Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shamed Former Govenor Mark Sanford Defeats Elizabeth Colbert-Busch

The victor of the special election in South Carolina for the states first congressional district has been named. The AP has just reported that the former governor who disappeared while having an affair has beat Stephen Colbert sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch for the house seat. This comes as a shock to anyone who thought that over the top scandal would end Mark Sanford's political career.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Israel Bombed Syria

Israel has recently bombed Syria. This new escalation will probably change the way many people think about the Syrian conflict. Israel's bombing of Syria has been condemned by Egypt and the Arab league. New hatred toward Israel is sure to increase after this bombing in the Arab world. Already Israel is increasingly being viewed as a pariah state to the rest of the world. This recent bombing will hopefully encourage more divestment from illegal Israeli settlements. Just this month the U.C. system voted to divest from all construction projects currently building illegal settlements in Palestine. If there is one thing we can predict for the future of world politics it is this. Nothing ever stays the same.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Obama Justice Dept Appealing Judge's Morning After Pill Decision

Well it looks like Obama is dead set against having any type of legacy as a progressive. Pretty 'no shit' facts like some teens won't be able to get birth control don't seem to matter to our president and woman's rights champion. (I hope you see the sarcasm)  Letting woman choose what they do with their bodies appears too liberal for Obama.

 Some teens are too embarrassed to tell their folks about their sexual escapades, some have math tests the next day that prevent them from taking a bus to planned parenthood. Some teens are raised by uber religious zealots who will force them to have an unwanted baby! Many schools are required to give young male students condoms if they choose to ask for it. Why are male student given birth control for free but females not? Why has next to no funding for male birth control been given to scientists throughout our countries history? Males are not the ones sentenced to 9 months of pregnancy yet we deny equal access to the little birth control option that exist for woman. It's sexism, its ignorance and it will bring more unwanted children. The FDA has said no scientific evidence exists proving the morning after pill should not be available as an over the counter drug, so please do not think that science or logic has anything to do with Obama's position.

For everyone who doesn't have their head in the sand the common fact that teens are having sex younger and younger is a commonly accepted truth. Many females I personally know lost their virginity at or near the age of 14! The reality is we live in a culture were guns are ok and sex isn't. You can practices murdering people all day long in front of the X box but even though your sexually active you better ask your parents if you can have birth control should you be unlucky enough to be born a woman. If you were born a man just walk to your elementary school health office! No questions will be asked!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

CISPA Internet Killing Bill Dies in Senate

The U.S. democratically controlled senate blocks CISPA from being voted on. My defeated, depressing blog post about CISPA passing the house should still be read though! Link below ;) It contains a list of every house member who voted for the internet killing bill. Find your representatives name on the list and call them to tell them you support privacy and internet freedom and your pissed about their vote. If you don't find your congressman or women on the list then call them anyway to say thanks for supporting your privacy and supporting internet freedom by not voting for this anti american bill.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Amanda Palmer attacked by Fox's "the Five" for Poem

 Below is the poem by Amanda Palmer

Curtsy of   

you don’t know how it felt to be in the womb but it must have been at least a little warmer than this.
you don’t know how intimately they’re recording your every move on closed-circuit cameras until you see your face reflected back at you through through the pulp.
you don’t know how to stop picking at your fingers.
you don’t know how little you’ve been paying attention until you look down at your legs again.
you don’t know how many times you can say you’re coming until they just stop believing you.
you don’t know how orgasmic the act of taking in a lungful of oxygen is until they hold your head under the water.
you don’t know how many vietnamese soft rolls to order.
you don’t know how convinced your parents were that having children would be, absolutely, without question, the correct thing to do.
you don’t know how precious your iphone battery time was until you’re hiding in the bottom of the boat.
you don’t know how to get away from your fucking parents.
you don’t know how it’s possible to feel total compassion in one moment and total disconnection in the next moment.
you don’t know how things could change so incredibly fast.
you don’t know how to make something, but the instructions are on the internet.
you don’t know how to make sense of this massive parade.
you don’t know how to believe anyone anymore.
you don’t know how to tell the girl in the chair next to you that you’ve been peeking at her dissertation draft and there’s a grammatical typo in the actual file name.
you don’t know how to explain yourself.
you don’t want two percent but it’s all they have.
you don’t know how claustrophobic your house is until you can’t leave it.
you don’t know why you let that guy go without shooting him dead and stuffing him in some bushes between cambridge and watertown.
you don’t know where your friends went.
you don’t know how to dance but you give it a shot anyway.
you don’t know how your life managed to move twenty six miles forward and twenty eight miles back.
you don’t know how to pay your debts.
you don’t know how to separate from this partnership to escape and finally breathe.
you don’t know how come people run their goddamn knees into the ground anyway.
you don’t know how to measure the value of the twenty dollar bill clutched in your hurting hand.
you don’t know how you walked into this trap so obliviously.
you don’t know how to adjust the rearview mirror.
you don’t know how to mourn your dead brother.
you don’t know how to drive this car.
you don’t know the way to new york.
you don’t know the way to new york.
you don’t know the way to new york.
you don’t know the way to new york.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CISPA Passes In the House

Well congress just used the Boston bombings to pass CISPA.  The internet was nice while it lasted :(  Everyone's hard work fighting SOPA and PIPA slowed them down but wasn't enough. I will always remember the casualties in this fight, especially Aaron Swartz. The final vote in the house was 288 ; 127. There is still a shred of hope. President Obama has promised to veto the bill if it comes to his office siting privacy concerns as a basis for doing so. Please everyone call his office and make him feel the pressure. MAKE him veto this bill his phone number is


Here is the names of every representative who voted for it. If you can, look up your representative to see how they voted and if they sold you out call them and bitch. I have called many on the list today and will continue.

Robert Aderholt (Al-04)
Rodney Alexander (LA-05)
Mark Amodei Nevada's 1st
Spencer Bachus (Al-06)
Ron Barber Arizona's 2nd
Lou Barletta (PA-11)
Andy Bar Kentucky's 6th
John Barrow Georgia's 12th
Berra (CA)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Brady (TX)
Brooks (IN)
Brooks (AL)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Castor (FL)
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Duncan (TN)
Frankel (FL)
Franks (AZ)
Gingrey (GA)
Graves (GA)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Hastings (FL)
Hastings (WA)
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Huizenga (MI)
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, E. B.
Johnson, Sam
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Larsen (WA)
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Lujan, Ben Ray (NM)
Maloney, Sean
McCarthy (CA)
McCarthy (NY)
McMorris Rodgers
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Pastor (AZ)
Peters (CA)
Poe (TX)
Price (GA)
Rice (SC)
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (WI)
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sewell (AL)
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Swalwell (CA)
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Weber (TX)
Weber (FL)
Wilson (SC)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)
Young (IN)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

Yesterday normal Americans gathered for the annual Boston Marathon celebrating patriots day. As the marathon was coming to a close, two bombs went off near the finish line- killing 3 and injuring 170 including 17 critical injuries. Some of the injuries endured were vicious- as the bombs were intended to maim individuals. Improvised explosive devices packed with nails, shrapnel, and small metal objects tore through the sidelines. Limbs were lost, worlds were shaken and America suffered it’s most recent tragedy.

President Obama took a lot of heat for not calling the tragedy a terrorist attack right away. He said we shouldn't jump to conclusions until we know the facts. Was this a terrorist attack? Were the engineers of this plot domestic, or did they come from abroad? What constitutes terrorism? Everyone has a lot of questions and yet, no one has any answers.

I find it interesting that this week holds the anniversaries of three prior american tragedies. The siege by the federal government of the cult church in Waco Texas came to a bloody end on April 19th 1993. The Columbine high school shooting on April 20th 1999. And finally, the Virginia Tech college shooting on April 16th 2007. The twisted souls who carried out Columbine used improvised explosive devices, but we do not call that attack terrorism.

By the close of the last decade, we were all comfortable labeling every crime under the umbrella term ‘terrorism’. Hell, even Daniel McGowan a member of the ‘Earth Liberation Front’ was labeled a terrorist and sent to terrorist prison for destruction of property while trying to save the Environment. No one was ever injured or killed during his quest to save wild horses from becoming glue or prevent priceless old growth forests from becoming paper mills.

The Boston marathon bombing may turn out to be an act of Terror-Ism. It may be the plot of angry domestic militias taking revenge for Waco and gun control. It may turn out to be Al Qaeda or some other terrorist group from the middle east. It may also turn out to be some pissed off teenager taking too many psych meds; but I agree with president Obama, we should wait for all the facts before we jump to conclusions.

Source: Mt Shasta News

Thursday, April 11, 2013

“Fracking for Bad Gas”    

April 11, 2013                               

            Out of breath and sweating, I flashed my student ID card and stepped onto a bus branded with the slur: “powered by clean, natural gas.” Looks like the work of a clever magician revealing only the point of combustion, rather than exposing the pollution lurking in every step of extraction of “natural” gas.

As a student at UC Berkeley, I’ve realized natural gas is a complex, politicized issue, and the media often provides the public with misinformation. The media frames fracking as a “clean burning” “bridge fuel” which will make America “energy independent.” Advertisements, talk about gas as an abundant source of domestic energy, which will “free” us from dependence on foreign oil and coal.

When I first heard the term “fracking,” I did not understand the reference, unless of course they were talking about Battle Star Galactica. After staring open mouthed at a documentary or three, and obsessively researching at UC Berkeley, the sweet smell of controversy still lingers in the wake of pressing political priorities—energy and GDP.

“Fracking” is short for hydraulic fracturing, or the controversial technique used to extract oil or natural gas, located thousands of feet underground, using millions of gallons of water, sand, and thousands of gallons of chemicals. So what’s the fracking problem?

TV and multimedia narratives persuade people to believe that natural gas extraction is not a risky business. The truth is, when you hear “unconventional gas” mentioned in commercials, they are not referring to simply tapping a giant underground gas reservoir, but rather, shattering shale rock with high pressure chemical water to release gas bubbles tightly contained within the rock.

You might have heard about Halliburton- an oil and gas company from Texas, and BFF of George Bush- who “revolutionized” the industry in 1991 with technology to drill horizontally- in multiple directions, multiple times. This meant they could drill beneath people’s homes without the owner’s consent! Second, they introduced liquid chemical cocktails called “slick water.” This toxic lube maintains the intense pressure necessary to physically fracture the rock at depths averaging 10,000 feet underground, releasing the gas.

To make it worse, companies are not required to disclose the chemical cocktail recipes to the public, because of protection under Trade Secret Laws. The chemicals are claimed to be proprietary information, essential to protecting their profit margins. Not only is the slickwater riddled with ingredients that are known carcinogens (cancer causing), or endocrine disrupters (hormone mimickers), but at depths of 10,000 feet below the surface, naturally occurring arsenic and often radioactive materials join with the slickwater. Unfortunately, only about 50% of processed water returns to the surface, and is considered hazardous waste.

This gas is none other than the gas that forms inside the bellies of you and me! It is the same gas cows burp up all day, every day, at factory farms. It is the same gas forming inside sealed landfills. It the same powerful green house gas that scientists warn to be more potent than carbon dioxide by contributing to global warming and climate change. The gas itself is primarily, methane; a colorless, odorless gas that is flammable, thus, an excellent source of energy.

Why are we targeting a potent green house gas as a source of energy? Ode to the dollar bills, the only grease making the economic wheels go-round. Flash back to 2005, when the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy Act allowed companies- such as Halliburton- to remain exempt from critical laws that protect social and environmental justice. Because of this legislation, oil and gas drilling companies who frack, do not have to follow or pay for violating the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, or the public’s Right to Know Act. This issue is not about a “bridge fuel” and it’s not about “freedom.” The Energy Policy Act made “unconventional” gas, an artificially profitable resource to increase GDP- BOOM.                       

Fracking needs some major policy reform to hold companies accountable to federal regulations, which protect human health, such as the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. At the very least, the public should have the Right to Know! The boom needs to slow while scientists carefully evaluate the climate impact of fugitive methane “leaking” into the atmosphere from every fracking drill site.

By: Shannon Davis, a student at UC Berkeley and a Commissioner for the City of Berkley’s Zero Waste Commission

Monday, April 8, 2013

U.S. Iranian Foreign Policy

The united states has been foolish in its foreign policy toward Iran in many ways over the past few decades. In 1953 a CIA operation ousted Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran  for the rule by the Shah. The U.S. government failed to predict the high levels of Iranian nationalism as well as the hatred for the shaw’s lavish lifestyle and western influence many Iranians felt. As well the U.S. failed to expect the level of blowback that culminated with the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

For fear of the new Iranian theocracy we helped Saddam Hussein and his secular republic flight Iran from 1980-1988. We stood by and watched as Iraq used chemical weapons on Iranian soldiers, the hypocrisy is palpable. Also in 1988 an american destroyer mistook an Iranian passenger plane for a jet fighter and fired on it killing 290 souls. In his state of the union address George W. Bush referred to Iran as the ‘Axis of Evil’ alongside Iraq and North Korea hardening extremists and increasing nationalism as well as anti american sentiment. 

Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s comments regarding Israel are often misconstrued. He was not talking about nuking them but rather that they should not exist on the map. He was talking about the the Palestinian’s claim to the land and not scorching the earth where the jews stand. He was talking about a fundamental belief that an intergovernmental body such as the united nations does not have the authority to take land from one people and give it to another. Benjamin Netanyahu has said himself that Iran is a threat to “zionism”. This is different than claiming Iran is a threat to Israel. President Netanyahu understands that in order for zionism to work jews from all over the world must continue to immigrate to Israel. A nuclear armed Iran make jewish individuals fearful and discourage them from immigrating to the holy land. 

In the future perhaps the US should leave Iran alone. Trying soft power for once might work. A carrot and stick approach, carrot being trade, stick being attitude toward their nuclear program. However it should remain just that an attitude! The Iranian people have seen the U.S. repeatedly meddle in it’s affairs and as far as I’m concerned they want a nuclear weapon as a deterrent to keep us away and they should get it. Iran is an independent nation who has the right to get a nuclear weapon, launching an attack or smuggling out a nuke is suicidal and Iran does not appear suicidal. Let us not forget that Ronald Reagan allowed Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons. This idea that the united states gets to choose which countries can have nukes and which can not is arrogance and foolishness and will lead to much larger problems for Americans in the future.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today was the first day supreme court justices heard oral arguments for Prop 8. How will these nine individual justices rule after its all over?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Supreme Court Hears Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA

Photo by Alex Arnold

On Tuesday march 26th the supreme court will hear arguments for the constitutionality of both the defense of marriage act (DOMA) and California's controversial proposition 8.

Although I am not a supreme court justice, I have indeed heard heated arguments about this topic for years. As a California resident, when prop 8 passed, believe me everyone had an opinion. The most common points I heard articulated by those against marriage equality, was that marriage is not a right, but rather a "privilege" and that since the voters cast their votes against equality the legislature should listen to the people rather than the courts.
I find the argument about whether marriage is a right or a privilege moot. Let's assume those arguing this point are valid in their assumptions and marriage is indeed a privilege. Would the courts not be responsible for securing equal access for privileges based on some kind of merit aside from sexual orientation? Driving is a privilege that can be taken away once a driver has violated specific laws. What laws have LGBT people violated to have the "privilege" of marriage taken away?

In regard to those who say that courts should respect the voters decisions, I would draw their attention to the fact that if we had a vote on slavery today there would be certain states that would indeed vote for the disenfranchisement and bondage of fellow human beings. The law exists not only as a branch and check on a larger system of governence for the people by the people, but also as a mechanism to protect minorities from the mob of popular public opinion. All people are guaranteed equal protection under the law even if most of the people in a particular state really don't want them to have it. 

What do you think?  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SF Pillow Fight

Photographs by Alex Arnold

 The Annual pillow fight event that happens in the Embarcadero Towers in San Francisco. I really enjoy how the bay area has so many flash mob style event organized by the people.

Tuition Prices Soar

Photo by Alex Arnold
I think this image really sums it up. In the same way you can tell what a man worships by the things he spends his gold on. A societies values can be measured by what it protects, funds, or sweeps under the rug. Every year the price of school jumps for no apparent reason. No one wants to talk about it but we students see the presidents of our schools walking onto campus with freshly pressed suits and 6 figure salaries.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Natural Gas Explained

Photo by Shannon Davis
Beneath Pennsylvania and five other states, locked within tight layers of shale rock, dwells 141 trillion cubic feet of retrievable natural gas (Blohm et al, 2012: 358). This gas has been sequestered within the Marcellus Shale since the Devonian period, until recent technological advances in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” revolutionized its rapid extraction (Davis et al, 2012: 25). Due to the underground nature of this resource, access is limited and complicated; however, some actors can accumulate profit with strategic mechanisms, while other human and non human actors living above ground endure the consequences. An emerging conflict over the contamination of drinking water presents itself as one of the many consequences of fracking without regulations (Wiseman, 2008: 115). Natural gas companies claim harnessing this domestic energy hot-spot will allow the US to be energy independent from foreign oil, and become a major liquefied natural gas exporter by 2021 (Nuttall et al, 2012: 573). This represents a struggle to control new energy markets on a national and international scale. The counter claim insists that although natural gas is a cleaner burning energy alternative to coal and petroleum, it is not sustainable, and the benefits are outweighed by the hazardous extraction process, on a local scale. This conflict represents a struggle over the discursive meaning of energy independence, confronts flaws in past Federal legislation, and challenges the reality of the United State’s tradeoff between foreign oil and mass contamination of water sheds.  This paper argues that the rapid increase in fracking was facilitated by exemption from regulations, which created a profitable opportunity to commodify this underground resource without social or environmental accountability. Utilizing political ecology and a post structuralist approach, this paper will situate the conflict over contaminated water within the socio-natural history of natural gas extraction, and analyze how the commodification of natural gas is paired with strategic discursive practices to influence cultural politics, and reinforce the conflict.
The nature of this conflict is embedded in the name “hydraulic” fracturing, because the process of extracting shale gas depends on access to clean water, as well as technology, capital, labor, and land. The conflict over contaminated water is situated in the midst of a domestic underground land grab. Historically, Pennsylvanians have mined for underground resources such as coal, to fuel the Industrial Revolution’s demand to develop the railroad. Driven by the incentives of wealth and economic growth, coal mining raged on without any environmental regulations. By 1920, this resulted in the pollution and contamination of 2,400 miles of Pennsylvania’s streams, due to point sourced acid runoff from the coal mines (Allen, 2012: 51).  However, polluted streams were just the beginning of Pennsylvania’s conflict over contaminated water. Nearly forty percent of daily water consumption is withdrawn by the energy sector (Hayes, 2012: 385). Given that water is a common-pool resource, it is subtractable, which means everyone has the right to access it, restricted only by its finite nature, and the consequences of excessive pollution. 
Extracting natural gas has occurred since the 1800s; although, the gas was siphoned from underground reservoirs within formations of impermeable rock (Negi et al, 2012). By the 1940s, the technique of hydraulic fracturing was introduced as a way to extract previously unreachable gas trapped inside shale (Davis et al, 2012: 4). The formation of shale gas requires methanogens to break down organic compounds over the course of a million year biogenic process. The gas itself is a byproduct of decomposed organic compounds through an anaerobic process; therefore, it collects within the same spatial boundaries where it was created (Osborn et al, 2010: 456). Access to the gas is dependent on several mechanisms. First, an actor or group of actors must have access to technology to locate the shale and build a drill site. Second, the actors must obtain a permit to drill on the land above the shale deposit, which is granted by the Federal Government’s Department of Energy (Rogner, 2012: 149). Next, labor must be obtained to operate the machinery, and physically drill down to extract, process and redistribute the materials. Along every step of extraction, capital is necessary to acquire each of these mechanisms of access. Those who do not have political power, or capital to invest in technology, labor and other extraction resources cannot access natural gas. Gas is retrieved by drilling vertically 6,100 feet into the ground, on average (Weinhold, 2012: 272). Then, between five and eight millions of gallons of water, sand, and a mysterious “trade secret” chemical solution is injected into the well, under extreme pressure (Finewood, et al, 2012: 73). The immense pressure fractures the rock, while the lubricated aqueous solution surfaces the gas for commodification above ground. Water exiting the well is referred to as “processed water” and is handled in a variety of controversial ways, such as evaporation and off-site injection wells. Both have the potential to contaminate the air, soil, and ground water with chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, “benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, mixed xylenes, n-hexane, carbonyl sulfide, ethylene glycol, and 2,2,4-trimethylpentane” which disrupt the endocrine system and likely cause cancer (Weinhold, 2012: 272). There is evidence suggesting that the injection wells can also be linked with causing minor earthquakes, as a result of injecting the often radioactive fluid deep underground in over 680,000 wells throughout the United States (Ehrenberg, 2012: 20).
In the late 1990s, Texas oil and gas drilling companies such as Halliburton, Mitchell Energy and Conoco Phillips benefited from a technological innovation that changed the industry completely. They discovered a way to drill horizontally, in multiple directions, multiple times from the same drill site. This revolutionized the industry in several ways, because prior to this innovation the Marcellus Shale was considered economically unviable (Morris, 2012: 25). The technology to drill horizontally represents a mechanism of access to extract specific place-based deposits. As a result, the industry increased production by 48% per year, between 2006 and 2010 alone (Hayes, 2012: 385). Companies now had the ability to transcend property lines by drilling horizontally underground. Shale located beneath a private residence could now be extracted, which demonstrates how drillers gained access to other people’s properties as a result of specific technology, as opposed to policy or consent (Herman and Chomsky, 2002: 2). Fracking could now encroach on more underground territory with manufactured consent of people living above the shale formations, as there were no regulations to monitor this new technique. Because of the fluid nature of water, and the newly splintered land, it is comprehensible how Pennsylvanians experienced contaminated drinking water after fracking occurred near their property, as shown in the Documentary Gas Land (Gas Land, 2010). Under the protection of “Trade Secretes” the chemical recipe seeping into ground water did not have to be publically disclosed, making conflict impossible to avoid, and reinforcing their “right” to profit (Wiseman 2011: 2). The ability to drill horizontally often bypassed the need to drill from an “ideal” location above ground, creating the opportunity to reach the shale from underground, rather than paying royalties to a homeowner aboveground. This provided strategic mechanisms of access and the opportunity to accumulate an estimated one trillion dollars in profits, while leaving the community fractured and without compensation. (Nuttall et al, 2012: 573). Natural gas extraction utilizes the technique of hydraulic fracturing as a neoliberal practice, to exploit a place-based resource and generate profit, while infringing on the rights of the public to have access to safe drinking water and clean air.
The US government reinforced the narrative surrounding America’s goal for energy independence by supporting the energy market’s “right” to profits with policy exemptions. There are several policies which contribute to the oppression and marginality of a particular set of actors, meanwhile, allowing other actors to accumulate capital and dominate the domestic energy market. In 2005, the Bush Administration passed an Energy Policy Act permitting fourteen major oil and gas companies, such as Conoco Phillips, Halliburton, and Mitchell Energy to utilize horizontal hydraulic fracturing to drill for gas located within shale rock, without regulations. This Act allowed companies to frack without following the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, or the Right to Know Act. Out of the disclosed seven-hundred-fifty chemicals used in fracking fluid, twenty five are considered hazardous under the Clean Air Act, and fourteen are known human carcinogens under the regulation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (Ehrenberg, 2012: 22-25). Exemption allowed the industry to maintain economic profitability and refrain from paying for their environmental externalities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced natural gas companies must comply with a new regulation to capture target emissions within sixty days of April 18, 2012. However, industry actors renegotiated the deadline for compliance to January 2015, despite the original proposal (Weinhold, 2012: 272).  This demonstrates the political leverage and power within the natural gas industry to influence government institutions to ensure that their profits come before social and environmental accountability. 
To justify land use practices, strategic hegemonic discourse is used to create narratives and establish new norms, aiding in the production of the “fictitious commodity,” natural gas (Fortmann, 1995: 1055). Marketing regimes describe the resource as the “perfect bridge fuel” during the transition from petroleum, in other words: profits come before sustainability. Claims supporting fracking for gas describe it as an “environmentally friendly practice” and a “clean” alternative to coal and oil, because it releases less amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. However, with 1,744 trillion cubic feet of shale available for exploitation, it will only provide Americans with enough energy to last an estimated 90-116 years. (Kargbo et al, 2010: 5679). Clearly, that is not a sustainable investment, unless the perspective is situated in the industry, in which case it provides another lifetime of profits. The “independent” “American” identity is use to mobilize the claim embedded in the larger “Patriotic American” discourse associated with the idea that foreign oil is inherently “bad,” while natural gas is a “good” “domestic” alternative that we can switch to immediately (Finewood, et al, 2012: 72). Cities in multiple states have reinforced the “clean alternative” claims by institutionalizing the demand, through the purchase of municipal garbage trucks and busses, powered by natural gas.  Other corporations such as ATT&T, Verison, and UPS have also converted their delivery trucks to “American, natural gas” and they claim that the price is half the cost of gasoline, although, it is artificially cheaper because external costs are not factored in. (ANGA. 2012). Contrasting with the claim that natural gas is an “environmentally friendly” alternative fuel, the United States oil and gas industry produces more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than any other industry, and  emits about 40% of the Nation’s methane into the atmosphere (Weinhold, 2012: 272). On August 7, 2012, America’s Natural Gas Alliance launched a commercial about Pennsylvania’s “abundant” natural gas. They claim all energy development comes with risk, but Pennsylvania can put American’s in control of dependable energy and a sustainable future (ANGA). This narrative is misleading as they fail to mention that they risk contaminating drinking water with known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and volatile compounds such as toluene, xlyene, benzene, ethylbenzene, and ozone which causes irreversible lung damage and cancer (Hayes, 2012: 385). Natural gas consists primarily of methane, a major contributor to climate change, and also contains carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide (Ehrenberg, 2012: 20). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, over twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide; thus, despite the claim that natural gas is a cleaner “burning” alternative to petroleum, it’s natural state is a greenhouse gas, and arguably worse than conventional oil (Weinhold, 2012: 272).
Analyzing this conflict from a political ecology perspective, it becomes clear that oil and gas drilling companies have dominating claims surrounding America’s future with energy. Despite their claims, natural gas companies’ goals are not to power America with “clean” fuel alternatives. Rather, their main goal is to establish socially constructed markets for new commodities, accumulate capital, wealth, and political leverage. This paper deconstructed how the history of fracking for natural gas represents more than a singular meaning of American energy independence. The conflict is deeply embedded in the neoliberal practice of dominating underground resources in acts of accumulation. There were two innovations that made the commodification of natural gas economically feasible to market as an alternative to conventional gas: hydraulic fracturing, and horizontal drilling (Perkins, 2012: 44). Economic profits were maintainable and protected by government policies ensured that companies did not have to disclose their chemical fracking solutions to the public. Withholding information, paired with misleading “green-washed” marketing campaigns, represent specific discursive practices used to disguise underground land grabs and acts of accumulation as an opportunity to “keep America free,” when in reality, it is a strategy to capitalize on a temporary market. Although natural gas is a cleaner burning alternative to oil, it is a finite resource and is not sustainable for future generations. Thus, moving forward in the natural gas industry, Americans would benefit from repealing the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005. This would hold oil and gas companies socially and environmentally accountable for their practices, and limit the marginalization of human and non human actors who depend on clean water, air and land to sustain life.

By: Shannon Davis, Contributor


Allen, Kristen. "Big Fracking Deal: The Marcellus Shale-Pennsylvania's Untapped Resource." Vill. Envtl. LJ 23 (2012): 51Finewood, Michael H. and Laura J. Stroup. 2012. "Fracking and the Neoliberalization of the Hydro-Social Cycle in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale." Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education 147 (1): 72-79.
America’s Natural Gas Alliance. 2012. “Why Natural Gas?” Accessed 02 December 2012. <>.
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