Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.
The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.
“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”
The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.
I was one of the millions of people who had seen the footage of the “flaming water” supposedly caused by fracking in Pennsylvania, but had never seen Gasland or really studied the issue in depth. When the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Frack Nation arose, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Cinematically and content-wise, Frack Nation did not disappoint.
Frack Nation starts with the same flaming water shot from Gasland that has alarmed environmentalists and the masses and describes the anti-fracking movement’s complaints. What was helpful for a newbie like me was to have the fracking process described in detail.
McAleer interviewed many of the farmers of Dimock, Pennsylvania, the “ground zero” of this issue. The farmers almost unanimously want the ability to lease their mineral rights to the gas companies for fracking. Many of them are dairy farmers whose land has been in the family for generations. They passionately tell McAleer that they need this money to be able to survive, as farming is a money-losing proposition these days. It is what they love to do, and leasing mineral rights will allow them to do that instead of joining the ranks of the unemployed.
Just as passionately, they state they would never allow anything on their land that harms the environment. Their homes are on this land. Their dairy cows graze on this land. They’ve tilled this land for a lifetime. They are believable – they would not allow any process that harms their asset, the land, just for money.
Senate candidate Tom Smith, a former Democrat, is an accomplished businessman and a Tea Party conservative. Tom still lives on the farm in Armstrong County where he grew up. After high school, he postponed college to help his father tend that farm and supplemented his income by driving a school bus. After a few years, Tom married his high school sweetheart, Saundy, started a family, and went to work in a local surface coal mine.
In 1989, Tom entered the coal business himself. He succeeded, building a series of companies in a highly regulated industry. When he sold the companies in 2010, they were mining more than a million tons of coal each year.
Now, Tom wants to re-claim for Republicans the seat Sen. Bob Casey took from Rick Santorum in 2006. Follow him on Twitter @TomSmithforPA.
Matt Naugle: You were a registered Democrat from age 18 until August 2011. As a Democrat, you were elected official Plumcreek Township and were a member of the United Mine Workers. Now, you’re a major donor to Republican candidates and a Tea Party leader. How did you become a conservative?
Tom Smith: I’ve always been a conservative and supported pro-growth and pro-freedom candidates and causes. My father and mother were registered Democrats, so when I was 18 I registered the same out of respect for them. It was over the years, while building a family and starting a business I became more and more vocal with my conservative views.
MN: You went from working on your father’s farm and driving a bus to running a 100,000 tons/month coal mining operation. Do you agree with President Obama that you did not build the company?
It seems a day doesn’t go by that I don’t see or hear someone complaining about jobs going overseas. They invariably want the government to do something to keep jobs on American shores. They blame “greedy corporations” for seeking profit and not looking out for the interests of Americans who desperately need jobs.
Well, those Americans really do need jobs, so here are some helpful tips to help bring those jobs back to American shores.
1. End the unions
Unions are a large chunk of the reason many companies have looked overseas for labor. Unions, which once existed as a way to deal with abusive management, now seek to line pockets. Not just theirs, but those of their members. Through collective bargaining, they have jacked up wages for what are often unskilled positions to a point that borders on the ridiculous. In some cases, that border is crossed. Reports of auto workers with high school educations making six figure incomes while not filling any kind of management role are a prime example.
The thing is, non-union shops in the same industries often pay comperable wages. They simply expect more work out of their employees, minimizing the number of people required. Companies want the best workers they can get, and even without unions you won’t see wages plummet. The best and brightest want to be compensated, and they will be.
However, if unions continue to push for more and more, then more and more companies will seek to move their operations overseas.
2. End the EPA
Joel Aaron, Grassroots Director for the Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity, sent along this piece about the REINS Act, which would curtail regulations placed businesses and, ostensibly, consumers. It’s tailored to Georgia, but this is an issue that Democrats in swing districts across the country may have to contend with in 2012.
Last week, Georgia Democrats John Barrow and Sanford. D. Bishop, Jr. casted votes in favor of alleviating excessive regulatory burdens with minor procedural hindrances. Today, Georgia legislators have the opportunity to confront Washington’s over-regulation problem head-on, by supporting the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act.
The REINS Act was inspired in 2009 when Kentucky activist Lloyd Rogers approached U.S. Representative Geoff Davis after EPA water regulations had doubled his county’s taxes without so much as a congressional vote. Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats should not have the power to make laws in this country, plain and simple. This basic, founding principle is given to lawmakers who must account for their votes and listen to the voice of the people they represent.
Rogers challenged Rep. Davis with language from the U.S. Constitution which says “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Rep. Davis took this challenge to Washington and thus H.R. 10, the REINS Act, has become a centerpiece of the Republican House agenda.
Personally, I wouldn’t trust government officials to lock a barn door (unless the horses already got out, that is.) There’s a good reason for that. From the Washington Times’ front page:
Federal authorities responsible for granting security clearances to government employees and contractors are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating the investigators.
Government inspectors say they have undertaken a broader campaign in recent years to root out fraud in background checks as more national security clearances are being sought than ever before.
Overall, court records reviewed by The Washington Times show at least 170 confirmed falsifications of interviews or record checks and more than 1,000 others that couldn’t be verified. The background investigators, whose work helps determine who gets top-secret security clearance, were submitting forms saying they conducted interviews or verified official documents when they never did.
“The monetary loss sustained by the government does not, nor cannot, represent the cost associated with potential compromise of our nation’s security and the trust of the American people in its government’s workforce,” Kathy L. Dillaman, associate director in charge of investigations at the Office of Personnel Management, wrote in a victim-impact statement for a recent court case involving a convicted investigator.
Just in time for Christmas, Washington has a gift for all of you feeling the joy and optimism of the season… a giant, economy killing, power grab by the EPA. Rejoice! Rejoice! The polar bears will continue to thrive while Americans suffer record unemployment and poverty!
In a perfectly timed press release, the EPA announced their intention to begin limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants to combat so-called climate change late last night. While most people aren’t going to pay much attention to this story, it’s going to have significant affects for all of us. Almost half of the electricity generated in this country comes from coal-fired power plants, so even if your personal power bill doesn’t see an immediate and significant increase, you can certainly expect the price of many of your “Made in the USA” products to increase substantially. Until the exact provisions are released to the public, however, we can only speculate how much this massive power grab is going to cost each of us, but know that it is going to cost you.
Obviously, if these regulations are adopted, they certainly aren’t something that will aid our economic recovery, to say the least. It is going to be sadly interesting, however, to see how detrimental these new regulations will be to the economic recovery in specific regions of the country. For example, why would a company that is building a new factory ever consider an area where the cost of electricity has been artificially and unnecessarily inflated by the geniuses in Washington?
This video is hilarious.
It reminds me a bit of an experience I had as a kid. I was at Wendy’s with my mom and a guy in front of us in the line was harassing the people working there. He kept asking them if they had video of them washing their hands, if they had been inspected, and threatened to contact someone to shut them down. He had apparently been there before and made the same threats for a long time. My mom and I both agreed that he was a monumental @$$hole.
There’s no denying that we live in a pop culture age, and it’s difficult to spread of limited government and free market ideas through ordinary means, especially if we plan to reach and engage young people.
Founded by economist Russ Roberts and John Papola, EconStories has already developed a unique way of communicating economic ideas through visual storytelling.
In 2010, the two created a hip-hop music video, “Fear the Boom and Bust,” in which the economic views of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayes were debated. The video came at a time when there was a debate over the merits of a $835 billion stimulus bill that was designed to lift the United States out of the throes of the Great Recession.
A little more than a year later, EconoStories released a second video, “Fight of the Century,” featuring Keynes and Hayek. The video focused on the lack of any real economic recovery despite billions and stimulus spending and consecutive years of $1+ trillion budget deficits. To date, the two videos have garnered more than 7.2 million views on YouTube.
United Liberty talked with John Papola, a director and producer, about EconStories’ latest project, EconPop, which is presented in partnership with the Moving Picture Institute. EconPop brings economic ideas found in popular movies and TV shows and breaks them down in a fun and unique way.
Today in Liberty: Snow shuts down federal government, intel committees faulted for lax NSA oversight
“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.” — Plato
— Snow day in Washington: The federal government is closed today due to a winter storm that’s expected to bring up to 10” of snow to the Washington, D.C. area. We know. You’re heartbroken, and you’re wondering how you can survive the day without a functioning federal government.
— House pushes back votes targeting EPA regs, individual mandate delay: The snow day has caused the House of Representatives to delay votes on measures to block pending EPA regulations targeting coal plants and Obamacare’s individual mandate. The House will be back in session tomorrow and vote on these two measures on Wednesday.
— NSA blame turns to Congress: Politico notes that the lack of any real congressional oversight of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs has now become a topic of conversation in the ongoing controversy. Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) realizes that congressional intelligence committees have failed to do their jobs. “Clearly, they’ve been co-opted,” McCain told Politico. “There’s no doubt about that.” The chairs of the two congressional intel committees, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have functioned as apologists for the NSA programs rather than providing attentive oversight or showing the least bit of concern for civil liberties.