Today, I’m addressing a political and corporate war that’s been out of the headlines of late due to the relentless Republican distortions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) replete with vicious criticisms of the president and HHS when in fact a bombastically incompetent trio of outside private contractors were essentially responsible for 99% of the mess and had the gall to blame the government for not realizing how incredibly lacking in skills they truly were.
So while Issa, Gowdy and the rest of the so-called Government and Oversight Committee clown-car passengers continue to waste time and money to get to the “bottom” of HealthCare.gov, an issue that could truly be the target of the committee sails blissfully along, its deadly byproducts ignored by today’s dubious crop of “compassionate conservatives.”
Yes, I’m talking about the recent phenomenon called “fracking” and how the health and well-being of Americans means precious little to Teapublicans and their Representatives in the House. Here’s a wonderful layman’s working definition of fracking from a splendid Website appropriately entitled “the Dangers of Fracking”; “Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.”
The site goes on to present tidbits of information about fracking that inspire “shock and awe” in anybody with a brain and conscience. There’s stuff that leaches into wells, groundwater and aquifers that can mess you up; even kill certain people. But the baby-starvers proved long ago that they have much more in common with a pathetic young mother from the cable show “Lockup” than they do with caring human beings no matter the potentially deadly consequences of respiratory and neurological effects, especially in children and the elderly.
In Lockup, a mid 30’s crack-addicted mother of two, who was once an attractive former school secretary and president of her senior class, is in jail on some drug charges. When asked what was more important to her, crack or her two girls, she gave a devastatingly sad but honest answer. “Crack!” As in the Tea Party obsession with vast wealth and hatred of all things Obama, theirs is a ‘crack’ answer to the question of money over the health of the victims of the awesomely irresponsible practices of the major oil and gas companies.
The companies, at least as long as the House blocks any attempts to stop this offensive and dangerous juggernaut, drill away (37 states at last count), full speed ahead. When challenged, they reference a 2004 George Bush era multi-year EPA ‘study’ that concluded that “The drilling process poses “little or no threat” and “does not justify additional study at this time.”
Ben Grumbles, an EPA assistant administrator at the time, oversaw the study. He finally came clean in two interviews with ProPublica in 2009 and 2011 (also reported in the NY Times), admitting that these fraudulent assurances were proffered in spite of the fact that the agency had actually determined that fracking may release potentially hazardous chemicals into drinking water. It was also revealed that EPA staffers at the time cut an exception deal with Halliburton (Dick Cheney was an active participant in the talks) that eventually allowed drillers to piggyback on this squalid back-room devilry and bypass the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act passages applicable to fracking. And, five of the seven members of the EPA’s ‘review panel’ had conflicts of interest.
The 2004 version has pretty much been discredited by objective environmental scientists and a new EPA study is underway. The final report on the latest extraordinarily comprehensive EPA effort is not expected until 2014. That due date is, of course, another reason for billionaires to pour crazy money into Republican campaigns; probably second only to funding the destruction of the Affordable Care Act. You can background what’s involved in the latest study here. A point to be made; A site PDF covers all the areas of inquiry and analysis, including a list of chemicals involved. The list runs on for 44 pages with roughly 30 entries per most pages.
Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know that members of our House of Representatives will be doing everything in their power to protect us from those unfeeling oil and gas interests. Spoiler alert; I’m kidding! Let’s take a look at recent votes to see how the “Live by the Bible” crowd is protecting the health of the children and elderly, not to mention everybody else, including, interestingly enough, the rurals whose wells near drilling sites are playing host to any number of God-awful chemicals.
There’s HR 20 the GOP loves. That would prohibit federal fracking regulations on federal and tribal lands. What the hell, we’ve historically killed millions of Native Americans anyway, what’s a few more? The bill would anoint states as the sole regulatory authority (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I know all the House vacuum-headed sellouts from my South Carolina Teapublican delegation heartily agreed with HR 20.
House Democrats tried to slide a requirement through to provide detailed public disclosures about fracking on federal and non-federal lands. Such esoteric considerations as chemicals used, disposal of fluids and assorted other information of interest to those possessed of love for their fellow man, woman and family members. Teapublicans were stunned. WHAAAA? They screamed in unison as they s**t-canned the Dems naïve assumption that their GOP colleagues might actually give a damn about their constituents. Again, the Republican menaces “serving” my state were unanimous in their desire to keep the negative affects of fracking a secret.
The next kissing oil’s ass vote saw mass Teapublican approval for HR 1900 setting deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other agencies to act on natural gas pipeline applications. A one-year approval time-frame would be instituted. If no action was taken, there would be “legal consequences.” Other involved agencies would be given a totally impractical 90 days to complete environmental reviews and other evaluations. Wanna bet the agencies would be overwhelmed with applications? There’s also the matter of the key 2014 elections that might not be particularly friendly to the Tea Party set giving added urgency to deliver for the big boys.
Finally, there was a Democratic legislative attempt via motion to delay the above favor to the oil and gas industries. That was a 180 yea, 233 nay vote. Let’s see, how many Teapublicans are in the House? Yep, 233! Don’t know if all the nay votes were Teapublicans, but I suspect an overwhelming majority obeyed their oil and gas masters.
I guess it could be worse. A bunch of House members want to abolish the EPA. Michele Bachmann is one of them. She’s apparently not running again in 2014. Few colleagues will even realize she’s gone. Old school inveterate skirt-chaser Newt Gingrich, wants to erase the EPA as well. Last Republican Presidential primary, it was Newt who was erased.
There’s yet another bottom line here. Ruined drinking water? Time to go private!
So the wheels of billionaire-owned government trundle on, and, at least until 2014, thanks to Teapublicans, to the benefit of a very few.