Archive for corporate interests

Told ya so, frackers: Ohio geologists see link between fracking, sudden burst of earthquakes

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frackers cartoon Clay Bennett

In a previous post, Frackers set sights on largest oil shale reservoir in US... near CA's San Andreas fault, I couldn't help but wonder how greedy Big Oil could ignore the terrorizing prospect of triggering the San Andreas Fault to erupt into The Big One. Apparently, the health of so many people and of our fragile environment means nothing to California frackers.

Did I just say "California frackers"? My bad. I meant Ohio frackers, too. Along with any other frackers, for that matter.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that in Ohio, geologists have found a connection between fracking and earthquakes. Clearly, they've been in contact with Captain Obvious. L.A. Times, previously:

"The process of reinjecting drilling fluids into the ground is thought by some to stimulate minor seismic activity around drilling pads, dubbed 'frackquakes.'"

Take it away, Captain Obvious:

obvious

Ohio geologists have found a probable connection between fracking and a sudden burst of mild earthquakes last month in a region that had never experienced a temblor until recently, according to a state report.

The quake report, which coincided with the state’s announcement of some of the nation’s strictest limits on fracking near faults, marked the strongest link to date between nerve-rattling shakes and hydraulic fracturing -- the process of firing water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth to eject oil and natural gas out of ancient rock.

Last month, Ohio indefinitely shut down Hilcorp Energy’s fracking operation near the Pennsylvania border after five earthquakes, including one magnitude-3 temblor that awoke many Ohioans from their sleep. [...]

They “believe the sand and water injected into the well during the hydraulic fracturing process may have increased pressure on an unknown microfault in the area,” the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said in a statement about the Poland, Ohio, operation.

You just know what frackers will do with the "unknown" word. How did former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mangle it again? Oh yes:

And how did Hilcorp Energy mangle the truth again? Oh yes. They said they are “fully committed to public safety and acting in a manner consistent with being a good corporate citizen.” Because, hey, corporations are people, too, and they're the best corporate citizens EVER.

Sorry, Hilcorp, but you're no "citizen," but you are a disgrace. Hate to say we environmentally-aware types told you so about that whole "frackquake" thing, but well, we told you so. And don't get us started on climate change, the fracking chemicals that contaminate groundwater, and drought.

Speaking of which, if you've never seen Josh Fox's "Gasland," now's your chance. Our own lwdgrfx posted the entire video here.

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"Only intensive push in next 15 years can stave off climate change disaster"

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tar sands keystone xl protest climate change disaster

The New York Times has an unnerving article about a United Nations report that "only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off" a potential climate change disaster later this century:

The report did find some reasons for cautious optimism. The costs of renewable energy like wind and solar power are now falling so fast that their deployment on a large scale is becoming practical, the report said. In fact, extensive use of renewable energy is already starting in countries such as Denmark and Germany, and to a lesser degree in some American states, including California, Iowa and Texas. [...]

Yet the report found that the emissions problem is still outrunning the will to tackle it, with global emissions rising almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century than in the last decades of the 20th century.

That was posted today. Yesterday, MSNBC's Alex Witt interviewed  John Fiege, the director and producer of "Above All Else," a documentary about lives affected by the Keystone XL tar sands Pipeline project. Juxtaposing these two reports in one post-- one on impending climate change disaster and the other on a short-sighted, corporate disaster-in waiting-- should be a wake-up call. But will it be?

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Witt: If completed, the [Keystone XL] pipeline could stretch 2,000 miles from the oil fields of Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Deep in the heart of Texas, a group of rural land owners and student activists came together in an unlikely union to protest the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. The property owners claim they were manipulated into signing over their land to TransCanada. The energy company for its part is saying the pipeline is a job creator that will ensure North America's energy independence. What happened next is chronicled in a new documentary titled "Above All Else."...

Fiege: The companies building the pipeline were surprised to see such strong opposition from people who lived there. The thing in east Texas, they don't like a foreign company coming in and taking their property and they know how to fight back so it is an interesting conflict...

The folks who signed, as they learned more about what the Keystone XL pipeline is, and that its whole purpose is to transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, they didn't know that when they signed the agreement. They also didn't know that the company did not have the permits it needed to build the pipeline. So they felt like they were manipulated and lied to...

You know, another example of an oil project touted as being "state of the art, cutting edge" was the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf Coast that BP ran that exploded. We've heard this over and over again, where oil companies claim they're using state of the art technology-- they probably are-- but we see this over and over again that this infrastructure is not safe. ...

That's one of the main stories the film tells. If you're an individual, if you're an American and you want to fight back against this and you object to a foreign corporation taking your land and you want to do something about climate change, you are putting yourself at great peril and you're going to be crushed by these enormous corporate powers that have emerged and really taken an outsized, you know, section of power and wealth in our society. I think one thing this film chronicles is really a wake-up call for folks in the middle of the country and the reddest parts of red states who don't think this is a good system to have and feel completely disempowered.

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Frackers set sights on largest oil shale reservoir in US... near CA's San Andreas fault

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oil shale Monterey CA fracking Big Oil

California is trying to solve a riddle: how to tap into the largest oil shale reservoir in the United States, one that covers 1,750 square miles, roughly from Bakersfield to Fresno. I'm trying to solve a different riddle: How greedy Big Oil can ignore the terrorizing prospect of triggering The Big One, the health of so many people and of our fragile environment.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a gigantic oil trove that's trapped in San Joaquin Valley's Monterey Shale formation, 15 billion barrels, to be exact. While drilling and fracking could be a huge bonanza for oil companies and create a boom that could transform California's economy, the consequences could do just the opposite. "The process of reinjecting drilling fluids into the ground is thought by some to stimulate minor seismic activity around drilling pads, dubbed 'frackquakes.'" Yes, what California needs to kick start a thriving economy is a San Andreas "frackquake."

So far nobody has figured out an affordable way to extract the dirty, polluting fossil fuel. Good.

But that doesn't mean they haven't spent millions and millions of dollars trying. And, as the Times reports, "Oil companies are now paying farmers for their water rights, land and, in some cases, buying their homes outright to get at the reserves that might lie underneath."

Across the southern San Joaquin Valley, oil exploration sites have popped up in agricultural fields and on government land, driven by the hope that technological advances in oil extraction — primarily hydraulic fracturing and acidization — can help provide access to deep and lucrative oil reserves. [...]

The implications are profound, touching on public health, water use, water quality and the loss of agricultural land. The subsequent transformation also would alter the lives of families living in the resolutely rural communities dotting the valley.

For Tom Frantz, a retired teacher and third-generation farmer, the exploratory drilling is already too much.

"This is prime farmland and they have drilled between 200 and 300 wells in the last 10 years in the Monterey Shale," Frantz said. "Every one took out an acre or two of farmland. Every one has used hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. Each one has contributed to our air pollution. Each one has had spills on the ground of different chemicals and crude oil. Each one is emitting methane as we speak. If this thing happens and there are thousands and thousands of wells — that's scary because an accident is bound to happen," he said.

What may be great for California's economy could just as easily destroy it, along with the lives of its residents. Thankfully, the jury is still out on how this can be done profitably. Leave the damned oil shale reservoir alone. Money isn't everything. Life (as the hypocritical Drill Baby Drillers love to tell us) is.

More here.

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First evidence that ALEC effort to rebrand as being legislator-driven is “sham”

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ALEC general

ALEC is a topic I write about often. Allow me to refresh your memory:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Now that you have some background, here is some good reporting by Madison.com that should hopefully inspire you to vote (Koch-owned) Republicans out in November and get others to do the same. It involves Wisconsin Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa who "voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills":

At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, according to documents released Thursday following an open records lawsuit that cost state taxpayers $15,000 to settle.

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.”

“This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization,” Fischer said. “The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”

That's what we in the bloggy biz call a big oopsie. And it's about time someone went very public about how legislators are nothing more than puppets with people like the Koch brothers pulling the strings. I mean other than Harry Reid:

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In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say.

More details here.

Kochtopus

Speaking of legal issues, here are a couple of good Progressive lawyers, should you ever need one: Barry Scheck and Seth Price. We have a complete list of those we like to occasionally recommend at the bottom of our right sidebar.

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Will corporations have "a chief religious officer" to dictate birth control use?

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Corporations are people 2

Corporations are not people. Corporations don't get married. Corporations don't wear condoms or give birth (although they do screw us). Corporations don't even get a twinkle in their little beady corporate eyes. But even though they are not living, breathing human beings, they have more rights than we do.  coughCitizensUnitedcough! coughBankruptcyLawscough!

And now we're faced with the appalling possibility that the Supreme Court may rule on something that the founders would consider pure lunacy: that corporations have religious rights that trump the rights of women to make decisions about their own health and reproductive needs.

With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Taming the boardwalk," March 26:

I read about some of the "artists, the homeless, Silicon Beach hipsters, surfers, inline skaters and tourists" all coming together on the "circus-like boardwalk" of Venice, and I thought, "Strange but nice."

Then I read about our conservative-controlled Supreme Court and arguments about Hobby Lobby not wanting to provide contraceptives to women — many of whom are probably already taking them — and the thought crossed my mind: Just who is strange?

Allen F. Dziuk

Carlsbad

Re "Court looks kindly on test of health act," March 26

Assuming for the moment that the Supreme Court's conservative majority goes ahead and allows employers to refuse contraceptive care for employees on religious grounds, will there be some sort of test of faith for the employers to make sure they aren't just cutting costs?

For example, we know that many business owners go to church on a regular basis, but surely that is never enough by itself to qualify them as honest Christians. If the employer gets an exemption but sins in his or her daily life, would he or she lose the exemption? Do all religions qualify for the exemption, even if this involves claims by heretics and infidels?

How will the corporation express its faith? Do all the board members have to be validly and acceptably religious, or will there just be a chief religious officer?

Philip Brimble

Los Angeles

***

How the Supreme Court can look kindly on a case that would destroy the basic American principle of separation of church and state is beyond me.

This is a case brought in order to refuse birth control to people who do not share an employer's belief system, but the implications are much larger and more poisonous.

If your employer is against blood transfusions, would those be forbidden? If adherents used only prayer to treat sickness — well, just think of the money insurance companies could save.

This court cannot be trusted to make the correct decision.

Alix Fargo

Altadena

Re "Unfair to Obamacare," Editorial, March 25:

I believe the management of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties should make it clear that they want only customers who present sworn affidavits indicating that they, or any relation, have never used any form of contraception — and then be prepared to close their doors.

Martin J. Weisman

Westlake Village

***

Aside from the obvious reasons for a rejection of this suit as far as freedom, equality, constitutionality and fairness, another reason for access to birth control is the growing worldwide population and the path we are on to do ourselves in rather soon. Why aren't we more concerned about this threat?

But if corporations do end up being able to dictate birth control use, employees should take back their freedom to choose, demand what wages they've contributed to the company's health insurance plan and use the money to buy Obamacare policies.

Joanne Tatham

Irvine

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Warren: "Soon you'll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business."

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supreme court justices corporate

Senator Elizabeth Warren is worried about our very corporate Supreme Court. She's worried that they will rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, just as they decided in favor of Citizens United. And that decision has been a disaster.

To quote one of my favorite analysts, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, SCOTUS will rule on "whether the religious rights of a for-profit corporate entity allow it to refuse to provide for employees insurance that would include certain forms of birth control. In so doing, the court may now be forced to reckon with the question of whether the same corporate personhood that includes the right to free speech also encompasses rights to religious conscience. In other words, Corporate Personhood is back! And this time, it’s got God on its side."

Case by case, this Supreme Court is, indeed, out to legalize corporate personhood.  Conservative extremists have spent decades shaking their political pom poms to cheer zygote personhood.  What next, hypocrisy personhood? But when it comes to actual people personhood, American citizen personhood, voting rights personhood, women's and gay rights personhood, they scurry off to Faux ChristianLand where Fox News [sic] feeds them their next "my belief system trumps reality" talking points.

And now these same zealots are (incredibly) being given credibility by the highest court in the U.S.A.

The following email from Senator Warren landed in my inbox today. As is made painfully obvious by K.C. Boyd's weekly "Upchucks" guest posts here at TPC, the separation of church and state is narrowing daily. This growing trend is serious and is endangering our dwindling democracy. We need to organize our voices and protest immediately, loudly, clearly, and constantly.

Bolding is mine:

Laffy,

Hobby Lobby doesn't want to cover its employees' birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they're so outraged about women having access to birth control that they've taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I cannot believe that we live in a world where we would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here's the scary thing: With the judges we've got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you'll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Birth control is at risk in today's case, but we also need to worry about a lot more.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits – allowing the big guys to buy even more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that's not the job of judges. Judges don't sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that we have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that we have a Senate who approves them.

We're in this fight because we believe that we don't run this country for corporations – we run it for people.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

scotus supreme court koch smaller

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Frack Water ad snarkage exposes motives behind Gov. Brown's fracking push

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what the frack

What the frack, Gov. Jerry Brown? First he's in a panic about the "evil weed", and now he supports the evil deed, as you can see in the following press release. Both issues affect my home state of California, and both are rantworthy.

The good news: My old pal Andy Cobb has put out yet another hilarious video filled with snarkitude that skewers his targets in all kinds of memorable and effective ways. We owe you one, Andy. The bad news: The vile F word won't go away: Frack (scroll).

Frack Water Cologne Ad Exposes Motives Behind Gov. Brown’s Fracking Push

New online video and campaign finance analysis highlight dangers of fracking, influence of Big Oil in California

California Governor Jerry Brown is taking a hit today for his penchant for fracking and dirty energy donations with a new satirical online video launched by Oil Change International (OCI) and comedians Andy Cobb and Mike Damanskis of Heavy Crude Video. The video is the latest escalation of the Big Oil Brown campaign effort sponsored by OCI, pushing for a ban on fracking for oil and gas in the state.

The video parody, entitled “Frack Water,” portrays a Governor Brown look-alike outside a southern California oil field accompanied by a California oil industry representative, in a shot for shot remake of a 2004 Stetson cologne advertisement starring actor Matthew McConaughey:

"In a land plagued by drought, one man stands tall….We won’t tell you what’s in it, but Big Oil Brown’s got it all over him…Jerry Brown’s frackwater. A fragrance that smells like a man…a man who doesn’t give a [bleep] about drought or climate change."

Here is the original McConaughey ad:

Also out today is a new analysis released by Oil Change International that outlines the massive contributions from the oil industry to the Governor’s coffers in recent years. The review shows these contributions have surpassed $2 million since 2006.

The campaign contribution analysis can be found here.

“You can’t buy back your legacy, Governor, even with all that Big Oil cash,” Turnbull said. “California is on the brink of climate catastrophe and fracking up the state will help push it over the edge. Californians deserve better than to be beholden to Big Oil’s desires and befouled by their stench.”

The video and analysis come just over a week ahead of a major mobilization in Sacramento planned for March 15th, where thousands of anti-fracking activists from around the state are expected. More information on the March 15th mobilization can be found at www.dontfrackcalifornia.org.

More from the team at Heavy Crude Video can be seen here.

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