s number, Jacobs has limits on cognitive recognition, and setting fifty Democrats may be a reasonable limit for that part of the political spectrum, at least in her world.

A couple of points:

Is Roxanne Conlin not able to gather a crowd or raise money for Dems? Everyone who believes that, stand on your head.

Jerry Crawford? Really?

Zach Wahls? Besides a flash of celebrity, what does he add?

This sentence about Sarah Benzing is a killer. “Although the latest campaign she managed, Bruce Braley’s, was branded the worst U.S. Senate campaign in the country, Benzing has a good track record.”

I don’t seek to run people down, and know many people on this list. I’m just sayin’. Jacobs is trying to frame who we are as Democrats. If we sit by and let that happen, we had better get used to Republicans running the state.

Gasoline and the Shale Boom

Lower 48 Shale Plays

Lower 48 Shale Plays

People don’t connect the dots between lower gasoline prices and the shale oil boom.

Yesterday I filled my gas tank for $23.70, with the per gallon price in the mid-$2.40 range. That’s not low compared to when I commuted to Eldridge and fueled at Walcott for $1.02 per gallon for what seemed like months. Neither is it like when I was young and gas wars yielded prices below $0.30, enabling me to top off my tank for a buck or two. However, we are now below $3 per gallon with the prospect of going lower, so prices seems low in a short-term, relativistic way.

There is no doubt that the revolution in shale oil production through hydraulic fracturing is causing the lower oil and natural gas prices in the U.S. The shale boom is replicable world-wide (at least to some degree) because shale is a common and abundant form of sedimentary rock. In some ways, the game changing of shale is just getting started, even though it began in the 1940s.

When I was in my 20s, we thought shale oil was inaccessible. Hydraulic fracturing is a technology that revolutionized exploration, development and production of shale oil. In light of higher oil prices, it became profitable. Some credit goes to politicians, but most credit goes to the oil companies who persistently lobbied for a relaxed regulatory environment with anyone who could be influenced from the president on down.

What does this mean besides lower gasoline prices? Three things seem most important.

The arguments for and against hydraulic fracturing are reasonably accessible.

“Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial, proponents advocating economic benefits of readily accessible hydrocarbons, and opponents concerned for the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, degradation of the air quality, the triggering of earthquakes, noise pollution, surface pollution, and the consequential risks to health and the environment,” according to Wikipedia.

There is plenty of meaning in the existential fact of hydraulic fracturing and use of its products. What is less discussed is the impact on climate change, and the impact on renewable energy development.

While shale oil production is booming, 2014 will be the warmest year on earth since record-keeping began, and a clear departure from the climatic conditions in which the industrial revolution emerged. It’s hot and getting hotter world-wide. The climate has changed and is changing.

It is a scientific fact that man-made pollution is contributing to the warming planet. Natural gas is a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide when burned. While part of domestic carbon emission reductions during the last ten years have come by switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation, there are problems.

Methane released as a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing operations is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane leakage would reduce the value of the air pollution reduction realized by shifting electricity production from coal to natural gas. Some say methane leakage could negate any gains made in CO2 reductions from switching from coal to natural gas.

As a fossil fuel, natural gas should be viewed only as a so-called bridge fuel, although the clear and present danger is that it will be perceived as a destination fuel and become a permanent fixture in our energy mix.

That raises the third issue. There is a broader economic impact that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) spelled out in a Dec. 10, 2014 article. Not only is gasoline cheap in a shale gas development scenario, it is impacting the U.S. energy mix, and nuclear power and renewables are taking the hit.

The basic argument about bridge fuels is that the shale boom and its products can act as “bridge” fuels, curbing emissions while non-fossil energy sources such as renewables and nuclear energy are ramped up.

As we have seen in Iowa, new nuclear power has become financially untenable unless its excessive costs can be passed along to rate payers.

Not only are new nuclear power plants imperiled because of the economics of the shale boom, existing nuclear plants have been as well. “While cheap gas is not the only culprit eroding the profitability of nuclear energy, it is the straw that is breaking the camel’s back,” wrote BAS.

What’s more important is the economics of shale gas are suppressing development of renewable energy. As we have seen in Iowa, without government subsidies of renewable energy, production of new renewable capacity languishes. In the current political climate, it is uncertain whether renewable energy subsidies will continue, and for how long.

While the economics of wind and solar may be reaching parity with fossil fuels in some markets, we are not there yet, and the subsidies are essential to continuing development of alternatives to fossil fuels.

It is important that we extend our reach beyond personal or family budgets and do what is right about the shale boom. That means developing the political will to finish a transition to a fossil fuel free world.

Easier said than done, but the price society will pay for failing to do so is much higher than what we see at the gas pump.