Democrats Increasingly Side With Oil, Gas Industries

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 06:34 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The oil and gas industries are getting a surprising boost from Democrats as they join Republicans in backing legislation sought by companies to maintain the energy boom, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Democrats have embraced the economic benefits to their constituencies of fracking, notwithstanding opposition from environmentalists who have traditionally influenced energy policy within the party. With fracking, fluid is injected under high pressure into the ground to boost oil and gas output.

"When four or five states were responsible for the vast majority of oil and gas production, it was easy to say this is a Republican issue, because most of those states happened to be Republican states," Washington-based energy consultant Kevin Book told the Journal. That has changed as more states benefit from unconventional technologies for oil and gas production, the Journal reported.

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Democrats still emphasize the need for greater governmental oversight. The party's environmental wing remains robust, in part because of the backing of major donors such as Tom Steyer, the former hedge-fund manager who is passionate about climate change.

However, lawmakers such as Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who backs tighter rules on methane, a greenhouse gas that is a byproduct of natural gas production, have been seeking a middle road. "I'm willing to defer cracking down on natural gas, because the economic benefits to the nation have been so great," the Journal reported.

The benefits of the United States being the No. 1 oil and gas producer in the world have been spread around the country to blue and red states alike, propelling the Democrats' political shift.

In states such as Maryland and Oregon, poised to benefit from the production and export of liquefied natural gas, the industry is enjoying greater than ever bipartisan support.

Fracking is being welcomed in swing states such as Ohio, North Carolina, and Nevada, the Journal reported.

With backing for the industry becoming more bipartisan, oil and gas trade groups such as the American Petroleum Institute have started hiring Democrats for their Capitol Hill lobbying operations, according to the newspaper..

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