Mitt Romney, flanked by security guards in Pennsylvania yesterday, let his tongue loose yesterday on fracking. For a man who once stood in front of a coal plant and told a crowd that it was poisoning their community and who helped design a cap and trade system, Romney sure has changed his tune when it comes to fossil fuels. Time will tell if this endears him to suburban and rural voters whom he needs to win and who are being directly affected by hydraulic fracking.
Want evidence that his fracking position might hurt him in the general? No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio, but there is a growing movement against fracking in the Buckeye state. On Dec 31, 2011, a magnitude 4.0 quake struck Youngstown, Ohio. The quake triggered shaking as as far away as Buffalo, N.Y., and Toronto. The result in Ohio was a ban drilling new wastewater-injection wells within five miles of the well suspected of triggering the temblors, and activists there are after a statewide moratorium.
There are similar movements gaining strength in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Romney took the chance yesterday to rip the president on his energy policies (via the wonderful Pittsburgh Post Gazzette):
With regard to gas, as you know, for years, this technology, using fluids, fracking technology, to bring gas and oil out of the ground have been employed and innovated and have been regulated by the states. But now this president has eight different agencies trying to fight their way to become regulators of the gas extraction technology known as fracking. And the intent of course is to slow down the development of our own resources. The same thing is happening in oil, where he put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf [of Mexico]. We haven’t taken advantage of our outer continental shelf , we haven’t taken advantage of the oil we have in Alaska. He’s made it harder and harder to take advantage of our oil resources.
Time will tell how fracking will affect the presidential race. Clearly Romney has laid down a marker, but he's known to change positions like the wind changes direction. Unfortunately, we don't know the particulars of Romney's positions since he don't take any questions from the media after ripping the president. Very stand up guy, that Romney.