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Hot and Bothered: When Liberals Want Conservatives to Talk About Climate Change Instead of the Middle Class

2:48 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
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It can't seriously be said that my essay tries to avoid controversy among conservatives, as Chait and Yglesias suggest. My paper goes out of its way to stress that natural gas development does require us to think seriously about the risks of groundwater contamination, and to be modest enough to realize that there may be other risks of which we're not yet aware. And I stress that energy infrastructure development raises difficult questions about property rights and eminent domain. (This is a point I have also covered here at THE WEEKLY STANDARD—criticizing Republican presidential candidates, no less.) Had I wanted to avoid challenging conservative conventional wisdom or engaging the critics of fracking and pipeline development, then I would have simply sidestepped those difficult questions.

My paper attempts to promote a serious discussion of natural gas development—its benefits, and its challenges. When Chait and Yglesias demand more talk about climate change, even in context of an energy resource that the Obama Administration and others sees as reducing greenhouse gas emissions—their goal is not to start a meaningful discussion, but to end it.

There's no shortage of talk about climate change—its causes, its dangers, and the challenges and costs of regulating it. But it doesn't need to be the central focus of every paper on energy policy. There is more to energy policy than just climate change, and the middle-class issues I discuss in my paper deserve at least a little attention, too.

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