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In a rare instance of honesty for one of the reprehensible political operatives in our nation's history, Karl Rove told a shale gas drilling association that "climate is gone."

"Climate is gone," said Rove, the keynote speaker on the opening day of a two-day shale-gas conference sponsored by Hart Energy Publishing L.L.P. And Rove told the trade show, "I don't think you need to worry" the new Congress will consider proposed legislation to put the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing under federal rather than state regulation. The procedure, known as "fracking," is responsible for the dramatic growth of shale-gas drilling in formations such as Pennsylvania's vast Marcellus Shale.

He meant that the climate bill is dead, but the unfortunate reality is that livable climate for future generations is likely to be equally dead thanks to climate zombies elected in 2010.

It is ironic that Rove suggested that we will "return back to an era of sensible legislation." Rove's bluster obscures the fact that the "Halliburton exemption" for hydraulic fracturing has not been repealed. In case you are unfamiliar with the clever gambit by the Republicans to indemnify natural gas drilling operations from regulation, here is the background.

The only statute protecting groundwater is the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. This statute requires review and approval of all underground injection of fluids by industries. That statute is inconvenient to Halliburton (a major proprietor of fluids injected under high pressure during the "hydraulic fracturing" process to drill for natural gas in shale and coalbed formations). It would require that companies disclose the contents of those injection fluids to the EPA and risks rejection when toxic substances are included in the compound. Since the shale gas wells use horizontal drilling and high pressure fracturing of rock formations, there is considerable risk for contamination of groundwater supplies.

From the EPA:

Several statutes may be leveraged to protect water quality, but EPA’s central authority to protect drinking water is drawn from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The protection of USDWs is focused in the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, which regulates the subsurface emplacement of fluid. Congress provided for exclusions to UIC authority (SDWA § 1421(d)), however, with the most recent language added via the Energy Policy Act of 2005:

The Republican-fashioned Energy Policy Act of 2005 created an exemption to the Safe Drink Water Act for fluids injected underground as part of the hydraulic fracturing process. The exclusions listed in section 322 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 include:

i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and
(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.”

Although the House conducted hearings in 2009 about hydraulic fracturing and there has been discussion of removing the Halliburton loophole, no action was taken. However, the House did authorize the EPA to conduct a formal study of hydraulic fracturing.

In its Fiscal Year 2010 budget report, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Conference Committee identified the need for a focused study of this topic. EPA agrees with Congress that there are serious concerns from citizens and their representatives about hydraulic fracturing’s potential impact on drinking water, human health and the environment, which demands further study. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) will be conducting a scientific study to investigate the possible relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. EPA will use information from the study to identify potential risks associated with Hydraulic Fracturing to continue protecting America’s resources and communities.

This study is scheduled to begin in 2011 and have a report ready by 2012. No matter what the EPA finds, it is unlikely the contents will be made public nor will there be any attempt to repeal the Halliburton loophole. In fact, it is now highly likely that the new Congress will attempt to scuttle the EPA study altogether.

The other area of contention is that shale gas drilling operations are required to collect and treat wastewater generated by the drilling process that contains a glorious mixture of toxic compounds, salt from brine formations, and even uranium in some formations. The EPA has implemented minimum standards for conductivity for all discharges into surface waters as part of enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Drilling companies have a financial incentive to discharge wastewater illegally. Congress could create a new loophole to protect drilling companies from discharging wastewater either through weakened enforcement or meaningless penalties for violations.

Rove cannot go for more than a few minutes without a telling a lie. Here is one:

Rove lavished praise on the gas-drillers, who he said were bringing prosperity to parts of Pennsylvania.

Shale gas operations have not brought prosperity to Pennsylvania or any other state. That prosperity is a mirage.

Shale gas plays in the United States are commercial failures and shareholders in public exploration and production (E&P) companies are the losers. This conclusion falls out of a detailed evaluation of shale-dominated company financial statements and individual well decline curve analyses. Operators have maintained the illusion of success through production and reserve growth subsidized by debt with a corresponding destruction of shareholder equity.

Thanks to another loophole for the gas holes, investors in shale gas plays can be victimized by accounting tricks thanks to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Recent revisions to SEC rules have allowed producers to book undeveloped reserves that questionably justify development costs based on their own projections in public filings. New reserves are being booked at the same time that billions of dollars in existing shale gas development costs are being written down because the projects are not commercial.

The profits exist only on paper because the costs are shuffled to another balance sheet.

Shale gas operators have consistently told investors that their projects are profitable at sub-$5/Mcf (thousand cubic feet) natural gas prices. Yet company 10-K SEC filings show that this is untrue. They have invented a new calculus of partial-cycle economics that excludes major capital draws for land costs, interest expense and overhead. They justify these disclosure practices because excluded costs are either sunk or fixed and, therefore, supposedly should not affect their decisions to drill. Their point-forward plans are made at shareholder expense since the dollars spent were very real at the time, and their costs cannot be charged to a profit center other than the wells that they drill and produce.

The taxpayers in states like Pennsylvania get almost nothing in return for all the mythical prosperity created by shale gas.

HARRISBURG -- For the foreseeable future, Pennsylvania will retain its dubious distinction as the only state with underground shale that doesn't impose a natural gas extraction tax.

An unhappy Gov. Ed Rendell admitted Thursday that despite weeks of talks, he and General Assembly leaders have failed to agree on key details of a gas severance tax, including how high the rate should be and how the $100 million or more in annual revenue from such a levy should be divvied up.

Democrat Rendell has had been pushing for enactment of a shale-gas tax since his 2010-11 state budget speech in February, but now says it "clearly is dead this year" -- and for a lot longer if Republican Tom Corbett is elected governor on Nov. 2, because he opposes such a tax.

Republican Tom Corbett won, the gas tax is dead along with environmental regulations in Pennsylvania.

Originally posted to DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:21 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  "Climate is gone!" And we destroyed it! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, Dauphin, DWG

      Anyone want to join me in a rain dance?

      I masturbate, and I vote! (is that redundant?)

      by RustyCannon on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:19:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need to get very good at the rain dance (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dauphin, RustyCannon

        Drought is going to be fixture of the future in many areas of the US. Perhaps we can make our fortune selling divining rods to Tea Republicans. They do not believe in science so they should make excellent dupes.

        Be radical in your compassion.

        by DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:35:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a hell of an idea. If you could raise the (0+ / 0-)

          money to advertise on FOX, you could sell them by the millions, and guarantee them to work. If you got a complaint about one not working, you could just tell them they weren't doing it right.

          I expect that we're starting to see the extremes that climate change is going to bring us. Severe drought in some areas while others are inundated with floods.

          Copper bracelets. There's another goldmine if you can just set up a booth at a teabagger rally.

          Thank a teabagger! We still have the Senate.

          by RustyCannon on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 01:47:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  100 months...for those of you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      who are getting too much sleep,

      here is where we are.

      (That makes a few assumptions that may be conservative - I would say we're quite likely closer than that.)

      •  The countdown is at 73 months (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, Creosote

        And we will be headed in reverse for 24 months, so we will be at 49 before there is any possibility of progress. We are not going even going to get any progress on clean energy, much less on carbon pricing.

        Like you, I suspect we are closer to the point of no return. A study was just published that indicates that assumptions of linear change in models may be too conservative. The ice record shows some fairly abrupt changes consistent with a "tipping point" or stochastic change. Many of the drivers in the historical record have a short-term effect and have no parallel with loading the atmosphere with carbon gases.

        Be radical in your compassion.

        by DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 11:10:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You have put your finger on one of the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Creosote, DWG

          issues that really does keep me up at night.

          There are others...Peak Oil, and particularly the Export-Land Model; the fact that we need to rebuild essentially all our transportation infrastructure in the next 10 years; the fact that we will have NO resources to do that, even if we had the political will; the need to feed everyone in a rapidly changing climate; the certainty that rainfall will go through the floor over much of the world in the next 20 years (and only continue to get worse after that); the decline in phytoplankton production just as we stress the rest of the marine ecosystem (globally!) to the breaking point.

          ALL of these need to be solved simultaneously; ANY of them might occupy all our efforts for a generation.

          In theory this could be done - but I confess I'm not particularly optimistic.

          •  We are embarking on an unprecedented experiment (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PeterHug, Creosote

            with clear implications for a climate that will not support the human population and create chaos on a scale never before seen. And, as you note, we have many other incentives to decarbonize our energy, like Peak Oil. Many of the solutions have the potential to create jobs. Yet, even the limited efforts at clean energy generation are coming to a grinding halt because the incentives for installation are expiring and there is nothing on the table to replace them.

            To be honest, I do not know we can formulate effective policy with a major political party rejecting science for guidance. We have entered the age of stupid at the worst possible junction in history.

            Be radical in your compassion.

            by DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 11:50:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I don't see the surprise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This stuff didn't pass with huge Democratic majorities. I don't see how electing Republicans would solve it.

    People panic too much on this site.

    by thematt523 on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:34:07 AM PDT

  •  Sad, but reality (6+ / 0-)

    We live in a society filled with individuals who have the mindset of fuck the future I'll be dead and let me make as much money as I can.

    I hope the day comes where we can scientifically confirm reincarnation is real. Interesting day that would be...

    "They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven't proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing." - Bill Hicks

    by Moon Mop on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:34:21 AM PDT

    •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, Predictor, BitchesAtWork

      I think that this is exactly the mindset that is leading to the destruction of our nation and the earth today.

      The truly rich know that they are destroying the world, but there only goal now is to amass as much wealth as possible in the hope that they or their heirs may have some chance of survival.  They are all intelligent and have access to the best information about the reality and it feeds their hyper greed.  They have formed an unholy alliance with the fundamentalists and their religious views of an imminent end times, using them as an asset to assist in the ultimate plunder.

      He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Jack London

      by blueoasis on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:01:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think they are overly political (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, Predictor, JG in MD

        I seriously am beginning to think the rich are not liberal or conservative, or simply don't care one way or the other. They don't care about social issues or international issues. They simply give money to people who will serve their purposes, which is to help them get richer.

        If Democrats were willing to do this, then they'd have won on Tuesday and would win every election. And vice versa. I truly believe that. To them it is both sides of the same coin, and no matter what if you are willing to help me get richer...then I'll put you in power and finance you.

        "They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven't proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing." - Bill Hicks

        by Moon Mop on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:06:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That's the reality that we face.

          He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Jack London

          by blueoasis on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:37:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't that was conservatism is? (0+ / 0-)

          You just defined what modern conservatism is, and this is why so many rich are conservatives.  It's all about politics.  Conservatives will steal from everybody, to give the richest, and that's why the richest are conservatives.

          Liberalism believes in equal opportunity, and community.  The exact opposite of conservative.  If Liberals were willing to act like conservatives, they wouldn't be liberals, they'd be conservatives.

          It's ALL about the politics.

  •  Climate Change..a litmus test for GOBPers. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, RustyCannon
  •  Rove? I thought he was in prison. (6+ / 0-)

    That's where we'd be if we exposed a CIA WMD expert during time of war.

    One set of laws for GOP wingnuts, another set for the rest of us.

    Greenspan admits his free market faith was "a mistake" - Reliance on self interest creates a flaw "in how the world works."

    by Otherday on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 08:37:15 AM PDT

    •  If only he were in prison (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Instead he is running one of the biggest campaign money-laundering operations in the country with his Crossroads GPS.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:18:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Money-laundering indeed. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Creosote, BlackSheep1, DWG

        Karl Rove can certainly say that, because of his life's work, the country and the world is a worse place to live in. No doubt about it.

        How many people can say that?

        Greenspan admits his free market faith was "a mistake" - Reliance on self interest creates a flaw "in how the world works."

        by Otherday on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:21:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most normal people do not have fantasies of (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Creosote, Otherday

          making the world a worse place to live. Only a truly malignant human being would be crowing about kicking future generations in the teeth.

          Be radical in your compassion.

          by DWG on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:32:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rove's hero: Mark Hanna (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Creosote, DWG

            Rove's dream was to reshape American politics by creating a durable Republican majority. In the old days, Rove told anyone who would listen that his role model in this project was the legendary political boss Mark Hanna.

            Who would have guessed in 2005 that the Republicans (read as Corporatists) would own the Supreme Court?

            Citizens United?  Indeed.

            The End Game:

            Through mergers, a few corporations will rule the world.  This is how a New World Order will emerge.  Government will become a corporate tool solely for the purpose of distributing and monitoring monies taken from the people to keep whatever is needed for commerce to continue.

            We enter the world of "Survival of the fittest, exploitation of everyone else"

            UNLESS we find the courage to experience a great deal of discomfort now by boycotting, or choose, instead, to continue with the slow process of increasing pain doled out in larger and larger doses to upcoming generations.

            There is a choice that we need to make?

            What will it be?

            10.2.10 March On Washington ROCKED

            by War on Error on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 05:21:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Karl Rove is obsessed with Political bullying (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat, DWG, JG in MD, RustyCannon
    because he is a man-child seeking revenge for the unrelentless bullying he'd received as a child.

    Karl let go of the pain, enough of your destructive nature, begin the journey of growth beyond ego and fear.

    You didn't deserve the brutal and cruel taunting, start the healing process, close your wounds.

  •  You've got it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, RustyCannon, BitchesAtWork

    That's it exactly.

    Let's see... bullying is on the rise in schools. That means that bullies and little Karl Roves are growing like weeds in our communities.

    Lovely. Just lovely.

    Two good rules of life: Don't brake on a curve and don't drag the gears.

    by JG in MD on Sat Nov 06, 2010 at 09:14:12 AM PDT

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