…and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is passed by Congress, this situation is going to get exponentially worse. What, you ask, does a trade deal possibly have to do with fracking? The answer is: everything.
Let’s look at just a few of the salient facts:
- Thanks to Dick Cheney, fracking isn’t regulated;
Fracking causes earthquakes;
Fracking pollutes groundwater;
Fracking uses up millions of gallons of water which can never be filtered/purified to the point that anyone can drink it;
Fracking releases radiation, both through the process of hydraulic fracturing and through the usage of fracked natural gas;
Both your elected officials and your unelected bureaucrats have been busy passing numerous “laws” – sometimes doing so literally in the middle of the night which make it illegal for you to ban fracking;
FracFocus, a group of fossil fuel industry folks, supposedly maintains an online database about chemicals used during the fracking process. This “database” is totally useless since reporting by fossil fuel companies is voluntary and the information FracFocus distributes is so intentionally deceptive that it’s actually dangerous. Many states (and the Department of the Interior who helped create FracFocus) rely on this bogus “database” as the ONLY source of information about chemicals used to frack.
And there’s a new report led by two of the same researchers (Joan Casey of UC San Francisco and Brian Schwartz of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) who set alarm bells off earlier this year with a report indicating high levels of radon in Pennsylvanian homes. Their latest collaboration, which appeared in the journal, Epidemiology, discovered that pregnant women living anywhere near fracking sites (they focused on Pennsylvania) are very disproportionately going into premature labor. Moreover, babies born within this group are having health problems. And, by the way, we’re not just talking about a slight increase in premature labor, or even something merely “statistically significant.” We’re talking about a 40% INCREASE in premature labor. That’s insane. The fact that this is allowed to happen at all is criminal, to say the least.
In addition to the skyrocketing levels of premature labor, which results in significant short-term and long-term health outcomes for children, they identified a 30% increase in pregnancies (again, in mothers who lived near fracking wells) labeled, “high risk.” I know – this is crazy, right? And we’re not connecting ANY of the dots. If babies are born prematurely, they die in larger numbers. If they don’t die, they often have health problems, like problems with their eyes (retinas do not, as a general rule, like being exposed to pure oxygen for long periods of time, as they are in the NICU), they have a MUCH higher chance of having cerebral palsy and learning difficulties throughout their entire lives.
Here’s a couple of interesting “dots” to connect: the majority of those politicians who are shoving fracking down the nation’s collective throat are the very SAME politicians who are having a hissy fit about Planned Parenthood and (legal) access to abortions…they’re prattling on about how precious life is, how sacred every baby is (whether they’ve been born yet, or not), yada yada. However (irony alert), when their check from the fossil fuel industry is jeopardized by a silly thing like a slew of birth defects, they just throw their hands up and disregard all that silly “sanctity of life” crap.
But let’s get back to how TPP relates to fracking…
If Congress passes TPP into law (and don’t forget that it will be “fast tracked” so no changes are allowed – just an “up” or “down” vote) then every ban on fracking by signatory nations like the US will be considered illegal. States, cities, Boy Scout troops, whoever has banned fracking, or basically limited, in any way, literally anything a multinational corporation does or wishes to do, will be brought before an Investor State Tribunal, run by just 3 corporate attorneys, and I’m telling you THEY WILL LOSE. Not only will they lose, they will lose badly. They’ll have to pay fines and penalties and substantial sums of money for having the audacity to potentially jeopardize future oil and gas corporate profits.
Fun fact #1: If an Investor State Tribunal is launching a case against you, you won’t know until it’s over. Those 3 lawyers, probably not American, will make their decision on the case against you (or your town, state, whatever) without you, or any attorney that represents you, being there. Once they decide, it’s done. No appeals, nothing. Your goose is
fracked, err, cooked.
New York bans fracking? It WILL be overturned, and the State of New York will have to pay many, many millions for ever passing legislation which put a moratorium on fracking. More babies born prematurely, dying because of it, and those that survive, have birth defects? Too bad. They DO NOT care. Is your town trying to limit, or even begin to regulate, fracking which is maybe “scheduled” to take place right next to your house? How about a move to control or even know about what goes into the Witches Brew that gets shoved down into the Earth and into your drinking water? Don’t bother. In fact, don’t even THINK about it.
Fun fact #2: After earthquakes and a tsunami hit Japan in 2011 and caused a nuclear meltdown, Germans decided that they no longer wanted to use nuclear power or have nuclear reactors. The Merkel government, having a somewhat tenuous grip on the electorate, went along with it. However, thanks to one of Germany’s similar trade deals, they found themselves hauled before an Investor State Tribunal by a Swedish energy company called Vattenfall which owns some of the German nuclear reactors. Keep in mind that they had been legally legislated into early retirement. That case is (probably – no one is sure) ongoing but one thing is certain: Germany is going to lose to Vattenfall. No one gets to watch or participate in the proceedings, and the outcomes aren’t made public. Bizarre, right? Yes, it’s all secret. Feels like living in North Korea, doesn’t it?
Anyway, it appears that Germany will have to pay Vattenfall somewhere around $4.9 billion dollars for the privilege of NOT playing host to Swedish nuclear reactors. They’ve already been sued and lost by Vattenfall (and by “they,” I mean the country of Germany), on other matters. The lesson here is (at least) twofold: First, fracking is making us sick and killing both humans and the environment. I wonder how many women have miscarried because they live near a fracking well and therefore how many babies have never been born because of fracking (Naomi Klein calls it a “handful of nothing”). Second, , if TPP is passed by our elected officials in Congress, we all lose.
Well, almost “all.”
If you do not own a very large part of a multinational corporation, you’re in trouble. You may as well just grab every bottle of industrial cleaner, bleach, gasoline…basically anything you can get your hands on and pour it all in a blender (try not to get blown up). Now get a very sturdy straw, and start sipping.
Just go ahead and get an early start. As they say, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”