By Will Vickery
By John Aloysius Farrell, Ben Wieder and Evan Bush
The Center for Media and Democracy is re-posting this article from John Aloysius Farrell, Ben Wieder, and Evan Bush at iWatch News, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, as part of our effort to track Koch Industries and ALEC via our ALECexposed.org project and to expose corporate spin. The original can be found here. For more, see Farrell's April 2011 article "Koch's web of influence" and Cole Goins' August 2011 article "What's it like living near a chemical plant?," both also on iWatch. To find out about chemical plants near you, download the spreadsheet of data gathered from the risk management plans that Koch files with the EPA.
Today, CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer's "Invest in America" series will take the show to a seemingly unlikely locale. The crew will head to a place many would consider the middle of nowhere -- the state of North Dakota.
Why North Dakota? Four words: The Bakken Shale Formation.
Referred to as "Kuwait on the Prairie" by The New Yorker in an April 2011 feature story and located predominately in northwest North Dakota, the shale formation possesses a vast amount of both oil and methane ("natural") gas, gathered via the notorious fracking process. Recognizing the economic opportunities that the formation would present to fossil fuel corporations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration penned a report in November 2006 titled "Technology-Based Oil and Natural Gas Plays: Shale Shock! Could There Be Billions in the Bakken?", highlighting them in some depth.
Saturday marks the commencement of the Tar Sands Action, which will take place in front of the White House.
The 1,980-mile pipeline is slated to transport the dirtiest oil in the world from Alberta's tar sands down to southeast Texas. The pipeline's route overlaps with the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies 82 percent of the people that live within the aquifer's boundary their drinking water. It would also snake through the Nebraska Sand Hills, which is a vital wetland ecosystem, containing a diverse array of plant and animal life.
As the U.S. suffers through catastrophic tornadoes, heat waves, and other climate extremes -- no doubt just a small taste of what the climate crisis will bring in the future -- polluting industries and the politicians that serve them want to convince you that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually a good thing.
On July 11, Chesapeake Energy, the second largest methane gas corporation in the United States, announced its "bold new plan": a "Declaration of Energy Independence" for America's energy future. ("Natural gas" is the public relations term the industry uses for methane gas, because it sounds so much more appealing than the real name.)
The plan is double-pronged and will no doubt lead to increased levels of fracking, the process drilling companies use to extract methane gas in areas like the Marcellus Shale and other shale deposits throughout the country. Fracking is a dirty process, as indicated by the Center for Media and Democracy's ongoing look into the state-by-state and federal legislative push for domestic gas drilling.
Hundreds of ALEC's model bills and resolutions bear traces of Koch DNA, raw ideas that were once at the fringes but that have been carved into "mainstream" policy through the wealth and will of Charles and David Koch.
Coming on the heels of a neighboring state fracking ban in New Jersey, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, will make a momentous announcement at a press conference this morning: the moratorium on drilling for methane gas in New York's Marcellus Shale play is over, according to the New York Times.
On June 29, the New Jersey Senate banned fracking within state boundaries in a 33-1 vote. Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is the environmentally-hazardous process through which methane gas companies extract what the industry touts as "America's Clean Energy Future," methane gas. The drilling industry's public relations term for methane is "natural gas."
While the ban is cause for celebration for those truly in favor of a "clean energy future," it is largely symbolic because only a tiny sliver of the Marcellus Shale actually touches the state. There is actually some truth to the statement made by Energy in Depth's Chris Tucker, who stated that the ban, by-and-large, is "irrelevant."
The June 8 - June 10 episodes of MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show featured a three-part series titled "Firewater?" It pondered whether drilling for methane gas is a path toward a prosperous "clean energy" future for the United States, or if, to the contrary, the harms of methane gas drilling, caused by a process called fracking, nullify these oft-repeated industry claims.
While three recent scientific reports -- one by Duke University, one by Cornell University, and one by the Post Carbon Institute -- point to the latter, Ratigan's series portrayed the issue as still up for debate, with both sides' claims having equal merit.