The Blog

Fracking America

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The abhorrent practice of spraying our food with toxins has plenty of things in common with hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" the land for petroleum and natural gas. They make mockery of science and health and illustrate the tyranny of the powerful.

Fracking is about tons of water and hundreds of toxic chemicals under tremendous pressure smashing stone formations deep into the Earth, causing local earthquakes and devastation. Out of this chaos gases and oil reach the surface.

The pollution of this industrial process is extensive. Gas drilling contaminates local water and air. And the massive amounts of water and chemicals employed for fracking natural gas and petroleum also contaminate both water and air.

Just like chemical companies behave like feudal landlords and poison our food with toxins related to petroleum, petroleum companies frack America because they believe they own the country.

For more than a century oilmen have been buying politicians and the politicians see that petroleum monopolies have a free hand. Second, the American people in general have bought the ideology of the petroleum industry that petroleum, natural gas and coal have little if anything to do with the planet's rising temperatures. Indeed, Republican politicians reject global warming as a hoax.

Americans know oil boomtowns are rife with extremely difficult and dangerous work, prostitution, and other forms of violence. But the money fracking workers make is so sweet they ignore all hazards and destruction.

Fracked land, for example, becomes useless, drenched by long-lasting poisons. The human community around gas drilling suffers disease and unlivable conditions.

The government, meanwhile, does more than looking the other way.

The George W. Bush administration under the leadership of the oilman vice president, Dick Cheney, convinced Congress to approve the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This law exempted gas drillers from the provisions of the Safe Water Drinking Act. It also cut off the EPA from interfering in the malpractices of the fracking petroleum industry.

I worked for the EPA for twenty-five years. I discovered plenty of corruption within and without the EPA and the chemical industry in particular. This is one of the industries "regulated" by EPA. The source of corruption was no other than the petroleum companies that cooked an infinite variety of chemical sprays with which they remade farming.

So it was not difficult for me to draw connections between pesticides and fracking. Indeed, the last chapter of my book, "Poison Spring," is about fracking.

However, we now have a comprehensive history of fracking in America by Wenonah Hauter, director of Food and Water Watch, an environmental organization in Washington, DC.

Hauter discovered the monopoly temptation of oilmen and put monopoly in the title of her book: "Frackopoly" (The New Press, June 2016). Monopoly, of course, comes with all the baggage of political corruption and violence. Hauter said fracking was "a story about political expedience, influence peddling, and greed."

It is all that and more. Her book explores the vices of corruption and power, how the oilmen conned the government to subsidize them with the latest technologies, land, and money. From 1948 to 2012, for example, the government spent most of its energy money on fossil fuels and nuclear power but only 12 percent on renewable energy and 10 percent on energy efficiency.

Oilmen shaped the country's transportation, energy, and agriculture. That means they are responsible for America's huge contribution to the warming of the planet.

Yet oilmen and coal owners wash their hands and say they have nothing to do with the warming of the planet. They get away with this crime because they have too much power. They also cushion their propaganda through an unusual ally: environmental organizations. By "working" with the oilmen enviros diffuse the danger of oil, natural gas and coal.

Hauter exhibits the Environmental Defense Fund as a model of how enviros sell their integrity for a bowl of porridge.

EDF started on the right path after Rachel Carson revealed in 1962 the horror of pesticides poisoning birds and wildlife. But eventually EDF took the easy way out. Polluters use its name and reputation and, in turn, subsidize it.

EDF filled its board of trustees with Wall Street executives. That inspired it to claim it had found an environmental savior in free market incentives. In other words, give incentives to polluters to cure their pollution. Forget regulation, EDF said, we now can guide the polluters save their souls by polluting less.

This delusion has been guiding the popularity of natural gas as a "bridge fuel," supposedly, to lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So a new slogan is everywhere: "cap and trade." This means putting a "cap" on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and then allowing polluters to trade pollution like a commodity.

Hauter blames "mainstream green groups" for their support of fracked natural gas. These enviros, she says, fail to oppose fracking and, therefore, facilitate the deceptive cap and trade agenda of oilmen and frackers.

Cap and trade was a Wall Street scheme to allow polluters to pollute but appearing as if they behaved as responsible citizens.

The US government bought this scheme of carbon "offsets" and, in the 1990s, vice president Al Gore promoted it. Gore was not a typical politician. He had written a book on global warming while serving as a senator. And, yet, he embraced the fraud behind cap and trade. Republican and Democratic politicians joined Gore and cap and trade was enshrined into law and became the dogma of the EPA and, therefore, of the international "regulatory" community.

Hauter blames America's blind obedience to oilmen and Wall Street for the increasingly dangerous warmer climate of the planet. She says Obama championed fracked oil and natural gas, pushing a "lethal" energy strategy that included fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Hauter keeps reminding us atmospheric scientists are right: we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground and abandon fracking. Wind and solar power suffice to fulfill all our energy needs.

Read "Frackopoly." It's well written, timely, and very important.

Popular in the Community