Dirty Little Secrets


We have all seen them, the commercials that are as ubiquitous as political ads before an election. They tout “clean” and “safe” natural gas. They show smiling engineers in front of green fields, and of all things a solar array. We are told that hundreds of thousands of jobs are “created” by oil & gas extraction. We are assured our environment is their top priority. We are told the oil & gas industry is working on ensuring we are energy independent and our national security depends on them. Wow, that sounds amazing doesn’t it? “Clean” and “safe” energy for everybody? Sign me up!

The trouble with those statements is this, they are all lies.

Think about it, if oil & gas is really that good for us, why is the American Petroleum Institute and natural gas alliance spending millions to convince you? Because really, if they had built that better mouse trap wouldn’t we all be beating a path to their door? Would we need the constant and subliminal messaging to force us to accept the unacceptable? Honestly, if we stop and think about it, read the reports, study the math and science, the truth is staggeringly simple.

Fossil fuels are not the savoir of our future, they are the remnant of our past. We are at a tipping point now, and it is time for fossil fuels to go the way

of the dinosaurs. And why aren’t we? Why aren’t we tapping into the free fuel available to us all? Why aren’t we investing in true clean and safe energy options that bring about both energy independence and energy security? Why are we still relying on a dirty and diminishing fuel source that contaminates our land, air & water? Well, that is another dirty little secret the industry hopes you don’t figure out. Extreme extraction is the last gasp of a dying industry, and they don’t care if they take the rest of us with them. They are counting on the one thing they hate the most to save them, and us. Science.

The fossil fuel industry is betting that science will find a way to remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere. The same researchers they love to hate for warning us about the increase in not only carbon, but methane, are the ones they are relying on to find a way to remove these harmful gases from our atmosphere.

Researchers like Dr. Anthony Ingraffea who yesterday spoke to the extreme side effects of extreme extraction. Dr. Ingraffea articulated something I have been thinking for some time. Who owns the sun, wind & water? We do. It belongs to us all. We don’t have to pay for this fuel. It is ours. No wonder the fossil fuel industry mocks and ridicules renewable energy. What happens when we switch from paying them for fuel to creating our own from resources we own? Do you think an industry that makes trillions in annual profit while taking billions in annual tax entitlements and is gifted millions of gallons of our clean water to use in their operations is going to give that up willingly or easily? So we can use the sun for free? Not likely.

And here is another point. In addition to the “clean” and “safe” argument, the fossil fuel industry touts their record of job creation and economic

impact on our economy. But somehow they neglect to mention the spills, leaks, accidents and explosions that come along with extraction. And the cost of those events, which are paid by taxpayers in the form of paying for emergency services and the after effects.

We need to look at the true cost of fossil fuel extraction and use. What is the ultimate cost to clean up the mess they are making? And how many jobs are really in the industry, and what do they cost us in health care when the oil & gas field workers retire and need medical care after the years of exposure to toxic chemical contaminates? What is the cost of droughts and dying crops when our water supply has been depleted due to withdrawals for fracking operations and increasing planet temperature? What happens when the gasmen come to town? Do we really see increased and improved economic impacts? Well, according to some reports the bars and strippers certainly like their arrival. But for the most part, these workers are brought in from Texas & Louisiana and send their paychecks right back home.

Hundreds of jobs are not created. Locally there is actually a decrease in jobs and economic stability. According to Deborah Rogers, a former Wall Street investment banker, the industry is not only padding the books, they are cooking them along with our planet. From 2006 to 2010 (data from labor & industry and other sources), “based on median household income in core counties; the oil & gas industry is underperforming without exception”.

Two important myths have been debunked by Ms. Rogers: oil & gas coming to town does not boost retail or local business and they do not create jobs. They create “man” camps, workers come from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere, they come to town and they send the money they earn right back there.

Oil & gas companies are for-profit institutions, and to think that anything but profit is their goal is naïve. They have no interest in our future environment. They are concerned only with the next quarter’s earnings and how to maximize and manipulate the data to ensure they get their bonus and move it offshore along with the profits.

Here is another fact the industry hopes you won’t learn, what is the net benefit of extreme extraction? Deborah Rogers presented this yesterday:

Energy returned on Energy invested:

  • Crude, historical 100:1,
  • Crude, today 11:1,
  • Tar Sands 3:1,
  • Shale <5:1

The first number is barrels produced, the second, energy used to produce it. See the problem?

Does this seem like a viable business model? Compare to the resource we all own. The sun. The wind. Water. An everlasting supply of free, clean and safe energy.

Ask yourself, why would we continue to invest in fossil fuels? Now, ask your legislator that question.

Fossil fuels are about as likely to lead to energy independence and security as heroin is to lead to sobriety. It is never going to be true. We need to make sure legislators, the EPA, Department of Energy, BLM and our President realize that we are seeing the truth. We are done with an “all of the above” strategy that treats fossil fuels as equally acceptable. They are not. And it is time we shut that down.

I hear we have a way of doing that.

Call your legislators, insist they sign on and pass the FRAC Act and the BREATHE Act. We have to power, it belongs to us. Let’s remember that.

By Lisa Longo