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Former Obama official: Fracking has not ‘created an environmental problem for anyone’

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Despite accusation by environmentalists, former Obama Interior Secretary Ken Salazar admits that hydraulic fracturing is safe and has not “created an environmental problem for anyone.”

“From my opinion and from what I’ve seen… I believe hydraulic fracking is, in fact, safe,” said Salazar, who left the Obama administration last year. “We know that, from everything we’ve seen, there’s not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone. We need to make sure that story is told.”

Salazar also said that he thought President Barack Obama should approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been the epicenter of an environmentalist crusade for more than five years.

“At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil,” Salazar said. “So is it better for us to get the oil from our good neighbor from the north, or to be bringing it from some place in the Middle East?”

Salazar’s remarks come after Obama touted the benefits of increased oil and natural gas production in his State of the Union Address. Booming production will make the U.S. the world’s largest oil and gas producer this year, beating out Russia and Saudi Arabia. This was made possible by fracking.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemical mixtures more than a mile underground to extract oil and gas from previously unreachable shale formations. Fracking has turned states like North Dakota and Pennsylvania into energy powerhouses and dramatically brought down power costs for households and businesses.

“Cheap energy — the revolution that’s going on in America’s heartland on energy — is making sure that America now has a manufacturing renaissance,” Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff told CNBC’s Squawk Box.

“Washington is not talking about this,” Emanuel added. “The biggest revolution equal to the Internet is the energy independence in the United States.”

Environmentalists, however, contend that fracking can contaminate water supplies and harms air quality — though the drilling practice has never been linked to water contamination. Environmentalists have also contended that fracking can cause earthquakes and even birth defects.

“People living in neighboring communities deserve answers about the dangers and protections for their health and safety,” writes Miriam Rotkin-Ellman with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And our country must stop pursuing reckless, ever-expanding fracking unless, and until, we can ensure the health and safety of all Americans.”

Salazar brushed aside environmental activists concerns and touted how fracking is bringing the country closer to energy independence and more energy security.

“We’re creating a secure world for ourselves and for our children,” Salazar said.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Ohio or Pennsylvania or California or right here at this convention in Houston,” he added. “Letting people know this kind of information… is very important for us.”

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