16.05.2014 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

Shale Gas: Another White House Lie

4432The world has long accepted that in the name of world domination, Washington often resorts to a policy of lies and is ready to sacrifice the fundamental interests of residents in other nations. In aiming for world hegemony, it does not hesitate to launch propaganda campaigns which include not only puppet media, but even U.S. State Secretaries. One need only remember Colin Powell who has “entered history” after he waved around some kind of vial before the UN Council to justify America’s armed aggression against Iraq. This relay of lies was gladly taken up by current State Secretary John Kerry who gave false testimony about Al Qaeda’s influence on Syrian insurgents and who has more recently “accused” Russia of inciting the unrest in Ukraine. In reality, the people in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and Syria were nothing but hostages in the interventions organised by Washington to obtain a strategic advantage in various corners of the earth and numerous sectors, including the energy industry, through establishing control over the energy resources market. Washington has no equals in its intolerance for any competition either in the economic or the political arena as it is not even above stepping on anyone, even an ally. Let us remember the global financial crisis in 2008 in particular. Instigated by America’s oligarchic elite, it resulted in various White House schemes to drag the European currency system into this crisis, robbing it of any possibility to reinforce itself amidst a falling dollar while preventing international transactions from moving from the dollar to the euro, which was an option seriously considered by many countries.

The White House is presently acting in similar fashion by imposing “sanctions” against Russia, who is now edging Washington out of the core at the centre of international politics and thus influencing the drop in ratings for the present Washington administration not only within the U.S. but abroad as well. At the same time, Washington is clearly ignoring the fact that Europe is the one most affected and suffering from these “sanctions”. The White House’s “American helping hand” comes in the form of actively pushing its own variety of “energy independence” from Russia and other nations exporting traditional energy resources. This “saviour” takes the shape of so-called shale gas and shale oil as the States are ready to meet Europe’s energy needs by supplying them with American-made shale fuel while also helping them process the raw material directly in Europe.

However, we must stop and examine this closer: is this new raw material truly a panacea from being energy dependent on Russia or is it another deceitful trick by the White House?

Although shale gas was first extracted in America in 1821, “shale gas fever” truly gripped the U.S. only in the 21st century. The technology that was collecting dust for half a century in the archives due to its catastrophic side effects and which was accurately dubbed by environmentalists as “environmental terrorism” was reanimated after two notorious key White House figures got their hands on it – former CIA director John Mark Deutch and U.S. Vice President (earlier the Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board at Halliburton) Dick Cheney. It was under their pressure that in 2005, Congress suddenly legalised the use of fracking and chemicals right next to sources of drinking water without any sort of control during the extraction of shale gas. The law has even received the name of the “Halliburton Loophole” thanks to its greatest lobbyist Dick Cheney. In 2010, the report on “The Benefits of Shale Gas for Investors” blew up in the stock markets thanks in no small part to former CIA Director John Mark Deutch, who was one of the main co-authors of the document and who is currently a member of the Supervisory Boards at Cheniere Energy and Schlumberger, which stand at the fountainhead of the shale revolution.

According to official American statistics, over the last year, the country saw the extraction of oil and gas rise to its 20-year maximum thanks to developing technologies like hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which allowed companies to extract shale hydrocarbons even from cliff deposits. The technological process whereby a mixture of water and chemicals is pumped into shales to extract the shale gas and oil also generates a large volume of waste water. As the number of fields where hydrocarbons are extracted through fracking increases, so do the number of reports coming in from Texas to Ohio and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stating that after using this extraction method, the groundwater was contaminated with methane and glycol, there was a widespread poisoning of the soil and, as a result, a worsening of the living conditions for both the residents and their animals in these areas. Poisonous methane seeps from the wells into the plumbing of American homes thus turning this “goldmine” into a powder keg, which results in the spontaneous combustion of numerous dwellings. The water burns in Texas and in Louisiana, while the shale revolution has touched a total of 48 states.

The Wall Street Journal examined the registry and the data on wells drilling for natural gas in over 700 counties in 11 key production states. The journal found that the homes of at least 15.3 million Americans are located within a single mile from natural gas wells which have been operating since 2000. This is greater than the population of states like New York or Michigan.

However, recently American residents have been even more alarmed at the sharp increase in seismic activity around the areas where shale deposits are being extracted. The injection of fracking chemicals between 2000 and 2013 has led to a six-fold increase in earthquakes in the central part of the country, notes the U.S. Geological Survey. Leading geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park (California) Art McGarr stated that “Earthquakes began after we switched from regular drilling to hydraulic fracturing”. Seismologist at Oklahoma’s Geological Agency Austin Holland added this expert conclusion: “Since 2009, the number of earthquake reports in Oklahoma has increased by 40 times as compared with the previous three decades. They are occurring with increasing frequency near the Arbuckle formation, where fracturing fluids have been injected to a depth of 1.8-3km.”

The topic of shale earthquakes was discussed at the annual conference of the Seismological Society of America which took place between April 30 and May 2, 2014 in the city of Anchorage, Alaska. In his speech at the conference, geophysicist Art McGarr from the U.S. Geological Survey directly stated that the “sheer volume of injected water is a factor that affects the magnitude of earthquakes, while the frequency of injections affects the frequency of their occurrence”.

Fearing that this reckless behaviour on the part of energy companies that are only in it for corporate profits will lead to their roofs collapsing right on top of everyday Americans, they are uniting throughout the United States in a protest movement, demanding strict regulations and even prohibiting the extraction of shale deposits. However, American companies, even recognising the disastrous nature of their actions, feign ignorance, turning a blind eye to the protests by their citizens and instead put all of their efforts into trying to export this technology into Europe and other regions in the world, actively manipulating the catchy slogan created by the White House of “freedom from Russian energy dependence”.

These shale politics dictated by Washington to Poland are already being put into practice with a “helping hand” from American companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Conoco Phillips as well as Canadian Talisman and Nexen. However, even this country has already met with the reverse side of American support and a conflict is now brewing. Polish farmers have been fighting Chevron for almost a year, blocking the entrances to areas designated for drilling with their tractors due to the growing fears that groundwater will be contaminated and seismic activity will increase. Despite efforts by American companies to smooth over the growing conflict by spreading information that the technology used in the extraction of shale gas is perfectly safe, the lies used in these tactics are confirmed by the recent $19 million fine against Chevron for contaminating the environment in Ecuador.

This resulted in a number of companies turning away from surveying for any new shale gas deposits in Poland: French Total, American Marathon Oil and Exxon and Canadian Talisman Energy, who were joined by the Italian Eni in January of this year.

Apart from Poland, protests also overwhelmed the Dutch town of Groningen and the nearby regions causing the Dutch government to decrease its production of shale gas, which has triggered a number of earthquakes in the region and caused serious damage to local structures.

In recent months, the “American helping hand” was extended by the White House to Ukraine, where Shell was able to ride the wave of political uncertainty to a contract for the extraction of shale gas in the heavily populated region of western Ukraine. However, neither U.S. State Secretary aid Victoria Nuland nor Senator John McCain said anything to Ukrainian residents about the dangers of fracking technology during their visits to the country.

Is it even worth telling them? After all, the White House isn’t worried about the problems of Ukraine and other countries since it decides on its own who gets to know how much truth!

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the internet magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.