Energy

Largely Symbolic: New Jersey Senate Bans Fracking

On June 29, the New Jersey Senate banned fracking within state boundaries in a 33-1 vote. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the environmentally-hazardous process through which methane gas companies extract what the industry touts as "America's Clean Energy Future," methane gas. The drilling industry's public relations term for methane is "natural gas."

While the ban is cause for celebration for those truly in favor of a "clean energy future," it is largely symbolic because only a tiny sliver of the Marcellus Shale actually touches the state. There is actually some truth to the statement made by Energy in Depth's Chris Tucker, who stated that the ban, by-and-large, is "irrelevant."

MSNBC's (GE's) Dylan Ratigan Show "Firewater?" Series: Natural Gas Industry-Media Complex Exposed

The June 8 - June 10 episodes of MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show featured a three-part series titled "Firewater?" It pondered whether drilling for methane gas is a path toward a prosperous "clean energy" future for the United States, or if, to the contrary, the harms of methane gas drilling, caused by a process called fracking, nullify these oft-repeated industry claims.

MSNBC's Dylan RatiganWhile three recent scientific reports -- one by Duke University, one by Cornell University, and one by the Post Carbon Institute -- point to the latter, Ratigan's series portrayed the issue as still up for debate, with both sides' claims having equal merit.

A Laugher: Tom Ridge Says, "I'm Not a Lobbyist" on Colbert Report

Tom Ridge's bookTom Ridge, on the Thursday, June 9 edition of the Colbert Report, claimed he is "not a lobbyist." A quick glance at his resume shows that nothing could be further from the truth.

Ridge, now 65 years-old, has worn multiple hats throughout his extensive political career.

Among them: first-ever head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Bush Administration from 2003-2005, former Governor of Pennsylvania from 1995-2001, and former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from from 1983-1995.

Death Threats in El Salvador as Mining Company Asserts Corporate "Rights"

While a transnational corporation asserts its "right" to extract gold from El Salvador under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), a grassroots anti-mining movement fights for self-determination and its leaders are turning up dead. In recent weeks, death threats have also been sent to radio journalists at Radio Victoria, the sister radio station to Madison, Wisconsin's WORT-FM.

Fracking Insiders Score Big in New Gas Bill, But Americans Not Told the True Costs of Massive Drilling Plan

Corporate insiders peddling the claim that drilling for methane gas will solve America's energy needs just scored big in Washington -- and for these insiders fracking for gas is very lucrative business. House Resolution 1380, given the feel-good moniker of the "New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act " or "NAT GAS Act," was announced on Wednesday, April 6, in the U. S. House of Representatives. The bill is 24-pages long and rewards the fracking industry with tax credits and products to help "drive" consumption. The bigger the vehicle, the more tax credits given.

This initiative to expand the controversial fracking process -- which has already resulted in contaminated wells and rivers and even ignitable tap water for some -- is being spearheaded in Congress by Reps. John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma), Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma), John Larson (D-Connecticut), and Kevin Brady (R-Texas). The bill has 77 co-sponsors, with 40 Democrats in support, and 37 Republicans, from 33 different states.

But, perhaps its most powerful supporter or potential supporter is President Barack Obama. Just two weeks ago, he alluded to being a strong supporter of a bill of this nature in a speech on March 30 on "America's Energy Security" at Georgetown University. In that address, he specifically mentioned T. Boone Pickens's name when discussing legislation to support expanded fracking for methane.

Post-Japan Disaster, Legislators Dish Out Pro-Nuclear Spin

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power PlantThe disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hasn't stopped some U.S. legislators from insisting U.S. nuclear power plants are completely safe, but that support may be based less on facts than on financial influence. Between 1998 and 2010, the nuclear industry invested over $46 million in lobbying, about $18 million of which came from the industry's trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). In addition to simply giving money to legislators who deal with energy legislation, the NEI has also employed congressional staffers and bestowed awards upon members of Congress. Senate Energy Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), still supports nuclear energy, saying Japan's nuclear plant disaster hasn't altered opinions much on Capitol Hill -- but Bingaman has taken generous donations from people and institutions with vested interests in nuclear power. Over his career, Bingaman has accepted over $49,000 from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the place where the atomic bomb was invented. The country's largest owner and operator of nuclear power plants, the Exelon Corporation, has given Bingaman over $38,000, and in 2006 the Nuclear Energy Institute gave him a leadership award. Similarly, House Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas) has taken over $31,000 in donations from the Nuclear Energy Institute, and was graced with the same award from the NEI. Barton, who recently toured the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant located about 80 miles southwest of Dallas, insisted to the Dallas Morning News that American nuclear plants are 100 percent safe.

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Attacking the Messenger: Smearing "Gasland" Producer Josh Fox

Josh FoxGasland, a documentary film that exposes the dangers accompanying methane gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region, has been mercilessly attacked by Big Oil since the film was released during the summer of 2010. The attacks have only escalated both in intensity and volume as the film has grown in popularity and acclaim, reaching their peak when it was announced that the film was a candidate for Best Documentary at the 2011 Academy Awards.

While most of the spin has centered around factual misinformation about fracking, utilizing the prototypical Big Oil, Big Lies playbook tactic, Big Oil has now raised the stakes. In lieu of lying about how "environmentally friendly" the fracking process is, they have shifted to the propagandist's last resort: shooting the messenger.

Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter

WalkerphoneEmbattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Listen to the call here.)

As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state.

The Kochs' Climate Change Denial Media Machine

Charles (left) and David KochBillionaire brothers Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held energy company in America, have poured millions of dollars into creating a web of media influence to increase their power to sow doubt about climate change among the American public. A network of bloggers, pundits, think tanks and foundations get funding from the Kochs, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has received over $700,000, and the libertarian Cato Institute, which has received $13 million from the Kochs since 1998. The Manhattan Institute received $1.5 million, Americans for Prosperity has gotten $5.5 million, the Pacific Research Institute has gotten $1.2 million and the Federalist Society $2 million. This web of think tanks and foundations operates blogs and Web sites and house prominent writers who pump out climate denial writings that help spread the Kochs' anti-climate change ideology. The Kochs' influence isn't limited to fringe media, either. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who writes for the Weekly Standard and the Washington Post, Philip Anshutz, owner of the Examiner newspapers and the Weekly Standard, Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, are just some of the conservative media figures who attend the Kochs' exclusive, private annual gatherings.

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Big Oil's Massive Diesel Injection

Drill rigThe Marcellus Shale lies are unraveling daily right before our eyes. T. Boone Pickens, for example, was on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on Thurs. Jan. 27 to hype up the Pickens Plan. Yet, this is what the Pickens Plan will get us on a weekly, if not daily basis. The New York Times reports:

Drilling service companies have injected at least 32 million gallons of diesel fuel underground as part of a controversial drilling technique, a Democratic congressional investigation has found. Injecting diesel as part of hydraulic fracturing is supposed to be regulated by U.S. EPA. But an agency official told congressional investigators that EPA had assumed that the use of diesel had stopped seven years ago ...The letter said they had not been able to determine whether the diesel injections threatened groundwater. The service companies told Waxman's staff they did not know how close their frack jobs were to sources of drinking water, saying their clients, the well operators, would have that information. Of the total figure, 10 million gallons was 'straight diesel fuel,' according to the letter, while another 22 million gallons was products containing at least 30 percent diesel.

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