Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Truth vs. Lies In Colorado's Fracking War

"If the Democratic party has become so isolated from its constituents it might want to reconsider its business plan." - Lafayette, CO resident Cliff Wilmeng quoted in The Denver Post, July 20, 1B

"America's most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who have sold us the perverted ideology of free market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the foundations of our society."  - Chris Hedges, in Empire of Illusion, p. 151.

As the fracking wars in Colorado heat up it has become ever more evident that the Democratic Party is being fractured, and large numbers of usually pro-Dem voters will break ranks with the party in the upcoming November elections. Yes, this could enable the Repukes to make great strides including possibly taking a Senate seat (Mark Udall's) but people are sick and tired of "lesser of two evils" thinking. They also understand both parties are subject to the Neoliberal market imperative, so a stand must be made somewhere against it.

Chris Hedges puts the matter bluntly in his book, Empire of Illusion (p. 185):

"Those who run our corporate state have fought environmental regulation as tenaciously as they have fought financial regulation. They are responsible, as Polanyi predicted, for our personal impoverishment and the impoverishment of our ecosystem. We remain addicted, courtesy of the oil, gas and automobile industries and a corporate-controlled government, to fossil fuels. ....

Democracy is not an outgrowth of free markets. Democracy and capitalism are antagonistic entities. based not on personal gain, but on self-sacrifice. A functioning democracy must often defy the economic interests of elites on behalf of citizens, but this is not happening."

Two takeaways: First, any pol who doesn't grasp that democracy and capitalism are in opposition doesn't deserve to keep his job. He will then always be a capitalist-market Neolib toady and be easily bought and manipulated by corporate lobbyists.  He will always place corporate interests over that of citizens. Second, headway is starting to be made here in Colorado by two initiatives that are in the economic (as well as environmental) interest of citizens here. Both these would grant local control of fracking operations to local communities.

The precedent already exists - as of a few weeks ago as per an AP wire report published July 1 (Denver Post, p. 15A),

"New York's top court handed a victory to opponents of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas by affirming the right of municipalities to ban the practice within their borders."

This State Court of Appeals "affirmed a mid-level decision by an appeals court that said state oil and gas law doesn't trump the authority of local governments to control land use through zoning."

Which has been the case in this country for many years. Thus, a neighbor in a residentially zoned neighborhood cannot just suddenly decide to start a hog farm, or now - in Colorado - a marijuana grow operation. Local zoning ordinances prohibit it! The same clearly applies to the practice of fracking,  irrespective of its claimed economic benefits.  It doesn't matter! Whatever those benefits are they don't trump citizens' rights to proscribe the operations via zoning. Indeed, the whole practice of zoning was established to be able to exclude those intrusive, disruptive or inappropriate activities (including porno dives and pawn shops) that didn't fit in with a neighborhood's profile. I mean, Jeebus, why would any right-thinking citizen want pawn shops or sex toy emporiums right next to schools or their homes ? So why would you want a frack well right in your neighborhood?

Here in Colorado, the first casualty of the fracking wars is likely to be Dem Governor John Hickenlooper. He "cannot count on fracktivists' support" according to the Denver Post (op. .cit., p. 8B)  Why?

"The former geologist who is friendly to the oil and gas industry once infuriated the left when he told a U.S. Senate committee he once drank fracking fluid to show it was safe."

Actually, in a Colorado photo-op, this asshole picked up a murky glass of water he claimed was fracked water and drank it before a crowd. (Of course, the punk might have easily later - after the PR appearance- upchucked it all following the usual method of bulemics.)  But it showed most of us that 'Hick' is just a bought and sold corporate whore. As I recently told wifey, I'd vote for Mickey Mouse on the ballot before this turkey.  (Hick's Neoliberal treachery actually traces back to 2012 when he filed a lawsuit against Longmont for voting in fracking regulations which he claimed were "against state law")

Reinforcing my decision, as the Post went on to note (ibid.):

"Hickenlooper announced last week he will work to defeat the measures (for local regulation) if they make it to the November ballot, saying 'they risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment and millions in tax revenue'."

In other words, 'Hick' is determined to work against Colorado citizens'  health and environmental welfare, in the interest of more oil and gas "investment" and "thousands of jobs" - which aren't worth rotten beans if they generate polluted water, diminished fresh water reserves in a drought prone area, contaminated soil and air and hundreds of cancers of the liver, pancreas, esophagus, lungs, brain etc. As for tax revenue, the idiot Hick could get that in spades if he pressed for a level state tax field applied to retail and medical marijuana. Currently,  the latter is taxed much less, so that most Colorado buyers - naturally - will go via medical MJ route to get it as opposed to the retail route. By instead making both tax burdens the same (e.g. at the medical MJ rate), the state MJ tax revenue could radically increase.

More localities selling MJ would also drastically increase the retail outlets and the state tax revenues. While it's understandable many locales would prohibit retail MJ sales out of a false morality, I still maintain if given the choice most residents would opt for MJ stores as opposed to frack wells.

More lies:

Two former Colorado governors, Roy Romer (D) and Bill Owens (R) have appeared in a campaign "PR blitz claiming 'fracking has a 60-year track record of safety here with the toughest regulations and enforcement you'll find anywhere.'"

Which is total, unadulterated BS. If the enforcement and regulations were so damned great, then how is it the Denver Post (May 4, p. 1A.) could report:

"State data also show that 12.3 percent of the past 1,000 spills (since June 24, 2012) already had contaminated groundwater before companies began cleanups.”

Beyond the contamination of soil and groundwater, the Post's data analysis showed that drilling of new wells unearthed an estimated 652,000 tons a year of sludge-like drill cuttings. These are supposed to be taken to special landfills but more often than not  spread them instead on “leased fields” which were totally unregulated.

But see, corporate PR can get the careless citizen to believe anything. This is why it's so critical to obtain news from outside the corporate contaminated mainstream.

Why are Colorado citizens so energized now to the extent they would be willing to dump office holding Dems? Quoting Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado, a statewide group that works on issues of climate change and environmental damage:

"Now you've got moms - and dads for that matter- who are waking up and seeing a drilling rig just over their back fence or when they drop the kids off at the neighborhood school."

Regarding the new fracking methods which were never around 60 years ago and make use of far more intrusive technologies - that can go beneath homes, he notes:

"In the last few years, communities have identified this process as a threat to their health, safety and welfare."

If Colorado state reps then are truly OUR reps and not corporate -bought whores, we must expect they will support the citizen in his bid for a healthy environment not inundated by polluted fracking liquids, methane and soil contaminants. Again, this is because health and welfare trump economic investment and "jobs" - that are really environment destroying, invasive and debasing devices that benefit the oil and gas corporations for the most part.

Other lies that have been circulated include that "natural gas is less a greenhouse threat for the environment" and fracking is safe for water. For example, in respect to the first lie, in a subsequent examination (Denver Post, May 8, 1A) the article pointed out that scientists have found that Colorado's front Range oil and gas boom has been emitting three times more methane than previously thought. The rate, is 19.3 tons an HOUR. This is serious given the EPA has determined methane is 20 time more potent (i.e. higher forcing component) than CO2.   This study was done at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration's Cooperative Institute for Research on the Environment.

As for water pollution from fracking, we already know the extent of it even if the frackers aren't totally forthcoming about disclosure.  According to a 2010 report obtained by Sen. Diane DeGette, the product of an inquiry by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, fourteen of the nation's most active hydraulic fracturing companies used 866 million gallons of chemical fracturing products, and more than 650 of the chemicals named in the report were known carcinogens . Among the choice chemicals documented as having been  injected into the  state's water supply:

- Benzene,, a powerful bone-marrow poison (aplastic anemia) associated with leukemia, breast and uterine cancer

- Styrene, which may cause eye and mucous membrane irritation, neurotoxic effects in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

- Toluene, which may cause muscular incoordination, tremors, hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, emotional instability and delusions, liver and kidney damage, and anemia.

- Xylene, with cancer-causing (mainly in the kidneys, liver) and neurotoxic effects, as well as reproductive abnormalities.

- Methylene chloride, which may cause cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system disorders and COPD.

Clearly, science is on the side of the critics and those who seek to have local bans on fracking, not on the frackers or their PR shills.

This November will determine whether Colorado voters have succumbed to the oil and gas industry's money (as 'speech') and lies, or seen fit to act as authentic citizens - not bought out consumers.

See also:

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