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Author Topic: Fossil Fuels: Degraded Democracy and Profit Over Planet Pollution  (Read 13068 times)

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AGelbert

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10 Years Later: Fracking and the Halliburton Loophole 

Wenonah Hauter | August 11, 2015 1:04 pm

This past Saturday, marked a notable 10th anniversary. But it was certainly nothing to celebrate. Ten years ago, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The giant energy bill included massive giveaways for the fossil fuel, nuclear and ethanol industries and provided only token incentives for renewables and improved energy efficiency. But the most infamous piece of the law was what is now commonly known as the “Halliburton Loophole,” an egregious regulatory exemption that ushered in the disastrous era of widespread oil and gas fracking that currently grips our nation.
Quote
Fracking—the extreme oil and gas extraction method that involves blasting millions of gallons of water mixed with toxic chemicals underground at enormous pressures to break apart subterranean rock—has exploded in the last decade. More than 270,000 wells have been fracked in 25 states throughout the nation. More than 10 million Americans live within a mile of a fracking site. This means that 10 million Americans—and truly many more—have been placed directly in harm’s way. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have connected fracking to serious human health effects, including cancer, asthma and birth defects.


For this we can thank the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the law that holds the Halliburton Loophole.
Named after Dick Cheney and the notorious corporation he led before becoming vice president, the law (championed by Cheney and disgraced Enron founder Kenneth Lay, among others) explicitly exempted fracking operations from key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. These exemptions from one of America’s most fundamental environmental protection laws provided the oil and gas industry the immunity it required to develop a highly polluting process on a grand national scale. 

One of the most troubling repercussions is how fracking companies hide the contents of their toxic water and chemical solutions pumped into the ground. Contamination of underground drinking water sources from fracking fluids is a glaring threat to public health and safety. Yet even doctors responding to fracking-related health complaints can’t access data on what particular chemicals their patients may have been exposed to.




But the Halliburton Loophole wasn’t the only fracking enabler in the Energy Policy Act. The act granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sweeping new authority to supersede state and local decision-making with regard to the citing of fracked gas pipelines and infrastructure. It also shifted to FERC industry oversight and compliance responsibility for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, another key law. This was akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen house.



As it stands, FERC is entirely unaccountable to public will. It is unaccountable to Congress and even the White House. Commissioners are appointed to five-year terms and can do as they please. Until a law reigning in FERC is passed, the commission will continue to act as a rubber-stamp for the fossil fuel industry.



Additionally, the Energy Policy Act repealed an important anti-monopoly law, the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA). PUHCA safeguarded consumers from the overreach of the oil and gas industry and banks that did business with those companies. It prevented the formation of giant state and regional energy cartels that could manipulate energy costs, engage in profiteering and exert undue influence over political debate. The Energy Policy Act transferred most of this oversight to FERC. Since then, the largest American energy companies have grown significantly more powerful and spent almost a billion dollars on federal lobbying, according to OpenSecrets.org.



The 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act is indeed a sad occasion, but it provides us with a ripe opportunity to reexamine our nation’s disastrous policy of doubling-down on fossil fuels over the last decade, thanks to the extreme process of fracking. For the sake of countless Americans who are currently suffering health effects caused by fracking and the countless more who will suffer in the future, we must immediately curtail our dependence on oil and gas and turn decisively toward a truly clean, renewable energy future.

http://ecowatch.com/2015/08/11/halliburton-loophole-fracking/



Agelbert NOTE:
As those of you that still possess  a modicum of reading comprehension will understand, the fossil fuel industry has ALWAYS been involved in DEGRADING OUR DEMOCRACY while they REFUSE to admit they are degrading the biosphere along the way.

A portion of the American populace, that doesn't want to face that fascist reality, continues to rationalize our "need" for this fossil fuel burning planetary plague with BALONEY about civilization, high energy density or, for those Empathy Deficit Disordered quislings that work for the planet polluters, having to pay for student loans or put food on the table.

Human society has always had Empathy Deficit Disordered people totally devoid of foresight. But only with the advent of the Industrial Revolution did these cause and effect challenged greedballs succeed in running our society. The fossil fuel industry actually believes it has a "you need us" gun to our heads. They've got power and they've got a gun. Although they are too blind, too greedy or just too stupid to see it, that gun has already gone off in their faces, as well as ours.

Let us hope that those of us that are still sane prevail.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

 

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