Monday, June 8, 2015

Water, Water Everywhere But Not A Drop To Drink

It never ceases to amaze me - the breadth and depth of the stupidity of man. Just when I think that we, as a species, can't possibly get any dumber - POW! We invent something totally idiotic, like a shoe umbrella or goldfish walker. Next thing you know, our global IQ has dropped another ten points. Honestly, I feel dumber for just having looked at those products.

Now, it's one thing to spend money on inane tchotchkes that were probably manufactured by an underpaid, overworked, nine-year-old in a sweatshop in China. Let's admit it, at one time or another we've all bought a stupid solar-powered dancing flower or a bedazzled keychain with our name on it for absolutely no reason. But rarely do we see greater collective stupidity and denial than when we discuss the future of our fresh water supply on planet Earth.

Contrary to what Princess Vespa thinks, there actually are only a precious few things we truly NEED to survive. Chief among these basic human needs are water, food and shelter. Let's forget for a moment what we are doing to our food supply with genetically modified Frankenfoods, bee-killing pesticides, antibiotic-doped meat and giant breasted chickens. Let's also put aside the fact that, in 2005, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights estimated that there are 100 MILLION homeless people in the world. And let's just focus on the most vital of these three needs: clean, fresh, potable water.

Human beings are made up of 60% water (give or take - some days my ratio is more like 55% water, 5% tequila - but that's another story). And while humans can live for almost a month without food, and years, if necessary, without shelter - we would die in less than seven days without water. So, as the most intelligent and compassionate living beings on earth, it's kind of our duty, don't you think, to not totally and knowingly fuck up the planet's drinking water?

Well, funny story.

Recently, the EPA completed a study* on the safety of hydrauling fracturing, or "fracking", as it is more commonly known.  Fracking, for those of you who are unaware, is the process of injecting a water-based chemical slurry deep into the earth to push up the far-reaching reserves of oil and natural gas.  This process took off in 2003 when natural gas exploration really started in earnest in the US.   (Coincidentally, that's when gas prices hit an all time high.)  In 2004, the industry got a boost when the EPA released a study that said, in effect, that fracking posed no threat to the nation's existing drinking water supply**.  But the really big boost for fracking came when the Bush Administration exempted hydraulic fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 AKA, the "Haliburton Loophole".  I am not making this shit up.


While we're at it, let's exempt Nuclear Plants from radioactivity testing.  And maybe we could exempt pilots from vision testing.  Obviously, we've already exempted politicians from demonstrating any basic human ethics or common sense whatsoever.

And in case you're wondering what fracking has done - and continues to do - to the our fresh water resources, let me slap down some numbers for you, courtesy of Environment America:

Fracking wells nationwide produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012.
This toxic wastewater often contains cancer-causing and even radioactive materials, and has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.
In New Mexico alone, waste pits from all oil and gas drilling have contaminated groundwater on more than 400 occasions. 

Meanwhile, the oil industry continues to blatantly lie about the safety of fracking, while studies have proven that it does, in fact, contaminate drinking water. Take a look at some of the well water collected by Scott Ely of Dimock, PA and tell me that looks like something you'd drink:

Well now, doesn't that look refreshing? And not at all like a toxic sludge fest!

So how the hell do we little crunchy granola folks fight big business? We could protest. Sure, we could do that. After all, there's nothing that scares a giant billion-dollar conglomerate like a dirty hippy carrying around a homemade poster with a catchy slogan. Perhaps we could change the laws in this country so that our water supplies are provided at least as much protection as the Homecoming King carries in his wallet on prom night. It doesn't always work, but we should probably at least try.

Or maybe it's time to finally tie the proverbial albatross around the necks of the politicians in this country. They created, they funded, and they, in turn, are supported by these morally-challenged conglomerates. It's like a giant, circular daisy chain of idiocy and greenbacks. If we can get the money out of Washington, maybe, just maybe, we can get some laws passed that protect the PEOPLE instead of the PROFITS.

Step one: Find out how much YOUR politicians receive in Dirty Energy Money.

Step two: Write a letter to your Congressman or Senator or Governor or whoever else is on the take. I suggest starting your correspondence with something like "Dear Moron", but I'm not one to micromanage - you write what you like.  In this letter, ask them why they are taking this dirty money and then inquire as to what, exactly, are they are giving the oil companies in return. I'm betting it's more than just a nicely-worded thank you note.

Step three: Mail the letter to said politicians, along with a nice bottle of water. Not the cheap shit from Costco - something good, like Evian. After all, you're going toe-to-toe against the big boys - you don't want to look like you can't compete. Of course, if you're reading this blog, you probably kicked the nasty bottle habit long ago, so just go steal one from your neighbor's recycling bin and fill it with water.  I hear Scott Ely has a nice source you could use.

Now in this letter of yours, be sure to let your elected official know that, if they continue to allow themselves to be bought and paid for by the big oil industry, the water in their hands will soon be worth a lot more than the monies they receive in campaign contributions from these Corporations of Doom.

Will it accomplish anything?  I don't know... I guess I'd be kind of sad to find out my politician is cheap enough to be bought by a bottle of Evian.  But it's better than watching from the sidelines as the gas and oil industries continue to flood our earth with chemicals and the polluted waters rise to fill our streets and the sons-of-bitches in Washington float around in their lifeboats made of dirty money.

Although, in a poetic-karmic-justice kind of way, that's when we'll really see if the Devil knows how to row.

*This "study" included dubious science collected from - you guessed it - a number of the large oil and gas companies that currently profit from the practice.  When the EPA asked them for information regarding various aspects of the fracking process, they refused to provide certain information, and cherry-picked the data that they did hand over.  The holes in this report are so big, you could drive an oil rig through them.

**By "no damage", they mean "no widespread and systemic pollution".  They do, in fact, admit that there have been a number of incidents where water supplies have been poisoned and people have been harmed.  It's just not 'systemic' yet.  Tell that to all the people in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, WyomingTexas, Colorado and other areas near fracking sites that have been sickened by the effects of these wells.  Maybe it will make them feel better.


Anne said...

I don't usually comment with a link to a blog post. But since you've brought up just how insidious the fracking problem is, I felt compelled to share this piece from last year by one of the nation's leading scientists uncovering how dangerous fracking chemicals are. The concern is that women who live near fracking sites may not be able to have healthy babies. Doesn't get any more serious than that for American families.

Burbanmom said...

Thank you, Anne, for the link - I appreciate your sharing this information. Yes, fracking is SO polluting, to our air, to our water supply - it has even been linked to increased levels of radon in homes near fracking wells. FRIGHTENING how harmful it is and yet, the government continues to provide billions in subsidies to these companies that promote this type of environmental destruction when that money could be put to better use by investing it in more renewable energy development. Thank you for your input!

Betsy Escandon said...

Welcome back to the Booth, Burbanmom! Coming back with a bang! Recently I was very interested to read that the EPA media officials publicized that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systematic impacts” to drinking water based on a recent report. A few days later I read, "But the actual conclusion of the agency’s 998-page report contained a subtle, but important, difference: It said EPA “did not find evidence” of widespread or systematic impacts. And authors of the EPA study made clear that they lacked enough data to draw strong conclusions about the extent of any damage. “In particular, data limitations preclude a determination of the frequency of impacts with any certainty,” the report said."

Oh, whoops. I guess if we don't look for any damage, we won't find it! Hilarious, except it's not. As a Californian, I'm more than a little worried about the earthquake business as well.

Green Bean said...

I have never seen that Dirty Energy Money site before. Wow!!! It was no surprise to see my least favorite of my state's two senators takes more dirty energy money but it was affirming.

In addition to water pollution, fracking (at least in California) is mostly for oil and not natural gas. The oil retrieved is super dirty - like TarSands dirty. And then, as Betsy mention, there is the earthquake thing. Why in the world would we want to continue endangering our water supply along with our climate for this stuff. Time to transition to clean energy.

Burbanmom said...

Thanks, Betsy! Good to be back! :-) Yes, it is sad to see the EPA lending apparent credibility to the oil and gas industry when there is so much conclusive evidence that fracking is bad for the environment in so many ways. Air quality, water pollution, earthquakes - the casualties to the health of our planet, people, and animals is too high a price to pay for "cheap" energy. Take these resources and put them into renewable energy already. Because no matter what you do, how innovative you are, how much damage you are wiling to inflict, the bottom line is this - oil and natural gas are FINITE resources. Why do we continue to fund this road to nowhere?

Burbanmom said...

Hey Green Bean! Yes, that Dirty Energy Money site is a lovely place to get contribution info that helps you better see who your politicians are really working for! I agree that the time to transition to cleaner, renewable sources is NOW. Eliminate ALL subsidies for oil and gas and ENCOURAGE these companies to re-group, re-organize, and re-new our faith in American ingenuity and personal responsibility.


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