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.


stephen said...

so sad for you my heat bleeds. <3
fighting the frackers in the needs banning worldwide! :( x

Anonymous said...

I applaud your passion and I wish others had the same toward our planet. But I guess you are not a fan of the Carrot and Stick idiom, where positive actions are rewarded but negative actions are admonished.

It seems as if these groups are using this idiom to move our elected officials toward our goals.
It is unfortunate our political “leaders” have to be pushed to do the correct thing but isn’t celebrating one victory a good thing? Otherwise, people get discouraged and eventually just stop caring and taking action.

Wouldn't it be better to work with these organizations rather than admonish them for what they have not been able to achieve?
Do you feel this criticism is doing any good or moving these organizations in a direction you would like to see them go?
Is there a way to possibly get on one of their leadership teams or boards to try and move them where you feel they should go?

We need to somehow get the people who would rather watch American Idol than get involved with helping sustain our earth I wish I had the magic wand to get more people involved and passionate about this issue, how about a blog entry on trying to generate your passion in others.

Jeff Myers (posted this anonymously as don’t have the accounts listed) but wanted you to know my name

Wendy Lynne Lee said...

HI Jeff Myers:

Thanks for writing.

I don't have any good reason to believe that these greenies ARE using a carrot and stick approach to the governor. If anything, Wolf's offering them a tiny baby carrot (already 3/4 chewed) in exchange for their accepting the big fat stick of his permitting lease after lease. And I guarantee that Wolf will NOT be pushed to do any right thing. he didn't do this because it was the right thing--he did this because it was a politically savvy thing. That 's ALL.

My admonishments is not about what these organizations have tried to achieve and not been able to. Their primary goals are not the end of fracking--to begin with. Their primary goals are the future of their organizations, and their political access. That is what we are seeing in this fawning deceptive behavior.

I have no expectation at all that I'll be able to move them. My aim is to make sure other people can see that their money is going to fund projects that are not in keeping with any ban fracking message. My aim is to make sure folks see the truth here.

And the notion thatI could get on one of their boards--well, my phone isn';t ringing. OPlus--being on their boards is morally compromising--especially the Sierra Club.

Where should they go? They should drop any and all membership not committed to ban fracking. They should stop being offended about losing or offending their damn donors. They should stop trying to curry favor with the governor--and they should dump their absurd civil disobedience policies. The they should recognize the work done by the grassroots whom they ignore offering them help on the ONLY movement that matters--to BAN all forms of carbon extraction and move aggressively toward renewables, serious conservation, social and economic equity.

I don't have any magic answers here--but what I DO know is that the direction these greenies are taking us is still off the climate cliff.

Wendy :)

Ann Ceely said...


I agree with everything you say about the domination of huge global companies being a large problem. I'm in the UK and so have a different perspective. I see their behaviour as having far too many unintended consequences, and the main policy directives coming from people who're mainly concerned with company politics, so they're not at all on top of concerns about what to avoid. Thus they not only lose touch with all the unintended consequences of their company's behaviour, but also don't recognise it when they see it.

Centralised directives and planning cause big problems, too. There needs to be lots of small companies innovating and improving diversity of behaviour. I would prefer an element of profit because it does focus the mind on efficiency. Local and Central Governments (& our UK NHS) are too inward-looking and unnecessarily beaurocratic. They waste huge amounts of our taxes.

Centralised standards (e.g. International Accounting) and talking shops (e.g. World Trade Organisation, UN's Climate Panel, etc) remove the diversity of business behaviour which would help to prevent every economic crisis being global.

Carbon-dioxide emissions aren't the most immediate and important environmental issue. In fact, if deforestation and lack of diversity aren't dealt with first, there won't be much of a productive earth live in anyway.