The government of the United States has been purchased by big business. Okay, so that’s not a new revelation, but here is another example of our government not representing the American public.
On January 28th, the Senate voted against an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill which would have placed hydraulic fracking under the control of the Environmental Protection Agency on state and private land. This was a slap in the face to the American people, and another victory for the lobbyists representing the Petroleum Industry.
After the vote, Republicans said that they did not want fracking under the control of the Obama Administration.
Now it’s up to the states to protect their citizens from the lethal practice of fracking.
If you don’t understand fracking, or why the public is outraged about its practice, here is a brief explanation.
If you understand the concerns about pipelines transporting petroleum products across our nation, think about this; the fracking process is so dangerous to the environment and humans, it’s like a pipeline on steroids.
Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ is the process of reclaiming natural gas and crude oil contained in shale thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. It is accomplished by drilling a deep hole and then injecting a mixture of water, sand, and dangerous chemicals into the well under extreme pressure. When the shale is fractured by the liquid, it releases the fossil fuels which are then gathered on the surface.
Why is it dangerous? First of all, several of the nearly 700 chemicals mixed with the sand and water are cancer-causing agents. This mixture seeps into underground rivers and pollutes the water, making it unfit for humans and animals to consume. The waste from fracking is transported through pipelines posing another danger to the environment. There is evidence that fracking has caused earthquakes, even in areas which had not experienced previous seismic activity. Fracking also expedites climate change by releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere.
Saturday a large protest was organized in Oakland, California. The march was set in Governor Jerry Brown’s hometown in an attempt to convince him to change his stance on Fracking. The governor’s concerns are related to a recovering economy, and sees fracking as a source to grow that economy. Protestors are pleading for him to regain his position as an environmental leader. Brown is in denial regarding the dangers of fracking.
The crowd chanted slogans which begged Brown not to allow harm to the planet, and pointed to the fact that we only have one earth. The want him to align with New York and Vermont and ban the practice. Two counties in California, San Benito and Mendocino, have banned fracking in their communities.
Naturally representatives for the oil and gas companies claim that the process is entirely safe, and the state will profit from unlimited fracking. But, as always, they are looking at the ‘right now,’ not the future.
Environmentalists talk about the future and future generations. There is no possible way anyone can predict how devastating the damage to soil and water will be in 50 years. This mixture of water and chemicals will not dissipate; it will remain in the soil and continue to seep into the water tables for decades to come.
Brown must listen to his constituents. Our federal government ignores the people, our only recourse lies within our state and local governments.
Commentary by James Turnage