Speaking at the University of Pittsburgh last month, green activist Sandra Steingraber declared fracking a “feminist issue” — and in nearly the same breath, declared that in the energy sector, “the jobs for women are hotel maids and prostitutes.”

Unfortunately, the derisive language pervading Steingraber’s speech wasn’t an aberration. In a bizarre twist, radical environmentalists have increasingly employed hyper-sexualized, sexist rhetoric as they decry fracking.

Steingraber’s extremist stance led her to oppose even the energy sector’s charitable support of breast-cancer research and detection.

When energy company Baker Hughes donated $100,000 to Susan G. Komen, installed 1,000 awareness-raising pink drill bits at fracking sites across America and distributed educational materials about the disease, Steingraber called it “pink-washing.”

That’s not all: Instead of supporting an effort to raise awareness of a disease that affects about one in eight American women, Steingraber launched an oddly Freudian attack on Baker Hughes’ pink drill bits. “Is it some kind of… phallic cyborg?” she wrote. “A sex toy from hell? In fact, it’s all these things and more.”

Steingraber isn’t the only anti-fracking activist with her mind in the gutter. In a stunning display of insensitivity, Earthworks activist Sharon Wilson recently claimed that rape and fracking were basically the same thing.

The oil and gas sector, along with pro-energy politicians, “are shoving fracking down the throats of Texans,” Wilson wrote, adding that “fracking victims” often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“They are left dehumanized and completely helpless against the powerful oil and gas industry because they are in the way of profits. If feeling helpless to protect yourself against power is not a form of rape, what is?”

Unfortunately for Steingraber et al., the facts suggest that American energy exploration has a generally good record on safety, and has benefitted women and their families.

Take first the alarmist claims that fracking threatens groundwater and air. Despite numerous federal and academic studies, the heads of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have admitted there’s no established link between fracking and groundwater contamination.

Meanwhile, as clean natural gas obtained through fracking replaces dirtier conventional energy sources, the United States is enjoying the lowest levels of emissions in two decades, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

So what of the much-publicized New York Department of Health study that listed reproductive risks as a reason to support a statewide ban on fracking?

Well, it turns out the actual science purportedly showing risks of lower birth weight and congenital birth defects wasn’t so straightforward.

One study New York cited considered “air pollution or stress from localized economic activity” that may coincide with a booming industry, not fracking itself, as a risk to mothers and their unborn children.

The other study cited was promptly denounced by Colorado’s chief medical officer, who said it had outright ignored many known factors contributing to birth defects.

While the risks posed by American energy exploration remain minimal, the benefits to women and their families are significant.

One-third of all oil and gas workers are women, and industry estimates suggest they will fill 185,000 more jobs in the next 15 years.

And far from being “hotel maids and prostitutes,” as Steingraber erroneously claims, IHS Global predicts nearly 70,000 women will obtain white-collar jobs in that same timeframe.

Even broader benefits are enjoyed by women outside of the energy sector. As the United States meets more of its energy needs through production right here at home, the cost of utilities, gasoline and consumer goods have all dropped.

But precisely because U.S. energy policy has such far-reaching ramifications, it’s essential that decisions be guided by careful and honest examination of science, not sensationalized and sexist arguments.

Jillian Melchior is an Energy Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum and a reporter at National Review.