Friday, November 21, 2014

I "Heart" Wolf: Why IREX Should send Pennsylvanians Against Fracking a Thank You! Card

What's just tremendously sad and tragic about the 11.18.14 Pennsylvanian's Against Fracking fake Harrisburg rally is that it was never and could never have been about a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or any of its affiliate dirty ventures. 

The fake greens who organized this--Pennsylvanians Pennsylvania Voters Against FrackingFood and Water Watch, PennsylvaniaBerks Gas TruthClean Water Action - Susquehanna Office, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Governor elect Wolf is not only not going to impose a moratorium, he is going to act for the interests of the companies to whom he is beholden for his re-election in 2018. 
Whatever extraction tax he imposed will institutionalize the industry in the tax base.

And that could be the death sentence for any viable movement to end this nightmare of ecological destruction and the complete trampling of property and community rights i Pennsylvania.
Photo, Michael Badges Canning
That these fake greens should act to manipulate the support of people who believe that they have the slightest interest in ending fracking is morally reprehensible--and it must be called out. It drains the life-blood from the most important civil rights movement in the nation--and it trades that momentum for a seat at the table of the party they helped to elect--Wolf's Democrats.

Consider: Why on earth should Tom Wolf spend a minute listening to this call for a moratorium when he KNOWS that whether he grants any such thing or not, these folks will vote for him anyways?

What a boon for the governor elect--he gets to have a great big cake and eat it too--the gas companies who help to fill his campaign coffers AND the vote of an electorate who cares only that he's not the other Tom.

 But here's just one example of why "PA "Heart" Wolf" isn't just a cruel hoax played on unsuspecting anti-fracking activists by fake greenies, but a charlatan's exchange of moral principle for personal advantage:

One of Wolf's campaign donors is W. Kirk Liddell, President and CEO of IREX Contracting Group (President's Letter | IREX CONTRACTING GROUP ). As reported by the Washington Times, Wolf serves on the IREX board of directors (Democrat Tom Wolf reports $2.2M in 2012 income - Washington Times). 

Among a host of other things, IREX "offers a wide range of passive fire protection and radiant heat shielding solutions for the oil & gas and petrochemical industries" through one of its subsidiaries, Advanced Energy Protection (Reflective Metal Insulation, Radiant Heat & Fire Protection Contractor | IREX CONTRACTING GROUP). 

Liddell made a personal donation of $12,000 to Wolf's run for governor, and another $5,000 to Tom Corbett (Campaign Contributions in the Race for Pa. Governor).

Here's a sample of Liddell's environmental convictions from testimony he gave to the National Association of Manufacturers,7.14.2011:

On behalf of the NAM and the millions of men and women working in manufacturing in the United States, I wish to express my support for your efforts to reform the regulatory process and allow manufacturers in this country to do what they do best – make things and create jobs...The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has embarked on a decades- long process to implement the Clean Air Act and its amendments. There is no doubt that our nation has gained enormous benefits from efforts to improve air quality. But the continued ratcheting down of emission limits produces diminishing returns at far higher marginal costs. This means that each new air rule will have a greater impact on job creation than those in the past.
 Costs of pollution abatement are capital intensive. In a time of economic recovery where capital is extremely scarce, every dollar diverted from productive use creates additional pressure to reduce labor costs. When the prices of commodities and other manufacturing inputs are increasing, as they are today, even more pressure builds to squeeze labor costs. In this environment, it is clear that unnecessary or cost-ineffective regulation dampens economic growth and will continue to hold down job creation. For some firms, it will be the final straw that destroys the whole business... That is why it is so shocking that the EPA proposed making an enormously costly Bush Administration rule, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Ozone, even more stringent and costly when a reconsideration was not required by law. One study by the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI estimates that the most stringent ozone proposal being considered would result in the loss of 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and add $1 trillion in new regulatory costs per year between 2020 and 2030.
Translation: Our profits are more important than your health, and even though ozone is specifically associated with, among other things, asthma, our rights as corporate ventures trump your right to breathe clean air. The testimony only gets worse from here, but what's patently clear is that Liddell is willing to do whatever it takes to insure that IREX--and iuts many affiliates--are subject to as little pesky environmental regulation as possible (

Let's put this all together

Wolf sits on the board of a corporation, IREX, whose president W. Kirk Liddell, has worked tirelessly to kill the National Ambient Quality Standard (National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) | Air and Radiation | US EPA). 

Wolf takes money, $12,000 in disclosed campaign contributions,  from Liddell. 

Wolf has made repeatedly clear that he will not support a moratorium on unconventional gas drilling (

Wolf cannot support a severance tax--that will institutionalize the gas industry in the state's tax base and thereby increase pressure against regulation--and support a moratorium and insure additional campaign contributions from his frack-friendly friends, like Liddell.

Wolf will thus support a weak-kneed severance tax that, with a wink and a nod to his frack-friends, will be more than compensated for through lack of enforcement in what's already laughably poor regulation via the Department of Environmental Protection (Pennsylvania Finally Reveals Fracking Has Contaminated Drinking Water Hundreds Of Times | ThinkProgress).

He'll herald the tax revenue as a boon for education and other social programs--and his friends in the unions--including my own, APSCUF (APSCUF Endorses Tom Wolf For Governor) will turn a blind eye to the hypocrisy of a position that trades the necessary conditions of education--access to clean air and water--for the pretense to good policy.

And we'll see more fake rallies that drain valuable time and energy from a movement whose focus on the future has been its clarion call--until now.

The most disturbing thing about rallies like the fake Pennsylvanians Against Fracking event in Harrisburg is not merely that that they provide cover to a governor who is squarely in the pockets of the gas industry, but that they offer him the distinct luxury of getting to appear like he listens when he is in no way required to.

They hold up signs. Wolf gets to feel loved. They go home and get to feel like they "did something." 

And indeed they did: by providing cover to the GAS-Wolf, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking may do more to help entrench the gas industry in Pennsylvania than the industry could ever have hoped in their expensive big glossy commercials. 

IREX should send PAF a thank you card. 

Take-away: PAF and its fake-greenie friends know what they're doing. 

They know they're providing cover to a governor who will do nothing to end the ongoing catastrophe called fracking and will, in fact, act in the industry of the frack pads, the pipelines, the compressor stations, the LNG export. that makes his friends money.

What's worse is that PAF&Co. is willing to sell out you for that spot at the mic, that chance to look like a hero, that invite to the Wolf lunch line.

This kind of mercenary exploitation of a tragedy must be called out because the only thing that can potentially do more damage to Pennsylvanians than a psychopathically profit-driven industry (say, IREX) is the betrayal by those who pretend to speak for us--but who speak only for their own aspirations to fame.

For other relevant essays, please see:


Bill Huston said...

Wendy, please. This is divisive and harmful. You are picking on the good guys.

Which I guess is an improvement from attacking the victims of fracking, as both you and Tom Shepstone both seem to enjoy.

Please reconsider this. Thanks. I am a big fan of your documentary work. I know your heart is in the right place.

But this isn't helpful.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

HI Bill--

Thanks for your comments, but I am neither "picking," nor on the "good guys." These are NOT the good guys. The recent history of Food and Water Watch in Colorado is very similar--an attempt to co-opt the movement in favor of a message ultimately quite conciliatory to industry aims. They cloak themselves in the language of "let's just all get along," but the cash value of their message is concession. Moreover, these are the folks who are more interested on becoming anti-fracking starlets than in actually doing something about this ongoing disaster.

You cannot read this piece, get it that Wolf is in bed with the industry, and still think he's going to opt for a moratorium.

To try to persuade others of that is therefore deceptive and dishonest. And that's PAF.

To sugest that somehow I'm the one responsible for the division is to shoot the messenger.

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Comparing anything I have ever said or done to Tom Shepstone is insulting and unjust, Bill. And what you mean by "attacking the victims of fracking" I have no idea.

More importantly, YOU know better.

What I am in fact doing is trying to prevent MORE victims of fracking, namely, victims of charlatans who would make names for themselves as activist heros on the backs of those victims--all the while playing ball with the darlings of the industry.

If you don't think Tom Wolf is one of those darlings, read the piece again. Wolf takes money from a guy who's comfortable with deregulating OZONE.