Monday, March 16, 2015

When the Roots Aren't Made of Grass, the Solutions Save the System, and the Only Thing Hotter than the Planet is the Bacon

About two thirds of the way into Josh Fox' Solutions Grassroots Tour performance at Clarke Chapel, Lycoming College, Pennsylvania, I and my partner, Kevin Heatley, got up and walked out. We weren't noisy--but we were definitive. 

I could say that Fox' gig just wasn't very well put together (it wasn't), or that it seemed pretty cheesy on the side of a pitch for his new installment in the Gasland documentary series (it was). I could say that the "theater" promised in the trailer was wholly MIA, and that it wasn't much of a concert--but the surprise musical guests were really really great.

Nope, I got up and walked out because the Progessive Democrat brand of politics being sold to an audience mostly made up of all the usual anti-fracking movement suspects--and no one really new--is a recipe for reinforcing the very system of commodification and exchange that generates endemic social and economic injustice and--through both willful blindness and the demand that the solutions be easy--contributes to climate change.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
We walked out because it's just not true that we Westerners can keep consuming practically everything at the massive level we do, and that--just by the easy-peasy switch from centralized fossil fuel production to centralized solar and wind--we're actually making a substantial difference.

Here's just a few reasons why:

1. Corporatized solar/wind is as much a privatizing of a public utility as were fossil fuels, and therefore every bit as much the province of the profit motive as are their predecessors. For anyone committed to the view that a system--in this case globalized corporatism--capable of converting public utilities into private profit ventures is intrinsically inconsistent with basic human rights of access to necessities like water, the prospect of any privatized and corporatized control of a centralized power grid ought to be troubling. It doesn't matter, moreover, what the resource is--if people and nonhuman animal lives depend on it, it ought not ever be a source of profit-generation. What goes for water goes for education goes for medicine goes for heat. We have precisely no more reason to think poor folks will benefit from this systemic reinforcement of a national--and global--system of economic class than we did under the fossil fuel barons--and every reason to believe otherwise. By making solar and wind power just another high stakes commodity for big corporate players, we will do damage to our communities--and we will maintain a class structure that was mirrored in that chapel: white, relatively affluent, Western.

2. In addition to reinforcing a system--centralized corporatized utilities--that re-produces an economic and class system within which some benefit while others are likely to continue to struggle to pay their utility bills, still others--out of sight and apparently out of mind--remain vulnerable to labor exploitation and to exposure to harmful toxins in the manufacture of these panels. As reported by National Geographic, although solar panels are certainly an improvement over coal-fired power plants because they produce renewable energy:

[f]abricating the panels requires caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid, and the process uses water as well as electricity, the production of which emits greenhouse gases. It also creates waste. These problems could undercut solar's ability to fight climate change and reduce environmental toxics. (How Green Are Those Solar Panels, Really?)
Among these chemicals is cadmium: "OSHA estimates that 300,000 workers are exposed to cadmium in the United States. Worker exposure to cadmium can occur in all industry sectors but mostly in manufacturing and construction. Workers may be exposed during smelting and refining of metals, and manufacturing batteries, plastics, coatings, and solar panels." (Safety and Health Topics | Cadmium).

To be clear, considerable improvements are and will likely continue to be made in the manufacture of solar panels (see: Solar Energy Isn’t Always as Green as You Think - IEEE Spectrum). There is much to recommend them. 

But to blithely entrust the manufacture and marketing of solar technology to the same economic and political system that generated the conditions of deforestation, desertification, species extinction, pollution, and climate change is folly in the extreme--and that is precisely what the Solutions Grassroots Tour is doing. Indeed, just because a corporation has the word "ethical" in its name is no guarantee that they actually care about how their product is manufactured.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

For example, Ethical Electric--one of the companies for which Fox stumps on the tour--includes nothing whatever on their website about their commitment to insuring that their solar or wind energy suppliers from the "wholesale market" are themselves committed to fair labor practices or safe working conditions--and there is nothing on their "activism" page that speaks to these central issues. Although they claim on their "mission" page to be committed as a B-Corps corporation to "having a positive impact on the world and benefitting society," they provide no information about how they do that other than by being a renewable energy supplier company. Indeed, Ethical Electric propagandizes the idea that just by signing up with them and their 56,000 customers, you're part of a "movement," a tidily cathartic claim for the activist who wants an easy way to feel good about themselves--all the while being given a pass to wholly ignore how solar panels are actually made--and by whom (Ethical Electric). To be fair, CEO Tom Matzzie could rightly respond that the 588,471 pounds of Co2 not emitted into the atmosphere since 2012 is a contribution to mitigating climate change, and that is also a contribution to an improved global environment. But this is cold comfort to the developing world laborer whose potential for toxic exposure is very likely to rise as the competition for alternative sources of energy heats up (no pun intended).

We can tell a similar story about the manufacture of industrial scale wind turbines which requires a substantial commitment to mining rare earth metals--itself a serious environmental and toxic exposure problem:

[E]very wind farm has a few turbines standing idle because their fragile gearboxes have broken down. They can be fixed, of course, but that takes time – and meanwhile wind power isn’t being gathered. Now you can make a more reliable wind turbine that doesn’t need a gearbox at all, King points out, but you need truckload of so-called "rare earth" metals to do it, and there simply isn't the supply. (A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies by Nicola Jones: Yale Environment 360).

The moral of both wind and solar technology production is the same: if the winners of centralized utility scale renewables benefit at the cost of others--especially all of the same others both at home trying to make their heating bills and in the global economies of extraction--as labor and resources--then we're just lying to ourselves that what we have are really "renewables," are a "solution" to climate change--and most of all are in any way socially or economically just. If it ain't accessible as well as renewable for my neighbor here and everywhere, it ain't really renewable for me. And to whatever extent I am participating in the reproduction of exploitive labor conditions in addition to ecologically damaging ones--even if CO2 emissions are reduced--I am still responsible for harm. 

3. The number of times the word "easy" appears on the Solutions Grassroots website is designed to give us the impression that just switching over to, say, Sungevity (where you can get $750.00 and Solutions Grassroots gets $750.00 for finding the company through the tour), is a real and meaningful contribution to mitigating climate change. This is deceptive. Fact is, the word "conservation" didn't appear once in the hour I spent at the Clarke Chapel--but the notion that we in the West can continue to live the way we live, consume what we consume, and ignore what we ignore is crazy. Fact is, we haven't gotten even close to confronting one of the most significant contributions to climate change--one that all the solar panels and wind turbines in the world aren't going to affect one bit: animal agriculture.

4. There's a tremendous lots more to be said here, but suffice it for now that it's a sure sign that we don't really expect any real change in the activist audience--let alone the sort of systemic change that's clearly demanded if we're to mitigate climate change--that no one even whispers "factory farm" in the equation. But the facts here are as plain as the day for any animal unfortunate enough to be born into a factory farm is horrific. From Cowspiracy (COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret)

The moral here is obvious: stop eating bacon. In fact, stop eating beef, pork, chicken, and fish. Stop now. "A plant based diet cuts your carbon footprint by 50%" (COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret).

Here's at least two implications that follow directly from the facts above--neither of which rated any mention at Solutions Grassroots:

1. If we put an end to animal agriculture in all of its forms--including sea and ocean--we could keep on driving our Hummers and still significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 2. Conversely, we could convert every fossil fuel consuming industry, car--whatever--into a solar and/or wind-driven dream--and it isn't going to make any but the most teeny of differences to climate change if we don't end animal agriculture.
Obviously, if we really gave a tinker's damn, we'd do both--we'd stop eating, wearing, using animal products altogether--now that's easy!--and we'd head for decentralized, truly community based solar and wind solutions--with a clear eye to the conditions under which everything we use and consume is produced.

So why wasn't animal agriculture prominently featured in Mr Fox' Solutions Grassroots tour?

Because there's nothing whatever grassroots about Solutions Grassroots.

I actually have no clue what Mr. Fox means by "grassroots." But what I do know is that he doesn't mean:

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
1. Solutions to energy consumption. Fox' program plays like an infomercial for Big Alternative Still-Centralized Energy like Ethical Energy, Solar City, etc. And we've got no really good reason to think that these companies are any more interested in you or your community going solo than Big Gas does. Their first objective is to make a profit, and they're not going to make it off you or your neighbors if you've got it figured out for yourselves--along perhaps with a nifty community rights bill that keeps out the Big Players. Hells Bells, even if the Big Players are renewables, that by itself is no justification for sanctioning the labor abuses and environmental destruction you're buying into when you sign up with them.

2. Looking to the grassroots anti-carbon extraction community for sponsorship of his message: that the Responsible Drilling Alliance sponsored the Clarke Chapel gig suggests that (a) Mr. Fox or his people have no idea what grassroots organizing in Pennsylvania looks like, (b) Mr. Fox simply called up friends he happened to know in PA, and/or (c) Mr. Fox doesn't really care much where the sponsorship money comes from. All are troubling since RDA is in no way anti-drilling. Indeed, the meme "responsible drilling" has been publicly and enthusiastically appropriated by Department of Environmental Protection's new leader John Quigley who--following the governor's lead to "have our cake and eat it too"--is now spouting the meme as the rallying cry for thousands of new wells, compressors, and pipeline.  Mr. Fox mentioned that he understood the Williamsport region as the "belly of the beast." Indeed, it is--and among those he should be thanking for their contribution to the gas industry's despoiling of Lycoming County is RDA. Not only is RDA in no way "grassroots"--arguing for the protection of "special places" that are manifestly not your back yard or your working class neighbor's--they're not even anti-fracking.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

3. The big donors listed on the Solutions Grassroots homepage like the Rockfellers who--behind the green-washing magical words "divestment" have (a) not actually divested from natural gas and transport--at least yet, and (b) were clearly more interested in making sure their companies are viable into the future than they are the future of the planet:

The Rockefeller family is attracting adulatory press coverage for its decision to divest their $860 million charity, the Rockefeller's Brother's Fund, of its investment in fossil fuels. There are at least two significant catches, however. As the statement from the Rockefeller's Brother's Fund puts it: 
 Given the structure of some commingled investment funds and investments in highly diversified energy companies, we recognize that there may continue to be minimal investments in out portfolio in those energy sectors, but we are committed to reducing our exposure to coal and tar sands to less than 1% of the total portfolio by the end of 2014...we are also undertaking a comprehensive analysis of out exposure to any remaining fossil fuel investments and will work with the RBF investment committee and board of trustees to determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years.
Second, there's no word at all indicating that Rockefeller and Co., the family investment and wealth management firm, that says it has $44 billion of Rockefeller and outside money undermanagement, will follow suit. As recently as November of 2012, Rockefeller and Co. was touting North American shale oil and natural gas as a "once or twice in every generation" investment opportunity...It's as if the Rockfeller family decided that vegetarianism  is such a fine idea that by year end all of its household staff are going to stop eating meat. Divest the charity from fossil fuels, but not the family's own personal wealth and not the wealth of the clients that the family earns money for managing. (Rockefeller Energy Divestment :: The Future of Capitalism)

This is a lot of hypocrisy for Mr. Fox to sleep with at night.

But here's the far more important upshot: Mr. Fox' Solutions Grassroots Tour is really just one more example of "in the box," "in the system," "in the Democratic Party's Political Tank" thinking. By making an infomercial for Big Solar and Big Wind, by wholly ignoring the more uncomfortable issues of conservation and animal agriculture, by making an advertisement for the "easy activism" of switching from one centralized industry to another, he effectively just creates one more apology for the same-old neo-liberalism that got us the global disparities of North and South, the 1%, the conditions of contemporary war and terrorism, and climate change in the first place. 

Why on earth would we think that the same centralized structures of power and wealth that got us this list of woe could get us to a desirable future--even a survivable one?

It won't.  Mr. Fox doesn't have much excuse for not knowing better.

But this isn't really about him since neither do any of the adoring fans in his audience have that excuse. I think we have a right to expect a lot better from our leaders and heros. 

But "leader" and "hero" are not necessarily, I have learned, the same thing as "frack-a-lebrity," and Mr. Fox is clearly more interested in avoiding offense than mitigating climate change.

Thing is, we absolutely positively could do the right thing by our families and our communities. We have the roof tops. We have the science. We have the capacity for a conscience. We can say no to a system that systematically reinforces global economic disparity, social injustice, animal cruelty,   and ecological destruction. 

It won't be easy

But when was the worthwhile ever easy? It wasn't easy to get up and walk out of the Clarke Chapel--but to stay knowing that by doing so Kevin and I had signed on to the next fawning endorsement of the same old status quo...nah.

Better to be able to sleep at night.

Wendy Lynne Lee

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Citizens are not Subjects, Reform is not Revolution: A Letter to My Friends in the Pennsylvania Anti-Fracking Movement

Gas Line Trail, Cammal, PA near Pine Creek, 5.14
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

Dear friends,

My message is a simple one: there are reasons why the anti-fracking movement in Pennsylvania has thus far failed to staunch the liquidation of the state, and if we do not begin the difficult task of asking what these are, there will be little left to salvage. 

Our collective self-respect will be among the casualties.

Yet we seem to be far more devoted to maintaining our social ties that our moral objectives. This, I think, is because we don't have a single clear objective. 

When our leaders cannot bring themselves to whisper the word "ban" for fear of offending or alienating their elected representatives--when they let the rest of us act as the Hoplites while they pontificate about harms at their next media event in front of a mic--that is no movement. 

That's something more like a corporation who, like any such organization has as its first objective the reproduction of itself--a reproduction that requires either that the harms continue or that something out of which we can create equal celebrity replace them.

Be that as it may, the Pennsylvania anti-fracking movement has had some spectacular moments--most of them a direct challenge to the system that disenfranchises our citizenship virtually autonomically.

The trouble is that ultimately these moments 
must come to something more than 
the placeholder that the word "movement" fills. 

Because the Gas Behemoth against which we were compelled to move was so daunting, we could not afford to remain a few moments of movement.

We needed to become an insurgency--but we seem not to have the stomach for it--returning over and over again to the same worn strategies, appealing to the same system of law that undermines us.

The truth is that a movement so fragile 
that it cannot even look in the face of 
its critic's arguments--
much less digest those arguments 
and respond to their reasoning-- 
is not a movement at all. 

I have argued that a movement whose capitulation to the thin blood of "halts" and "better regulation" and "moratorium"--notions that appear to infuse its very bone marrow--is not only doomed to anemia and slow death--but to the pre-emption of its very purpose as a movement. 

Why would any industry ever accede to a ban when they know its leaders will settle for the withering diorama that's left of the state forest? When they know that we can be intimidated by as little as a request for a survey of our lands?

The gas industry has billions of dollars at stake--and all the immense power that goes with it. Yet we think standing on the steps of the capitol building in the middle of a workday will move them to reconsider.

The governor tosses off a crumb from the frack cake he will have and eat too, and we drop to our knees in thanks--all the while he signs more permits to poison us with his free hand.

When did our disposition become so servile and cloying?

We thought the enemy was the gas industry, but truly it is our own unwillingness to see that until we are willing to put our bodies by the thousands in front of the drill rigs and trucks, nothing is going to change.

Instead, we lie to ourselves and to our fellows--insisting to them that the next petition will matter, the next 10 am Tuesday protest, the next plea to the Gas Wolf Governor.

And then the harm continues. 
Truth is, we simply do not care enough.
Or we are too afraid to challenge the system 
that allows our employers to fire us 
for participating in our own lives as citizens.

Even worse, the essentially fascist state and its industry partners are more than accommodating of our current strategies because these strategies exhaust us, keep us where law enforcement can conveniently surveil us, and are reliably ineffectual. 

The movement in its current incarnation is a gift to law enforcement--especially since they get to pretend we are some sort of threat, and we get to pretend we're making headway.

But this is all a game. Same moves. Different day. 

All the while the systematic destruction of our air and water continues as the "energy sector" becomes more and more in control of every aspect of our lives.

The thing is--I wish I were wrong.

But this is what I have come to see. 

And I feel certain that no one will want to mount a counter-argument--not because there might not be one--but because we have little stomach for truth, preferring to lie to ourselves instead about how much we're accomplishing. 

The facts tell a very different story.

So long as we continue to invest our faith in a system of law rigged in its very origins and objectives against us--so long as we continue to appeal for remedy to that system even though the predictable outcomes remain the same--we will continue to see the same tragic results. 

And the fault is not the gas industry who simply acts like the consumption machine that it is.

The fault is ours.

We are so myopic and parochial in our vision 
that we cannot see that it's not fracking 
that's the crisis--
it's the system of laws that privilege the wealthy 
and the corporatized that creates us 
not as citizens but as subjects--
not as rights-bearing members 
of communities, 
but as labor, as consumer-- 
as disposable.

More drilling permits, more pollution, more deforestation, more property value loss, more explosions, more damaged streams, more cancer, more asthma, more birth defects, more neurological disease, more harm.

That is the legacy of subjects 
whose value is measured 
in the terms of production and commodities--
not intrinsic worth and not as life.

We are not merely sacrifice zones--we are  impediments that must be moved out of the way--and we routinely oblige.  

We evince this blind faith in a system that makes us subjects--but not citizens--every time we appeal to FERC, every time we seek remedy through the courts, every time we respect a "free speech" zone--every time we move just because we are told to move.

We are convinced of the very myth that law enforcement would have us believe--that if we do not obey the law, we are guilty of a violence.

We know unequivocally that we are governed 
by the threat of force and through intimidation--
but we cannot bring ourselves to 
challenge the system 
that denudes our communities 
and makes a mockery 
of our aspirations to democracy.

We also know that solidarity is forged out of experience--something for which the mere repetition of petitions and signs and press releases and newsletters and photo-ops cannot provide sufficient fire in the belly.

As long as we believe that the system will ultimately work, we will never be able to muster the collective courage to take a decisive stand against what is a fascist relationship between the government, law enforcement, the gas industry, and the burgeoning private security firms that make up organizations like the Marcellus Shale Operator's Crime Committee and its proliferating analogues.

And so long as our leaders seem more interested in celebrity-frack-alebrity--than in actually organizing an insurgency against a system that autonomically disenfranchises us all well beyond the drill bit and the pipelines, we will see at best the cosmetic change offered on occasion as a moratorium re-instatement, a pipeline relocation, a fine.

But only subjects are satiated by these stale crumbs, 
and a cosmetic fix is nothing more 
than a cover story.

Citizens demand more--not cake, mind you, but the far more filling bread of rights exercised and objectives won.

We cannot afford to lose--it is our existential conditions that are at stake. 

It is the existential conditions of our neighbors that are at stake.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thanking the Gas Wolf Governor for "Saving" a Few Acres From the Frack is like Thanking the Armed Robber for Leaving the Curtains After He Guts Your House

Tiadaghton State Forest, construction of a new PG&E well pad, July 2014
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

Fresh out the inaugural gate, Pennsylvania's Governor Gas Wolf wasted no time signing 22 permits to continue the conversion of the state into a giganto-frack-gas factory. 

At the direction of the new governor, (reported by Energy Justice), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),"permitted 22 shale gas wells for five counties in just three days from January 21-23. One of those well permits, Chief Oil’s Teel 4H, is within a mile of a cluster of 19 water wells in Dimock, PA that were spoiled by gas drilling in 2008" (Bad Call: PA Governor Wolf Pursues Drilling on 700,000 Acres of State Land | Energy Justice: Shale Initiative).

The report continues:

The 22 new well permits last week were granted to operators including Chevron, Rex Energy, Cabot Oil & Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Chief Oil, and EQT. Combined, the six drilling companies have been cited for 118 well casing failures by PA DEP, according to a report by Energy Justice Network. Steel and cement well casing failures endanger water supplies across the state.
None of this, of course, is the least bit surprising

Governor Wolf has never as much as hinted that he'd strive for any other but the "have your cake and eat it too" course consistent with the gas company campaign donations, the hand-waving at what would be a disastrous extraction tax, and his promises to use the dirty dollars to fund education.

He even used the disruption of his inaugural speech to reiterate his support for the gas: "“To the protesters here
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
today, I say: help me develop these opportunities in a way that is clean, safe and sustainable.”

The governor's reasoning is deluded to be sure--especially in light of climate change--but it turns out the gas wolf is also smart like a fox.

For in a matter of hours after he signs permits for 22 more frack wells, he delivers a preemptive strike against the potential reaction-of-horror from the anti-fracking movement by bribing it with a teeny tiny "concession" reinstating the moratorium on new leases on public lands.

And we're expected to thank him for that.

That's like thanking the armed robber for leaving the curtains after he terrorizes your family and guts your house. 

That's like thanking the psychotic dictator for leaving one house standing after he torches your town. 

That's like thanking the guy who just beat the shit out of you and took your wallet because he left two of your teeth.

What do these have in common?

You've got no reason to believe that the armed robber, the psychotic dictator, or the thieving assailant are ever going to restore, repair, or return any of your stuff.

You've got no reason to believe that the gas wolf governor is going to do anything other than keep signing permits to frack the state to smithereens.

But here's the really insane part:

You'd never thank the robber, the dictator, or the assailant for leaving your curtains, one house, or your two teeth.

Yet, somehow we're being encouraged by Big Green Sierra Club, and little greenies--The Forest Coalition and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking to applaud the governor's decision to reinstate the moratorium as if being handed a few trees somehow compensates for the other 700,000 acres already robbed, torched, and beat to shit by the gassers--not one inch of which is protected from further battery.

In fact, you're expected to treat what is a straight-up bribe--no new leases on pubic lands-- as if it were a gift even though its a "gift" offered to you after you've already been robbed, torched, and beaten by an assailant who promises you he's coming back!

Even worse--you know the assailant's coming back because he's already unleashed his gasser friends on 22 of your neighbors!

How did we get to such a pathetic groveling place?

PA State Game Lands 75, Tiadaghton State Forest,
new tract cleared by PG&E for a fracking operation, 8.14
Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
Answer: by allowing ourselves to be misled by greenies who are willing to work as hard as they can to make crumbs look like cake, wood-lots look like forests, and shit-diamonds look, well, less like shit.

Let's consider three examples:

1. Pennsylvanians Against Fracking: here's the PAF press release--quoted in full, ver batim:

Pennsylvanians Against Fracking regards Governor Tom Wolf’s reinstatement of the moratorium on state forest and park drilling to be an important first step in protecting Pennsylvania from fracking, but continues its call for an end to fracking everywhere in the state. 
Pennsylvanians Against Fracking Calls on Wolf to Stop Fracking Statewide After Parks Ban

Note first that nowhere in this first sentence (and nowhere in the rest of the press release--read on) does PAF include the word "new." Yet, by excluding it, PAF implies that reinstating the moratorium will stop gas drilling in state forests, etc.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and to omit that essential word "new" is plainly deceptive. Indeed, it makes out the governor to be doing something far more than he is--gettin' the gassers out of the state parks--thereby effectively concealing the tin-trinket-level bribe that this re-instatement really is.

Second, PAF knows that the governor issued 22 new drilling permits, knows what his campaign promises were, and knows who donated big bucks to his run for the governor's mansion.

So why do they keep trying to convince us that he can be persuaded otherwise? Isn't this rather like trying to persuade the armed robber to leave the expensive silverware? He's already robbing your house. Why would he leave the expensive stuff? Hell's bells-- voting for the gas wolf is like leaving your door unlocked. Trying to convince others that he's not really an armed robber is like trying to convince your neighbors to keep their doors unlocked.

But the PAF manipulation of the reader continues:

"Today's decision, just days after hundreds of Pennsylvanians rallied at Governor Wolf's inauguration for a ban on fracking, is evidence of the power of the movement to stop fracking in our state," said Jenny Lisak, of Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, a member of the Pennsylvanians Against Fracking steering committee. “Keeping fracking out of state parks is welcomed news, but I am fearful that the negative impacts of this process will be concentrated in communities already being harmed. We must stop fracking around the state”

To claim that the rally at the Wolf inauguration had anything to do with the governor's decision to re-instate the moratorium on new leases on public lands is simply poppy-cock. Wolf had already made this promise; folks had already been suckered into voting for him on its count. 

At a minimum such a claim commits a post hoc fallacy--assuming a causal connection where there is none for the sake of retaining a self-deceptive belief that the movement is stronger than it is. 

But more likely, the claim's designed to garner support for Pennsylvanians Against Fracking--which would be great if PAF represented itself honestly. But "[k]eeping fracking out of state parks" is not an honest claim--and 700,000 acres shows it. That Jenny Lisak is "fearful that the negative impacts of this process will be concentrated in communities
 already being harmed"--also great--but clearly PAF's not worried about this enough to use the word "ban" in their press releases--opting instead for the far weaker and less definitive term "stop." So I can only assume that what Lisak really means is that fracking should be stopped--but just as the moratorium language implies--until we know it's safe.

Wolf, of course, says that's right now.

A little further down, Karen Feridun--the core of PAF and Berks Gas Truth makes this claim:

“Clearly, Governor Wolf based today’s decision on his willingness to listen to the scientific evidence we had 2010. We’re confident that if he listens to the current science, he’ll have no choice but to protect all Pennsylvanians and end fracking statewide,” said Karen Feridun, of Berks Gas Truth, another member of the Pennsylvanians Against Fracking steering committee

I doubt that anyone seriously believes this. Wolf made his decision based on the capital it would likely buy him with the self-styled representatives of the anti-fracking movement. And if he calculated the effects re-instating this moratorium would likely have--he did a damn good job. 

After all, here we are thanking the armed robber for leaving the curtains.

The notion, moreover, that Governor Wolf has the slightest interest in the science--in 2010 or 2015--has already been laid to rest in his "have our cake and eat it too" remark, so to continue to treat him as if he has anything other than what cache he needs to build to get himself re-elected is just willfully naive--or a strategy to get more sign-ons to PAF.

But what it's not is honest.

 2. The Pennsylvania Forest Coalition (PFC): In a letter sent out today to its list, PFC recommends to its members that they thank the governor for keeping his campaign promise to reinstate the moratorium on leasing on public lands: "Just say "Thanks for keeping your campaign promise." IT'S  THAT  EASY!"

So--should we then thank the governor for keeping his other campaign promises? His promise to continue "natural gas exploration" (such a nice way to put liquidation)? His promise to advance an extraction tax that will institutionalize the industry in the state's tax base? 

Isn't this rather like thanking the robber for leaving the curtains--and then realizing that we also need to thank the robber for stealing everything else and terrorizing our kids--because after all that's what he said he was going to do?

If the fella who's about to beat the shit out of me tells me first, and then does it--leaving two teeth--should I thank him for doing what he said he was going to do because he told me he was going to do it?

Isn't that what consistency requires?

3. The Sierra Club (SC): The biggest win for grotesque political pandering and unabated hypocrisy, however, goes to the Sierra Club who sent out this letter today to its members:

This is big: Governor Wolf just placed a moratorium on new leases for drilling in state parks and forests in Pennsylvania! 

This victory is an important step forward towards protecting our wild places from the oil and gas industry. It wouldn't have been possible without the thousands of letters, rallies and actions taken by changemakers like you, which showed Governor Wolf that Pennsylvanians love their public lands and want them off-limits to fracking. 

Take a moment to show Governor Wolf your support for the moratorium on leases for drilling in state parks and forests! 

By signing this executive order, Governor Wolf demonstrated his integrity by following through on a campaign promise. The governor has listened to the will of the people, and has proven that he takes seriously the constitutional mandate that these lands are held in trust for all inhabitants of our Commonwealth. 

Today's decision is a step in the right direction that Pennsylvania needs in order to move Beyond Natural Gas and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground. There is much more to do, but this important victory should be an inspiration for Pennsylvania to go all-in on public lands protection and the transition to clean, renewable energy! 

Stand up for protecting Pennsylvania's natural spaces. Take a moment to show Governor Wolf your support for the moratorium on leases for drilling on public lands! 

Thanks for all you do to make Pennsylvania a great place to live! 

Robert GardnerCampaign RepresentativeSierra Club Keep Dirty Fuels in the Ground Initiative 

And then Gardner asks you for money.

Unlike PAF, at least the Sierra Club identifies the leases as "new." But like PAF and PFC, Gardner fails to mention the other 700,000 acres of the people's land lost to the gassers--and the thousands upon thousands of private acres that make up the sacrifice zones pock-marking the state.

Gardner also repeats the whole-cloth falsehood that pressure on the gas wolf governor from anti-fracking activists had anything to do with this campaign promise--and not just the political expediency of offering us a crumb and demanding we act like its cake.

But this claim about "letters, rallies, and actions" is especially absurd coming from the Sierra Club who not only refused to support the protests at the governor's inauguration--but tried valiantly to censor their own members from wearing SC T-Shirts to the event.

As for "listening to the will of the people," tell that to the people of Dimock who are about to be screwed--again.

The Sierra Club is, in effect, asking us not only to thank the armed robber for leaving the curtains, but is asking us to send them protection money they promise to use to get the robber to think about not robbing us. 

We have, of course, no reason to believe that an organization so worried about its public image with the gas wolf governor that it forbids its own members from wearing Sierra Club baseball caps to a protest is going to use our money to do
anything else than, for example, pay gentlemen like Gardner to write insipid letters just like this one to get us to pony up.

And what do we get for that donation?

We get lied to. Plain and simple. 

We get lied to by what amounts to the BFFs of the armed robber who not only thieves everything from the house, but then tries to convince us that the most important thing in it was the curtains he left.

But what 700,000 liquidated acres means is that what's left is  a woodlot masquerading as a forest--that the curtains--however superficially pretty--are as tattered as the woodlot is really just a cadaver of the forest already gone.

I'm not going to thank the robber for leaving the curtains, or the psychotic dictator for sparing a single house but torching the village--or the assailant who beats me to shit and then thinks I should be grateful for the two teeth he left.

And I am not about to thank the gas wolf governor for leaving a few woodlots while the rest of the state burns. For these woodlots are just like my teeth--each depends on all the others in my mouth. Once the rest have been punched out, the two remaining will not be far behind.