Tag: Hydraulic fracturing

Frack the Russians

It is well known that, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union quietly funneled money to Western peace movements. It funded people who opposed nuclear weapons and wanted unilateral disarmament of the West. It funded people who opposed strategic nuclear weapons in central Europe. It funded parts of the anti-war movement.

To be clear, most of the people involved in these movements had no affiliation with the Soviet Union or knew of Soviet involvement. They were “useful idiots”. But many in the leadership knew. And, to be clear, Soviet funding did not make these movements illegitimate, per se. You could oppose Vietnam and nuclear weapons and not be a Communist stooge. But the Soviet Union had and pursued an interest in certain factions within Western politics that overlapped with their own interests.

Nothing changes, does it?

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently announced that the Russian intelligence service was covertly funding European environmental NGOs to support their campaign against fracking. The former Danish Prime Minister stated that he had “met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

The accusations do not seem too far-fetched. Russia is very keen on dissuading Europe from exploiting its shale reserves. Disregardful of their own massive fracking projects in Siberia, Vladimir Putin uses environmental arguments to push an EU-wide fracking ban. In a similar fashion, he tries to discourage the US from exporting of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe. This is an option some European politicians such as Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested as a way to reduce European energy dependency from Russia. It is currently on the table in the negotiations on the trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP).

Right now, much of Europe is dependent on Putin’s oiligarchy for their energy. Fracking is not only a threat to that but a threat to all of Putin’s imperial ambitions. Wide-scale fracking would deliver a huge blow to the Russian economy. So naturally he opposes it. Naturally, as former KGB, he’s willing to fund anti-fracking groups. And I suspect that, like the Peace movement, some within the anti-fracking leadership are aware of this and more than willing to take his money.

Fracking opponents will, of course, claim that Putin’s money doesn’t matter; fracking is so awful that they have to oppose it. They will, of course, claim that what they want is a world that runs on renewables, with neither fracking nor Putin having a role. But that’s living in fantasy world. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, Europe will not be able to provide more than a fraction of their power through renewables within the next few decades. And with nuclear now on the wane, that means they will need tons and tons of fossil fuels.

So it really is a matter of picking the lesser of two evils. In fracking, you have some legitimate environmental concerns (most of which have been addressed or are being addressed). But you have a less carbon-intensive source of energy and companies that are accountable to Western nations. Russian oil not only props up a bloodthirsty tyrant, it supports one of the dirtiest polluters on the planet. As bad as fracking may or may not be, Russian oil is far worse for the planet, for Eastern Europe and for global security.

Fracking opponents will tell you that fracking is being pushed by “dirty money” from natural gas interests. But, good Lord, is there any money dirtier than Vladimir Putin’s?

Matt Fracking Damon and the Anti-Science Left

And to think, all the Hollywood celebs joke that the facts have a liberal bias:

Matt Damon and John Krasinski ran into a big problem while making their film “Promised Land”; how they solved it tells us a lot about Hollywood.

Some time ago, the two actors decided to make a movie about fracking — a method of getting once-inaccessible oil and gas out of the ground that has become the bête noire of many environmentalists.

The two wrote a screenplay they said was about “American identity . . . and what defines us as a country.”

It was the usual Hollywood script. We all know the . . . drill: Damon’s character works for an “evil” oil company. He comes to small-town America and sells locals a dangerous bill of goods.

So far, so good. Damon was building a movie around environmentalist concerns about fracking. But then reality intervened:

But while “Promised Land” was in production, the story of Dimock [Pennsylvania] collapsed. The state investigated and its scientists found nothing wrong. So the 11 families insisted EPA scientists investigate. They did — and much to the dismay of the environmental movement found the water was not contaminated.

There was Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers in Texas, a group that produced a frightening video of a flaming house water pipe and claimed a gas company had polluted the water. But a judge just found that the tape was an outright fraud — Wolf Eagle connected the house gas pipe to a hose and lit the water.

Other “pollution” cases collapsed in Wyoming and Colorado. Even Josh Fox, who with his Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” first raised concerns about flammable water, has had to admit he withheld evidence that fracking was not responsible.

These frauds and misrepresentations created huge problems for the Damon/Krasinski script about “what defines us as a country.”

Here in Pennsylvania, we’ve been jerked around quite a bit by these bozos. I’m willing to listen to concerns about fracking. We should pay attention to concerns about new technology, especially one as dramatic as fracking. It’s the basic precautionary principle.

But many of these concerns have turned out to be overblown or outright fraudulent. And the people who should be maddest about this are the environmentalists. It’s their movement, their concerns, their compassion which is being hijacked by anti-corporate hucksters. Now if a legitimate concern were found with fracking, no one would listen because they’ve been lied to so many times.

Well, I’m sure they’ll find someone else to demonize. Maybe GM crops?

I used to think that nothing rivaled the misinformation spewed by climate change skeptics and spinmeisters.

Then I started paying attention to how anti-GMO campaigners have distorted the science on genetically modified foods. You might be surprised at how successful they’ve been and who has helped them pull it off.

I’ve found that fears are stoked by prominent environmental groups, supposed food-safety watchdogs, and influential food columnists; that dodgy science is laundered by well-respected scholars and propaganda is treated credulously by legendary journalists; and that progressive media outlets, which often decry the scurrilous rhetoric that warps the climate debate, serve up a comparable agitprop when it comes to GMOs.

In short, I’ve learned that the emotionally charged, politicized discourse on GMOs is mired in the kind of fever swamps that have polluted climate science beyond recognition.

The latest and greatest is a claim that GM crops cause tumors in rats. Turns out this research was so bogus it got instantly torn apart on the science blogs. Read the details at the link. Read also that Grist, Mother Jones and other liberal publications — who are constantly excoriating global warming skeptics — continue to praise the researchers and their bogus anti-GMO science.

The vast middle of the country is pro-science. I see it every time we do public outreach — the genuine fascination, enthusiasm and wonder in each of the thousand eyes that looks through a telescope on a dark night or peers at one of Hubble’s new images. America loves science and technology. Even the evil fracking is greeted with amazement by many people.

But the hard fringes of either side of our political spectrum do not love science. Fundamentalists of any stripe hate science because science produce results that are inconvenient to their ideology. The Hard Left, which is just as fundamentalist as the hard Right, will accept scientific results — like global warming — if it can be used to support an agenda. But that support will vanish once science comes up with things they don’t like, such as fracking and genetically-modified crops.

And like it or not, these luddite attitudes influence the Democratic Party. You can read Ronald Bailey’s analysis of the 2012 DNC platform and how they have delivered on their 2008 promises. Some is good — oil production is booming, for example. But they’ve been dragging their heels on other issues. And, for all their bluster, federal R&D has fallen 8% under Obama. And if sequestration happens, the eagle will be coming for another chunk of our liver come January despite our never having been bulked up by the stimulus.

That’s the pro-science party?

As for Matt Damon, they are apparently rewriting their movie so that the fraudulent anti-fracking activists are moles for the industry. Okay. Good luck with that. I suspect this will simply be another “issue” movie that — like every issue movie for the last decade — no one watches.