Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Big Gas Wolf, His New Pack of Drillin' Dogs, and the "Environmentalists" Who Help Him Run Interference

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

Recently, Nathan Sooy, Central Campaign Coordinator for  Clean Water Action--one of the in-name-only greenies of whom I have been recently very critical (see list below)--posted on a Facebook thread (without citation) the list of Governor elect Tom Wolf's appointments to Wolf's transition review teams originally published here:


When I remarked that this list--a wholesale capitulation to the gas companies--was "utterly predictable," and that "this was what standing on the steps of the Harrisburg Capitol with protest signs will get us," Sooy's response was "Wendy, I have barely gotten started" (Governor Wolf's Department of Environmental... - Nathan Richard Sooy).

Started--with what? 

So far as I can see, Clean Water Action (CWA) has prevented precisely not one minute's worth of the kind of destruction above. In fact, what's underneath that gutted swath of forest--and what's draining into the Muncy Creek just out of camera range is this:

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

"Just getting started--with what? is a fair question. After all, CWA states on its website that part of their mission is to stand up for the Clean Water Act--and that would be great--if they actually did that consistently. But, while it may strike CWA folks as crazy, it turns out that clean water is intimately associated with clean air. And CWA's support as part of the faux-coalition, Pennsylvanians Against Fracking (PAF), of governor elect Tom Wolf simply puts the lie to PAF's commitment to the Clean Air Act.

As I showed here, THE WRENCH: I "Heart" Wolf: Why IREX Should send Pennsylvanians Against Fracking a Thank You! Card, Wolf has his hands about as deeply in the pockets of the fossil fuel energy industry as did Corbett--with one caveat:

Wolf is going to pretend to be on the side of clean air and water.

Corbett didn't bother.

And one aspiration:

Wolf believes fervently that he can be re-elected.

That makes Wolf even more dangerous since under his administration many among at least the Democrats (who seem to want to be told they can safely go to sleep) are clearly willing to provide him cover for the sake of keeping the party in power--all the while the gas industry and its affiliates among the pipeliners plan to just keep drilling the state into oblivion, and pumping out the gas to the export depots.

Here's a bit of problem-pipeline--in case you're wondering what that might look like--same location, buried under that topsoil and straw. Pretty nasty--and hazardous to exposure both for water and air. That's drilling mud, and it's both quite irritating to the skin and to the lungs.

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

If CWA's association with PAF isn't sufficient for you, fine. Here's CWA's own endorsement of Wolf:

The November 4th election saw the loss of pro-environment seats in both houses of the legislature, predicting further attacks on the environment.  
Fortunately, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf will have significant power to block those attacks and to move forward on crucial environmental protections, and has promised a cleaner future for Pennsylvania.   

Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter congratulate Governor-Elect Wolf on his victory and look forward to working with his administration to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. (http://www.cleanwateraction.org/feature/5-simple-things-governor-tom-wolf-can-do-pennsylvania’s-environment).
That is called "making sure CWA has a seat at the table" even though its players, like Nathan Sooy, know that Wolf is in bed with W. Kirk Liddell, CEO of IREX to the tune of at least $12,000, and Sooy no doubt also knows that Irex has worked tirelessly to deregulate every bit as much of the Clean Air Act as possible--or profitable. And Sooy also knows that Wolf happily accepted at least $273,000 in energy sector donations. 

It is indeed richly ironic that among CWA's "Five Simple Things that Governor Tom Wolf can do for Pennsylvania's Environment" is this:

Pennsylvania ranks among the worst states in the nation for air pollution and illnesses like asthma. Currently, Pennsylvania does not directly regulate methane pollution from natural gas operations and lags behind other states in controlling air emissions. Governor-Elect Wolf should work with DEP to directly regulate methane emissions from natural gas operations. Additionally, Pennsylvania should enact a strong “Smog Rule,” to limit pollutants like nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.  

None of this is going to happen while IREX CEO Liddell is on the donation list for Wolf's re-election--not to mention the big gassers responsible for the other $261,000. Moreover, here CWA explicitly concedes that it's only interested in regulating--not stopping (much less banning) natural gas extraction. ALL CWA is asking for (and ever so politely) is that Wolf work with DEP to regulate methane emissions--and that means from fracking operations CWA assumes will continue.

And Sooy of course knows that if Wolf gets his way (however unlikely) and gets an extraction tax, there will be even less regulation since fewer regs/less enforcement means more gas production and therefore more tax revenue (more of this below--see http://thewrenchphilosleft.blogspot.com/2014/11/two-toms-sheep-outfit-and-drill-bit.html).

All of this makes it even more richly ironic that CWA posts the following among their "Five Simple Things":

To implement these policies, Governor-Elect Wolf needs to build a team of agency leaders committed to environmental protection and independent of the special interests that these bodies oversee – new leadership for the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Public Utilities Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.Leaders of these agencies should know that climate change is a problem; enthusiastically support renewable energy, clean air, and clean water; and understand that their first duty is to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s citizens.
Let's see what this cast of "leaders" for Mr. Wolf looks like so far. From the PennLive report's list of Wolf's "Environmental Protection Team"

Christina Simeone, Director at the PennFuture Energy Center--entirely pro-fracking on the long-rejected argument that natural gas is cleaner than coal: "Coal job losses are natural gas job gains. If coal plant retirements were occurring because people stopped using electricity, then that is net economic job loss. But that is not the case. Job loss from retiring coal plants is being coupled with job gains in the natural gas sector. In economics, this is called a transfer, not a loss" (Coal isn't dying - it just can't compete: Christina Simeone | PennLive.com). And, there's this gem, Simeone's view of the new EPA regulations concerning coal-fired power plants: "This is a great day for the environment,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. But Simeone noted that a surge of cheaper natural gas from the Marcellus Shale was already pushing power companies to shut down some coal plants. “The reality is coal is being outcompeted. Gas is cheaper, and gas is cleaner,” Simeone said (Pollution plan may have big impact in state - News - Citizens' Voice).

Rob Foxx, managing attorney at Manko, Gold, Katcher, and Fox, LLP: "Robb is the managing partner of the firm and has a diverse practice involving compliance counseling, litigation and transactional work for clients in the waste, chemical manufacturing and development industries and on behalf of cities and municipalities." Foxx, in other words, makes sure regulations are followed--regulations written by and for the extraction industries that donate to Wolf's campaign, and who will see even less regulation (since that will mean higher revenues) if Wolf wins his proposal for an extraction tax. That Foxx represents the interests of polluting industries is clear on his website: Robert D. Fox - Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP | Best Lawyers

Denise Brinley, Vice President and Principal Consultant, TRC Companies: "Support TRC’s strategic initiatives in the fields of Shale Gas, Renewables, RE Power, and Brownfield redevelopment, as well as the expansion of TRC’s due diligence, permitting, remediation and Exit Strategy® service areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New York and surrounding states. Lead TRC's “Appalachian Shale Gas Initiative" - responsible for identifying market opportunities, generating sales, and leading a core team of business development professionals for Appalachian shale gas service growth (Marcellus and Utica Shales in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and New York) (Denise Brinley | LinkedIn). TRC:  "TRC is experienced in the permitting of all types of fossil-fueled combustion and power generation technologies including simple combustion turbines, combined cycle combustion turbines, coal-fired boilers as well as integrated gasification combined cycle technologies."And there's this: "TRC is a recognized, national leader in providing unparalleled consulting services to the natural gas industry, having permitted many of the largest pipeline, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and storage projects in the United States. Our professional staff has extensive experience in siting, permitting, and compliance services, including construction inspection and post-construction monitoring of pipeline facilities, for inter- and intra- state transmission, local distribution, and interconnects to new power generation facilities, ' "(TRC Companies, Inc. - Energy | Natural Gas/LNG). If this doesn't speak for itself about Brinley,  I don't know what does. Except this: she's a textbook example of the government's revolving door. She was Deputy Secretary and Bureau Director of Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields, DEP. 

Nick DeBenedictus, CEO Aqua America: Responsible for the eviction of the residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Community, Jersey Shore, PA to build a three million gallon water withdrawal for frack pads near Williamsport: L’Eau DeBenedictis: Aqua America, Water Insecurity, The Manufacture of Scarcity, and Fracking | Raging Chicken Press. There's much to say about Aqua America's stalwart work to corporatize and privatize access to clean water--not the least of which is its implications for folks who can't afford it, but suffice it here just to point out that few CEOs more transparently exemplify the appropriation--with government's blessing--of public utilities--public goods-for private profit ventures. This appointment speaks volumes about Governor Wolf's values.

This is just a snippet of what we can expect from the new governor. Let's add:

George Ellis, Executive Director, PA Coal Alliance
Shari Williams, Community Outreach Manager, Marcellus Shale Coalition
Steve Winberg, Vice President, Consol Energy

I'll add more later. But you get the idea. And, of course, there's precisely no representation from any of the genuinely grassroots anti-fracking organizations. 

And if you're still not sure about where Wolf stands, how about another picture of what all this means:

Photo, Wendy Lynne Lee

So, it's super clear that Governor Wolf has no intention of paying any attention to CWA's 'Five Simple Things." So, knowing this, what could Sooy mean by "just getting started"?

Could he mean that he's working towards organizing real, arrest-able, aggressively non-violent protests where he's willing to be pepper-sprayed and water cannoned? 

Could he mean that he's prepared to denounce the governor and the governor's gas stooges in a substantial--arrest-able--display of public horror? The kind that would alienate him from the political aspirants at, say, PennFuture?

Could he mean that he's going to make public the fact that the laws are written to protect the extraction industry--and then denounce the Democratic Party for its conciliatory stance for the industry, and against the people?

Could he mean that he's about to make a pubic statement that the moratorium resolution is dead?

But then here's the million dollar question: If that's what "just getting started" means, why didn't Sooy do that before the election?

We all know why--that course would endanger CWA's spot in the Wolf Pack.

So, if you want change, steer clear of CWA and their politically expedient allies.

Or, just look once more at the pictures. 

If you want more of that, stay with the Wolf Pack and all of their stooges, including Clean Water Action. 

For more, please see:







Music Stuff said...

Thanks for all you do... it is really true... a picture is worth a thousand words... PLD, Jim

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

Thanks Music Stuff--let's hope folks read the argument between the pics.