Democrats need to stop being cowards on fracking

America's economy is definitely growing again, as was evident in the recent reports on GDP and service-sector growth. At the same time, the renewed growth just isn't creating enough jobs or wage increases to really bring confidence back to Main Street, as we saw with the latest jobs report.



President Obama addressed the threat posed by ISIS extremists, and immigration reform in a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Meet the Press.
Ints Kalnins | Reuters
President Obama addressed the threat posed by ISIS extremists, and immigration reform in a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Meet the Press.

But stagnant job growth and frozen pay isn't the case in every industry. In fact, one booming American sector is not only fueling job creation but is also creating new wealth at an extraordinary scale and pace: fracking and the shale oil/natural gas industry.

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Without fracking, there's a good chance that almost no net new jobs would have been created in the U.S. over the past five years. The industry currently supports nearly 10 million jobs, and the wages far outpace the median salaries nationwide.

Fracking success has, of course, attracted the usual anti-capitalist, anti-fossil fuel suspects, who continually publish cherry-picked "factual" studies trying to dispute its all-too-obvious economic benefits. That's in addition to environmental activists, who have staged a strongly coordinated effort to scare the public about fracking. That effort has even included the fiction movie, "Promised Land" and similarly murky documentary, "Gasland," which has been cited for a massive amount of falsehoods from day one.

First off, it's important to remember that even the Obama administration's EPA has publicly stated that there is no proof that fracking is a danger to the environment.

And a funny thing happened earlier this week, when even the staunchly liberal New York Times published a compelling story about how much fracking has meant to the U.S. economy, especially in longtime struggling areas of the country like the Rust Belt. So much for the Left's sadly cynical attempts to downplay the positives.

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Plus, let's not forget the political capital America enjoys by relying less and less on foreign energy.

Now for the outrage.

From the White House to state houses across the country, certain elected and unelected Democrats continue to block the fracking projects that everyone knows will benefit our still lackluster economy.

And nowhere is this blocking and delaying more obvious and outrageous than in New York State.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who won the Democratic primary in his re-election campaign on Tuesday, truly deserves the weasel award for not only not making a decision on fracking for New York, but for delaying his promised decision so many times even the most naïve political follower knows this is just a cruel game.

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Cuomo and his underlings in Albany have routinely tried to defray criticism for avoiding a final ruling in the now almost six-year-long state review on fracking. Their usual excuse is that there's no real urgency to get fracking started.

Tell that to the many regions of the state that have been economically suffering for decades.

It's become so bad that private landowners in New York have even filed a lawsuit against Cuomo in hopes of forcing him into a decision.

That's in contrast to the governor's strong and nimble support for more casino gambling in New York. I don't mean to bash casinos (I actually favor legalized gambling). But let's face it, the gaming industry is obviously struggling and it has always come with certain ethical problems that are very real.

Meanwhile, several areas in Pennsylvania that border Western New York have been enjoying the fracking boom for years. Many people without even high school degrees are suddenly earning six-figure salaries, and so much of the related service industries are reaping enormous benefits too.

And this is all within view of the naked eye for New Yorkers stuck on the wrong side of the border. As CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow told me this week, the situation resembles the economic divide we saw between West and East Berlin in the 1970s! East Berliners could see, but not enjoy, economic freedom.

Cuomo's despicable delay is, of course, very similar to what President Obama has been doing for years regarding the Keystone Pipeline. The White House's continued blocking of the XL Pipeline disguised as some kind of environmental and political "review," has denied several states a needed economic and jobs boost.

And the president and Governor Cuomo are both blocking these vital projects for the same reason: cowardice.

Despite the enormous political boost, (polls in both New York state and nationwide show strong support for both fracking and the Keystone, respectively), Cuomo and President Obama are afraid of angering an important base of wealthy donors who place environmental concerns and a hatred for fossil fuels above all else.

Throw in the list of outspoken, yet ill-informed, celebrities like Matt Damon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Daryl Hannah, and Yoko Ono, and you get the picture. Even if the Cuomo campaign and Democratic party as a whole could live without that money, the bad publicity they would suffer from losing the public support of so many well-loved Hollywood types would likely be more costly than the lost cash.

But none of this is a valid excuse for a chief executive of a major state, let alone the President of the United States. Economics and the job of crafting effective economic policies are often very hard work. But greenlighting all of Keystone XL and approving fracking in New York are no-brainers. And President Obama and Governor Cuomo are acting like brainless scarecrows, cowardly lions, and heartless tin men as they continue to avoid even making the easiest and most beneficial decisions for American prosperity.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Street Signs." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.