by Alexander Lotorto
I encourage every reader of this post, pro-Obama or not, to call the Obama For America campaign HQ in Chicago at 312-698-3670 and tell them, "I'm from [your state] and I am opposed to fracking for natural gas. I want the President to vote "no" on more fracking water withdrawals on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission at their next meeting on September 20. We will be watching."
Last night, President Barack Obama gave a speech that has been embraced by many, including my friends and family. I can't say the same for myself. This part scared me and ought to scare you too:
We’re offering a better path, a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where -- where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet.
If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.
Aside from using "clean coal" in the same sentence as "wind and solar," his promotion for full development of shale gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," and its related infrastructure is a commitment to the destruction of rural Pennsylvania, where I live.
Here is a running list I keep of Obama's actions to support, propose, permit, deregulate, and avoid enforcement of fracking and related projects. I'm sure there are many more:
- Senator Obama voted for the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that established the "Halliburton Loophole," deregulating hydraulic fracturing under the Environmental Protection Agency and making fracking chemicals "proprietary" or secret to the public.
- President Obama initiated the Global Shale Gas Initiative in the State Department “in order to help countries seeking to utilize their unconventional natural gas resources to identify and develop them safely and economically.” Through the GSGI, Obama has met with leaders of at least India, Poland, and China to sign bi-lateral agreements to assist fracking, making his administration the largest lobbying firm for shale gas drilling in the world.
- President Obama has ordered his Army Corps of Engineers representative on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to repeatedly authorize water withdrawals from the basin by natural gas drillers, enabling the expansion of drilling in rural Pennsylvania that has caused thousands of environmental violations available on the PA DEP oil and gas compliance website.
- President Obama has remained silent on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s ongoing effort to authorize fracking in the Delaware River Basin, drinking water for 15.6 million people, from New York City to Philadelphia.
- President Obama's USDA now operates in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act by issuing rural housling loans to gas-leased properties without requiring an environmental impact statement showing gas drilling will not impact our food supply.
- President Obama's Securities and Exchange Commission is aware of, but has failed to fix a 2008 rule change that allows gas drillers to overstate their proven reserves to their shareholders by allowing them to rely on their most productive wells and seismic testing for estimates instead of exploratory drilling throughout a given formation. This has led to what many economists are now calling the "Ponzi scheme" of shale gas.
- President Obama’s Department of Interior office in State College, PA, under authorization of the Endangered Species Act, regularly permits gas drilling operations and infrastructure without sending government surveyors to identify endangered species habitat at the sites, instead relying on the paid contractors of the gas industry.
- President Obama’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appointees have authorized the construction of numerous natural gas pipelines, upgrades, and compressor stations that enable further development of gas drilling by moving the produced gas to market.
- President Obama’s EPA has consistently dragged their feet to provide water to households with contaminated water. In Dimock, PA, only four families have received water this year while PA communities like Lenox, Connoquenessing, West Burlington, and countless more are still waiting.
- President Obama’s Department of Energy has authorized five permits for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export totaling the equivalent of 6.6 billion cubic feet per day, or 10% of US daily usage, to countries with which the US has bilateral Free Trade Agreements, undermining his argument for “energy independence.”
None of this is a result of Republican obstruction. Everything in this list is President Obama’s discretion alone. There is no one else to blame except for You Know Who.