Joe Biden promised at the end of the election campaign that he wouldn’t ban fracking for oil and natural gas. He’d merely forbid new oil and gas permits on federal land and waters. Pennsylvania voters who have benefited from a fracking boom may soon find out whether he meant it.
Progressives are calling on the Biden Administration to kill plans long underway for a port on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Gibbstown. The project is designed to allow natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to be liquified and then transported by train to the port where it will be exported, mostly to the Caribbean.
Groups such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network oppose the plans because they oppose all fossil fuels and any effort to make them more economical. So far they haven’t had much traction. The Army Corps of Engineers has approved the port, and in December the Delaware River Basin Commission gave its okay. Opponents now hope to get the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block it.
They’re also working to block transport of the LNG. Last summer the Trump Administration approved a rule that allows LNG to be transported by rail. Activists are raising the specter of “train bombs” blowing up as they pass through cities such as Philadelphia.
A formal ban isn’t the only way to stop fracking. It can also be done by denying permits and raising costs and imposing delays via regulation. Reversing the Trump rule on train transport would put the squeeze on the industry by making it more expensive and inefficient to transport.