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Friday, December 3, 2010

Drill, Obama, Drill!

Obama just gets worse and worse.

It’s hard for me to believe, but now our president is apparently coming out in support of fracking, the natural gas extraction technology that pollutes the air with volatile organic compounds, and ground water and aquifers with neurotoxins and carcinogens, wastes prodigious amounts of fresh water, and produces noise pollution so violent, it has caused broken eardrums among those living near fracking drill sites.

This is a palpably ironic state of affairs. First, much to my incredulous dismay, our president came out for expanding off-shore drilling, right before the BP gulf oil disaster. Then he reversed course and imposed a moratorium on all deep-water drilling, saying we needed to know the causes of the accident to assure ourselves it wouldn’t be repeated.

Subsequent political pressure and judicial rulings forced him to drop the moratorium, which made little sense anyway: Deep water isn’t the issue, drilling is; The largest oil spill in the Gulf prior to the BP spill, the Ixtoc spill of 30 years ago, occurred in less than 200 feet of water and was equally unstoppable. You might think that 30 years of technological advances would make such shallow-water spills easy to cap, but an examination of the BP incident shows that the oil industry hasn’t advanced accident prevention or mediation at all in the ensuing decades. They tried the same combination of ‘top hats’, ‘top kills’, and ‘junk shots’ in 2010 that they tried in 1979, to the same negligible effect.

Given President Obama’s stated rationale for the moratorium, the lack of proven safety devices, the unknown causes of the accident, the palpable failure to stop the spill and mediate its effects, you’d think he’d apply the same logic to fracking.

As the movie ‘Gasland’ so ably demonstrates, fracking has been proven to cause water, air and noise pollution. It has caused groundwater spills, irreversible aquifer damage, and physical damage to wildlife and humans alike, from ingested pollutants, and high-intensity low frequency sound waves.

Homeowners in Pennsylvania, who were more than delighted to lease their land and sell their gas rights in the modern gold rush of the Marcellus Shale fracking bonanza, have found their livestock dead, and their water irretrievably polluted with Benzene, Methane, Toluene and other toxic chemicals. The value of their homes has plummeted. For a quick infusion of 5 to 100 thousand dollars, they’ve lost their way of life, their family farms and homes, and their investment in the future. While some New Yorkers salivate at the prospect of a quick buck for their gas rights, lawsuits against the gas companies are sprouting like toadstools in neighboring Pennsylvania. They’ve lived the dream, only to see it turn into a nightmare. Their rose colored glasses are now coated in carcinogenic slime.

Meanwhile, our president continues to give the impression that he’s a pro-business, centrist technocrat, hardly an agent of seismic change. He supports big oil and gas, and even Wall Street, effete slaps on the wrist notwithstanding. He continues to kill more civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the use of immoral drone strikes than George W Bush did during his entire eight year tenure as president. He continues to abrade our basic freedoms and respect for the rule of law by upholding Bush policies on rendition and detention without trial.

But my god! I thought he’d at the very least be a decent environmental president! Yet here he is, supporting the oxymoronic concept of ‘clean coal’ – such a thing does not exist, fracking, and even Canadian-style oil-shale-sand extraction, one of the worst environmental nightmares in existence! Oh, and he’s also providing more loan guarantees and market support for nuclear power than for alternative energy.

Where is our change president? I am so sick and tired of liberals blaming the Republicans alone for our predicament! Obama’s policies, and his personnel choices to run the departments of treasury, interior, transportation and energy, speak volumes about his true allegiances.

We need a viable third party. Or at the very least, we need some truth out there, not a president who lies to us, as Obama manifestly has, about the severity of the oil spill in the Gulf, the quagmire and human rights horror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and about these environmentally ruinous technologies.


1 comment:

  1. It's sad when both the President and the Governor, both of whom I want to like, make me long for George Pataki, who for all his faults, was at least strong on protecting the environment.

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