Nel's New Day

February 23, 2021

DDT’s Lawsuits ‘the Rest of My Life’

With Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) out of Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court may stay out of his legal messes—at least for now. On Monday, the justices’ refused to block a lower court giving DDT’s financial records and tax returns, both personal and corporate, to New York City prosecutors. The grand jury will have eight years of tax returns, 2011-2018, for a grand jury investigation, and last July, the high court ruled 7-2 against DDT’s claim he was immune from prosecution while still in the Oval Office. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority:

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”

This decision not to hear the appeals court case frees Manhattan DA Cy Vance to continue his criminal probe. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former personal lawyer, has claimed the Trump Organization committed insurance fraud, avoided taxes, and jacked up loan collateral by manipulating real estate valuations. New York state AG Letitia James is pursuing the same information for a civil probe. DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and his bank, Deutsche Bank, said in the past they will release the information if subpoenaed.

Vance recently issued another dozen subpoenas for the investigation, including one for Ladder Capital Finance, one of DDT’s major creditors for commercial real estate holdings. DDT’s $160 million interest-only mortgage with Ladder on Trump Tower comes due in 18 months.  

Taking part in the inquiry is Mark Pomerantz, who both prosecuted and defended mob figures.

In another New York case, Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed documents from an engineer working on the Trump-owned 200-acre Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County. In the past decade, DDT’s valuation of the property, purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million, ranged from $25 million to $291 million. In 2014, he deducted $2.2 million in taxes by claiming it as an investment property and then claimed a $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement for 2015, not “reflected on applicable tax returns.” DDT tried to build a golf course on the property, but quit after local opposition, and then considered a development with 15 mansions.

DDT’s returns may not be public unless they lead to criminal charges. In that case, the documents could be evidence, allowing them to be public. If those charges lead to conviction, DDT can’t escape it with a pardon, even a secret blanket one he might have made before he left the Oval Office, because it’s a state, not a federal, charge.

In another rejection of DDT, SCOTUS refused to consider cases out of Pennsylvania to block a deadline for absentee ballots three days after Election Day which were postmarked by Election Day in cases from a legislator and from DDT to block Pennsylvania’s certification of election results. The disposition of absentee ballots either way would not have affected President Joe Biden’s win in the state.

Thanks to Fulton County (GA) DA Fani Willis, DDT may also face RICO, an anti-racketeering law to prosecute the mob, in trying to change Georgia’s majority to favor himself. Willis successfully used the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in a case against Atlanta teachers accused of organized cheating by falsifying student standardized scores to improve schools’ standing. Former Georgia public defender Ryan Locke said RICO is used “in a case where someone commits a number of crimes that all lead toward one common corrupt aim.” RICO can be used for using a legal entity, i.e., a government agency or public office, to break the law.

More fallout has come from 60+ frivolous lawsuits claiming, with no evidence, fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Both public officials and private companies want to hold DDT and his GQP (Grand QAnon Party) allies accountable for the rhetoric causing insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Federal rules prohibit lawyer participation in frivolous suits or use of litigation for such improper purposes as to delay or harass. Laws prevent attorneys from lying in court. Judicial sanctions to discourage bad practices could be monetary penalties or references to disciplinary action.

Michigan and Detroit asked a federal judge to sanction attorneys filing lawsuits falsely alleging fraud in the election. Al Schmidt, GOP Philadelphia City Commissioner facing threats with falsehoods about fraud in vote counting, asks for reconciliation. “Moving on isn’t enough,” he said. Last Friday, a federal judge in D.C. referred a lawyer for possible disciplinary action.

In Wisconsin, lawyers representing the state council of the Service Employees International Union requested a criminal investigation about ten false Wisconsin electors who secretly met at the state Capitol in an attempt to appoint themselves electoral voters for DDT. On the same day Wisconsin convened electoral representatives representing the state’s voters, the illegitimate group signed fake certificates of election with DDT’s name and sent them to federal and state officials. The six laws possibly broken include forgery and falsely assuming the role of public officer.

In New York, Stephen Gillers, a NYU law school professor, helped draft a complaint to investigate DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s conduct and possibly revoke his license to practice law in the state. State rules prohibit lawyers from “conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” A court can suspend the lawyer’s license on an interim basis while the disciplinary process is being resolved, sometimes three to four years.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is suing DDT, Giuliani, and members of two extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, on the basis of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan law banning violent interference in congressional duties. His representation, NAACP, said other congressional members may join.

Two election technology companies filed multibillion-dollar defamation suits against DDT’s allies for telling lies about the software and equipment. Dominion Voting Systems, with $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against lawyers Giuliani and Sidney Powell, has a new $1.3 billion suit against the MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Dominion claims Powell has been evading service of its suit. Smartmatic’s lawsuits have forced conservative media into reversing its lies.

While DDT prepares for his first speech since leaving Washington for Mar-a-Lago, possibly to announce his presidential candidacy in 2024, he fears he will be sued for the rest of his life—sort of like his life before the White House. A few non-political cases:

Former journalist E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit is still active. After the statute of limitations for rape expired, she is suing DDT for defamation because he said she lied about a rape in a New York department store. Former AG Bill Barr tried to move the case from state to federal court and assign DOJ lawyers to defend DDT, but the new administration dropped that effort.

A one-time contestant on DDT’s former TV reality show The Apprentice, Summer Zervos, has requested a continuation of her suit now that DDT, presently a private citizen, no longer has protection from a deposition regarding alleged sexual assault.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, once a close friend of DDT who advised him for his campaign, is considering a lawsuit because DDT repeated—and falsely—called Scarborough a murderer.

DDT may be in financial trouble despite grifting throughout four years in the White House. Vornado Realty Trust, owning 70 percent of two first-class commercial buildings in New York and San Francisco, may force DDT to sell his 30 percent stake at a discount. With control over DDT’s cash flow, Vornado can withhold money from DDT, who desperately needs the funds to pay for his loan. After a decade, DDT has owned a share worth $784 million with a $285 million share of the debt. Almost $400 million in DDT’s debt partially backed by Trump International Hotel (Washington, D.C.) and the Trump National Doral Golf Resort (Miami) comes due in 2023. Without money to maintain the facilities in good shape, he loses the ability to attract future business.

Since DDT left the White House, members are leaving Mar-a-Lago because of bad food and a depressing atmosphere, lacking even entertainment. Calling DDT an “employee,” however, Palm Beach allows DDT to live at Mar-a-Lago, despite his agreement in 1993 to not stay there for longer than seven days at a time and only three times a year. Neighbors still oppose his residence there.

DDT lost over $120 million in revenue last year, according to his financial disclosure forms, the worst losses at his D.C. hotel, down over 60 percent, and Doral Resort, dropping 44 percent. Revenue amounts for 47 companies declined over 35 percent, and banks and law firms are cutting ties with DDT’s businesses. Gone are three of four banks with DDT’s largest deposits. Even a small event like the triathlon at DDT’s golf course outside Charlotte canceled when the January 6 Capitol attack caused sponsors and vendors to drop out. The event’s founder had canceled another event almost four years after DDT’s comment about “very fine people” among white supremacists,  but he came back to lose again.

And DDT’s supporters think he’s a good businessman.

December 17, 2014

Don’t Frack in New York

In a first for the country, New York has tentatively banned hydraulic fracturing—better known as fracking—because of health risks. State officials concluded that the method of extracting natural gas contaminates air and water. Fracking uses water and chemicals to obtain the gas in deeply buried shale deposits. Former Gov. David Paterson issued a moratorium in 2008 which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo continued after he took office in 2011. Dozens of local governments have legally banned fracking through land use regulations, according to a state Supreme Court decision last summer.

Acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the review came down to one question: Would he want to live in a community that allowed fracking? His answer was no. Fracking supporters claim that the practice contributes to local economies, particularly in the huge Marcellus Shale that spreads across New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Opponents worried about the state’s watersheds and aquifers as well as tourism and quality of life in upstate communities.

One person well aware of fracking problems is Louis W. Allstadt, a retired executive vice president of Mobil oil. He ran the company’s exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000 and was also in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations for 31 year. In addition, he oversaw Mobil’s side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world’s largest corporation. An interview with him is here.

New studies examining the health effects of fracking indicate that this research is relatively new. The Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking by the Concerned Health Professionals of NY examines the results of many studies for its conclusions regarding potential harm from fracking and reports:

“A significant body of evidence has emerged to demonstrate that these activities are inherently dangerous to people and their communities. Risks include adverse impacts on water, air, agriculture, public health and safety, property values, climate stability and economic vitality.”

Fortunately, the study has found a great increase in recent research, possibly one daily for the past two years, and plans to update its compendium every six months. In encouraging Cuomo to ban fracking, Dr. Larysa Dyrszka said:

“The longer we look at fracking, the more trouble we find. There is no split debate within the scientific literature.”

People who think that fracking makes landowners wealthy need to look at farmers in Pennsylvania. People who owned a great deal of land and sold at exactly the right time may have profited, but everyone else has lost, because of unexpected costs or water contamination. A member of the Bradford County Planning Commission has three shale gas wells on his land, but signing the lease meant costs for setting up an LLC ($22,000), pre-drilling water testing ($14,500), and the loss of a tax credit for farmland which raised the assessment per acre from $500 per acre to a commercial property assessment of $2,500 with taxes due retroactively. After a division of Chesapeake Energy deducted costs from his royalties, the man was paid $0.10 for the gas produced on his 359-acre farm. State law requires a minimum of 12.5 percent of the gas value produced on the land in royalties, but a 2010 state Supreme Court ruling opened a loophole allowing a diversity of costs, many times retroactive.

Another man, whose girlfriend signed a lease, cannot use the contaminated water from the well on his property. He said his first check was about $3,000 which quickly dropped to $58. The royalties have stopped because contamination forced the wells to be cut off.

In addressing the questions of economy, Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney for Earthjustice, described the negative economic impacts on communities. The boom-and-bust result of temporary industries produces growth only in “burger flipping, trailer parks, drugs and prostitution.” Meanwhile, dairy farmers and carpentry workers in Pennsylvania were negatively impacted through livestock death from toxin exposures and lumber becoming a rare commodity after it was used to fill well packs. When the oil and gas industry disappears, nothing of the former economy is left.

The failure of wells to be profitable might support a new bill to ban fracking on publicly owned lands. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) are trying to preserve lands preserved for recreation, tourism, history, and culture. Currently, 90 percent federally managed lands are available for oil and gas leasing, including fracking, with just 10 percent protected exclusively for conservation, recreation, wildlife and cultural heritage. Oil and gas companies already have leased over 36 million acres of public land and want to use another 12 million acres in national forests and land adjoining national parks.

Unfortunately, the $1.1 trillion spending bill includes a provision to streamline permitting for fracking on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the US Department of Interior. The BLM has failed to inspect more than half of the so-called “high priority” wells, which required more attention to prevent water and environmental contamination.

Abandoned wells are leaking huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more effective in trapping heat than CO2 and responsible for about 25 percent of human-created global warming. Two new studies show that unreported methane is leaking from millions of unused oil and gas wells throughout the nation. Of 19 abandoned wells investigated in northwestern Pennsylvania, all leaking methane, the Princeton University study reported that only one is on the state’s list of abandoned wells. Three of the wells emitted methane at thousands of times the levels of the other 16. A University of Texas study showed that 20 percent of the investigated sites emitted far more than the rest. The U.S. has no system to monitor wells to see which ones emit the high levels or to determine what should be done with those that are.

Last summer, California officials shut down 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and ordered a review more than 100 others in the agricultural Central Valley for fear that companies were pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers. The state has protected only a fraction of the waters that the federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires. Although California has been hit with a number of storms bringing water to the drought-ridden area, the rainfall doesn’t even put a dent in the state’s drought problems.

San Benito County, one of the smallest counties in California, managed to pass an anti-fracking ordinance with only $130,000 against oil companies that spent $2 million opposing the initiative. Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles had already passed fracking bans. Bully oil isn’t through: they’re suing the San Benito County for $1.2 billion because of the company’s claim that they are entitled to frack under the agricultural ground, destroying the agritourism future of wineries, organic farms and small inns.

In another victory for protecting the planet, President Obama withdrew Alaska’s Bristol Bay from future oil and gas drilling. Its fishing industry generates $2 billion per year by providing 40 percent of the wild-caught fish in the United States. One of the world’s largest wild salmon runs in the bay annually provides $100 million in tourism, and the location is home to many endangered species including orcas and beluga and the North Pacific right whale. A decision on a bigger threat to the bay, the huge proposed gold and copper Pebble Mine, is still pending. [Popular culture junkies will know that Bristol Bay is the namesake of Sarah Palin’s daughter.]

New York’s ruling is hopefully just the tip of the iceberg in stopping indiscriminate pollution of the United States through fracking. San Benito County may have only 57,000 residents, but New York state has almost 20 million—and a lot more money if the fracking industry decides to sue them.

February 19, 2013

Fracking: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

After waiting for months, New York activists have learned that the decision about whether to lift the state’s moratorium on fracking has been further delayed because the public health review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing has not been completed. The review of respiratory diseases, accidents and injuries, and birth outcomes is monumental because it is the first comprehensive studies of fracking health impacts at either state or federal level.

At the same time that officials are considering the serious health effects of fracking, President Obama may appoint pro-fracking Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy. Moniz has promoted natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to lower carbon pollution while new innovative forms of energy are being developed. Almost two years ago, he told the Senate Energy committee that water and air pollution risks associated fracking were “challenging but manageable.”

Fracking gets natural gas out of rock formations by bombing them with chemical-loaded fluid, leaving behind foul water, the water that goes to crops and animals that humans consume. But there’s another food/fracking connection. Because cheap synthetic nitrogen fertilizer require natural gas to be synthesized, an increasing amount of this fertilizer will come from fracked natural gas. Farmers will then become powerful allies in overriding regulations and fighting back opposition to fracking.

During the past decade, the U.S. fertilizer industry was offshored to places like Trinidad and Tobago, but the supply of natural gas there is disappearing. Fracking in the U.S. has made natural gas here abundant, driving prices drastically down, 75 percent less than in 2008. Fertilizer prices remain high because of high crop prices so fertilizer companies have hit a bonanza.

At the same time, taxpayers are paying for corporation profits. In Iowa, for example, huge fertilizer industries received over $70 million in tax incentives from Iowa and $161 million in property taxes rebates from the county where it is located. Another company is investing $1.2 billion to build a nitrogen plant in North Dakota. The company can sell a ton of anhydrous ammonia for $800, which costs about $82 worth of natural gas.

While taxpayers at local, state, and national levels pay these corporations to make this money, they taxpayers receive environmental liabilities from excess nitrogen seeping into streams and rivers that feed a massive algae bloom that erases sea life; emissions of nitrous oxide, 300 times more potent than carbon; and the elimination of organic matter in soil.

Practical farming could prevent this destruction. Adding “small grain” (oats or wheat) plus nitrogen-fixing cover crops, farmers can drop their nitrogen needs up to 80 percent. Corn is the most nitrogen-intensive among major field crops; crop rotation can solve most of their problems. But Big Ag is becoming as powerful as Big Oil, and the American Farm Bureau Federation wants fracking.

All over the country, people are screaming about the need for fracking because we’re short on fuel. But prices are too low here for the greedy corporations so gas companies want authorization from the Department of Energy to export more of it overseas. They already have permission to export the gas to the nation’s free trade partners, but these aren’t major potential customers.

Wanting bigger profits, companies need permission to sell the gas to such non-free trade countries as South Korea, India, China, and Japan. Sixteen gas producers are working to get this permission, and companies are getting permits to build huge facilities to convert the gas to liquid by chilling it to -260 degrees F. to ship it overseas. Thus far, just one state, Pennsylvania, has about 6,000 wells. Permission for exporting could build that number to 50,000 wells.

If the agency approves the permits, gas equal to over one-fourth of current U.S. consumption will leave the country. A year-old study published by the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration published in January 2012 concluded that domestic natural gas prices would rise dramatically if the U.S. began exporting.

In North Dakota “oil patch” boom towns, fracking has caused a spike in serious injuries and health problems—burns from hot water, hands and fingers crushed by steel tongs, injuries from whipsawing chains, bodies brought in from accidents on roads where truck drivers know that time is money. The impact of working outside in freezing weather, emotional isolation, poor nutrition, drug use, and heavy drinking combines with highly increased numbers of rapes, sexual assaults, and domestic violence.

Both workers and local residents suffer from the toxins related to oil and gas extraction. Doctors in Pennsylvania are now under a “gag rule” that keeps them from telling their patients about the chemicals that make them sick. A large number of workers lack health insurance, causing local hospitals and government providers to absorb the enormous costs from uncompensated treatment. The debt in just one hospital increased 2,000 percent to $1.2 million in five years.

If workers and residents survive the injuries, their health still isn’t safe. A byproduct of fracking is silica dust which, if inhaled, can cause lung inflammation leading to silicosis, an incurable respiratory condition known as silicosis. Or the inflammation can cause lung cancer, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder, kidney disease, and autoimmune conditions. The situation is reminiscent of workers with health problems related to asbestos and coal exposure.

Fracking causes even more impacts:

Methane: Natural gas is a significant contributor to global warming pollution; scientists report alarmingly high methane emissions from these fields.  

Water Pollution: Methane released during fracking also ends up in the water. That’s how people living near gas drilling operations can light their tap water on fire. And companies aren’t required to inform people about all the chemicals used in their fracking process. Thanks to Dick Cheney, fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Water Consumption: Using between 2 million and 13 million gallons of water to frack a single well plus more to drill the well, fracking will make water shortages occur more rapidly than the crisis predicted by 2030. Most of this water is either not recovered or unfit for use, requiring disposal in an underground injection well. Texas and Pennsylvania already have water shortages.

Trucks: Drilling and fracking just one well can require 1,000 truck trips, causing pollution, accidents, wear and tear on infrastructure, and big bills for taxpayers.

Economic Fallout: Taxes pay for repair to the infrastructure and the health issues of uninsured workers. Beyond that taxpayers lose personal insurance. The Huffington Post reported, “Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won’t cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground.” Their memo said, “Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.”

The cost doesn’t end with the health and insurance issues. Studies have begun to show a link between pollution, including gas, and crime.

Therefore huge corporations want to make huge profits selling gas offshore and driving United States prices up while destroying the environment and costing taxpayers a fortune. After the corporations have finished raping the land, the short-term jobs will disappear along with all the farming, tourism, dairy, and other jobs that vanished because of fracking. As Tish O’Dell, co-founder of the Cleveland-area group Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods, said,

“If water is contaminated and fish die, what are the fishermen going to do? If you have parks where people go for peace and quiet, what happens when you turn it into an industrial landscape? If you have an organic dairy and the soil is polluted, what does that mean? These are all valid questions.”

And all this because the conservatives lie to the people about fuel and energy.

January 4, 2013

Dangers of Fracking

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:20 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Gus Van Sant’s new film Promised Land opened today after pro-fracking individuals fired salvos at its message for the past few weeks. One of them, Phelim McAleer, who directed the documentary FrackNation, has accused the film of attacking fracking, which he thinks is perfectly safe. For the uninitiated,  fracking, hydraulic fracturing, gets oil and gas from rocks when crews drill a hole and then use high pressure to inject a mix of water, sand, and chemicals underground to free hydrocarbons.

The film’s topic is timely: New York is currently deciding whether to overturn a four-year ban on fracking. Earlier this year, the state seemed ready to do this, but protesters made Gov. Andrew Cuomo delay the decision until next week. New York is not alone; California is considering flawed fracking rules. And Longmont (CO), the first city in that state to ban fracking, is being sued because of its new policy.

Environmentalists have a number of concerns, including water contamination and earthquakes. Another major concern is health. Livestock in areas popular with fracking are dropping dead in unusual numbers. After exposure to the fracking chemicals, 24 farmers in six states reported that livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems.

One well that uses fracking requires up to seven million gallons of water with another 400,000 gallons of additives. Of the 632 chemicals used in fracking, according to a 2011 study, 75 percent could affect the skin, eyes, other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations.

Because some of the cattle exposed to fracking chemicals look healthy, they end of in the food system, either through their milk or meat products. Those who think that this is not a problem and that fracking is not causing the deaths should note that Nationwide Mutual Insurance, which sells agricultural insurance, will not cover damages related to fracking. Rabobank, the world’s largest agricultural bank, will not sell mortgages to farmers with gas leases.

Obviously if fracking kills livestock, it will also kill humans. It results in such high levels of radioactive materials that these exceed EPA’s maximum contaminant safety levels by 1,000 times, causing “anemia, cataracts, cancer, and increased mortality,” according to a CDC toxicological profiles report. Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country, travels through the pipelines into homes and businesses of the gas users. And failing well casings allow fracking fluids to migrate into underground water ways and fresh drinking water sources.

It’s hard to assess the dangers because many of these become evident only over time. Because fracking is relatively new, about a decade, conventional medicine is unfamiliar with the symptoms and illness that come from increased toxic chemical exposures. Treatment of cancer and radiation-related conditions is a medical specialty. Anyone evaluating  fracking needs to evaluate the costs of the following:

Doctor visits, laboratory tests, medications, emergency room visits and hospitalization due to acute medical disorders, acute exacerbations of existing chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), congestive heart disease, exposure to radioactive materials, ingestion of contaminated water, inhalation of contaminated air, traffic accidents involving heavy duty trucks, and trauma from on-site accidents.

Truck traffic is another serious problem from fracking. Diesel emissions, dust, accidents, and spills cause contaminated water and ground, respiratory problems, and life-threatening danger to anyone in proximity to the trucks.

The government has not bothered to keep records on the results of fracking, partly because state governments don’t want to lose money that fracking brings. For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) neither adequately monitors nor collects health data.

Governments also pass laws to keep people from talking about the problems of fracking. For example, when local water supplies become contaminated in the aftermath of fracking, many citizens are forced to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to receive trucked-in water from the gas companies. And when health problems in PA communities emerged, the legislature attempted to instate Act 13, an ALEC model bill that actually prohibits physicians from disclosing to patients and communities when fracking chemicals appear in people’s bloodstreams.

No one except the contractors knows what chemicals are in the fracking mix because most governments don’t require companies to disclose this information. Although Texas has a law requiring drillers to tell what’s in their fluid, Nabors, the largest onshore drilling contractor by revenue, is exempt because the company has declared it a “trade secret.” Other drilling companies used the same excuse on 19,000 times during the first half of this year.

The Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate fracking in order to protect groundwater, because in 2005 Congress exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which controls how industries inject substances underground.

Earthquakes now occur in places where they have never been before. After the companies finish the fracking, they get rid of the brine waste by injecting it underground. A New Mexico/Colorado study reported that their research “led us to conclude that the majority, if not all of the earthquakes since August 2001 have been triggered by the deep injection of wastewater related to the production of natural gas from the coal-bed methane field here.” And the Oklahoma paper found there could be “multi-year lags between the commencement of fluid injection and triggered earthquakes.”

In case you read something about the current spate of earthquakes in previously safe areas having no relationship to fracking, follow the source. Recently, a study from the University of Texas was discredited because of the researcher’s financial interest in the gas industry. Just as some people refuse to believe in climate change, so do they fight the idea that fracking can cause earthquakes.

Fracking will continue to be a problem in the United States as long as people continue to put money above the future of the planet, but it needs to be stopped.

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