National Energy Boom Blurs Political Battle Lines

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. energy boom is blurring the traditional political battle lines across the country.

Democrats are split between environmentalists and business and labor groups, with the proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline a major wedge.

Some deeply conservative areas are allying with conservationists against fracking, the drilling technique that's largely responsible for the boom.

The divide is most visible among Democrats in the nation's capital, where 11 Democratic senators wrote President Barack Obama this month urging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is opposed by many environmental groups and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. The State Department said Friday that it was extending indefinitely the amount of time that federal agencies have to review the project, likely delaying a pipeline decision until after the November elections.

Several senators from energy-producing such as Louisiana and Alaska have distanced themselves from the Obama administration, while environmental groups complain the president has been too permissive of fracking.

There is even more confusion among Democrats in the states as drilling rigs multiply and approach schools and parks.

California Gov. Jerry Brown was shouted down at a recent state convention by party activists angry about his support for fracking. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has kept fracking in his state in limbo for three years while his administration studies health and safety issues. In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper has drawn environmentalists' ire for defending the energy industry, and a ballot battle to regulate fracking is putting U.S. Sen. Mark Udall in a tough situation.


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