FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Sound of the Sixth Shoe Falling

by

Rarely do you hear squeals of glee when people are told the oil boys are coming to town.  Usually you get the other reaction, which helps explain why 5 front-range cities, Ft Collins, Lafayette, Longmont, Broomfield, and Boulder, have banned oil and gas drilling and the invasion of the industry into their communities over the past several years.

This happened despite the oil industry spending well over $1 million in unsuccessful attempts to defeat the citizen led ban efforts.  Governor Hickenlooper joined the oil chorus by bringing a lawsuit against his own people for practicing their constitutional rights of self-determination.

Adding to the daffiness is Republican Representative Jerry Sonnenberg who has reintroduced legislation to deny severance tax from oil and gas revenues to any city daring to ban drilling in their parks and neighborhoods.  Sonnenberg is himself a recipient of over $600 thousand in farm subsidies.

Judging from recent reporting in the Loveland Report-Herald, March 20th, Betsey Hale, Loveland’s economic development director, has joined the gas and oil chorus with her piping over the jobs Loveland will enjoy if the city just lowers the gates and allows the industry to have their way and drill away.

Let’s take a close look at the jobs the oil industry provides compared to jobs and job potential in the renewable industry—solar and wind, primarily.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, oil and gas accounted for 45 percent of the electricity generated in this country, surpassing coal-fired power plant generation.  It provided 181,000 direct jobs.  Comparatively, renewables, which account for 15 percent of the nation’s electrical production account for 183,000 direct jobs, says the BLS.  One might speculate that renewables could provide 3 times the number of jobs nationally as oil and gas if it were producing the same amount of electricity, and well over one million direct jobs if it were anointed the primary source of electricity in this nation.

Too, the oil and gas industry provides few new jobs, and most of the high paying jobs evaporate once the drilling and pipe laying are completed.  They move on to the next target.  Left behind are the secondary jobs, which are lower paying and often without benefits since many are “private contractors.”

But it is when the secondary or external costs are examined that the big lie of oil and gas as our salvation is exposed.  For example road damage from oil traffic is horrendous.  The 24 counties making up the Eagle Ford gas play in Texas have received $323 million in severance taxes.  Yet just one of these counties, DeWitt, estimates it road damages exceed $424 million.  Another rural county in Texas estimates its road repairs from oil come to over $6 million.  The county’s entire annual budget is $600 thousand.  Pennsylvania estimates it road damages from fracking at $7 billion, 28 times what it has received in severance taxes.  Similarly, North Dakota estimates it road damages at $7 billion, over twice what it has received in severance taxes.  Colorado has no similar estimates as of yet.  The taxpayers will pick up the difference.

The health impacts are even more fearsome.  Last week the World Health Organization estimated that air pollution is killing over 7 million people a year, 3.9 million in industrialized nations from outdoor pollution.  Of course, these deaths cannot be laid at the feet oil and gas industry, but the burning of fossil fuels is the source for much of this pollution.  In Colorado, the industry is the largest contributor of smog from VOCs.  In fact, its contribution is three times that of the exhaust from all the automobiles in the state, and is the chief cause of extremely high ozone pollution along the northern front-range.  Asthma is but one of the diseases that can be traced to low-level smog in the air we breath.

The Governor in one of those industry friendly moves he is becoming justly famous for has asked the industry to reduce its pollution by 1/3.  It has agreed, but if fracking continues on its present pace, this reduction will soon be exceeded by the pollution from new wells.

Then there is the industry’s cavalier pollution of our drinking water, a supply that is limited, already over appropriated, and further threatened by the prospect of climate change. The industry is fond of saying it only uses a fraction of the water agriculture does.  This is undeniable, but what they don’t say is that the water they use is forever corrupted and buried deep underground, primarily in old, played-out oil and gas wells. Billions of gallons of fracking fluids are dumped into these wells each year with the industry’s promise the poisons will never get into our groundwater supply.  This assertion has been roundly questioned by a host of objective observer, not least of which is the scientist at EPA who was once in charge of this injection program.

Whether this contaminated groundwater may be needed 50 to 100 years from now by our children’s children is unknown, but our shortsightedness forecloses on that possibility.

When the citizens of Loveland constitutional rights of self determination are finally restored, and they are allowed to vote on whether they want the oil industry in their parks, open space, and neighborhoods, the foregoing information may be useful.  And despite the industry’s insistance that they are our future and our past, there is another future.

Professor Mark Jacobson of the engineering and environmental science school at Stanford has designed one of these potential futures, goggle the Futures Project.  His studies show that Colorado by 2050 can be fully sustained by renewables.  The avoided health costs and mortality would come to almost to six and half billion dollars annually.  The annual energy savings to every Colorado family would be almost $7,000.  If we reach for a future like Dr. Jacobson describes, our children and their children might applaud.

PHILLIP DOE lives in Colorado. He can be reached at:ptdoe@comcast.net

 

 

 

PHILLIP DOE lives in Colorado. Doe is a co-sponsor of a public trust initiative that would turn the tables on the permitting process by making those seeking to use public resources, air, land, and water, to first demonstrate that the proposed use would not irreparably harm those resources–the reverse of the present permitting process. He can be reached at:ptdoe@comcast.net

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail