Mitt and Money
The Triumph of Angels
Reforming the UN
Brian J. Trautman
Edge of the Abyss
Obama Discovers Inequality
Nicolas J.S. Davies
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
How Deregulation Works for Fracking
The Bush/Cheney administration deregulated fracking from the purview of the federal government with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations from federal laws and gave jurisdiction and authority over fracking to the states, municipalities, and individual property owners. Ever since, the fracking industry has mushroomed across the land from Pennsylvania to Wyoming to Texas, growing at a 50 percent annual rate. Correspondingly, and following directly in the footsteps of fracking operators, the number of cases of poisoned drinking water, dead farm animals, deformed house pets, fire-flaming water faucets, skin rashes, recurring boils, burned throats and noses, asthma, impaired breathing of house pets, emaciated cattle, loss of hair, diarrhea, and the trucking of bottled water have grown at an alarming rate.
The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by the EPA to inject hazardous materials—unchecked—directly into, or adjacent to, underground drinking water supplies.
According to an investigative report by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, fracking uses 750 compounds of which 650 of these contain chemicals that are known, or possible, human carcinogens. Fracking companies blast these chemicals one to three miles underground to extract oil and gas. What if these chemicals get into our water supply? This is already happening. Fracking is exempt from:
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Clean Water Act
- Clean Air Act
- CERCLA (Superfund Act)
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
- Environmental Policy Act
In 2001, a special task force on energy policy convened by Vice President Dick Cheney recommended that Congress exempt hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Energy Policy Act of 2005— based on a “suspect” 2004 EPA study on coal hydraulic fracturing to justify the passing of the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act—is known as the Halliburton Loophole. The review board for the EPA study consisted of seven independently appointed professionals, including: (1) Morris Bell of Amoco, (2) David Hill, of Emerging Resources-Gas Technology Institute, (3) Buddy McDaniel of Halliburton, (4) Jon Olson of Exxon, and (5) Ian Palmer of BP. Five of the seven “deciders” came directly from the oil and gas industry.
Their recommendations to exempt fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act were subsequently panned by EPA whistleblower Weston Wilson (EPA, Environmental Engineer), who sent a letter in protest on October 8, 2004 to U.S. Senators and House members. Evidently they did not take Wilson seriously.
Additionally, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project criticized the same EPA study, concluding the study selectively ignored crucial facts not supportive of the study’s results. Their analysis states: “We found that EPA removed information from earlier drafts that suggested unregulated fracturing poses a threat to human health and that the Agency did not include information that suggests fracturing fluids may pose a threat to drinking water….” (“Our Drinking Water at Risk: What EPA and the Oil and Gas Industry Don’t Want us to Know About Hydraulic Fracturing,” Oil and Gas Accountability Project, April, 2005.)
All of the above aside, there may be some relief in site because fracking industry behemoths like Halliburton and Baker Hughes are working on “green fracking” formulations. But this has yet to stand the test of a newly awakened populace to the risks inherent in massively pressuring sand, water, and chemicals into very tight formations deep within the earth, possibly releasing radioactive material picked up in wastewater during fracking, which then appears downstream in drinking water supplies, as reported by the New York Times in early 2011.
Fracking is the energy industry’s new Holy Grail, the answer to energy independence, cleaner energy locked into humongous formations within the earth under states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, North Dakota, and 20 others. However, one miscalculation and the massive contamination of chemicals leaked into the wrong channel may result in poisoning of the nation’s water aquifers. This has already happened in Wyoming where the residents of Pavilion have been warned by the EPA to use ventilation when showering in order to air out potentially dangerous chemicals and to drink and cook from bottled water.
Chemicals in the Water
In December 2011, the EPA announced the detection of gas-fracking chemicals in a drinking-water aquifer in West-Central Wyoming. Granted there is no way one poisoned aquifer in a remote area of West-Central Wyoming will stop fracking, but consider the following: fracking is a discordant industry with numerous competitors at each other’s throats, vying for land positions and protective of their secret chemical formulas in order to best their competitors in the prodigiously disruptive release of deep underground energy locked in extraordinarily tight formations. It is precisely because of the brutal, competitive nature of the industry that risks are heightened.
Individual complaints have no recourse because fracking companies, like Halliburton, have managed to legally protect the identities of the chemicals they use in individual wells as trade secrets. So, there is no way for a governmental regulatory agency or an individual property owner to match the poisonous chemicals in water with the perpetrator. Only recently has the EPA figured this out—for example, in Pavilion, Wyoming. Nevertheless, from Pennsylvania to Montana to Texas there are a large number of legal settlements between landowners with poisoned water and energy fracking, each case involving a monetary settlement for the harmed party (who usually no longer has potable water—according to the Montreal Gazette of January 7, 2012, federal regulators are considering trucking fresh water to Dimock, Pennsylvania after city residents supplied the EPA hundreds of pages of data linking water contamination in the city to fracking) and an agreement that the legal documents are to be sealed, not available to the public. Case closed.
Chemicals We Know Nothing About
What the future holds for fracking and for the viability of our underground drinking water may hinge on determining how potable water actually flows and how channels of water connect underground and/or how much fracking fluid returns to the surface. According to a NY Times investigative study, gas has seeped into underground drinking water in at least five states, including Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia. Residents blame natural-gas drilling. One of the foremost experts on fracking chemicals, Dr. Theo Colborn, President of Endocrine Disruption Exchange, claims the industry uses 944 chemicals of which we know nothing—about 43 percent of the chemicals are legally classified as trade secrets by the oil and gas industry. Further, Colborn claims that 30-70 percent of the chemicals forced underground return to the surface. Colborn warns against potential outbreaks of endocrine malaises like cancer should the chemicals resurface or get into drinking water underground. The problem is that endocrine problems take years to show up.
There is no central reporting source for groundwater contamination from fracking, but according to waterdefense.org, state regulators have documented over 1,000 incidents of groundwater contamination related to fracking across the country. Fracking utilizes prodigious quantities of fresh water—approximately four to nine million gallons are injected with every frack. This is the equivalent of the daily fresh water usage by 60,000 U.S. households. A single well can be fracked up to 12 times, meaning over a lifetime a well can use up 100 million gallons of freshwater—equivalent to 1,200,000 householder’s daily usage of freshwater. In the Delaware River Basin in New York and Pennsylvania, the gas industry estimates it will use over 10 billion gallons of water in the next 10 years, withdrawing from the same sources that supply the public.
Much of the fracking fluid stays underground, but nobody has a device to measure what happens. It is believed by some outside of the energy industry, like waterdefense.org, that the fractures created by fracking may intersect with existing cracks in the ground, possibly allowing the chemicals and gas to “catch a ride on underground streams” on the way to drinking water sources. Of course this is pure hypothesis because nobody can see what is really happening. The only way we’ll ever know for sure is if the chemicals show up in aquifers, similar to the Pavilion, Wyoming case. The question then becomes, How do we reverse poisoned aquifers?
Who knows where the hundreds of millions of gallons, more likely billions of gallons, of chemically-laced fluids will end up one day. Maybe in your children or grandchildren’s water supply. Then what? This story begs a question: If the EPA-sponsored studies in 2004 under the Bush administration clearly demonstrated no harmful concerns from hydraulic fracking, then why exempt it from the Safe Water Drinking Water Act?
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles, California and has published stories on fracking on Counterpunch and in Firebrand Magazine.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.