The president’s plan announced today to create a $2 billion “energy security trust” – financed by existing government royalties from fossil fuel production – puts us on the wrong path. Linking the fund to oil and gas production will only encourage more dirty energy production. Better options exist.
This approach doesn’t create any additional cost for using fossil fuels, thus creating no incentive for firms to divert resources into safer, cleaner and more renewable sources of energy.
Additionally, linking modest investments in energy alternatives to oil and gas production creates a misguided incentive for more oil and gas drilling – a bad idea made worse without reform regulations and liability caps on offshore drilling. At a time when climate change is increasingly evident and BP is on trial for killing workers and doing untold damage to our coastline, we need a much more aggressive plan – one that will allow us to move away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future.
In the context of the current congressional push to expand offshore drilling, a proposal like the president’s shows that Congress and the administration have not learned any lessons from the BP disaster or the countless other crises that have come about because of our addiction to fossil fuels.
Congress has yet to enact a single reform in the wake of the nation’s largest environmental and industrial disaster. We can’t simply keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
Instead, the president should support the proposed Climate Protection Act of 2013, which would finance many more billions for clean energy through a progressive carbon fee. This plan would provide the freedom for the country to invest in a future that provides the power we need to run a prosperous society, while also leaving the world better off than we found it.
Tyson Slocum is Public Citizen’s energy program director. Follow him @TysonSlocum.
Come one, come all. Gather ’round for a pair of misguided tours touting the benefits of fracking, one organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the other by the American Petroleum Institute.
The Big Business mouthpieces are hosting a series of rallies and spending millions in political advertising in – what a shock – key election swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, urging the Obama administration to do more to promote hydraulic fracturing. But the Chamber must have been too busy flapping its jowls to read today’s Wall Street Journal story (and others) describing how major natural gas producers are posting disappointing returns and even losses because – get this – there’s too much natural gas production already. Case in point: The U.S. recently surpassed Russia as the leading natural gas producer on the planet.
Not only is the surplus more than our market can consume, it is more than our atmosphere can handle. Advances in extraction technologies are allowing big polluters to get to resources that once seemed out of reach. That may mean short-term profits for the gas and oil industry but, for the rest of us, it means adjusting to the painful realities of climate change. Pushing the fracking agenda is bad business any way you look at it.
This proves that the Chamber is pushing a political, rather than a business, agenda. This is particularly the case as the Chamber dismisses genuine environmental and public health concerns associated with fracking as pandering to Obama’s “environmental voter base.” How cynical can you get: a corporate trade association dismissing genuine grassroots concerns about water contamination, and increased emissions from wells and trucks? Shame on the Chamber: There is no such thing as benign fossil fuel extraction. There are real impacts on real people living across America, many of whom are organizing this weekend in the first national rally against fracking. The Chamber’s dismissal of their concerns as political pandering is offensive.
A sound energy plan is one that would empower Main Street communities to take the lead on sustainable energy independence through the promotion of rooftop solar, energy efficiency incentives, mass transit and other job-creating clean energy investments.
Maybe it’s best for the Chamber to give its advertising expenditures to charity and leave energy policy to those who actually know what they’re talking about.
For information on this weekend’s events, visit: http://www.energyvox.org/2012/07/25/stop-the-frack-attack/.
It’s a class of prescription drugs millions of Americans take every day. If you aren’t one of the millions, chances are you know someone who is. Tomorrow we will be calling for strong warnings everyone should stay tuned for.
Also on our list–stopping the Keystones Tar Sands Pipeline! The controversial 1,700-mile project would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. and has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election. We are a part of a coalition opposing the pipeline, and our Energy Program Outreach Director Allison Fisher will have more later this week about ongoing protests and how you can get involved.
Feeling the heat. It’s August and our Energy Program Director Tyson Slocum thinks it’s about time financial speculators started sweating too. No amount of climate-controlled corporate office suite air conditioning could quell the unease industry reps, who are already on the defensive, are feeling following the leak of three year old trading documents to Slocum and the Wall Street Journal. The docs underscore the role that Goldman Sachs and others played in the 2008 gas price spike and prompted Tyson Slocum to issue a statement calling for disclosure and saying, among other things: “Far from heeding the hysterical calls of corporations that are rushing to use the dissemination of three-year-old records as an excuse to crack down on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, lawmakers should work with the agency to shine light on the sordid business of oil speculation. For too long, major corporations have reflexively deemed vast swaths of data “proprietary,” thereby removing critical information from the public domain.”
On Wednesday, we will be joining with a few key allies to deliver a stinging analysis that anyone who is concerned about our debt should take to heart. ATTENTION: Super Committee members, you’ll want to put away your talking points and get out your notebooks on this one.
As our energy guru Tyson Slocum just wrote, fracking is more than just a controversial method for extracting natural gas , it’s another weapon in the oil industries’ inside-coat-pocket-o-tricks. Yeah! As if we really needed another reason to dislike Big Oil.
Tyson Slocum debates fracking, Eagle Ford and the Safe Drinking Water Act on CNBC
Last week as industry executives gathered in Houston for a major global energy conference, the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story entitled, “Fracking foes put industry on the defensive,” which it then featured later on that day on the often turned to “FuelFix” blog. In it, reporter Brett Clanton writes: “Anyone scoring the ongoing debate over hydraulic fracturing would notice that critics of the controversial oil and natural gas extraction process have lately put a few points on the board.” He goes on to quote Public Citizen’s energy program director Tyson Slocum:
The next order of business is going to have to be holding politicians’ feet to the fire.
This is pretty much exactly what Slocum did last night in a debate with industry talking head John Killduff on CNBC regarding the oil industry’s push to use a form of fracking to access and exploit oil locked in shale rock in an area in Catalina, Texas, called Eagle Ford.
Slocum began by explaining that for each shale well that is made six million gallons of clean drinking water must be used. The water is loaded up with toxic chemicals, which the industry will not disclose and doesn’t have to because they are exempt under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and shot into the shale rock where 85 percent of it will remain. This brings about all kinds of problems and questions like, can you light your water on fire?
And yet, industry claims it’s totally safe: