Grassroots Commentary

The Narcissist Strikes Back

Thomas Berry · Nov. 21, 2011

Earlier last week, the U. S. Forest Service suspended the sale of rights to use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas development in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. The suspension applies to more than 3,000 acres of forestland, and was issued on the basis that environmental concerns over the process need further study.

The lands in question are part of the Marcellus Formation, which encompasses a roughly triangular area extending, in very general terms, from the western tip of Virginia north into Lake Erie off Cleveland, east to Albany, New York, then southwest along the Appalachians. The formation contains the largest known deposit of natural gas in the United States, and the recoverable gas is estimated to be at least a twenty-year supply for the nation. The economic benefits of recovering this gas include creation of up to 200,000 jobs, lease payments to landowners, increased tax revenues and land values, and lower energy prices for domestic versus imported gas.

According to www.fracfocus.org, fracking is a four-stage process in which liquids and fine solids are pumped into an oil or gas well to increase or prolong its productivity by creating or restoring small fractures in the surrounding rock formation. The liquids consist of 98 to 99.5% water and fine sands, with along with small amounts of diluted muriatic or hydrochloric acid, disinfectant, biocide, scale inhibitor, citric acid, friction and corrosion inhibitors, and gelling and cross-linking agents used in varying combinations with all appropriate safeguards. The website cited above describes all this in detail.

Opponents to the process primarily fear contamination of groundwater, as well as seismic aftereffects from the disturbance of the formations. At least one anti-fracking website, www.nofracking.com, includes in its definition of the process every form of raping and pillaging “formerly undisturbed natural environments” imaginable, along with the prerequisite rant against the evils of corporate profits. Given its errors, such as missing the fact that fracking sites usually have long been disturbed by roads, structures, pipelines and wells, I submit that this site’s claims are themselves quite disturbed.

Fracking has been suspended elsewhere in some instances, but only by specific companies or in specific locations due to accidents. The Forest Service action is apparently the first suspension over a such a broad area, and this writer sees two primary motives behind it.

First, consider the Obama administration’s hostility to fossil fuels. After the Gulf spill, the Obamacracy bragged of keeping its boot on the throat of BP, and defied the courts by imposing a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. It has sought punitive taxes on oil companies, and imposed draconian restrictions on coal-fired power plants. This month, the President delayed construction of a new oil pipeline from Canada into the U. S., despite its numerous economic benefits, which Canada now seeks to reap by marketing the oil to China. Attempting to shut down fracking fits the template perfectly.

Second, the targeting of Ohio, rather than Pennsylvania, West Virginia or New York, is no surprise at all. The announcement came on the one-week anniversary of Ohio voters rejecting by a nearly two-thirds majority the provisions in Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that stripped Americans of the right to choose whether or not to purchase health care or coverage.

President Obama has three proven priorities: Exaltation of his ego; doing the bidding of his backers; and, punishment of those who spurn him. This may be tinfoil hardhat thinking, but is His Vainglory exacting revenge on Ohio for voting against Obamacare by halting an energy program that stands to bring considerable economic benefit to the state?

While this is admittedly conjecture, he would not be out of character in the least to burn away a few thousand Ohio jobs with his laser-like focus. Perhaps, after he’s decided that Ohioans have been punished enough for their insolence, he will hand out another half-trillion or so taxpayer dollars to the first Ohio-based “green energy” venture to seek his pardon on our behalf by stuffing money into his campaign chest.

“Green energy,” indeed! The Obama energy policy continues to destroy American jobs, inflate our energy prices, make us more dependent on oil imported from hostile producers, and multiply corruption in the halls of power.

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