Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has, for the most part, been out of the spotlight for the past year since he wrote his book titled The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...And How We Can Be Safe Again, which came out in September of 2009. In that book, Ridge confessed that, although unsurprising to anyone who understood the rampant fear-mongering and propaganda that took place in the post-9/11 Bush era, he was pressured by others in the Bush Administration to purposely manipulate the infamous color-coded National Security Alerts for political reasons, and in particular, during the run-up to former President George W. Bush's re-election in 2004.
The tell-all was most likely intended to cleanse his hands of the countless deaths and woundings suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act that was rushed into place and which usurped Americans' civil liberties, the opening of the illegal Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, torture at the Abu Ghraib Detention Center in Iraq, among other crimes that took place under Bush's regime. Yet, after Bush's former Press Secretary Scott McClellan attempted to pull off the same kind of confession in his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, few were willing to forgive and forget, as the United States has been forever stained by Bush's nest of criminals. It was too little too late to play "Monday Morning Quarterback" for both McClellan and Ridge and their time in the limelight.
Just when we thought Ridge was on the up and out, the smell of a fat wad of cash was too much for him to pass up, it appears.
Ridge Appointed as an "Adviser" for the Marcellus Shale Coalition
On July 30, 2010, Ridge was named as an "adviser" to the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), and offered $900,000 per year to him and his consulting groups, Ridge Global and Ridge Policy Group in compensation for their "services." Ridge Global will earn $50,000 a month and the Ridge Policy Group will get $25,000 a month, each for 12 months. It is certain that these services will include helping the MSC in its public relations disinformation campaign in the push to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region, located in the Northeastern corridor of the U.S.
It is worth a quick review of what natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is all about and what it entails.
To be brief, the Marcellus Shale is an extensive formation of shale (a type of sedimentary rock that is high in carbon) in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and other states in the region that underlies about 18,700 square miles in southern New York, including New York City's entire 1,585-square-mile watershed west of the Hudson River. This shale has received renewed attention both because of new estimates of the quantity of methane gas believed to be under these rocks, and because of the significant environmental concerns that have been raised about the method of extracting the gas from the shale, through a process called "fracking."
Fracking is a process in which a fluid is injected at high pressure into oil or methane gas deposits to fracture the rock above and release the liquid or gas below. In this process, a fluid is injected into the rock which then releases the gas along with dumping radioactive toxins and other hazardous substances into the shale. ProPublica has created two very helpful charts depicting how the fracking process works: "What is Hydraulic Fracturing?" and "Anatomy of a Gas Well".
In short, during the fracking process, the hazardous chemicals shot into the ground eventually end up in peoples' well water, which in turn enables citizens to ignite flames in their tap water. Furthermore, one of the toxins is benzene, a well-known carcinogen.
Ridge has, as per usual in his career, decided to work for the Devil. In this case, it's the extractive energy lobbying industry. In the past, it has been the Bush Administration. Now he will use his masterful deception skills to tout for drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which will lead countless innocent American civilians who live in this region to be exposed to toxic chemicals. Ridge was complicit in the march to perpetual war, humiliating torture, warrantless wiretapping, among other travesties, so, if the MSC has it their way, he will have matching success in this arena, too.
Before it's too late, citizens must stand up against the lies and deception of the oil industry. The stakes and the consequences for the environment of not doing so are dire.