Editorial: Eliminating fracking: Lamb is out of line


TPN File Photo

Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17, criticized a bill that would impose a nationwide ban on fracking by 2025 in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, voicing concern that the proposal would take jobs away from many hard working people in Pennsylvania.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

New legislation, proposed on behalf of the Green New Deal, would impose a nationwide ban on fracking by 2025. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17, isn’t too happy with it.

Fracking — which is a natural gas drilling technique that supplies thousands of energy jobs in Pennsylvania — is highly controversial among environmental advocates. Specifically, it’s drawn criticism from those who want to do away with fossil fuels. Fracking combines often dangerous chemicals with water and sand to remove material surrounding oil and gas — and subsequently enabling extraction. The process uses a high amount of natural resources and often contaminates air, water and soil.

Lamb criticized the bill in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 14, voicing concern that the proposal would take jobs away from many hard working people in Pennsylvania. Though his concern is valid, the criticism is premature. One of the primary values of the Green New Deal is providing jobs for those who lose work due to environmental actions — like in the case of eliminating fracking.

Lamb faced scrutiny on Friday after tweeting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and calling for Democrats to unite against the proposal.

“In the most important election of our lives, Sen. @BernieSanders & Rep. @AOC are celebrating a bill that would eliminate thousands of good union jobs in #PA17 & across PA — a state we need to win,” Lamb wrote. “What are we doing? We are Democrats. Jobs come first.”

Lamb is right in the sense of the job market. The oil and gas industry — fracking, specifically — are a big part of the job market in Pennsylvania. Banning fracking under the Green New Deal might take thousands out of their current jobs, as Lamb said in his letter to Pelosi. But according to other policies within the Green New Deal, it wouldn’t leave them unemployed, as Lamb seemed to insinuate.

One of the main sections of the Green New Deal — titled “Just Transition” — focuses entirely on what Lamb is concerned about. The goal, the section in the original document reads, is “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.”

The plan guarantees five years of the worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support and job priority placement to displaced workers. The deal supports the transition, and tries to cushion the fall of eliminating fracking.

This isn’t to say that the Green New Deal will even be implemented, or that all of it will work. But Lamb’s criticism was premature and unnecessary. Lamb doesn’t need to support the Green New Deal or advocate for it, but on the contrary, he didn’t need to make a statement to Democrats or call the politicians out directly.