Pace Law School Professor Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is also President of Waterkeeper Alliance, wrote on the Huffington Post today about hydrofracture natural gas drilling. A few years ago, Prof. Kennedy was optimistic about the promise of natural gas to free the US from dependence on coal and foreign oil. But, he writes:
“My caveat was that the natural gas industry and government regulators needed to act responsibly to protect the environment, safeguard communities from irresponsible practices and to candidly inform the public about the true risks and benefits of shale extraction gas. The opposite has happened. The industry’s worst actors have successfully battled reasonable regulation, stifled public disclosure while disclosing compliant government regulators to engineer exceptions to existing environmental rules. Captive agencies and political leaders have obligingly reduced already meager enforcement resources and helped propagate the industry’s deceptive economic projections. As a result, public skepticism toward the industry and its government regulators is at a record high. With an army of over 40,000 highly motivated anti-fracking activists in New York alone, popular mistrust of the industry is presenting a daunting impediment to its expansion.”
Prof. Kennedy writes that recent studies have raised many questions about the impact of fracking on human health and the environment, as well as the availability of natural gas and the costs to local municipalities. The New York Times has done an impressive job of pursuing answers to difficult questions about fracking, and has reported many important revelations about fracking’s effects, he writes.
These efforts have made the paper the target of a “campaign of intimidation and obfuscation … orchestrated by top shelf players like Exxon and Chesapeake aligned with the industry’s worst bottom feeders. This coalition has launched an impressive propaganda effort carried by slick PR firms, industry funded front groups and a predictable cabal of right wing industry toadies from cable TV and talk radio. In pitting itself against public disclosure and reasonable regulation, the natural gas industry is once again proving that it is its own worst enemy.”
Read the full post here.