Friday, August 8, 2014

Have Fracktivists Been Played In Colorado's Fracking Wars?

Mocking the frackers.

The past two weeks have been tumultuous in Colorado's fracking wars. First, we who oppose poisoning and despoiling our state with frack wells were mocked in an ad put out last week which actually compared us to 'Flat Earth believers'.   The 60-second ad, sponsored by an industry front group called "the Environmental Policy Alliance"  opens with a picture of a house and a sign outside that reads 'Anti-fracking Meeting Tonight'.   A narrator then says: 'Wonder who's driving the conversation about fracking in Colorado?' It then shifts to four people sitting at a table, including one holding a sock puppet and one munching on spray cheese and cheese balls.

The man holding the gavel then says: "Last week's meeting on whether the Moon is really made of green cheese was very enlightening."

Ho, ho, ho! Har, har, hardee, har, har! You really want to broadcast an ad like that in a state which ranks second in the nation in the number of people (per capita) holding college degrees? Would you not think that strategy would backfire on your sorry asses? Well, 'No', according to Anastasia Swearingen a "senior research analyst"  at the front group.

According to Anastasia (seriously):

"We're trying to bring attention to the fact that everyone from the Environmental Protection Agency to officials in the Obama administration to state regulators, have all said fracking is safe."

Okay, missy, we can walk you through the objections to that PR spatter: 1) The EPA - like the DOE which earlier (2013) did a gamed water study on fracking effects on water in the Marcellus Shale, are ultimately agencies hostage to political winds. They also will follow the lead of the administration in office which brings us to (2)  the Obama-ites fondness for fracking based on their dual  false belief that: a) it enables the U.S. to have "energy independence" (a canard exposed in Richard Heinberg's book 'Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise Imperils Our Future') and b) that it lowers greenhouse emissions (also skewered by Heinberg).

As for state "regulators" (3), in the case of Colorado they fall under the "Colorado Oil and Gas Association" an industry -state alliance designed explicitly to quash anti-fracking momentum or incentives, including possible challenges as embodied in the two initiatives that sought to award local control over fracking.

The second momentous event, which the press only noted in passing, but which (to me) showed how the ad backfired, is that the signed petitions for the local regulation initiatives topped the 100,000 mark (81,000 each were needed to be approved to get on the November ballot).  This was from a total of barely 60,000 the week before. Clearly, educated people in Colorado saw the ad, became infuriated and sought out the local control petitions to make their point.

The topping of the 100,000 petition signatures mark obviously inspired fear and dread in the state's bought out whore regulators and the fossil fuel industry.. They had to find a way out or there'd likely have been hell to pay if Colorado imposed local control initiatives similar to those that already passed in New York.  (Recall, as per an AP 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." )

Anyway, the state's Neolibs and frackers found their solution this past week by somehow getting Jared Polis (who sponsored the two  local initiatives) to agree to a "compromise". Thus, on Tuesday, both initiatives backed by Polis were withdrawn. What did he get in return for the "compromise"?  Well, let's see now....according to the Denver Post:

"A 20 - person commission was announced Monday as part of a compromise to keep two oil and gas oriented initiatives from the fall ballot."

And what, pray tell, will we see from this commission?

"The commission will have 6 months to make recommendations to the legislature which will then consider further legislation."

Oh, terrific! Six months to make "recommendations" and then the (bought out) legislature will have its say in making new laws. Anyone want to bet which way they will go? Here' a clue: The two largest fracking companies - from Texas- cheered wildly at the news. Can you figure it out now? Because never mind the legislature, the 6 month span will allow the drillers to put down 5,000 more frack wells, threatening our air, soil and ground water, see e.g.

So, fracktivists are "flat Earthers" and "Moon made of green cheese" believers? Check out the information in the link above then tell me that with a straight face.

But never mind, the frackers and their whore politicians got their wish, and somehow Polis complied, enraging the state's anti -fracking activists who aptly noted the closed door negotiations (always a bad sign) failed to protect health, safety and property from the ravages of fracking. In the words of Russell Mendell of Frack Free Colorado: "We are outraged."

What is the deal with Polis? According to one columnist's view (Vincent Carroll, yesterday in DPost) he "was at his centrist best".  Polis evidently confided to Carroll that "those who want to ban fracking are like those who want to ban fluoride in water". Which, in fact, is not a bad idea at all - given the nature and origins of this practice, e.g.

So we can then conclude that Polis has likely been playing us all. Sadly, if those initiatives are pulled, it means all those 100,000+ who've signed the petitions will likely not be tricked into doing so again  - for another sham cover by a lying politico only seeking to protect his own hide. Meanwhile, the Neoliberal Dem Governor Hickenlooper has resorted to his usual codswallop, describing (yesterday's Denver Post) the push for the local control initiatives and the action by five municipalities to place bans on moratoriums for drilling as "a rebellion".

Well, fuck!  Of course it's a rebellion because the citizens were acting the part for once - as opposed to being infantile consumers-  concerned only with getting their next Ipad or smartphone. Thus, they saw where their politicians and "leaders" were taking them - to the destruction of their health, property and future welfare!  They realize that unless they rebel they will be ground under by the Neoliberal- fossil fuel dependent state!

In fact, citizens were merely following codes of zoning conduct that have already been well established in this country. I mean, we don't allow porno emporiums to be within a mile of schools, so why the hell would we allow a fracking well to be within a mile of homes, or schools? And in terms of deleterious effects, including pumping benzene into ground water, and methane into the air, as well as contaminating soil, it can be argued the fracking is much worse.

As for Jared Polis, only time will tell whether the Dem pol who once appeared on 'Gasland' with Josh Fox is sincere or merely a game player like most politicos - trying desperately to play both sides (centrist and populist) just to grab votes.

As for residents of the state, it is alarming that so many - including letter writer Steven Katich in yesterday's Denver Post, still have their blinkers on and really believe this latest farce to be a compromise. According to the deluded Katich:

"(Hickenlooper) did what is best for the state and the nation: create a framework that represents all the parties in a setting that ensures a civil conversation aimed at balancing our need for energy and protecting the rights of local municipalities and the environment."

The problem, of course, is that this "compromise" does no such thing. It merely concocts another "commission" to waste time while the frackers go wild and ravage our natural resources and health. There is also no "balance" of interests, nor will there ever be. The entire regulatory edifice in Colorado is stacked against the citizens and in favor of the frackers.

Why do you think the gas frackers from Tex-ASS cheered when the deal was announced? Clearly, those like Steven Katich are the very type of  brainwashed folks that the oil and gas frackers adore.

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