Last updated: March 10. 2014 10:35PM - 712 Views

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On fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, the energy-exploration process known as fracking, has created huge economic booms in North Dakota, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania over the past decade.

Fracking — which uses underground water cannons to free up natural gas and oil supplies — has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs and vast new wealth in energy-rich California, according to a USC study. This would mean a gigantic influx of new tax revenue for a state government with a long list of unmet needs.

But state environmental groups assert it is dangerous and untested, and vow to fight its use in accessing huge reservoirs of oil beneath Central California.

Thankfully, however, we have yet another reminder that the greenest president in U.S. history disagrees with this alarmism. The Obama administration recently confirmed that it had approved three new hydraulic-fracturing projects off the Santa Barbara coast.

This should matter in California’s debate over fracking. But coverage of the debate rarely notes that the Obama administration has for years dismissed fracking opponents, most notably in a 2013 news conference in which Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said their criticism “ignores the reality” of fracking’s history.

Given their quasi-religious hatred of fossil fuels, greens aren’t likely to change their tune. But the Golden State media, at least, should stop ignoring the reality of the president’s embrace of fracking.

— San Diego Union-Tribune

Plan for pullout from Afghanistan this year

President Barack Obama had little choice but to float the threat of the “zero option” to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai’s stubborn refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement that would allow troops to stay in Afghanistan is wrongheaded and dangerous.

If the United States is forced to withdraw its troops by the end of the year, the Taliban and al-Qaida will almost certainly fill the power vacuum. The Afghan army is not ready to take over the country’s security, which is why U.S. officials want to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train those soldiers.

Nearly 3,500 coalition troops, mostly American, have been killed in the 13 years of war. From that sacrifice, al-Qaida and the Taliban have been severely damaged. Pulling out now would undo much of that progress. Still, the outgoing Afghanistan president is forcing the United States to plan for a pullout this year.

The White House is aware that it will soon be dealing with Karzai’s successor, and the major candidates for president have all signaled that they would sign the security agreement. But who’s to tell?

As reported in the New York Times, of the 11 parties represented in the April 5 elections, six include at least one candidate on the ticket who is widely considered to be a warlord.

Withdrawing our troops in the next 10 months should not be the way forward, and not only because it will be a logistical nightmare and invite a return of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The move could further destabilize the region if India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbors who have fought each other before, enter a proxy war in Afghanistan in a bid for regional influence.

It should be of no surprise that neighboring countries want the troops to stay. All 11 of the presidential candidates vying to succeed Karzai want some American troops to stay. The Afghan military wants them to stay. Everyone is on board, it seems, except Karzai.

With Karzai continuing to spew anti-American rhetoric, he leaves the Pentagon no option except to start planning a pullout, and hope the next president listens to reason.

— The Buffalo News

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