Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hey America, Wake up and Smell the Methane

This week, I watched the premiere of Josh Fox's documentary film, Gasland II.  Very troubling.  The story line confirms that America has lost its moorings and has veered off in a new direction, casting off the poor lost souls who have the misfortune of standing in the way of corporate America's insatiable desire for profits.

The film continues to tell the tale of how hydofracking -- an extraction process in which holes are drilled deep into the earth and then a cancerous cocktail of fluids is then injected at high pressure in order to fracture the bed of rock and liberate the natural gas trapped in the shale -- is poisoning the ground water and in the process ruining people's lives.

Again, we are treated to the mind blowing image of a homeowner igniting water, this time flowing out of a garden hose.  Obviously, some type of gas, probably methane, has seeped into the waterline. 

You would think that this image would be sufficient to alert the authorities that there is something seriously wrong with the fracking process, but not in America, home of the brave -- and Dick Cheney.

With the help Vice-President Cheney, who incidentally is the former head of Haliburton, the company that pioneered hydrofracking technology, the US Congress adopted the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which included a provision that prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Sound familiar?  It should.  This is the same procedural ploy used in the adoption of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that stipulated that the exchange of financial derivatives, like credit default swaps, labelled as "weapons of mass destruction" by billionaire investor Warren Buffet, would not be regulated as futures under the Commodity Exchange Act or as securities under the federal securities laws.  As a result, it was just a matter of time before fraudulent trading practices in derivatives became common place, leading to the collapse of the financial sector, and the subsequent global recession.

Indeed, it appears that the best way to enable companies to engage in potentially socially destructive behavior in America is to adopt a law that contains a provision that prevents the regulatory agency responsible for regulating the targeted behavior from doing its job -- so much for the rule of law.

To date, this ploy has worked like a charm for the oil and gas companies when it comes to fracking.

First, the companies that use the hydrofracking technique are not required to reveal the components of the chemical concoction that they inject into the ground as would be the case if they were subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Consequently, the cancer-causing substances found in poisoned water supplies cannot be traced back to the offending companies.

Second, having captured the control of the political process as a result of  intensive lobbying and the Supreme Court ruling that removed limits on what corporations can spend during an electoral campaign, the oil and gas companies have neutered the one federal agency, the EPA, that has the wherewithal to assemble the necessary scientific evidence that, if not sufficient to convince legislators to take the appropriate action, at least can be used by the aggrieved citizens in a court of law.

Third, since the burden of proof lies with the plaintiffs to demonstrate prejudice against them and not with the fracking companies to demonstrate that their practices are safe, people living in the affected areas have little choice but to accept whatever settlement the fracking companies offer (on condition of signing a non-disclosure agreement) and to move elsewhere.

In the film, a Texas State Assembly representative goes on record to declare that the treatment received by what are most often hard-working, white, homeowners in rural America is no different in kind to what the Indians received as America moved westward in its land grab.  Effectively, they are being run off their land with no recourse to either a political or judicial process.

This turn of events, combined with the massive fraud perpetuated by America's financial sector upon the population at large and corporate America's decision to move offshore both production facilities and profits offshore, makes one wonder what kind of place is reserved for ordinary Americans in the New American Empire?

Related Posts