Environmental radicals who are part of President Barack Obama's political base want him to cripple the coal industry. They have had some success in that.
Now they are moving on to the natural gas industry, but with less success. Though their demands for bans on gas drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing have been bowed to in a few places, including part of New York state, they have been unable to achieve much on a nationwide basis.
A study being conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency will, in time, either vindicate the gas industry or provide ammunition for the radicals.
Begun in 2011, the investigation is intended to provide science-based guidance on what, if anything, the government needs to do to regulate hydraulic fracturing. The most radical of environmentalists say the practice should be banned.
But "fracking," as it is known by many, has been in use for decades to fracture rock formations containing gas and oil. During that time, we have heard of no serious instances of water pollution resulting from fracking.
EPA researchers are looking at every aspect of the practice. Recently, the agency released a progress report on its study.
Information from companies that have fracked nearly 25,000 wells is being studied. Data from water wells is being considered. Reports on chemicals used in thousands of fracked wells are being analyzed. That, in essence, was the EPA's progress report.
The full report is not scheduled to be completed until 2014, and no one in government seems to think the process can be accelerated. That is not entirely a bad thing. Hopefully, it indicates the EPA is attempting to conduct a comprehensive, scientifically sound study.
Neither EPA officials nor Obama should allow environmental radicals to sway the study or policy regarding gas and oil drilling. As the EPA itself noted in its progress report, gas will play a key role in the nation's clean energy future. Allowing biases - and that is the correct word - against it to deprive Americans of a source of fuel would be exceedingly unwise.