The lust of avarice has so totally seized upon mankind their wealth seems to possess them. Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder was a Roman philosopher remembered for wisdom. More than 2,000 years later, our lust for money remains. Avarice, the extreme greed for wealth over all else, explains our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. When you look at the details you find many holes in the game, but everyone has something to gain to keep the fracking bubble from bursting.
Selling at a Loss
Consider these December 2017 reports. “Fracking Is a Huge American Money Pit.” Fracking produces more than a billion barrels of oil per year, and we are giving it away. “Wall Street Tells Frackers to Stop Counting Barrels, Start Making Profits.” Fracking produces lots of oil, but no profits for investors.
Why would America sell crude at a loss on the backs of the people paying for subsidies? Here are some of the reasons: Wells are drilled but remain unfinished to keep their leases. To complete a well, producers stuff the hole with sand, water, and chemicals at high pressure until the rock fractures and releases the oil contained in its pores. Storing crude at tank farms is expensive. The price of crude is set by international commodity exchanges. To make fracking seem attractive to investors, Securities regulations allow frackers to hide the cost of leasing the land. If you play Powerball you understand how frackers and investors keep betting the crude will go over $100 per barrel.
Drilling holes in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico
Ignorance and avarice are a deadly duo. Polluting rivers and oceans, and destroying our wetlands while burning cash, are immoral choices. Deepwater drilling and fracking, seen as sources of wealth and jobs, ignore the environmental costs and the destruction of ecosystems. Evidence over the last 10 years shows the economic benefits are false and the ecological long-term damages are underestimated.
Trump is promoting drilling in the Arctic. “Responsible resource development in the Arctic is a critical component to achieving American energy dominance,” said the Department of the Interior last November. “We are committed to working with our Alaskan Native and Industry partners.”
Trump is promoting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Last week, the Department of the Interior made an alarming announcement, rolling back safety regulations for deepwater drilling, on the grounds that they are overly burdensome. The oil industry is now free to do as they want. How is this ethical behavior? The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout killed 11 workers, and thousands of dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine animals, exposing hundreds of cleanup workers and other Gulf residents to toxic chemicals. Safety regulations were enacted to avoid further deepwater drilling disasters.
Plains All-American Pipeline (PAA) faces 4 felony and 42 misdemeanor charges, from causing an oil spill, violating the Clean Water Act, dumping a hazardous substance into the ocean, and making a false spill report. On May 2015, a pipe ruptured on the Gaviota Coast, releasing 3,400 barrels of crude on the beaches and the Pacific Ocean. County, state, and federal partners were involved in response and recovery efforts, with the more than 1,600 agents. On Jan. 22, 2018, the criminal case against PAA will be heard.
PAA’s Diamond pipeline abused landowners, taking their land and filing condemnation lawsuits. No one has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the landowners. “Crude Justice: How I fought and won Big Oil,” by Stuart H. Smith, tells how his New Orleans firm protected the fishermen cleaning the Deepwater Horizon spill. The book will be available at the Eureka Springs Library.
Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor
Last August, Pope Francis called upon world leaders to “listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer most because of the unbalanced ecology.” Pope Francis brings hope to the world, a champion of peace and equality. Working together can stop Diamond.
Dr. Luis Contreras