Where the Federal Energy Subsidies Go

So I’m reading this Yahoo! News story titled “Decades of Federal Dollars Helped Fuel Gas Boom,” and I’m amazed not by the content but rather the tone of the article. The story recounts the federal role in the rise and current economic boom of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the innovative drilling technique that has both opened up vast new natural gas reserves and set off a raging environmental debate. But it recounts this history with a “see, see, oil and gas got subsidies too, so stop complaining about wind and solar subsidies!” snarkiness to it.

A little advice: if you’re going to write with a tone like this, you better be able to bring the goods, and as I’m reading I eventually get to the key paragraph:

But those who helped pioneer the technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, recall a different path. Over three decades, from the shale fields of Texas and Wyoming to the Marcellus in the Northeast, the federal government contributed more than $100 million in research to develop fracking, and billions more in tax breaks.

Look, $100 million in research dollars and “billions more in tax breaks” over a 30 year period is a drop in the bucket the way Washington spends money ($10 billion each and every day folks). And as I read the Yahoo story it’s obvious that what they have is a mundane story that they are desperately trying to sex up with a political spin. I get the spin, but it’s really bad spin.

I have a reliable source that reports that our government will spend $150 billion on clean energy technology over the 2009 – 2014 time period. If you want to be snarky, $150 billion is a pretty good angle for dropping some attitude.

It seems that we can’t get away from the attitude and the political posturing in the news this year. So forgive me for calling out Yahoo! News on this story of theirs, because it’s pretty bad.


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