President Obama betrays the enviornment and authorizes Shell's drilling the Arctic

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Thom Hartmann A...
Thom Hartmann Administrator's picture

The voices of more than a million people pleading President Obama to protect the planet and put a stop to plans to drill in the Artic were ignored.  Despite more than one million people signing a petition to the President to live up to his campaign promises to begin healing the planet, the New York Times is reporting President Obama has green lighted clearing regulation to let oil corporation drill in the Arctic.  As Michael Brune – the executive director of the Sierra Club said in a statement, “We never would have expected a Democratic president — let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ — to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling.” 

Add this to the President’s endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline, and environmentalists have a right to feel betrayed.  On the other hand, the President may not have a choice.  In the Citizens United era – it only take one oil baron to decide he wants to take out the President – and drop $500 million in negative ads into the 2012 election to do so.   While the President promised to heal the planet – it’ll be impossible to do so until we get big oil money out of our politics.  Corruption of our democracy is inextricably linked to the destruction of our planet.  Go to


MrsBJLee's picture
BETRAYED.....You better

BETRAYED.....You better believe it and that's exactly the word I used when writing several times to him on the White House website. That's exactly what I meant when I posted the TOPIC "How can you move FORWARD with clean energy when you gear shift is stuck on REVERSE"!

PEOPLE.....WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR OUR PLANET! FRACKING....TAR SANDS OIL.....DRILLING IN THE just the tip of the iceberg! I am so dismayed that our President has seemed to cave in to BIG OIL and appears to be also trying to move forward with CLEAN ENERGY at the same time! Drilling in the arctic WILL HAVE devastating consequences!! HE IS NOT LISTENING TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY AND I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY but I will NOT give up trying to persuade him or to stop these crimes to our earth from happening. In fact it makes me try even harder to keep on top of what's going on and SIGN EVERY PETITION or TAKE EVERY ACTION I can find that could stop them. THAT'S ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU NEED TO VOTE IN THE RIGHT PEOPLE WHO WILL PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT! President Obama is still the best vote but we've got to get him again moving FORWARD WITH CLEAN ENERGY and WAKE HIM UP about the consequences of his "All of the Above" energy policy. Does he think that policy will make the Republicans vote for him? Is that the strategy behind this policy? Is he somehow being held hostage by BIG OIL? Who knows whats really going on. All I know is that in my opinion it's a FLAWED energy policy because it keeps us addicted to oil! Please write to him on the White House Website and sign internet petitions as they come up! PLEASE DO YOUR PART TO STOP SHELL AND OTHERS FROM DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC!

.ren's picture
Quote: On the other hand, the


On the other hand, the President may not have a choice.

Integrity is a choice, isn't it?


While the President promised to heal the planet – it’ll be impossible to do so until we get big oil money out of our politics.

And just how are we supposed to do that if there's no one of integrity to put into politics where these money bags will buy them off or scare them off with negative advertising?  And when the managed are willing to be managed by this obvious propaganda technique, what's the plan? 

Not to mention, not nearly enough of us are going to boycott gasoline, if that could have any effect on Big Oil.  People also want jobs.  This nation is drug dependent on what Big Oil can supply.

Richard Heinberg wrote:

...the WHO diagnostic definition of dependency, which says that “three or more of the following manifestations should have occurred together for at least one month or, if persisting for periods of less than one month, should have occurred together repeatedly within a 12-month period”:

• a strong desire or sense of compulsion to take the substance

• impaired capacity to control substance-taking behavior in terms of its onset, termination, or levels of use, as evidenced by: the substance being often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended or by a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to reduce or control substance use

• a physiological withdrawal state when substance use is reduced or ceased, as evidenced by the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance, or by use of the same (or closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms

• evidence of tolerance to the effects of the substance, such that there is a need for significantly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance

• preoccupation with substance use, as manifested by important alternative pleasures or interests being given up or reduced because of substance use; or a great deal of time being spent in activities necessary to obtain, take, or recover from the effects of the substance

• persistent substance use despite clear evidence of harmful consequences, as evidenced by continued use when the individual is actually aware, or may be expected to be aware, of the nature and extent of harm7

Heinberg, Richard (2010-08-27). Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (pp. 135-136). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Anyway there are two groups involved here, not just some vague umbrella categoray called "environmentalists".  They have different agendas that can be different enough to be manipulated.  On another thread I brought up the fracking controversy.  Some climate change people got behind that for a bit, because at first the new fracking method for all that trapped gas promised to provide a low green house burning fuel, which could be used as a transition to deal with the peak oil issue, and Obama came out behind it in his State of the Union address.


Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress. Energy and natural gas played a big role in the speech. In particular, Obama acknowledges the jobs-generating power of natural gas drilling, saying it can generate 600,000 jobs by the end of this decade. He also mandated a requirement that gas drillers on public lands disclose the chemicals they use. (Disclosing fracking chemicals is already the law in five states and mostly enforced in a sixth—see this MDN story).

Obama said the U.S. has enough natural gas to last us 100 years and that he’s going to “take every possible action” to develop it. He also reaffirmed his belief in global warming.

(source: Obama State of the Union: Safe Fracking Will Create 600k Jobs)


MrsBJLee's picture
Yes...but just exposing the

Yes...but just exposing the chemicals that they use in the fracking process does not stop the pollution it creates! It seems that creating JOBS is more important than keeping the drinking water of those people who are doing those jobs and their families free from pollution, not to mention all the green house gas that is dumped into our atmosphere from burning off the excess and the earthquakes that seem to have resulted from cracking up the shale that is holding up the crust of the earth!

There is allot of clean water that goes into the fracking process that ends up in toxic trailing ponds that have been known to leak and now I've been reading a bit about all the sand that is being dug up from Wisconsin for fracking and how it is affecting their communities and landscape. As far as I'm concerned it is no better than tar sands production. How can you possibly have "SAFE FRACKING" ??? Even if the chemicals they use pose no threat there are so MANY other ways it harms the environment. If you know of a new report that can PROVE that there is a new way to SAFELY FRAC please let me know but until then I won't drink the gas companies coolade.

.ren's picture
I was about to put this on

I was about to put this on the fracking thread I started but I'll share it here for now.  This gives a reasonably up-to-date analysis of the many dangers of fracking as well as the very few benefits.  Obviously it is only a trade-off for those unwilling to deal with the real long term problems we are dealing with and the potentially devastated world we are setting ourselves up to leave to our progeny, but clearly Obama is not the one to take any steps to change that scenario (needless to say, neither would the other guy be the one, which means we are still screwed):

Report: Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

You can download a pdf copy of the full report from there, or use these links (you can right click and choose "save link as" and save it to a folder on a drive):

»  Download the complete report (PDF, 93 MB)
»  Download the plain-text version (PDF, 13 MB)

Richard Heinberg writes a pretty good foreward summarizing the more critical concerns, so I'll include it here:

Richard Heinberg wrote:

Post Carbon Institute undertook this report in order to examine three widespread assumptions about the role that natural gas can and should play in our energy future:

• Assumption #1: That, thanks to new techniques for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of shale, we have sufficient natural gas resources to supply the needs of our country for the next 100 years.

• Assumption #2: That the price of natural gas, which has historically been volatile, will remain consistently low for decades to come.

• Assumption #3: That natural gas is much cleaner and safer than other fossil fuels, from the standpoint of greenhouse gas emissions and public health.

Based on these assumptions, national energy officials at the Energy Information Administration (EIA) foresee a major expansion of natural gas in the coming decades. President Obama touted natural gas as a cornerstone of his Administration’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future”1 and endorsed plans for converting a sizable portion of the vehicle fleet to run on natural gas.2 Some environmental groups, rightly concerned about the greenhouse gas emissions of coal, have called for large-scale replacement of coal-fired power plants with those that burn natural gas, despite increasing concern over the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

As this report details, all of these assumptions and recommendations need to be re-thought. What emerges from the data is a very different assessment.

But if this report is right, then how could mainstream energy analysts have gotten so much so wrong? It is not our purpose to analyze in detail the social, political, and economic process whereby public relations became public policy. Nevertheless it is fairly easy to trace the convergence of interests among major players. First, the shale gas industry was motivated to hype production prospects in order to attract large amounts of needed investment capital; it did this by drilling the best sites first and extrapolating initial robust results to apply to more problematic prospective regions. The energy policy establishment, desperate to identify a new energy source to support future economic growth, accepted the industry’s hype uncritically. This in turn led The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, and many other media outlets to proclaim that shale gas would transform the energy world. Finally, several prominent environmental organizations, looking for a way to lobby for lower carbon emissions without calling for energy cutbacks, embraced shale gas as a necessary “bridge fuel” toward a renewable energy future. Each group saw in shale gas what it wanted and needed. The stuff seemed too good to be true—and indeed it was.

The biggest losers in this misguided rush to anoint shale gas as America’s energy savior are members of the public, who need sound energy policy based on realistic expectations for future supply, as well as sound assessments of economic and environmental costs.

Implications for the National Energy Conversation

It is understandable that the shale gas industry would fudge supply and price forecasts in the interest of drumming up investment capital. However, the EIA is supposed to be an impartial purveyor of data and analysis. Yet that organization has historically been overly optimistic with regard to fossil fuel supplies and prices. During the past decade several non-profit energy groups, including Post Carbon Institute, warned that depletion of giant oilfields and declining oil discoveries would lead to a situation of higher petroleum prices and tight supplies beginning before 2010. Indeed, a leveling off of world crude3 oil production and a simultaneous steep rise in oil prices during the past few years have arguably marked the most significant shift in the history of the petroleum industry—a shift whose consequences continue to ripple throughout the entire global economy. Yet EIA oil forecasts in the early years of the decade contained no hint of this impending and wholly foreseeable supply-price shift. In our view, the EIA is making similar mistakes in its too-rosy projections with regard to shale gas supplies and natural gas prices.

With mounting evidence of the environmental and human health risks of shale gas production, environmental groups are rightly questioning the “cleanliness” of shale gas. But if these groups focus their arguments only on the contamination of ground water supplies of shale gas without at the same time questioning the economics of shale gas drilling, they will have helped set up conditions for a political battle that could undermine their own influence and credibility. Political interests traditionally funded by the oil and gas industries will once again claim that environmentalism is the only thing standing between Americans and energy security. And if environmentalists are successful in enacting regulations to minimize the risks of water contamination without clarity about the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas, they may inadvertently exacerbate the very crisis they are trying to address.

The stark reality we face is that humanity has embarked on the era of extreme energy, where there are no simple solutions. The inexpensive, high-yield fossil fuels that powered the industrial revolution and that helped make the U.S. the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nation are dwindling, and all of them emit dangerous levels of greenhouse gases. While enormous amounts of natural gas, oil, and coal remain, the portions of those fuels that were cheapest and easiest to produce are now mostly gone, and producing remaining reserves will entail spiraling investment costs and environmental risks. Moreover, while alternative energy sources exist—including nuclear, wind, and solar—these come with their own problems and trade-offs, and none is capable of replicating the economic benefits that fossil fuels delivered in decades past. There is no likely scenario in which the decades ahead will see energy as abundant or as cheap as it was in decades past.4

None of the major participants in our national energy discussion wants to utter that dismal truth. Yet continued appeals to wishful thinking merely squander opportunities to pre-adapt gracefully and painlessly to a lower-energy future.

The Unavoidable Solution: Energy Conservation

It is past time for policy makers to get serious about the most important strategy we can and must adopt in order to succeed in this new era—energy conservation. Reducing demand for energy and using energy more efficiently are the cheapest and most effective ways of cutting carbon emissions, enhancing energy security, and providing a stable basis for economic planning.

Unfortunately, energy supply limits and demand reduction do not support robust economic growth. This is probably the main reason why policy makers and many energy analysts and environmentalists shy away from conveying the real dimensions of our predicament. However understandable this response may be from a political perspective, it is one that only compromises our prospects as a nation and a species. There is much we can do to ensure a secure social and natural environment in a lower-energy context, but we are unlikely to take the needed steps if we are laboring under fundamentally mistaken assumptions about the amounts of energy we can realistically access, and the costs of making that energy available.

Richard Heinberg
Senior Fellow-in-Residence
Post Carbon Institute

MrsBJLee's picture
Lower energy usage......yes

Lower energy usage......yes indeed we need to use less energy and thank GOD the car companies have seen that light and are making available electric and hybrid cars and people ARE buying least here in California! Now....we just have to get the solar, wind and wave power up and running (including on everyone's home, apartment buildlings and businesses) so we can QUIT burning coal and close down the nuke plants well then maybe we might actually get somewhere! I hope you noticed all the FRACKING NEWS I posted.

.ren's picture
I did notice fracking news,

I did notice fracking news, of course, and thank you. Good thread.  We can keep adding to it as we go.

Did you download that report?  If so, go to page 8 and look at the official EIA graph on what energy is used in the U.S.  We are probably the epitome of the global economic system with our employment of fossil fuels, especially the nations most heavily invested in the industrial superstructure.  If we don't talk about changing the entire economic system, based on this capitalistic infinite growth paradigm, then we are talking about maintaining what we have in place and replacing about 85% of the total energy used for this type of economy with what you are talking about.  Can you grasp the scope of that?  It's mind boggling for me.

Now look at the graph on page 9 and you will see the the amount of energy specific sectors of the system uses.  What I find troubling is I don't see anything that represents agriculture.  I can only assume it must be embedded in the industrial sector.

You'll find other interesting graphs showing how different types of energy are now allotted to what specific sector of the economy.

There is some mention of natural gas in regards to agriculture in the Natural Gas section.  Natural gas is an important ingredient for producing the nitrogen fertilizers, for instance.  That innovation is partly responsible for the "green revolution" of the past 80 years or so for anyone not familiar with that energy use.

douglaslee's picture
Happy 193rdQuote: Consider

Happy 193rd


Consider these passages from The Communist Manifesto, which Marx wrote with Engels in 1848, after being kicked out of both France and Germany for his political writings:

Capitalism has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities. Capitalism has agglomerated population, centralised means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands.

Capitalism has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’.

Capitalism has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades. Capitalism has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.

Capitalism cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the means of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the capitalist epoch from all earlier ones. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed.

In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes.

Commercial crises put on trial, each time more threateningly, the existence of the entire capitalist society. In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed.

It’s hard not to conclude from these selected sentences that Marx was extraordinarily prescient. He really did have the most astonishing insight into the nature and trajectory and direction of capitalism. Three aspects which particularly stand out here are the tribute he pays to the productive capacity of capitalism, which far exceeds that of any other political-economic system we’ve ever seen; the remaking of social order which accompanies that; and capitalism’s inherent tendency for crisis, for cycles of boom and bust.

douglaslee's picture
Quote: I should, however,


I should, however, admit that I haven’t quoted these sentences exactly as Marx wrote them: where I wrote ‘capitalism’, Marx had ‘the bourgeoisie’. He was talking about a class and the system which served its interest, and I made it sound as if he was talking only about a system. Marx doesn’t use the word ‘capitalism’. The term never occurs in the finished first part of Das Kapital. (I checked this by doing a word search and found it three times, every time an apparent mistranslation or loose use of the German plural Kapitals – in German he never talks of Kapitalismus.) Since he is widely, and accurately, seen as capitalism’s greatest critic, this is quite an omission. The terms he preferred were ‘political economy’ and ‘bourgeois political economy’, which he saw as encompassing everything from property rights to our contemporary idea of human rights to the very conception of the independent autonomous individual. I think he didn’t use the word ‘capitalism’ because that would have implied that capitalism was one of a number of competing possible systems – and Marx didn’t believe that. He didn’t think it was possible to move past capitalism without a fundamental overturning of the existing social, political and philosophical order.

He was right: no alternative has developed. Economics as a discipline has in effect become the study of capitalism. The two are taken as the same subject. If there were ever going to be a serious and sustained theoretical challenge to the hegemony of capitalism inside economics – a serious and sustained challenge subsequent to the one provided by what used to be called ‘actually existing socialisms’ – you’d have thought one would have come along since the near terminal meltdown of the global economic system in 2008. But all we’ve seen are suggestions for ameliorative tweaking of the existing system to make it a little less risky. We have at the moment this monstrous hybrid, state capitalism – a term which used to be a favourite of the Socialist Workers Party in describing the Soviet Union, and which only a few weeks ago was on the cover of the Economist to describe the current economic condition of most of the world. This is a parody of economic order, in which the general public bears all the risks and the financial sector takes all the rewards – an extraordinarily pure form of what used to be called ‘socialism for the rich’. But ‘socialism for the rich’ was supposed to be a joke. The truth is that it is now genuinely the way the global economy is working.

douglaslee's picture
Mrs Lee, check out

Mrs Lee, check out I think ren already knows it. Their info on fracking.

MrsBJLee's picture
Wow....."socialism for the

Wow....."socialism for the rich" IS the way the global economy is working. I haven't gone this far in my thinking. I've been busy with environmental issues and that has kept me very busy for sure! I tell you they may have us our financed but they are out numbered if only people would WAKE UP and become pro-active, and elect the right people.


MrsBJLee's picture
It can be done! Imagine how

It can be done! Imagine how many people would have new jobs in an industry they can be proud of.....clean energy!