Then, there is President Obama, who is in (literally) full-bore deregulation, pro-business mode. The latest shocker was in the form of a Friday news dump that took even some in the oil and gas industry by surprise. The White House announced the formation of a Gas Fracking Task Force made up of a panoply of federal agencies and industry kingpins. Its purpose is to streamline and alleviate those onerous regulations that now require frackers to prove that injecting millions of gallons of water and toxic chemicals into shale in order to extract natural gas is safe. This is a huge hint that the major fracking polluters will be allowed to regulate themselves, just as Wall Street is starting to police itself again, and e-Coli and salmonella-contaminated factory farms can now inspect themselves to help reduce bad government overreach. Corporations have long complained that rules and regulations designed to protect the public health and welfare make it too hard for them to make a buck. Obama appears to be listening.
If Republicans were acting like the president, you can be sure there would be an outcry from what is left of the left. But when a Democrat acts like Dick Cheney, and colludes with energy corporations in their ongoing rape of the earth, there is nothing but silence.
Unlike Cheney, though, the Obama Administration has announced its new Frack Force with openness and self-righteousness. The only sneaky part is that the heavy hitters of the oil and gas industry just happened to be waiting in the wings the minute Obama signed his executive order ("Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources") and then proceeded for their first sit-down with the government agencies they effectively own. From Obama's official announcement:
In 2011, natural gas provided 25 percent of the energy consumed in the United States. Its production creates jobs and provides economic benefits to the entire domestic production supply chain, as well as to chemical and other manufacturers, who benefit from lower feedstock and energy costs. By helping to power our transportation system, greater use of natural gas can also reduce our dependence on oil. And with appropriate safeguards, natural gas can provide a cleaner source of energy than other fossil fuels.
For these reasons, it is vital that we take full advantage of our natural gas resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.Translation: You are all fracked, whether you like it or not. But, skilled politician that I am, I will never use that dreaded F word in any of my spiels. Big Business will rake in record profits and provide a few temporary, low-paying jobs. We say that this cheaper natural gas will help power our transportation systems without mentioning that high-speed rail and other transportation and infrastructure bills have been DOA for a long time. This Frack Force will aid my re-election bid by allowing me to continue to spout the canard that it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This is utter bullshit, since although domestic production is higher than ever, the oil and gas extracted from our lands are the property of multinational corporations who sell it on the global market. What is fracked in the Banana Republic of the Homeland will not stay here. It will be sold abroad, at a huge profit to our tax-evading corporations, who will continue to hoard their ill-gotten gains
When it is burned, natural gas of course is cleaner than oil or coal. As the president you elected to serve and protect you, I choose not to mention that the evidence is clear that the actual process of extracting it is a major and proven polluter of our domestic water supply. People are already getting sick by drinking poisoned well water. The EPA is already being forced to deliver potable drinking water to victims of fracking. This, of course, is being done at taxpayer expense. Polluters continue to enjoy our long sacred national tradition of never cleaning up their own messes. We have the SuperFund program for that.
The government bureaucrats are right on top of things, people! Our aim is to lull you and to dull you, and give you that false sense of security. Then, when the next deregulatory disaster strikes, we will have covered our asses through the creation of this phony task force. Ooops! Mistakes were made! We tried, or at least made ourselves appear to be trying. Nobody could ever, ever have foreseen......
The Executive Order of Friday the 13th came mere weeks after oil and gas tycoons griped to Cass Sunstein, the Obama Administration's go-to guy for deregulation, that rules making them divulge the poisons used in fracking are cutting into their bottom line. One of their demands is to be allowed to voluntarily inform the public on just what measures they are taking to keep us safe. The industry currently runs a "disclosure" website called FracFocus, which purports to divulge chemicals used, and other fracking arcana. All their chemicals, of course, are either good for you, innocuous, or rigidly contained within pipes that will never break -- even in manmade earthquakes! The only glitch is thatwhen you visit the website, you discover some of their well data are more than a year out of date! I wonder if the execs were honest about that little catch. I wonder if the White House even asked.
Business Roundtable Chief Lobbyist John Engler reveals on the BRT website that he met personally with President Obama last month to urge relaxation of public health and safety rules in order for the industry to pocket more money, more quickly. He says the Frack Force is a good first step. But in the spirit of bottomless sociopathic greed, he also complained that Obama is not also forming a task force to explore freakin' fracking for oil, too. There is crude a-wasting in North Dakota, for crying out loud. Public lands, Indian lands, private lands. They want it all.
As Dave Dayen of Firedoglake notes in a post today, not one independent outside environmental group has been invited to meet with the Frack Force. Nobody from the National Resources Defense Council, or the Sierra Club, or the Water Council. And most especially, not film-maker Josh Fox of "Gasland" fame. He might have documented the private discussions, or even offered President Obama a glass of fracky-brown Pennsyltucky well water to taste -- and we can't have that, can we?
|The Famous Exploding Tap Water Scene from Gasland|