Saturday, November 8, 2014

Inside Look At How Frackers Target Environmentalists - And Why We're in Big Trouble

The map shown, from Food and Water Watch, tracks the ongoing movement against fracking. The map tracks local measures against hydraulic fracturing, as well as statewide efforts to stop or restrict it. It designates exactly where shale gas plays are located throughout the nation and which communities have been successful in taking action to protect their water and their environment by passing resolutions, ordinances or bills against fracking.

Other maps at  different sites (e.g. FracTracker) show the encroachment of fracking into water supplies across the nation,  e.g.

something that bears close attention given the increasingly adverse effects on our water supplies. See e.g.

But as anti-fracking activism rises to meet the challenge the frackers and especially the oil and gas lobby, have not been idle. Indeed, as a recent Bloomberg news story has revealed, one of their top lobbyists - Rick Berman - is teaching the fossil fuel companies how to fight back against green activism. Berman himself was featured on a '60 Minutes' piece which noted how he had to "play hardball"  vs. 'Mothers Against Drunk Driving'. Evidently, it wasn't enough that drunks kill thousands of innocents on the roads each year, Berman had to find a way to fight against one of the primary groups battling drunken driving. So hell, why not fight for the rights of the assholes who want to poison our air, water and soil too - to grab a few extra gigatons of oil (kerogen) from the Earth?

The Bloomberg piece noted a private confab held at the elite Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs not long ago, in which arch-lobbyist Berman confronted the oil and gas honchos and basically told them that if they wanted to keep all their operations going they had to learn to "fight dirty". As he told the gathered planetary exploiters (and please understand the whole world is now being fracked): "You can either fight dirty or lose pretty".

Uh, how about not fighting at all? How about doing what Japan is now doing and make a sweeping move toward green energy - putting tens of thousands to work and limiting CO2 effects on the atmosphere? (E.g. 'Japan Sees Green Boom, Glut', Denver Post, Nov. 2, p. 4K) Of course, in Japan, the influx of solar, wind, geothermal etc. projects is crucial given that all 48 of their nuclear reactors are now idled and they must import nearly all other energy sources (oil, gas). So it becomes critical to cut that dependence. In the U.S., meanwhile, the finding of kerogen stores as well as natural gas beneath our feet has led to the frenzied drive to grab it - but at the cost of our health.

Anyway, back to Berman and the tactics he imparted to the gathered oil-heads. And let us bear in mind here, the Repukes' win wasn't all about dumb turnout but also oil money ($95.5m worth) funding the campaigns of pro-fracking whores in congress. Still, despite the vast money influx, the oil bunch is worried about the anti-fracking movement.  Hence, Berman's call to use "fear and anger" as part of any campaign to advance the fracking cause. As he put it:

"You have to get people fearful about what is on the table, and you have to get people angry that they are being misled"

But the problem is that it's precisely the opposite: people are in fact being misled about the "benefits" of fracking. I detailed much of this earlier in connection with two articles published in the Mensa Bulletin, e.g.

One of the primary strategies advocated by Berman entails using opposition researchers to dig into the finances of board members serving on environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Since these are public groups the information is publicly available. The extracted material is then used to prepare agitprop for both online and billboard ads.  (For example, one particular billboard ad cited refers to Yoko Ono - a top anti-fracking activist and says: "Would you take energy advice from the woman who broke up the Beatles?"- playing on people's stupidity and/or short memories)

Environmentalists were initially worried about such attacks, but ultimately found they "didn't gain much traction with the public or press" - showing that the oil & gas fiends had radically underestimated the intelligence of the American people.

Failing that, the lobbyists and companies blew $2m to use "humor"- based ads to try to get the message across. Throughout Colorado in August, one then beheld a 60-second ad, sponsored by an industry front group called "the Environmental Policy Alliance" that  opened with a picture of a house and a sign outside that read 'Anti-fracking Meeting Tonight'.   A narrator then does a voice over: 'Wonder who's driving the conversation about fracking in Colorado?' The scene then shifts to four people sitting at a table, including one holding a sock puppet and another 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."

 Despite all the money, the ad basically misfired - the idiots who prepared it failing to realize it  wouldn't work in a state which ranked second in the nation in the number of people (per capita) holding college degrees.  So, instead of  the populace perceiving anti-frackers as space cadets, they saw the ad proponents painting THEM that way!

Indeed, polls showed that two initiatives put forward by Jared Polis for local control, garnered way more signatures than needed to be on the ballot and also that a majority of Colorado citizens wanted them. The ads didn't make a dent so, in desperation, Governor Hickenlooper had to call an emergency back door meeting with Polis and oil-gas execs to try to get them off the ballot. After lots of cajoling, wheeling and dealing, Polis removed them and  agreed to a "compromise". This included setting up a 20-person commission which  would take six months to make "recommendations" and then the state legislature would have its say in making new laws.

A Denver Post report on the incident observed how representatives  from the two largest fracking companies - from Texas- cheered wildly at the news.

Why are we in big trouble? Because -  while the pro -frackers use their nefarious research teams to dig out board members of Sierra Club, NRDC etc. and mock them, THEY themselves are protected by the rules of dark money donations. Which, according to Berman "are run through organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors".

Neat! But not for the rest of us - who face the fact this dark money influx enables the vermin (like Berman)  to fuck us all as well as the planet, to a far-thee -well.

Watch the flick "Interstellar" this weekend if you get the chance. Because the dustbowl Earth depicted therein is exactly what we are headed for if the Climate denialists and frackers get their way.

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