FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Fracking: Poster Child for the Corporate Welfare State

Just about every week another story comes to my attention confirming the complete and total government-dependency of fracking — beloved of so many self-proclaimed “free market” advocates on the libertarian right. Something about eminent domain to build the pipelines, or liability caps for spills, or regulatory approval of unsafe pipelines superseding tort liability for negligence, and ad nauseam. I have another couple of them right here.

First, an article in Monthly Review (Lauren Regan, “Electronic Communications Surveillance,” July/August) describes the revolving door of personnel between federal law enforcement and the oil and gas industry’s private goon squads, and how “the U.S. government has colluded with private corporations and extractive industries to ratchet up their COINTELPRO-esque tactics upon climate justice activists.” The fossil fuel industries like to spin off private “security” and “public relations” firms (often staffed by retired federal and state cops) to spy on perfectly legal activist groups, infiltrate and disrupt them, and give intelligence to PR staff — who then cook up scary “fact sheets” to discredit activists to both media and law enforcement. Extractive corporations like TransCanada also give PowerPoint presentations to various levels of law enforcement advocating surveillance and prosecution of activists as “terrorists” — something the cops are all prepared to eat up, what with the proliferation of “Fusion Centers” looking for stuff to panic over.

The other item: According to a study by Katie Keranen of Cornell University, almost all of the 2,500 small earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past five years have been the result of high pressure wastewater injections related to fracking. The change of stress on existing fault lines from the injection of water can trigger them — with water travelling along fault lines and causing earthquakes up to 22 miles away. And other states — Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio — have also seen sharp rises in small earthquakes corresponding to the introduction of fracking there. Youngstown, Ohio — which hadn’t previously been bothered by earthquakes — was hit by 109 of them in 2011 following the creation of an injection well.

Somehow I’m guessing even the minor structural damage to homes from thousands of earthquakes in five states, breakage of possessions, and the like, would cumulatively amount to a significant sum of money — enough to have a real impact on the bottom line of an industry that has problems with financial sustainability as it is and is highly reliant on a bubble financing Ponzi scheme. And we haven’t even gotten into the poisoning of groundwater from injection of toxic chemicals into geologically unstable areas.

At every step of the way, the state steps in to subsidize the operating costs of the fossil fuel industry, steal land for it to build pipelines on, and indemnify it against liability through regulatory preemption of tort law or even flat out statutory caps on liability for damage. And yet self-proclaimed libertarians like the Koch Brothers and much of the right-wing libertarian think tank and periodicals establishment loudly proclaim their support for fracking and Keystone in the name of the “free market.”

Sorry, folks. Fracking and pipelines have nothing to do with the free market. They’re creations of the state from beginning to end.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.

More articles by:

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail