Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How Could The Press Not Know The Frackers Would Renege On Their Promises In Colorado?

A drilling rig operates in Erie in 2015.

It is now well known that  Colorado Proposition 112 was sunk in the midterm elections by nearly 200,000 votes.   In the wake a number of subsequent Denver Post letter writers wailed: "What is wrong with our citizens that they're not able to see this initiative was a GOOD thing?"   Indeed,  its adherents insisted the passing of 112 would bring long sought sanity to neighborhoods throughout the state.

This was especially after a number of disasters including the home explosion in Firestone nearly 18 months ago that killed two men. The incident was blamed on a leaky flowline from a nearby well that hadn’t been capped properly.   The frack well disposition called for in 112 was itself more than reasonable, i.e.

This is given how so many thousands of home -owners living near frack wells have had their lives overturned by noise, odors, and illness - mainly respiratory.  So what happened to sink it?

Mainly the fracker backers -  with $30 million to work with - plastered their brain washing ads all over Colorado TV stations, with the assistance of the inbred (with the Koch brothers) Colorado oil and gas industry.  It also didn't help that the Denver Post chimed in against it, in editorials, claiming "it is easy enough to oppose because though it was billed as having reasonable set backs from occupied structures, the language of the ballot proposal actually would have been an effective ban on future drilling"

To which one can only respond, 'so what?'   The state already has more than 51,000 active wells churning out their toxins, sludge and noise non -stop. How many more do they want? When is enough, enough?  Even The Denver Post, as far back as May, 2014, in a special investigative piece observed:

There’s about one gallon of toxic liquid penetrating soil every eight minutes....drillers churn up 135 to 500 tons of dirt with every new well, some of it soaked with hydrocarbons and laced with potentially toxic minerals and salts...The overall impact of the oil and gas boom is like a death sentence for soil. It could be the next limiting component when we talk about feeding the planet and having a sustainable lifestyle- - because all the good stuff is gone and the soil is being degraded.”

Isn't that serious enough to want to curb future drilling? I would think so! Given fracking conditions have only gotten worse, what happened to the Post in the intervening years?  The question deserves an answer, and it is obvious; The Post has been bought out - as I noted in my April 18 post- by a hedge fund: Alden Global Capital.  This buyout came on the heels of circulation declines which saw the proportion of ads vastly increase as original reporting and investigation decreased.  Basically the Post, like many other U.S. news papers, media, had mutated into a propaganda arm of Neoliberal capitalism.

But what caused my eyes to pop open is how a recent Post editorial ('The Oil And Gas Industry Disappoints', Nov. 11, p. 3D) actually admitted the paper had been gamed by the frackers. We learned therein:

"One day after defeating Proposition 112 by more than 200,000 votes, the industry tossed all of that goodwill in the trash with a proposal from one operator to drill under Standley Lake and nearby open space in Westminster." 

 Oh, the horror! Who would have thought? Well a lot of us did suspect, so why not the Post's editors? Why play like total naifs now?  Would the Post have taken back its dismissal of 112 had it known of the frackers' bad faith? Hell no! They even generated the same arguments in this editorial as the previous one (e.g. "an effective ban on future drilling" blah blah), as well as adding this baloney, in the wake of the Dems taking both state houses and the  governorship:

"We hope the Democrats show restraint that recognizes the important role this industry plays in our economy and in powering our homes"

In fact, the fracked shale oil plays little or no role in "powering our homes". That goes to light sweet (e.g. Brent) crude, shipped in from outside. The fracked crap - kerogen - we produce, is shipped elsewhere, including to China.   As Robert Heinberg explained in his book, Snake Oil : How fracking's False Promise Imperils Our Future:

"Kerogen is not oil. It is better thought of as an oil precursor that was insufficiently cooked by geologic processes. If we want to turn it into oil, we have to finish the process nature started: that involves heating the kerogen to a high temperature for a long time. And that in turn takes energy- lots of it, whether supplied by hydroelectricity, nuclear power plants, natural gas, or the kerogen itself. "

Being an "oil precursor" means it's much more volatile and doesn't take much to explode, say from a collision or derailment.  

 So we take the Post's post game caterwauling with a grain of salt.

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