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

 

 

 

More articles by:

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

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail