Archive for January, 2011


No Fracking Way in NC

Opponents to Fracking Disclosure Take Big Money From Industry

by Abrahm Lustgarten | ProPublica, Jan. 14, 2011, 2:46 p.m.

5:28 p.m.: This post has been corrected [1].

Congress isn’t going to regulate hydraulic fracturing any time soon. But the Department of Interior might. [2] For starters, Interior is mulling whether it should require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they use to frack wells drilled on public lands, and already the suggestion has earned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar an earful.

On January 5, a bipartisan group of 32 members of Congress, who belong to the Natural Gas Caucus, sent Salazar a letter imploring [3] him to resist a hasty decision because more regulations would increase energy costs for consumers, suppress job creation in a promising energy sector, and hinder our nation2019s ability to become more energy independent.

A week later, 46 House Democrats followed up by signing a letter to Salazar [4] urging him to at least adopt the disclosure requirement because, as Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said, communities across America have seen their water contaminated by the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

“The public has a right to know what toxins might be going into the ground near their communities, and what might be leaking into their drinking water,” said the letter [4], which was sent by the three initial sponsors of now-stalled legislation to regulate fracturing, Hinchey, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

In the context of todays roiling political and energy debates, its not at all clear who will win. But if money is an indicator, the anti-regulatory group has the upper hand.

A back-of-the-envelope analysis of campaign finance dollars contributed to the members of Congress who are speaking out on the issue shows that the Natural Gas Caucus received 19 times more money from the oil and gas industry between 2009 and 2010 [5] than the group who signed Rep. Hinchey’s letter. According to data from Open Secrets, the 32 members against disclosure received $1,742,572. The average contribution from the oil and gas sector to individuals from that group was $54,455. Oklahoma Democrat Dan Boren, who co-chairs the caucus, personally received more than $202,000, including almost $15,000 from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas producers in the United States.

By comparison, the Hinchey-DeGette-Polis group which has 14 more people than the Natural Gas Caucus received $91,212 from the industry [6]. The average contribution to those members was $1,982, 1/27th the amount donated to members of the Natural Gas Caucus.

Requiring disclosure of the chemicals used to drill on federal lands would affect only a small proportion of gas wells drilled in the country each year roughly 11 percent, by the Department of Interior’s estimates. In 2009, 19,000 new gas wells were drilled, adding to the 493,000 gas wells already producing in the United States. According to Hinchey’s office, disclosure on federal lands would set an important precedent, because that information would become part of the public record and, when combined with state-based disclosure rules, would provide a great deal of useful information for those concerned with the risks these chemicals may pose.

Traditionally, the exact recipes of chemicals used in the fracturing process have been kept secret by the companies to protect their competitive advantage, and the fracturing process itself is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The disclosure issue has become a rallying point against natural gas development in the United States because scientists have repeatedly said that they can’t thoroughly examine water contamination cases for links to drilling because they don’t know what to test for.

At least four states have already mandated some degree of disclosure of fracking chemicals: Wyoming, New York, Pennsylvania and Colorado. If federal lands are added to those states, then public disclosure of fracking chemicals would be required on roughly 40 percent of the gas wells in the United States. (It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact percentage because federal statistics don’t distinguish between oil and gas wells.)

The resistance to disclosure mandates on federal lands contradicts the public position of many of the oil and gas companies involved. Chesapeake Energy, the company that contributed so heavily to Rep. Boren, has repeatedly stated that it supports more transparency and believes the chemicals used in fracturing should be disclosed.

Nicholas Kusnetz contributed to this report.

Correction: The original version of this story represented a statement made by Rep. Maurice Hinchey about the letter he sent to the Department of Interior as a quotation from the letter itself. The story has been revised to make the distinction between his statement, and the letter.

Campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, 2009-2010

Source: Open Secrets [7]

To the: Natural Gas Caucus

Tim Murphy (R-PA)Co-Chair, Natural Gas Caucus $202,500
Dan Boren (D-OK)Co-Chair, Natural Gas Caucus $96,350
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) $57,500
Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) $0
John Shadegg (R-AZ) $12,400
Lee Terry (R-NE) $52,650
Dan Burton (R-IN) $2,600
Frank Lucas (R-OK) $48,350
Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)     $19,500
Jim Costa (D-CA) $59,900
Christopher Lee (R-NY) $16,650
Jason Altmire (D-PA) $10,450
Kevin Brady (R-TX) $91,400
John Fleming (R-LA) $121,650
John Sullivan (R-OK) $124,800
Bill Shuster (R-PA) $25,000
Sue Myrick (R-NC) $21,000
Rob Bishop (R-UT) $17,750
Glenn Thompson (R-PA) $55,072
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) $89,550
Mark Critz (D-PA) $0
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) $7,000
Thaddeus McCotter(R-MI) $3,000
Denny Rehberg (R-MT) $35,550
Mike Conaway (R-TX) $132,100
Tom Cole (R-OK) $80,500
Gene Green (D-TX) $83,600
Wally Herger (R-CA) $7,000
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) $49,900
Mike Coffman (R-CO) $44,250
Ralph Hall (R-TX) $48,750
Mike Ross (D-AR) $125,850
Total $1,742,572

Campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, 2009-2010

Source: Open Secrets [7]

To the: Hinchey-DeGette-Polis group

Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY) $0
Diana DeGette (D-CO) $2,750
Jared Polis (D-CO) $0
Gary Ackerman (D-NY) $5,800
Barbara Lee (D-CA) $3,250
Howard L. Berman (D-CA) $0
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) $6,062
Lois Capps (D-CA) $0
William Lacy Clay (D-MO) $0
Steve Cohen (D-TN) $0
Gerald Connolly (D-VA) $4,500
Keith Ellison (D-MN) $1,750
Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) $0
Sam Farr (D-CA) $0
Barney Frank (D-MA) $0
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) $2,500
Mazie Hirono (D-HI) $4,000
Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) $0
Michael M. Honda (D-CA) $1,000
Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) $0
James R. Langevin (D-RI) $0
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) $2,500
Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) $7,700
Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) $9,500
Betty McCollum (D-MN) $0
Mike Thompson (D-MS) $5,250
James P. Moran (D-VA) $1,500
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) $15,100
John W. Olver (D-MA) $3,000
William L. Owens (D-NY) $0
John P. Sarbanes (D-MD) $4,050
Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL) $0
Jose Serrano (D-NY) $0
Jackie Speier (D-CA) $0
Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA) $0
Paul Tonko (D-NY) $4,000
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) $6,000
Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA) $0
Mike Quigley (D-IL) $0
Chellie Pingree (D-ME) $0
Jay Inslee (D-WA) $0
Bob Filner (D-CA) $0
Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) $0
Donna F. Edwards (D-TX) $1,000
Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ) $0
Adam Smith (D-WA) $0
Total $91,212

Truer words were never spoken……..

Source: Media Matters| David Brock

TRANSCRIPT:

BROCK: This morning you released a video condemning your critics for highlighting the danger posed by the Right’s stoking of anti-government anger and violence. You attacked those who, like me, are concerned that irresponsible rhetoric could motivate troubled people to do the unthinkable. In your video you accused your critics of engaging in “blood libel” and inciting violence simply by speaking out against it.

I agree with you that the “monstrous act of criminality” committed this past weekend in Arizona stands on its own and that we as Americans are better than mindless finger-pointing in the tragedy’s wake. I also endorse your purported desire to “peacefully engage in the great debates of our time.”

Since early 2009, when the Right ratcheted up its attacks on President Obama and progressive policies, I have warned about the very real dangers of extreme anti-government rhetoric. Last October, I said on national television that the use of violent imagery creates a climate of fear, suspicion and paranoia that could lead to another Oklahoma City.

During the culture wars of the 1990s, right-wing extremists killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and terrorized hundreds of others in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park and at abortion clinics in the South.

On May 6, 1995, after the bombing, President Clinton said, “There is nothing patriotic about hating your government or pretending you can hate your government but love your country.”

This fall I was especially concerned with three assassination attempts directly linked to your ally and fellow Fox News contributor Glenn Beck.

Soon after, Beck poisoned Nancy Pelosi in effigy on his set, a man threatened to firebomb Pelosi’s San Francisco residence. The man’s mother said her son got all his ideas from Fox News.

In March, Senator Patty Murray received a death threat after voting to reform our nation’s health care system. The potential assassin said she had a target on her back and it would only take one bullet to accomplish his objective. Charles Wilson was arrested and convicted for repeatedly threatening to kill Murray. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Wilson’s cousin submitted a memo to the court arguing for leniency.

The cousin wrote:

“What happened later with Charlie is something I think I can understand. He became basically housebound due to illness and his small world became even smaller. His brother got him a computer and he was able to stay connected with family. And he watched television and found Glenn Beck…I found Glenn Beck about the same time that Charlie did and I understand how his fears were grown and fostered by Mr. Beck’s persuasive personality…While his actions were undeniably wrong and his choices terrible, in part they were the actions of others played out against a very gullible Charlie. He was under the spell that Glenn Beck cast, aided by the turbulent times in our economy.”

Finally, in a jailhouse interview this summer, California gunman Byron Williams said he was inspired by Beck — whom he called his “schoolteacher on TV” — to try to assassinate the staff of a liberal philanthropic foundation in San Francisco.

When I publicly called on you to use your leadership position to tone down the rhetoric of Beck, Tea Party leaders and other right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, I also noted your use of phrases on the campaign trail such as “Don’t Retreat, Instead RELOAD.”

In response to my request, you made a deliberate decision to align yourself with Beck — you went on his radio show and said “I stand with you, Glenn” — and took no responsibility for your own words and actions.

Congresswoman Giffords, who is clinging to life in an Arizona hospital as I speak, did have something to say about your actions.

GIFFORDS (video clip): For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.

Gabby voted for the three cornerstones of the Obama Presidency: the economic stimulus program, the health care legislation, and caps on carbon emissions. She opposed the draconian Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants. Her opponent Jesse Kelly was a Tea Party extremist who said things like “we’re going to show them what a mob looks like.” Karl Rove and his allies ran hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV commercials to elect him and defeat Gabby.

In your video, you predictably blame the media for libeling you. My view is you and your right-wing conspirators have gotten off easy. Most in the press dismiss the import of your words as careless constructions or run-of-the mill political phrases, presuming you do not understand or mean what you say and do.

But I know what you do. We are just off a campaign cycle in which you and the Republican candidates you supported raised the prospect of armed revolt if Washington did not change its ways. Much of your message centered — like the Tea Party moniker itself — on imagery of armed revolution and existential clashes in which the freedom of our country is at stake. This is a lie.

You and Beck and Limbaugh pander to the margin of the margins, employing whatever words win you contributions or ratings, the consequences be damned.

Promoting anti-government extremism is your business. Without it you are nothing. And you know it.

Instead of posting videos in the dark of night, I challenge you to have the peaceful debate you say you want — with me — at the time and place and in the venue of your choosing.

Governor Palin, at this time of national mourning, you owe the American people a more honest explanation of your words and actions than the one you issued today.

Maybe then you could stop dwelling over your own PR troubles and join me in trying to prevent such a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

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