The ‘Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling’ Top 10! (part 4)

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Bonjour! Et enfin, we appear to have reached the final leg of our countdown! At number seven we have,

The heat is on. 

Natural gas is mostly methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that traps 86 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. And because methane leaks during the fracking process, fracking may be worse than burning coal, mooting the claim that natural gas burns more cleanly than coal.

“When you frack, some of that gas leaks out into the atmosphere,” writes 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. “If enough of it leaks out before you can get it to a power plant and burn it, then it’s no better, in climate terms, than burning coal. If enough of it leaks, America’s substitution of gas for coal is in fact not slowing global warming.”

A recent international satellite study on North American fracking production led by the Institute of Environmental Physics at the University of Bremen in Germany found that “fugitive methane emissions” caused by the fracking process “may counter the benefit over coal with respect to climate change” and that “net climate benefit…is unlikely.”

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“Even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact—enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas,” writes Joe Romm, the founding editor of the blog Climate Progress. “The climate will likely be ruined already well past most of our lifespans by the time natural gas has a net climate benefit.”

8. Quid pro quo?

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Finally, one of the more insidious side effects of fracking is less about the amount of chemicals flowing into the ground and more about the amount of money flowing into politicians’ campaign coffers from the fracking industry.

According to a 2013 report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), contributions from fracking trade groups and companies operating fracking wells to congressional candidates representing states and districts where fracking occurs rose by more than 230 percent between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles, from $2.1 million to $6.9 million. Remember this is in dollars & not pounds sterling….

That is nearly twice as much as the increase in contributions from the fracking industry to candidates from non-fracking districts during the same period, outpacing contributions from the entire oil and gas industry to all congressional candidates. Republican congressional candidates have received nearly 80 percent of fracking industry contributions.

“The fracking boom isn’t just good for the industry, but also for congressional candidates in fracking districts,” said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan.

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The candidate who has received the most in contributions from the fracking industry is Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). Barton received more than $500,000 between the 2004 and 2012 election cycles—over $100,000 more than any other candidate in the nation. It should come as no surprise that Barton sponsored the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted fracking from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

On April 21, Colorado and Wyoming filed a lawsuit challenging the new federal fracking regulations issued last month by the Bureau of Land Management for onshore drilling on tribal and public lands, claiming that the rule, which regulates underground injections in the fracking process, “exceeds the agency’s statutory jurisdiction.”

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“The debate over hydraulic fracturing is complicated enough without the federal government encroaching on states’ rights,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman, in a statement. “This lawsuit will demonstrate that BLM exceeds its powers when it invades the states’ regulatory authority in this area.”

Coffman, a Republican, is married to Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-8), also a Republican. Coffman and two other GOP representatives from the state, Scott Tipton (CO-3) and Doug Lamborn (CO-5), have sponsored a trio of bills—H.R. 4321, 4382 and 4383 (called the “3 Stooges” bills by environmentalists)—that would fast-track leasing and permitting for drilling and fracking on public lands. These three congressmen, each of whom have received more than $100,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry, sit on the Natural Resources Committee and naturally oppose federal regulations on fracking. 

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