Timber! Obama Reverses Himself On Protecting Millions of Acres of Wildness in New Concession To Developers and Drillers

President Obama has made another huge concession to developers and drillers this week. He has abandoned a pledge to restore eligibility for federal wilderness protection to millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who was himself viewed as a decidedly anti-environmental Senator before being picked by Obama, announced that millions of acres will no longer be designated as “wild lands.”

As with civil libertarians, environmentalists have long been dismissed by the White House as having no where to go in the next election. Accordingly, Obama continues to rollback on environmental protections such as his radical expansion of coal permits as well as his opening up of pristine areas of the East Coast to oil exploration.

The effort to protect the lands was blocked by Congress but environmentalists wanted the Administration to fight on this ground. Various business groups and conservative members of Congress heralded the President’s move. At risk are some of the most pristine untouched lands left in the country.

Source: Yahoo

112 thoughts on “Timber! Obama Reverses Himself On Protecting Millions of Acres of Wildness in New Concession To Developers and Drillers

  1. The President keeps alienating his base to such a degree that they may very well just stay home on election day.

  2. James M, No way will the base stay home when you look at the republican candidates. Do you really think women want to have their access to abortion or even family planning eliminated? The Obama administration is the only thing stopping that from happening.

  3. The base would also like to keep their medicare. Don’t think they will stay home like 2010.

  4. Elaine, That’s right. Paul Ryan and the republican governors raised the stakes. Dredd, Obama could never run as a republican. Pro-choice politicians are not welcome in the republican party currently.

  5. This is likely because

    #1 we are on the verge of catastrophic economic collapse and the left is dithering about being human and using the earth’s resources. That retrograde worship-the-earth pagan stuff is destroying us. WE ARE A NATURAL FEATURE OF THIS PLANET. And humans using the earth’s resources are (according to leftist Darwinian theories) the pinnacle of evolutionary development. God teaches us to have dominion over the earth but to be good stewards of it. Pollution is bad stewardship.

    #2 Obama needs to earn a quick billion. Who is going to provide that? Some greedy lawyers who ruin civilization already? Not likely. And they are hanging on to their money for dear life. Perhaps those who do real work and are a benefit to mankind, like lumber harvesters? Yes, that sounds rights.

    #3 Obama just MIGHT have given a little credence to science. We can harvest the earths gifts without ruining the environment and it is most easy to do that with the forests. Though we should be opening the floodgates to hemp growing as it is a cleaner method of providing raw materials to industry. And when companies slip up and do bad thing then we can put the ruthless hounds (lawyers) on them. That will keep the criminals off the streets and occupied in productive activities useful to mankind.

    Anyway, who is hampering the hemp industry but the fascist Democrats who have controlled congress and the White House for several years now?

    #4 the feds have stolen these lands from the American people in the first place. The feds have NO authority to control these lands. Give them back to the people.

    #5 you should prepare for the next revolution: a restoration of the Constitution and liberty. This is the real revolution which is actually a counter-revolution against the 60s dirt-bags who are subverting our form of government (especially through our colleges and universities). The left (deviants and perverts that they are) thought the only freedom worth fighting for was the freedom to be a pervert. They never advance beyond this knuckle-dragging juvenile stage. Plus they are the war-mongers they claimed to loathe. They have become devoted to the fascism they claimed to abhor. And they are now the uber police-state.

    There is only one way to stop them. Nullification. And they can even join in on that. We decent people can even free the dirt-bags from themselves.

    So the real fight for freedom has begun. The left was never really interested in it. They never discovered the lawful way to fight for freedom (nullification) because though they tell us they are smart, they are not. They are just clever evil people mainly interested in filthy art, music, movies and snuffing out the lives of the unborn with a vaunted right to privacy. This they never really believed in either because now, because of them, I have a gun in my face and some fascist pig telling me to surrender my medical records and freedom to choose privately with my doctor over to D.C.

    Stop not seeing the proverbial (and literal) forest because of the trees.

    The solution lies in breaking the fascist totalitarian powers in Washington. You can live in a state that bans mining and harvesting. And others can live in a state that allows it. That was how the great experiment was meant to be. Your law schools have taught you lies about the Constitution if they taught you anything about it at all. Free yourselves from their lies. The answer lies in the 10th Amendment which the liars, totalitarians, and fascists will tell you is immoral and dead. It is neither. It is the key to liberty and justice (which is why they condemn it).

    Choose freedom over fascism. Liberty over lies. Justice over injustice. Right over wrong. Choose nullification. Stand up to the revolving dictator who serves in the Oval Office each election season. Stand up to the totalitarian congress.


  6. Politics is a dog eat dog business. All you can do is keep fighting for what you believe in and not give up.

  7. This sorry decision is yet more evidence that the re-election campaign is swinging into high gear.

    Although I am unable to follow all of her reasoning, likely as a result of brain damage from the perversions I absorbed during the ’60s, Tootie is correct on a couple of points. First, pollution is bad stewardship. Second, hemp production should indeed be encouraged for its multiple uses.

  8. Oh dear, poor Tootie and the history books:

    “The amendment states but a truism that all is retained which has not been surrendered. There is nothing in the history of its adoption to suggest that it was more than declaratory of the relationship between the national and state governments as it had been established by the Constitution before the amendment or that its purpose was other than to allay fears that the new national government might seek to exercise powers not granted, and that the states might not be able to exercise fully their reserved powers…..” (United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941))

    Nothing allays one’s fears like a good rant … inhale deeper, Tootie, deeper … deeper

  9. Buddha Is Laughing
    1, June 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm
    And don’t exhale.

    Just a suggestion.


    It’s gotta go somewhere … usually out her …….

  10. Nuutie – given the level of ‘thought’ you display here I am going to guess that your are low enough down on the evolutionary scale that asexual reproduction is standard. That makes what I suggest you go do not physically impossible as it is for humans.

    As long as the Republican’s only offer us wingnuts, wackos and morans ‘Democrats’ like Obama can do just about anything and get away with it. This is example 1348 of the Obama Administration illustrating the point for slow learners.

  11. Or, maybe we could encourage people to consume less. Constant growth requires constant room to grow, this applies to economies as well as brook trout. I’d much rather my kid have some trees to look at then that he lives in a country that has a larger GDP than I grew up in.

  12. What really happened in Wyoming last week?

    Perhaps we should ask billionaire coal hauler Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha.”

    Energy and climate analysts and Big Green organizations are still staggering around for an answer to the Obama administration’s blockbuster news in Wyoming’s coalfields last week to green-light the mining of an estimated 750 million-2.4 billion tons of coal on public lands. According to environmental analysts, “when burned, the coal threatens to release more than 3.9 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, equal to the annual emissions from 300 coal-fired power plants.”

    As Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar scrambles to explain his wildly exaggerated claims of the coal lease sales from his announcement, the truth is that this mind-boggling announcement comes on the heels of EPA administrator’s proposed new rules to crack down on mercury emissions from coal-fired plants–that will, in effect, continue the move away from coal-fired energy.

    It would be easy to point an accusing finger at Salazar, the former cowboy Senator from neighboring coal-rich Colorado who accepted massive amounts of contributions from dirty energy companies, and whose Bureau of Land Management quietly gave the green light for another 430 million tons of coal at the Antelope strip mine in Wyoming last year (within hours of the EPA’s crackdown on mountaintop removal mining operations in central Appalachia).

    But I don’t think Salazar is the culprit on this Wyoming spring sale: President Obama needs to be called out for his less than transparent catering to his long-time billionaire and coal-profiteering friends.


  13. Does anyone else find it odd that a long time global warming denier and general business apologist has a problem with this? Hmmmm it’s almost like the problem is the person, not the policy.

    Nah, that would be shallow and disingenuous.

  14. Gyges if you were referring to me, I don’t have a problem with it at all. In fact it’s my belief that because Global Warming is a dead issue Obama had no choice but to swing this way.

  15. Kyoto deal loses four big nations

    May 29, 2011

    DEAUVILLE, France: Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty, European diplomats have said.

    The future of the Kyoto Protocol has become central to efforts to negotiate reductions of carbon emissions under the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, whose annual meeting will take place in Durban, South Africa, from November 28 to December 9.

    Developed countries signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. They agreed to legally binding commitments on curbing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

    At last Thursday’s G8 dinner the US President, Barack Obama, confirmed Washington would not join an updated Kyoto Protocol, the diplomats said.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/kyoto-deal-loses-four-big-nations-20110528-1f9dk.html#ixzz1OAlcVFG3

  16. Carbon Trading is also a dead horse.

    World Bank warns of ‘failing’ international carbon market

    Report shows collapse in market with just $1.5bn of credits traded internationally last year.

    The international market in carbon credits has suffered an almost total collapse, with only $1.5bn (£916m) of credits traded last year – the lowest since the market opened in 2005, according to a report from the World Bank.

    A fledgling market in greenhouse gas emissions in the US also declined, and only the European Union’s internal market in carbon remained healthy, worth $120bn. However, leaked documents seen by the Guardian appear to show that even the EU’s emissions trading system is in danger.


  17. Oh, and here in the U.S.

    Carbon Trade Ends on Quiet Death of Chicago Climate Exchange

    November 8, 2010

    By John O’Sullivan

    Republican mid-term election joy deals financial uncertainty among green investors as the Chicago Climate Exchange announces the end of U.S. carbon trading.

    The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) announced on October 21, 2010 that it will cease carbon trading this year. However, Steve Milloy reporting on Pajamasmedia.com (November 6, 2010) finds this huge story strangely unreported by the mainstream media.

    To some key analysts the collapse of the CCX appears to show that international carbon trading is “dying a quiet death.” Yet Milloy finds that such a major business failure has drawn no interest at all from the mainstream media. Milloy noted that a “Nexis search conducted a week after CCX’s announcement revealed no news articles published about its demise.”

    Not until November 02, 2010 had the story even been picked up briefly and that was by Chicagobusiness.com (Crain’s). Reporter, Paul Merrion appeared to find some comfort that while CCX will cease all trading of new emission allowances at the end of the year, “it will continue trading carbon offsets generated by projects that consume greenhouse gases, such as planting trees.”

    Collapse is Personal Setback for U.S. President

    Barack Obama was a board member of the Joyce Foundation that funded the fledgling CCX. Professor Richard Sandor, of Northwestern University had started the business with $1.1 million in grants from the Chicago-based left-wing Joyce Foundation enthusiastically endorsed by Obama. When founded in November 2000, CCX’s carbon trading market was predicted to grow anywhere between $500 billion and $10 trillion. Fortunately before its collapse Sandor was able to net $98.5 million for his 16.5% stake when CCX was sold.


  18. Good for the president. I think he is finally getting the idea that it takes using natural resources to create jobs.

    This will create thousands of jobs. Lots of natural resources can be sold to Japan to help them rebuild.

    He needs to continue, we start drilling and mining and cutting maybe we can put people back to work.

    The economy must really stink for him to be willing to spend some political capital. Although if he puts people to work the small number of greenies he loses will be more than offset by the number of working people who will vote for him.

    This was a purely political move on his part but credit is due, at least he has the stones to take the heat. Although it may just be a head faint to get re-elected and then back to trashing the economy and sharing the wealth; business as usual with this administration.

    This puts conservatives in a pickle, they don’t want another Obama presidency but do they want another great depression?

    Once he starts doing these things and the economy starts turning around will he be able to move his agenda forward or has he painted himself into a corner? He cant heat the economy up and then tack to the statist quo without a good deal of push back from republicans. He has the makings of a compromise if he can put people back to work and get the economy moving again.

    If he can he will probably marginalize the Tea Party in 2012 and most old guard republicans are willing to fall all over themselves to pass new entitlements so this could be the start of a good opportunity for the president.

  19. Mr. Obama has inspired me to paraphrase the first stanza of a famous sonnet:

    How do I loathe thee

    I caint begin to count the ways…

  20. Dear Jonathan Turley,

    Why are you no longer a contibuting talking head on MSNBC? They need you over there! Comcast is beginning to work its corporate magic on the “last liberal news outlet”, if it ever really was that, and it is now fading away.

    Very smart of them not to fire the anchors all at once (kind of like the Chamber of Commerce going slow the first year after Citizen’s United, huh?)… That way they don’t attract too much attention and criticism. As to the contributors like you, I noticed Jane from Firedog Lake is gone too. And the Huffington Post little feisty guy. Now it’s just triangulators like Howard Fineman and Alter hanging out with dopey Chris Matthews (who is a little schizo, if you ask me).

    sad… I keep wishing that rich liberals like George Soros would put their money into real truth media. Wouldn’t you like to see an HNN (“Hound News Network”) to go after the Fox?

    PS: Is it possible to recall a Supreme?

  21. PS: Obama is really a nightmare, but he is brilliant in that he knows we are stuck with him.

    I just hope Michelle divorces him someday and runs for president.

  22. Roco – why would the Japanese buy material from the US when they can get it from China and South America cheaper? Since the foolish American workers demand 7 or 8 dollars an hour and lavish benefits like partially paid health insurance and 2 weeks vacation time we will never be able to compete in that market.

    But we are getting there. If this President doesn’t completely undo health and safety requirements while undoing the environmental ones they next one surely will. Then we can create the sort of workers paradise the Chinese have.

    We can all march to the glorious Foxconn factory secure in the knowledge that, if we forget our sworn statement that we will not commit suicide, the nets the Masters Of the Universe have put up around the plant will prevent us from jumping to our death. Meanwhile our children can die from black lung by simply breathing the city air.

  23. frank:

    so never drill or mine or timber on American soil again? How are you going to sustain an economy?

  24. so never drill or mine or timber on American soil again? How are you going to sustain an economy?

    Roco don’t forget never shoot feral pigs from helicopters, or was that wolves ?

  25. husbandry \ˈhəz-bən-drē\, n.,

    2: the control or judicious use of resources

    Compare with . . .

    exploit \ik-ˈsplȯit, ˈek-ˌ\, v.,

    1: to make productive use of : utilize
    2: to make use of meanly or unfairly for one’s own advantage

    Contrast with . . .

    greed \ˈgrēd\, n.,

    : a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed

    Emphasize with . . .

    narcissism \ˈnär-sə-ˌsi-zəm\, n.,

    1: egoism, egocentrism

    Condense via utilization . . .

    The greedy and narcissistic elements of society cannot distinguish between responsible husbandry and venal myopic exploitation.

  26. SM, Unseasonably warm where I’m living. Cool the past couple of days, but we’ve hit 90 degrees already, which is unusual…

  27. a. n. & SwM,

    It has been beautiful here the last three days but that was after a couple of days in the 90’s spent at graduation parties. Sat. is supposed to be sweltering again.

    The farmers around here are wringing their hands in frustration … something about “out of 54 days, only 3 days were free of hard rain”

  28. Maybe an official proclamation from the governor would help, Blouise… Or with Reed’s “Faith and Freedom” conference on the horizon (thanks for the link, Swarthmore mom), perhaps “the conference” could take it up, so to speak…

  29. A hot time in the old town tonight, let freedom ring, and all that jazz…

    The following is from the link about the Ralph Reed Love Fest, provided by Swarthmore mom):

    “All in all, it’s a veritable Who’s Who of the modern GOP, save for one man. Newt Gingrich, who spoke at the last Faith and Freedom event held in Iowa back in March, is skipping the massive DC event. In between the two Faith And Freedom events, Gingrich has made his run for the White House official, only to see it implode spectacularly after he criticized the House Republican plan to phase out Medicare. Team Gingrich told ABC News the former House Speaker was not skipping Reed’s DC event to avoid more uncomfortable questions about his Medicare stance. Turns out Gingrich had already planned to take some time off from the campaign trail this weekend, his spokesperson told ABC, so he’ll send along a video address instead.

    Sarah Palin — who’s making a huge if confusing splash with her bus tour this week — will also be absent from the festivities, though she’s not one to show at events like this normally.”

  30. BDAman,

    “As Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar scrambles to explain his wildly exaggerated claims of the coal lease sales from his announcement, the truth is that this mind-boggling announcement…”

    “Energy and climate analysts and Big Green organizations are still staggering around…”

    “President Obama needs to be called out for his less than transparent catering to his long-time billionaire and coal-profiteering friends.”

    That’s sure supportive language, I’m not sure how anyone could construe posting that article on the matter as intended to cause negative feelings towards the President and his administration. A far as I can tell, you either: just posted the first thing you came across (shallow); misrepresenting your intentions and view (disingenuous); or both (shallow and disingenuous).


    I was hoping someone would notice that set up. Thank you.

  31. private companies do tend to husband resources because they own them. the problem comes when they do not own the land. They then have no incentive to take care of it.

    Aristotle spoke of this some 2,500 years ago.

    “For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few.”

    Politics Book II Part III

    From there it isnt to hard to get to here:

    “Any material element or resource which, in order to become of use or value to men, requires the application of human knowledge and effort, should be private property—by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort.”

    Therefore it would be better if the federal government sold the land outright than offer leases. That way 2 of the conditions necessary for success are satisfied, namely private property and
    the right to ones labor.

    If you want to be egalitarian about it, then have a lottery and give the land away to as many people as possible. It is theirs anyway as either their ancestors or they have paid taxes for the purchase of the land.

    Give government land to the people and let them sell it or use it for their benefit. Now that’s my kind of communism.

  32. “The greedy and narcissistic elements of society cannot distinguish between responsible husbandry and venal myopic exploitation.”

    You must be talking about federal employees. Private companies take good care of their own land. I imagine they do use up government resources because they are held in common and are ostensibly owned by the tax payer. So give the land to the tax payers and let them contract with the private companies.

    You are such a man of the people, I should think you would be all over than proposal.

  33. Yeah, like the coal companies are shepherding West Virgina and BP is shepherding the Gulf of Mexico and Massey Energy is shepherding its miners – into oblivion. Or like Georgia Pacific shepherds diverse forests into a giant monoculture unfit for most of the life it could support & highly vulnerable to a single threat that would wipe out the entire monoculture.

    Business in in business for only one goal – to turn a profit. Increasingly in today’s society that means this quarter. Unrestrained business is as evil and destructive as unrestrained government. Individuals cannot stand against corporate power but government can. We need a balance but we currently have corporations and a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations. And God helps us because we are well and truly fucked and the corporations don’t care that they are killing us.

  34. I said greedy, narcissistic, venal and myopic and you spoke up in deflection, “Roco”, so it was a case of ringing the bell and the greedy, narcissistic, venal and myopic dog salivating.

  35. Gyges, it is what it is.

    What eva ya say it is, what eva ya think it is. It is what it is.

    you’ve been bamboozled

  36. Bdaman,

    Maybe you’re the one who’s been bamboozled.

    Here are links to articles with information about fracking for natural gas:

    Fracking USA: A Post about the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Governor Tom Corbett, C. Alan Walker, the Marcellus Shale, Polluted Drinking Water, and the Movie Gasland


    “Fracking” Shale Gas Emissions Far Worse Than Coal For Climate – Cornell Study
    by bdemelle
    Daily Kos, 4/11/2011

  37. Bdaman,

    More Reasons to Question Whether Gas is Cleaner than Coal
    by Abrahm Lustgarten
    ProPublica, April 12, 2011


    Meet the families whose lives have been ruined by gas drilling
    AlterNet: Families in Pennsylvania explain how the dash for gas in the US is affecting their way of life
    Nina Berman for AlterNet guardian.co.uk
    Tuesday 12 April 2011

  38. Bdaman,

    US House Democrats accuse producers of using toxic fracking products
    Washington (Platts)–18 Apr 2011
    By Mark Davidson


    Pennsylvania Fracking Spill: Natural Gas Well Blowout Spills Thousands Of Gallons Of Drilling Fluid (VIDEO)
    The Huffington Post
    First Posted: 04/20/11 02:52

  39. Elaine, I always get a kick, in a sad sort of way, by those who get their scientific knowledge from sources like Salon or Wikipedia.

    Back when I was in undergraduate school, someone asked a question of the professor that required more than a simple yes or no answer. The prof pointed out the window and said, “See yonder red brick building across the way? It is called the library. You will find the answer to your question there. Go find the answer and get back to me; we will talk about it then.”

    Nothing like looking something up in a scientific journal. But that takes WORK, unlike a story that a reporter probably got at least partly, if not completely, wrong.

    When I see a story like that Salon article, I am always suspicious of the source. That read like an industry puff piece, spoon fed to a media stenographer.

  40. Carbon.

    Chemically carbon still retains atmospheric heat.

    Burning natural gas still produces carbon as a byproduct as it is, duh, a hydrocarbon.

    The goal isn’t simply oil free power.

    The goal is carbon free power.

  41. bdaman:

    thanks for the link to that salon article. here is a quote:

    “If gas hydrates as well as shale gas, tight oil, oil sands and other unconventional sources can be tapped at reasonable cost, then the global energy picture looks radically different than it did only a few years ago. Suddenly it appears that there may be enough accessible hydrocarbons to power industrial civilization for centuries, if not millennia, to come.”

    interesting. We are up to our eyeballs in hydro-carbons and people want green energy? Why? Maybe in a couple of hundred years it might make sense.

    The fact that universities are looking to mine the solid methane at the bottom of the sea tells me all I need to know about the market potential for wind and solar. And didn’t GE get 5 billion dollars to produce turbines and other “green” energy? Now I know why they call it green energy, that green is the tax payers money being spent on speculative endeavors.

  42. Otteray Scribe:

    I dont know, it looks to me like he did his home work. He has links to various university studies. And apparently one of the posts Elanine M used about has been debunked due to the size of the data set (well, god dam you were right. :))

  43. Buddha,

    I think Frank nailed a big part of the problem “Business in in business for only one goal – to turn a profit. Increasingly in today’s society that means this quarter. ”

    If businesses can make more money in the short term by fooling us than it can by investing in R&D into carbon free tech., then that’s what they’ll do.

    What’s driving the whole set up is that somewhere along the line we let ourselves get talked into the idea that what’s best for any particular industry is whatever is best for those businesses that happen to exist right now. So that’s what our laws are engineered towards. Not growth with any sort of development, but expansion. Not strategic growth, just blind expansion. Basically, we’ve got the Blob as a model for our economy.

  44. Bdaman,

    No. I just posted links to stories on fracking and natural gas that I had already posted at my fracking article for the Turley blog.

    BTW, I know there’s a lot of natural gas in this country. The problem has been with the hydraulic fracturing method used for extracting it from the rock/shale and with a number of chemicals companies have used when fracking for natural gas. I don’t suppose you’d like it if your drinking water was polluted or if you could set the water that comes out of your faucet on fire.

  45. Bdaman,

    Another salon article for you:

    A new golden age for fossil fuels? Huh?
    Natural gas is cheap and clean, but hardly the answer to our energy needs. It just buys us time
    By Andrew Leonard

    If Michael Lind’s intention, in his Salon article published Tuesday, “Everything You’ve Heard About Fossil Fuels May Be Wrong,” was to throw so many bombs at once that critics would be too buried by shrapnel to respond, then he at least partially succeeded. It’s hard to know where to start grappling with a column that simultaneously dismisses the challenge of global warming, declares a new golden age of fossil fuels that could last millennia, ridicules renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar while advocating a massive nuclear power buildup, and even throws in a few digs at city living and organic agriculture, just for fun. Readers who might more logically expect to see such sentiments espoused in the National Review or the American Spectator than in Salon were unsurprisingly annoyed.

    The article is built on two parallel assertions. First, new technologies have unlocked vast quantities of natural gas (and will deliver a lot more oil, as well, to take care of all our energy needs into the distant future, and second, catastrophic climate change is a “low probability” event that we don’t need to worry about. Let’s start with the second claim, because how we think about climate change drastically affects how we think about fossil fuels.


    The scenarios with the most catastrophic outcomes of global warming are low probability outcomes — a fact that explains why the world’s governments in practice treat reducing CO2 emissions as a low priority, despite paying lip service to it.

    A better explanation for why the world is treating climate change as a low priority problem might be because the U.S. — historically the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions — has refused to take any action at all. And that, in turn, is a direct result of fierce opposition from the fossil fuel energy industry and other entrenched special interests, as well as the decision of one major political party to utterly reject the conclusions of the scientific mainstream. (A willful display of ignorance unmatched by any other major political party or ruling government in the rest of the world. )

    But whatever the true reasons for our failure to act, Lind’s timing can’t be beat, because on the very day his article appeared, the International Energy Agency revealed that “greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount” in 2010.

    From the Guardian:

    The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” — is likely to be just “a nice Utopia,” according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

    Last year, a record 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel — a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data…

    “Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, ” [said Professor Lord David Stern, author of the Stern Report on the economics of climate change], “leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce.”

    I’m not sure what definition of catastrophe Lind is using, but the unprecedented frequency of extreme weather events that we are already witnessing all across our planet is a strong indicator that global warming is already contributing to serious disruptions. If you accept the science of climate change, then the fact that we are pumping record amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is not a good thing.

    Which brings us to the main thrust of Lind’s piece, his celebration of how hydraulic fracturing technologies — or “fracking” — have allowed energy companies to tap huge amounts of natural gas.

    And sure, there are reasons environmentalists should be happy about a dramatic rise in accessible natural gas supplies. Burning natural gas for heating or electricity generation releases much less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels. If forced to choose between natural gas or coal as a source of electricity, any environmentalist would pick natural gas. This is no secret — even as ardent a climate change activist as Climate Progress’s Joseph Romm called fracking a potential “game changer” as long as two years ago.

    But Lind is far too quick to dismiss the potential environmental problems associated with fracking. While there may not be a meaningful scientific consensus as to whether the fracking process results in significant greenhouse gas emissions, I defy anyone to read the New York Times’ massive, exhaustively reported series on pollution problems associated with fracking and still not be concerned with threats to the nation’s drinking water supply or the multiple failures of our regulatory system. There are clearly reasons to be concerned. Just this week, Texas — Texas! — passed a “fracking disclosure” law requiring oil or gas well operators who perform hydraulic fracturing “to disclose the volume of water and the chemical ingredients of the fracturing fluids used.” Also this week, in New York, state Attorney General David Schneiderman announced he was suing the federal government for “failure to study ‘fracking.'”

  46. What Elaine M. said. Good catch with that follow-up article on Lind’s industry-fueled puff piece.

  47. bdaman:

    what was the temperature increase during the medieval warming period? Didn’t that increase population and wealth for the average person?

  48. The medieval warming is a myth. Widely studied by climatologists, and debunked. Here is a scientific treatise from Stanford University on the subject:


    Here is a study done at Columbia University.


    What do they mean? The evidence used by reputable scientists indicate this claim is anecdotal at best. The data appear to refer to regional changes between Greenland and the Ural Mountains. There are no current data to support this claim on even a hemispheric basis, let alone a global basis. Furthermore, there is a chance that the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA) both represented a gradual cooling trend as opposed to a periodic oscillation of global temperatures. Not an established fact, but a chance.

    As far as life in medieval times, it was harsh. The rich got richer and the peons and fiefs got poorer. Anyone got out of line, the established power came down on them like a ton of bricks. If an ordinary person, not one of the elite, lived to be forty, you were old.

  49. Otteray Scribe

    Elaine, I always get a kick, in a sad sort of way, by those who get their scientific knowledge from sources like Salon or Wikipedia.

    What Elaine M. said. Good catch with that follow-up article on Lind’s industry-fueled puff piece.

  50. The medieval warming is a myth.

    Maybe that’s why Michael Mann left it out of the hockey stick graph:)

  51. How Greenland’s cold beat the Vikings
    New study underscores climate’s role in Vikings’ disappearance from Greenland

    a team of researchers led by Brown University came up with what’s believed to be the first factual reconstruction of temperatures from that time. And the evidence they found points to a steady drop in the thermometer starting around the year 1100.


  52. If you want an original source from Brown University, you might take a look at the work of Dr. Brad Marston, who is a real honest to goodness scientist. Here is a link to one of his presentations not filtered through a media hack. It will take a while to wade through this presentation which is very heavy on data. Dr. Marston uses quantum physics to explain global warming and climate change.


  53. Thank you O.S. The point is the Vikings raised Cattle and grew crops, ie grapes in Greenland which equals warm then a funny thing happened, it got cold.

  54. Bdaman,

    I did a lot of research before I wrote up my post about fracking. I included links to approximately twenty-five sources that I read before writing it.

    Check these documents out. I originally included a link to them in my post on fracking.

    Documents: Natural Gas’s Toxic Waste
    The New York Times reviewed more than 3,000 pages of documents obtained through open records requests of state and federal agencies and visited a number of offices that oversee gas drilling in the state of Pennsylvania. The Times said that it made the most significant documents available—along with annotations.


  55. Bdaman,

    BTW, I would be thrilled if we could extract natural gas from shale without polluting ground water or causing other environmental problems. Maybe stricter regulations about what types of chemicals companies can use in the fracking process should be enforced.

  56. Bdaman, apparently you did not wade through the scientific documents. Understandable if you are not trained in atmospheric sciences and quantum physics. That is very turgid reading.

    Can you spell R-E-G-I-O-N-A-L? Those studies from Stanford and Columbia make clear the atmospheric and climate data only encompasses the area between the Ural Mountains and Greenland. Data do not exist for the whole planet at that time, so we do not know the causes, nor do we know how extensive that difference in climate might have been. Dr. Marston makes it clear; however, at the present time only greenhouse warming can explain our current drift toward warming on a global scale. That quantum physics model suggests it could not have happened on a global scale, but likely happened regionally in the past. We know, for example, that when things get warmer, ice melting in the Arctic cools the Gulf Stream Current which in turn causes cooling in the area affected by the GSC. That is why we may see unusual weather patterns of cold, drought and storms in areas where those are unusual, or if common, with an intensity and frequency out of the ordinary. One or two years of study will not do it, but over a few years, trends are seen and can be evaluated.

  57. Bdaman:

    they had grapes in Greenland? Seriously? They don’t anymore, I wonder if that is because of global warming?

    If it snows its global warming, if it rains its global warming. It’s really nuanced and only super smart people can figure it out. So when it snowed after the volcanic eruptions in the early 1800’s was that terragenic global warming er cooling er who knows?

  58. Bdaman shows the typical ‘fallback when exposed’ tactic the corporatists use when they are losing to reality.
    Tobacco AGW
    Does not cause cancer Not happening, it snowed in January
    Not that bad

  59. sorry, system glitch

    tobacco . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . climate change
    Does not cause cancer . . Not happening, it snowed in January
    Not that bad . . . . . . . . . Not caused by man
    smokers fault. . Its a GOOD THING! it was warmer when dinos ruled!
    OK it kills & is highly addictive but companies shouldn’t be held accountable . . . . TBD – those that survive the climate apocalypse
    will have some stories to tell

  60. Weather is local, climate is global. There is micrometerology, one of my interests, because understanding micrometerology has kept me alive while flying. There is general meterology and there is climatology.

    As far as the arguments presented here by bdaman and Roco, they commonly use “begging the question” and “appeal to ignorance” fallacies, examples of which can be found above.

  61. Bdaman,

    Here’s a link to a Think Progress article published two years after your Think Progess article:

    Bringing Fracking to the Surface: More Scrutiny Needed on Natural Gas Development
    By Joe Romm on Jun 3, 2011

    New studies point to problems

    Adding urgency to the important task of answering some of the fundamental questions surrounding natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are new studies into methane contamination of domestic water wells near drilling operations, as well as conflicting inquiries into whether using natural gas to produce electricity will significantly reduce carbon emissions relative to coal.

    A new Duke University study revealed that drinking water wells within 3,000 feet of natural gas drilling operations had 17 times the levels of methane contamination than water wells farther away from gas development. While the study did not have data on baseline methane contamination levels in the drinking supplies prior to the onset of drilling for gas, it lends credence to numerous complaints by landowners that drilling has led to methane intrusion into their water supplies and homes.

    Methane contamination of water wells can occur when the cement and steel casing on natural gas wells fails, as it did last year on a Chesapeake Energy well in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Sixteen domestic water wells were contaminated in that incident, leading to a $1 million fine levied on Chesapeake by Pennsylvania regulators.

    Meanwhile, the argument over the true lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas is intensifying with the recent release of a National Energy Technology Laboratory study that reaches far different conclusions than one by Cornell University researchers released just a few weeks earlier that found natural gas could be just as bad, or worse, than coal.

    The NETL study found that when used for electricity, gas is 50 percent cleaner in terms of greenhouse gas pollution over a 20-year time period and 54 percent cleaner over a century.

  62. Distinction Between In-Situ Biogenic Gas and Migrated Thermogenic Gas in Ground Water, Denver Basin, Colorado: ABSTRACT
    Dudley D. Rice, Lewis R. Ladwig
    AAPG Bulletin

    Volume 67 (1983)

    Methane-rich gas commonly occurs in ground water in the Denver basin, southern Weld County, Colorado. The gas generally is in solution in the ground water of the aquifer. However, exsolution resulting from reduction to hydrostatic pressure during water production may create free gas, which can accumulate in wells and buildings and pose an explosion and fire hazard.

  63. Gasland director hides full facts

    Filmmaker and journalist Phelim McAleer asks Josh Fox, the director of Gasland, some inconvenient questions about the accuracy of his Oscar-nominated documentary.

    “There were media reports of people lighting their water as far back as 1936”

  64. Josh Fox has made a documentary that makes some pretty alarming claims about gas drilling across the US. But as is often the case when these claims are examined they do not stand up to scrutiny.

    Fox’ documentary Gasland, claims that fracking, a way of drilling for natural gas, has polluted water and endangered lives. One of the most alarming scenes is when he lights water that residents claim has been polluted by fracking. It is dramatic and at first glance seems like a slam dunk. I mean they can light their water – it is polluted and there is gas drilling nearby. It must be responsible.

    But then a little digging reveals a few inconvenient facts. A 1976 study by the Colorado Division of Water found that this area was plagued with gas in the water problems back then. And it was naturally occurring.

    As the report stated there was “troublesome amounts of methane” in the water decades before fracking began. It seems that in geographical areas gas has always been in the water.

    But Josh Fox knew this and chose not to put it in Gasland.

    I asked him about this omission at a recent screening at Northwestern University in Chicago.

    He said he had not included these facts that questioned his alarmism because “they were not relevant.” He also dropped the bombshell that I had not been aware of that there were media reports of people lighting their water as far back as 1936. Again this was not included in Gasland because it was not relevant.

    Perhaps Josh you should include all the evidence and let people figure out what is relevant and what is not.


  65. Research was conducted by four scientists at Duke University who found levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells were at dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells. The gas detected at high levels in the water was the same type of gas that energy companies were extracting from thousands of feet underground, strongly implying that the gas is seeping through faults and fractures.

    “Our results show evidence for methane contamination of shallow drinking water systems in at least three areas of the region and suggest important environmental risks accompanying shale gas exploration worldwide,”

    Fracking exacerbates natural faults and fractures, allowing higher levels of methane to get into underground water supplies. The implications are enormous, especially for aquifers that supply major cities which range from New York to Los Angeles.


    Several other recent reports warn of the dangers of natural gas fracking. A study released in March 2011 by scientists at Cornell University estimated the greenhouse gas emissions associated with fracked gas are 20% to 50% higher than emissions from coal. A January 2011 research study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that methane released as a result of hydraulic fracturing of shale gas were 9,000 times greater than reported previously.


  66. OS the IntelHub ? are you fucking kidding me.

    Founder, Staff Writer, and Director
    Shepard Ambellas

    Military Industrial Complex Prepares Mass Graves for U.S. Citizens
    Shepard Ambellas
    March 25, 2009

    Shepard Ambellas on Alex Jones Tv 2/2:New Mass Grave Site in Arizona !!

  67. What specifically do you allege that is untrue in that article on fracking problems in Arkansas?

    That is a news article and not a scientific publication, and states what is going on in Arkansas. Before you start, however, you may want to know I am originally from Arkansas and am thoroughly familiar with the Guy area and surrounding towns and counties. I have family there, some of whom are in the news business. I keep up with what is going on in Arkansas.

    So, now that is out of the way, what specifically is incorrect in the Guy, Arkansas news item?

  68. BTW, that same information has appeared in Arkansas newspapers and on TV broadcasts. The referenced article is an aggregation from multiple sources.

  69. Thanks, apology accepted. Have a good one. Take a close look at the Cornell and Duke studies. There was also a 2004 study done by the EPA which references some white papers done for the Dept. of Energy that also address the problem.

    In central Arkansas, newspaper editors do not seem to know which side of the issue to editorialize about. On the one hand, energy companies advertise heavily and they do not want to piss off advertisers, and on the other their readers are already pissed off. As a result, one can read some of the most waffling editorials ever seen in print. The Conway, Arkansas “Log Cabin Democrat” appears to be caught in the middle because a big conference on fracking was held at Hendrix College in Conway. The mud flew (pun intended).

  70. Bdaman,

    Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” got a clean bill of health this week in the first scientific look at the safety of the oil and production practice.

    Published: May 13, 2011


    Excerpts from that NYT article:

    The study released this week, done by scientists at Duke University, suggested that gas drilling causes methane gas to leak into people’s water and sometimes their homes (Greenwire, May 9). But methane contamination is not caused by injecting chemicals down the well. It is caused by bad well construction during drilling.


    But by the definition of industry, along with most everyone who followed oil and gas issues before the current shale drilling boom, fracturing didn’t cause those problems.

    That is because the companies are saying, specifically, that no one has ever proven that hydraulic fracturing fluid rises up a mile or so from the production zone, through layers of rock, to pollute drinking water aquifers.

    They rarely, if ever, clarify that regulators have repeatedly linked water contamination and other environmental problems to other aspects of drilling.

    For example, a well blowout during fracturing last month in Pennsylvania, sent fluid to a nearby stream, threatening surface water, not groundwater (Greenwire, May 4). And a well-known contamination case in Dimock, Pa., involved methane — not fracturing fluid — in local water wells (Greenwire, Dec. 16, 2010).

    Environmentalists and other industry critics consider this distinction to be nothing more than word games concocted by oil and gas lobbyists. Whatever you call it, they say, gas production is fouling air and water.

    “When they confine their definition to the single moment of the underground fracturing — a part of the process that has never been investigated — they can legally deny the obvious,” wrote Josh Fox, director of the anti-drilling documentary “Gasland,” in a rebuttal to industry criticism of his film.

    “Very tricky wording,” Fox wrote, “which belies the real truth. Quite deliberately.”


    A 2004 EPA study found that fracturing posed “little or no threat” of groundwater contamination, except perhaps when diesel is used. But the agency never tested the water itself. Instead it relied on a survey of state regulators. Critics like Fox rejoin that it is hard to prove the absence of something without looking for it.

    Jackson and his fellow researchers at Duke do not completely exonerate fracturing from problems, either. He said more research is needed into whether the intense pressure used to crack open shales, much higher than in conventional drilling, might be the cause of those leaky pipes allowing methane into well water.

    And industry is criticizing the sample size of the study as too small to prove methane contamination. That could cast similar doubts on any conclusions about the safety of fracturing.

    “It surprised me that there was so little systemic work on this,” Jackson said. “We don’t know much about the fracking.”

  71. Elaine and bdaman, one of the problems not mentioned too often is the fact the gas pressures in deep gas wells are enough to give one pause. I remember that in south Mississippi, the gas well pressures there run about 23,500 pounds ft^2. At that pressure, accidents are not only likely, they become inevitable. I remember visiting a site in south Arkansas back in either the late 1960s or early 1970s where a well blew out. The crater was enormous. I don’t remember the exact size, but my impression was that the earth was displaced about a quarter mile across.

    Here is what a gas well blowout looks like. This one is in Manitoba, Canada. Notice the drilling company staff tries to keep the thing from being filmed and a guy tries to put his hand over the camera lens. Typical. Now, keep in mind that in many areas, drilling is being done in populated areas, not a pine forest like the one in Manitoba.

  72. In Greene County, Ohio, a woman found a salesman’s binder in her driveway, apparently dropped by one of the agents who were trying to convince landowners (she is one) to sign off on drilling rights. The Ohio AG has been urged by several outraged Ohio lawmakers to investigate the matter.

    Here is a PDF of the document she allegedly found. I cannot vouch for the authenticity, but from what I have seen and heard recently, these points have been used by energy company representatives at town hall meetings, in interviews and in talking to property owners. In other words, it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, so….


  73. Otteray,

    I read the following article recently:

    Forced Pooling: When Landowners Can’t Say No to Drilling
    ProPublica, 5/19/2011

    As the shale gas boom sweeps across the United States, drillers are turning to a controversial legal tool called forced pooling to gain access to minerals beneath private property–in many cases, without the landowners’ permission.

    Forced pooling is common in many established oil and gas states, but its use has grown more contentious as concerns rise about drilling safety and homeowners in areas with little drilling history struggle to understand the obscurities of mineral laws.

    Joseph Todd, who lives in rural Big Flats, N.Y., wasn’t especially concerned when he learned in 2009 that his half-acre property had become part of a drilling unit. But when methane gas showed up in his drinking water well after the drilling began, he became outraged, describing forced pooling as “eminent domain for gas drillers.”

    “We never wanted to be a part of the drilling,” he said. “To have something like this happen is beyond frustrating.” Todd and some of his neighbors are now suing the company that is drilling near their neighborhood, even though no link has been proven between drilling and the contamination of their water.

    People who see forced pooling as an infringement of property rights also tend to oppose the practice, including Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who has otherwise been a staunch supporter of the drilling industry.

    “I do not believe in private eminent domain, and forced pooling would be exactly that,” Corbett told a group of nearly 400 drilling industry representatives and supporters last month. He also said he won’t sign pending legislation that would allow forced pooling for drilling in Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

    Forced pooling compels holdout landowners to join gas-leasing agreements with their neighbors. The specific provisions of the laws vary from state to state, but drillers are generally allowed to extract minerals from a large area or “pool”–in most states a minimum of 640 acres–if leases have been negotiated for a certain percentage of that land. The company can then harvest gas from the entire area. In most cases, drillers aren’t allowed to build surface wells on unleased land, so they use horizontal wells or other means to collect the minerals beneath those parcels.

    Thirty-nine states have some form of forced pooling law. West Virginia and Pennsylvania each have measures that don’t apply to drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and proponents are trying to expand the laws in those states. (Check out our chart of forced pooling laws across the United States.)

    In New York, the owners of 60 percent of the acreage in the proposed drilling unit must agree to lease their land before the state oil and gas board will consider a driller’s petition for compulsory integration, as it is known there. In Virginia, only 25 percent of the land must be leased. In all states with such laws, drillers must notify all the landowners within the prospective drilling area of their right to participate in a hearing before the oil and gas board, or whatever regulatory agency the state has set up for that purpose.

    If the board approves the driller’s petition, holdout landowners typically have three choices: contribute to the cost of the well and share profits from the sale of the gas; don’t pay for the well and share the gas profits after a “risk aversion” penalty is subtracted, or receive a state-mandated minimum royalty payment. Landowners who choose none of these options are automatically enrolled in the last plan. Opting out is not a possibility.

  74. Elaine, I am very suspicious of those state oil and gas boards. There is too much power concentrated in too few people and it is a lot easier to grease the palms of a few politicians than a lot of citizens.

    Perfect example of how politicians can be bought and paid for in this example. Congressman Mike Pompeo R-Kansas) was being interviewed by a reporter from the National Journal who essentially asked if he were bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. Pompeo gives what has been described as the Worst. Answer. Ever.

    NJ reporter: How do you respond to critics who say you’re being influenced by Koch Industries, given its owners’ contributions to your campaign?

    POMPEO: What do you think? I’d say [I’ve been] a small-government guy for an awful long time, and I’ll be a small-government guy when the good Lord calls me home. Koch Industries is an amazing business that has succeeded by building a product that customers love dearly. The folks who run Koch are very clear. They would love to have government just get out of the way and allow companies to compete, whether in their particular sectors or other sectors. They are true believers in small government.


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