Climate change

Values Voter Summit: Common Core, Not Climate Change, Threatens Security

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and former general Robert Dees appeared on a foreign policy panel at the Values Voter Summit this morning, where they and their fellow panelists spent a good amount of time discussing the 2012 Benghazi attack and President Obama’s supposed un-American attitude.

Dees said that Common Core is also a threat to America’s security, saying that the school standards initiative, just like the White House account of Benghazi, is a left-wing effort to promote “historical revisionism” that undermines the country’s “spiritual infrastructure.”

“The historical revisionism that we see in Benghazi is symptomatic of historical revisionism we see across our country, across the world of politics and even in the Common Core curriculum of the Obama administration,” he said, claiming White House officials “change the truth to fit our liberal agenda objectives.”

Meadows, for his part, mocked government officials who are concerned about climate change’s implications for national security: “How ridiculous is that when you have our fighting men and women, they get up and they say, ‘man it’s a little chilly, maybe today is the day that we’ve got to worry about climate change.’ It’s just ridiculous.”

Fischer: Rising Sea Levels Are Of No Concern Because God Will Never Destroy The Earth With Flood Waters

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer informed his audience that climate change is a total "hoax," telling them that there is no need to be worried about rising sea levels because God explicitly promised Noah that He would never again destroy the earth with flood waters.

"People have been out there ringing their hands and trying to stir up all this agitation and fear because the oceans are going to rise, Manhattan is going to be under twenty feet of water, Hawaii is going to disappear under the waves," Fischer said dismissively before assuring his audience that none of this would ever happen because, in Genesis 9 "God says 'look, I am not going to destroy the earth with the waters of a flood ever again."

"Every time you see a rainbow in the sky," he said, "that's what it is all about":

Campaign Finance Reform Key to Confronting Climate Change

The science is settled – climate change is here and is already happening. For the past three decades climate scientists have warned that we must dramatically reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to avoid catastrophic climate destabilization. And yet the United States has yet to pass the legislative framework needed to shift away from a carbon-based economy.  

With the threat of climate change staring us in the face, it’s not hard to understand why there has been so little progress on this issue: enormous political spending by the fossil fuels industry, which has prevented the passage of CO2 regulation. As our friends at Common Cause recently pointed out,  since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, political debate around climate change has changed significantly. Prior to the Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to corporate spending in  elections, there was legislation with bipartisan support to put a market-wide cap on carbon dioxide pollution. The House of Representatives even passed a “cap and trade” bill in 2009. In 2000, even George W. Bush campaigned on climate change, although he reneged on his promise as soon as he got elected. Fast forward to 2014 – climate change is rarely mentioned by many members of Congress – and sometimes denied outright.

"The polluters give and spend money to keep polluting," says U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), quoted in a recent article by Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. "Not truth, not science, not economics, not safety, not policy, and certainly not religion, nor morality ‒- nothing supports climate denial. Nothing except money. But in Congress, in this temple, money rules; so here I stand, in one of the last places on Earth that is still a haven to climate denial."

Fortunately there’s a solution. The Democracy for All Amendment would give Congress and state legislatures the ability to set reasonable limits on the amount of money that can be spent in political elections. To date, over three million Americans have signed a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics, and dozens of organizations have begun collaborating around the need for campaign finance reform.

To deal with global challenges like climate change – the United States must be able to pass laws and lead with the best interests of the people in mind – not the best interests of multinational corporations. As many environmental groups now realize, the best way to combat climate change may be to pass campaign finance reform. 

PFAW

Pat Robertson Thinks Cutting Air Pollution Won't Prevent Asthma Attacks, But Watching '700 Club' Can

In response to new EPA rules cutting carbon emissions, Pat Robertson mocked President Obama and EPA officials as “highly motivated zealots” who “worship the environment and worship climate.”

“The inmates have taken over the asylum,” the “700 Club” host said today. “There seems to be no relationship to actual, on ground activity.”

Despite evidence that air pollution is linked toheart attacks and respiratory diseases like asthma, Robertson mocked Obama for claiming that reducing pollutants would reduce asthma attacks and save lives: “Maybe he has a touch with the divine somehow.”

And why shouldn’t Robertson feel that way?

Instead of working to reduce air pollution, why doesn’t Obama just have everyone watch the “700 Club,” where Robertson will cure his viewers of asthma.

Hagee: It Is Not Climate Change; It's The Imminent Return Of Jesus Christ

Matthew Hagee kicked off this week's "Hagee Hotline" by informing his viewers that in situations where "men are saying things that contradict God's word, God's word is accurate and men are wrong" ... and that is why Christians should not believe in climate change.

As Hagee explained, the views put forth by scientists and experts on any subject are not to be believed if those views are at odds with what the Bible teaches. As such, the extreme weather events that the climate has been experiencing are not the result of climate change but are rather signs of the End Times and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

"The Bible says that whenever we approach the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ," Hagee explained, "that there would be strange weather patterns. Jesus said this in Matthew the twenty-fifth chapter. So we have a decision to make: do we believe what an environmentalist group says and choose to live in a world where we're attempting to make everything as clean in the air as possible, or do we believe what the Bible says, that these things were going to happen and that rather than try to clean up all of the air and solve all of the problems of the world by eliminating factories, we should start to tell people about Jesus Christ who is to return?":

Pat Robertson Says Fighting Climate Change Will 'Destroy America'

Pat Robertson today responded to a new study on climate change’s damaging impact on the U.S. by warning that efforts to combat climate change will “destroy America.”

On today’s edition of the “700 Club,” Robertson said actions to curb human-influenced climate change are part of an anti-American “socialist agenda,” saying it all goes back to “the playbook of Obama’s mentor.”

Fighting climate change “is high on the agenda of the radicals who want to destroy America, it isn’t high on the agenda of those who really care about what goes on in life,” he said.

Sandy Rios Points To Tornadoes To Criticize Climate-Change Prevention

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios is pointing to the tornado that hit the AFA’s home of Tupelo, Mississippi, yesterday as evidence that humans shouldn’t try to combat climate change.

Rios said on her radio show yesterday that tornadoes reflect the power of God, and therefore there is no point in trying to combat climate change because we are mere mortals.

“We are ants in the face of this, and so then for us to talk about controlling the weather and global — somehow if we drive different SUVs or don’t emit too much CO2 — somehow we can stop these phenomena that are so beyond our comprehension and ability we can’t do anything except film them,” she said. “What can you do, wave your fist at a tornado and say, ‘You’re not going to get me, we’re Tupelo Strong!’?”

Rios was referring to the “Boston Strong” slogan, which she recently said is mocking God and could bring about new terrorist attacks.

Actually, new research has shed light on a connection between human-influenced climate change and more intense tornadoes and severe storms.

We guess Rios prefers the approach of Pat Robertson, who believes that tornadoes can be stopped through prayer.

Truth In Action Ministries Film Decries Climate Scientists As Idolaters And Communists

Truth In Action Ministries, which has released several over-the-top films (including one likening the rise of gay rights to the sinking of the Titanic), in its latest project takes on the “religion” of environmentalism and climate science. The film closely resembles “Resisting the Green Dragon,” the 2010 “documentary” in which Religious Right activists unironically accused environmentalists of religious fanaticism.

In the new film from Truth In Action, formerly known as Coral Ridge Ministries, Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land describes environmentalists as “watermelons” who are “green on the outside and pink on the inside.”

“Environmentalism has become a religion,” Land says. “These are recycled communists, recycled socialists, recycled collectivists who are trying to use a flawed theory of environmentalism to bring about the collectivist society they were unable to bring about politically through socialism and through communism.”

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, also interviewed for the film, accuses environmentalists of “worshiping the environment” instead of God.

Truth In Action Ministries host John Rabe, meanwhile, warns that policies targeting climate change could lead to the return of communist dictatorships that left “over 100 million people killed.”

He also accuses scientists who are working on climate issues of having a “pretention to omniscience” and committing idolatry: “One of the ways we can commit idolatry is by substituting ourselves as the creature for God, that’s what many of these scientists and bureaucrats are trying to do.”

Watch highlights here:

Glenn Grothman Fears ENDA 'Gives Preferences,' Denies Climate Change Exists

Wisconsin GOP state senator Glenn Grothman promised in an interview with Voice of Christian Youth America last week that he will be “an outspoken opponent” of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) if he wins his race for Congress.

Grothman warned that ENDA “gives preferences” and an unfair advantage to LGBT employees: “It’s not only you can’t discriminate, it’s a preference because all of the sudden employers have to worry, ‘if I don’t hire this guy, if I don’t promote this guy, I’m going to be sued for discrimination.’”

Grothman also suggested that affirmative action is depressing job growth because “you always got to worry about being sued for who you hire, who you didn’t fire, who you promoted, who you let go.”

He added that environmental regulations are hurting the economy and mocked efforts “to reign in global warming, which doesn’t exist anyway.”

“This environmental stuff, this is the idea that is driven by this global warming thing. Global warming is not man-made and there is barely any global warming at all, there’s been no global warming for the last twelve or thirteen years. I see a shortage of Republicans stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘look, this global warming stuff is not going on,’” he said.

In the same interview, Grothman attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for supposedly upsetting God when he denounced Uganda’s anti-gay laws.

CPAC Panelist: 'Human Racism' Drives Climate Change Concern

As in yesterday’s CPAC panel on climate change, another panel called “Can American Survive Obama’s War on Fossil Fuel?” featured an hour of climate change skeptics berating environmentalist straw men.

In a memorable moment, Alex Epstein of the Ayn-Rand worshipping Center For Industrial Progress – who was sporting an “I <3 Fossil Fuels” t-shirt – said that it was silly to ask if humans are behind climate change, because that assumes that "if man did change climate, it would be a bad thing.”

Epstein added that if you are worried about man-made climate change, you are displaying “a prejudice against the man-made” or as he likes to put it, “human racism.”

He went on to present the straw-man argument that people who are concerned about climate change are against development and ignore the benefits of industrial advances. While greenhouse gasses might warm the planet “a little bit, and warm is generally nice,” he said, the “most important effect of fossil fuels” is to ensure that people like him can move to “the best climate we can,” in his case Southern California.

Last year, Epstein claimed in a Fox News interview that “fracking is actually incredibly good for our environment.”

Industry-Funded CPAC Panelists: Climate Change A 'Silly' 'Scam,' 'Modern Witchcraft'

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this morning hosted a panel titled, “What’s The Deal With Global Warming?,” the answer to which was apparently that it’s a “silly debate,” a “scam” and “modern witchcraft.”

The panel was moderated by Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute, a leading climate-change denial group funded in large part by major corporations, and included Steve Milloy, a longtime climate change denier who is now working for the coal company Murray Energy; Marc Morano of the oil-industry funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a Heartland Institute “expert” and former a staffer for climate skeptic Sen. Jim Inhofe; Marlo Lewis of the anti-regulation Competitive Enterprise Institute; George Landrith of Fronteirs of Freedom, another oil-industry funded climate change denial group; and for “balance,” Shannon Smith, who runs an energy efficiency financing group.

Throughout the hour-long discussion, the panelists were cracking each other up with jabs at climate science.

One of the biggest laugh lines came from Morano, who mocked Rep. Barbara Lee’s warning that the effects of climate change in the developing world could force women into poverty and prostitution. “So now, everyone in the audience worried that your mom’s sister or daughter is going to become a hooker, had better start to get behind a carbon tax or cap and trade,” he joked.

He then made fun of a UN report that many African countries will be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. “They’re now saying because of weird weather in Africa and other places, families are desperate and so their daughters are turning to prostitution,” he said. “They’re trying everything and anything.”

Later in the talk, Morano called the idea that climate change makes storms more severe “modern witchcraft.”

Milloy for his part insisted that this “is really sort of a silly discussion,” adding, “I reject the notion that we need to cut back on fossil fuels because we’re worried about the weather possibly being inclement in 30 years or 40 years.”

The panelists also presented various conspiracy theories about U.S. policies meant to combat climate change.

Lewis said that state renewable portfolio standards reminded him of Stalinist production quotas, while Milloy claimed that the climate change “scam” is the “perfect vehicle” for progressives to gain “control of our lives.”

Landrith then chimed in with a bizarre comparison of environmental regulations to allied bombings of German cities in World War II: “If you want to bring the other side to its knees, you bomb their ball bearing factories, you bomb their refineries, okay? If you want to get control of the economy, then you regulate such things.”

Perkins: There's More Evidence That God Is Behind Natural Disasters Than There Is For Climate Change

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council alleged yesterday that people who agree with the scientific consensus regarding evolution and climate change are actually out of step with modern science.

Perkins, who has previously professed belief in Young Earth Creationism (the belief that the earth is only several thousand years old), said on Washington Watch that “the theory of evolution just doesn’t work when you consider all the holes, look at the fossil record, the molecular isolation, transitional difficulties, irreducible complexity, cyclical change, genetic limits, there are just so many holes and flaws in the evolutionary theory.”

He later compared the supposed problems with evolution to the purported flaws in climate science: “I remember a few years ago, it might have been Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, made a reference to a hurricane or a storm being an act of God — it’s interesting that’s how we refer to some of these things in our insurance policies — they were ridiculed, saying ‘how dumb can you be?’ Well, there’s more to back that up than to say what’s happening in our environment, our climate, is because of people driving Suburbans or coal-fired power plants.”

Robertson: Climate Change Is A Myth Created By Money-Hungry Scientists

Today on the 700 Club, televangelist Pat Robertson claimed that the recent cold snap in North America and a ship stuck in Antarctica prove that climate change is nothing but a myth. Of course, both of his assertions are extremely dubious. While the New York Times notes that “97 to 98 percent of working climate scientists accept the evidence for human-induced climate change,” Robertson claimed that the scientists are merely lying to make money…something Robertson would never do.

“It’s getting warmer in Jupiter—and they don’t have any SUVs driving around in Jupiter—it has nothing to do with greenhouse gases it has to do with the action of the sun, there’s either two much sun or not enough sun,” Robertson said. “Think about how much money is involved. It’s money, they’re going to get a river of money.”

“Then you have politicians who want to take control and the progressives always want control, just like with health care, they want control; the EPA in America wants control of all of our energy.”

Watch:

Robertson also lashed out Secretary of State John Kerry, who he claims is inviting “the wrath of Almighty God” by engaging in Mideast peace talks.

“I think he ought to stay home, it might be good for him. He’s got a rich wife and a lot of money, he ought to spend some of it and do it at home and leave the Jews alone.”

Will the Roberts Court Choke Off Greenhouse Gas Regulations?

The Roberts Court will hear a challenge to the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases from factories and power plants.
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Kuhner: Kerry Will Begin 'Crushing Capitalism' to Advance 'Green Socialism'

In a column today, Washington Times writer Jeffrey Kuhner claims that Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent speech about the United States’ failure to confront the reality of climate change really represents a plot to destroy capitalism and America itself.

Kuhner claims that the scientific consensus on climate change is really “junk science,” “the greatest hoax of our time” and a fabricated “dark prophecy of an eco-apocalypse.”

But why create the hoax in the first place?

Kuhner maintains that “the secular left needed a new cause” following the collapse of communism and “found it in green socialism,” which he says is now central to their goals of “crushing capitalism.”

He goes on to “expose” scientists’ grand scheme to destroy America:

Secretary of State John F. Kerry has identified America’s primary enemy. It’s not Russia, Iran, China or North Korea. Nope. It’s something even greater and more sinister: climate change. That’s right. One of the most powerful people in the world and fourth in line for succession to the presidency, Mr. Kerry is obsessed with junk science and global temperature changes. This would be comical if it were not so tragic.



His answer is radical environmentalist legislation — high carbon taxes, imposing a cap-and-trade system upon manufacturers to coerce them into lowering carbon emissions and greater transnational cooperation in combating so-called climate change. In short, Mr. Kerry peddled a dark prophecy of an eco-apocalypse unless collective action is taken.



He’s wrong — dangerously wrong. Global warming is the greatest hoax of our time. In fact, the scientific evidence points the other way: Rather than heating up, the planet’s temperatures have either been steady or slightly cooling off over the past decade. The progressive left, however, continues to insist that climate change is real and irrefutable. The green movement has become a pseudo-religion, marked by blind faith, emotionalism and intolerance against dissenters.

In the end, global warming is not — and never has been —about science or even the environment. It’s about politics. Specifically, it boils down to one seminal goal: crushing capitalism through massive taxation and bureaucratic centralism in the name of environmentalism. When the Berlin Wall collapsed, the secular left needed a new cause. They found it in green socialism. Progressives no longer argued that free-market economies exploited the working class; rather, they now supposedly exploit and ravage the planet. Either way, the private sector is to be dominated by a liberal ruling elite. The new green is the old red.

Mr. Kerry’s speech shows how disconnected from reality the administration is. Imagine what our mortal enemies must be thinking. The Kremlin’s thugs, Beijing’s communists and Tehran’s mullahs — they have all (rightly) concluded that America is destroying itself. Without firing a shot, they are watching Uncle Sam slowly commit suicide. Green socialism will crush the productive sectors of our economy, draining America of the growth, dynamism and prosperity necessary to remain a world power. Embracing a climate change agenda will turn us into Europe, which is the path to national decline.

In short, Mr. Kerry is a postmodern liberal. He is a left-wing globalist, who champions anti-capitalism and multicultural social democracy. He has not fundamentally changed since his early days in politics. His philosophy is rooted in the radical chic of the 1960s: the hatred of America.

It is deeply disturbing that the man at the head of U.S. diplomacy was a traitor to his country and fellow soldiers. In 1971, he slandered our troops by lying—under oath in front of a Senate committee—that he saw U.S. troops commit countless atrocities not seen since “Genghis Khan.” He then later threw away another soldier’s medals on Capitol Hill to protest the Vietnam War. His actions not only libeled our noble efforts in Southeast Asia, they gave aid and comfort to the communist Viet Cong. This alone should have disqualified him from being secretary of state.

Robertson Dismisses 'Nutty,' 'True Believer' Climate Scientists

Televangelist Pat Robertson has, like so many on the Right, turned very quickly from advocating awareness of climate change to denying that it exists at all. On today’s 700 Club, Robertson laughs off a recent Princeton University study that found that climate change is increasing the rate of blizzards while leading to a drop in total snowfall.

Without a hint of self-awareness, Robertson claims that climate scientists are simply elitist ideologues who will hold onto their beliefs in global warming no matter what.

“Only in Princeton would people say nutty things like that,” Robertson said. “You know, they get to be PhDs and they wonder where they’ve studied and learned all these things. But I tell you, if you’re a true believer bad things will happen because you see them coming.”

Among the “nutty” professors Robertson attacks is Princeton geosciences expert Michael Oppenheimer, interviewed earlier in the program, who served in the Nobel Prize-winning International Panel on Climate Change.

Watch:

Arizona Republicans Propose Anti-Evolution Education Bill

A group of Arizona Republicans are out with a new bill to undermine the teaching of evolution and subjects such as climate change and cloning in the classroom. The National Center for Science Education called the legislation another “instance of the ‘academic freedom’ strategy for undermining the teaching of evolution and climate change.”

The proposed “teach the controversy” bill is a stealthy attack on evolution as it tries to make science classes give equal weight to nonscientific beliefs and theologies. It’s the equivalent of including claims made by the Flat Earth Society in a geology class, all for the sake of “balance.”

A. THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARDS, SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS SHALL ENDEAVOR TO:

1. CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT IN SCHOOLS THAT ENCOURAGES PUPILS TO EXPLORE SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS, LEARN ABOUT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE, DEVELOP CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS AND RESPOND APPROPRIATELY AND RESPECTFULLY TO DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES.

2. ASSIST TEACHERS TO FIND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRESENT THE SCIENCE CURRICULUM AS IT ADDRESSES SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES. TEACHERS SHALL BE ALLOWED TO HELP PUPILS UNDERSTAND, ANALYZE, CRITIQUE AND REVIEW IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER THE SCIENTIFIC STRENGTHS AND SCIENTIFIC WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES COVERED IN THE COURSE BEING TAUGHT.

B. THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARDS, SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS, SCHOOL PRINCIPALS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS SHALL NOT PROHIBIT ANY TEACHER IN THIS STATE FROM HELPING PUPILS UNDERSTAND, ANALYZE, CRITIQUE AND REVIEW IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER THE SCIENTIFIC STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES COVERED IN THE COURSE BEING TAUGHT.

C. THIS SECTION PROTECTS ONLY THE TEACHING OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION AND DOES NOT PROMOTE ANY RELIGIOUS OR NONRELIGIOUS DOCTRINE, PROMOTE DISCRIMINATION FOR OR AGAINST A PARTICULAR SET OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR NONBELIEFS OR PROMOTE DISCRIMINATION FOR OR AGAINST RELIGION OR NONRELIGION.

Sec. 2. Intent

The legislature finds and declares that:

1. An important purpose of science education is to inform students about scientific evidence and to help students develop critical thinking skills necessary to becoming intelligent, productive and scientifically informed citizens.

2. The teaching of some scientific subjects, including biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning, can cause controversy.

3. Some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on such subjects.

On Every Issue, Vote the Court

We are seeing increasing recognition of the Supreme Court as a central and critical issue in the presidential election.
PFAW

James Inhofe Says the Bible Refutes Climate Change

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Voice of Christian Youth America’s radio program Crosstalk with Vic Eliason yesterday to promote his new book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, where he repeated his frequent claim that human influenced climate change is impossible because “God’s still up there.” Inhofe cited Genesis 8:22 to claim that it is “outrageous” and arrogant for people to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.”

Eliason: Senator, we’re going to talk about your book for a minute, you state in your book which by the way is called The Greatest Hoax, you state in your book that one of your favorite Bible verses, Genesis 8:22, ‘while the earth remaineth seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,’ what is the significance of these verses to this issue?

Inhofe: Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

Inhofe also says that Richard Cizik, the former Vice President of the National Association of Evangelicals, was bought off by environmentalists and “has been exposed since then to be the liberal that he is”…because apparently liberals can’t be Christians?

He went on to cite Romans 1:25 to criticize people, particularly evangelicals like Cizik, who believe in climate change. Inhofe said that just as Scripture forecasted, people have now “worship the creation” when they support environmental protection, which seems to assume that humans won’t be negatively impacted by climate change.

Caller: Senator, do you quote any Scripture in your book?

Inhofe: Yeah, as a matter of fact I do. My favorite is Genesis 8:22 which is ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ you know, God’s still up there. There’s another piece of Scripture I’ll mention which I should’ve mentioned, no one seems to remember this, the smartest thing the activists did in trying to put their program through is try to get the evangelicals on their side, so they hired a guy named Cizik, and he had his picture in front of Vanity magazine dressed like Jesus walking on water. He has been exposed since then to be the liberal that he is. I would say that the other Scripture that I use quite frequently on this subject is Romans 1:25, ‘They give up the truth about God for a lie and they worship God’s creation instead of God, who will be praised forever.’ In other words, they are trying to say we should worship the creation. We were reminded back in Romans that this was going to happen and sure enough it’s happening.

Transcript of PFAW's Teleconference on Hydrofracking

Yesterday, People For hosted a conference call with a panel of experts on Hydraulic Fracturing, or “fracking.” The call focused not only on the dangers of this controversial technique for harvesting natural gas, but also presented an analysis of the special-interest money that is influencing the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, which is holding a hearing today in Bakersfield, California, to discuss fracking regulations.

Audio and text of the conference call are posted below.

Transcript

Marge Baker:

Welcome to our call. I'm Marge Baker of People for the American Way.

Tomorrow the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing in Bakersfield, California entitled "Pathways to Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing and Other New Technologies." Although these field hearings are often overlooked I think this instance is Exhibit A in how representative Darrell Issa is using his chairmanship of the Oversight Committee to ignore the health and welfare of millions of Americans in order to push the anti-regulation, anti-accountability agenda of his and his party's corporate donors and supporters.

Thanks to fracking there are now homes in America in which water coming out of the sink can be set on fire. Congressman Issa's response to this isn't to figure out how to protect people from the potential effects of fracking but to hold a pep rally for oil and gas companies. The question is who does government work for? Does it protect the health and safety of ordinary families? Or does it cater to the interests of powerful, well-connected corporate interests?

On today's call we're joined by Joanne Spalding from the Sierra Club, Deborah Rogers, a small business owner and steering committee member of Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Bill Allayaud from the Environmental Working Group, Sarah Callahan from the Courage Campaign, and Mark McLeod from the Sustainable Business Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council. Each of our speakers will make some short introductory remarks and then will go to questions that will be moderated by our operator.

So Joanne let's start with you. Can you give us a short introduction to fracking and its potential dangers?

Joanne Spalding:

Sure. Fracking's actually a process that has been used for years in both natural gas and oil production. But because of the boom in shale gas that has occurred throughout the country that's brought this method of natural gas production to many areas of the country that haven't previously experienced impacts from natural gas production.

So the way the process works is that wells are drilled into a formation and it can be -- there's usually like a vertical part of the well and then it can go horizontally through the formation, if it's in the case of a shale formation. And once the well is drilled fluids are injected that include water and sand, but also assorted chemicals. And they're injected down into the hole to fracture the shale formation and then that that releases the gas in the formation and the gas flows up.

Natural gas production overall and fracking in particular cause a host of environmental concerns. They pose a risk of water contamination, both from handling of chemicals on the surface, and spills to surface waters, but they also pose a risk because of chemicals being injected into these formations and because there are naturally-occurring chemicals in the formations themselves and other contaminants that can come up through the well and through the pathway created by the well so that there's a risk that toxics can migrate, the gas itself can migrate.

The wells produce a great deal of water and that produced water contains these contaminants from the formation and from the original fracking fluids. And so handling of that produced water can also create environmental concerns. And in addition there are -- because these gas fields are dispersed over a large area and there are wells -- there can be wells over that large area spaced very closely together connected by various roads and there's a lot of heavy duty industrial equipments that are brought into these areas.

They can create a lot of air pollution problems because the equipment itself releases air pollutants, and it's spread out over a very large area. So Wyoming, for instance, is having ozone problems because of all the natural gas production there. So there are a whole host of environmental concerns; that's not all of them, it's just a few of them that are related to the natural gas production itself and fracking in particular.

Marge Baker:

Okay, that's a really helpful and concise sort of technical explanation; let me turn now to Deborah. You've been affected personally by fracking; could you talk a bit about your experiences with this?

Deborah Rogers:

Sure. Good afternoon. I'm Deborah Rogers. I'm an artisanal cheese maker and small business owner and a resident of the Barnett Shale, in Texas. I feel that I'm uniquely qualified to address these questions, since I was the first in North Texas to conduct air testing for emissions during drilling operations. Chesapeake Energy planned 12 high impact wells only feet from my property line. It's well-known now that air toxics can deposit on pastures and be taken up by ruminants and magnified through the food chain. So I went to them and asked them if they would work with me to insure that emissions from their operations would not adversely impact my dairy business. Chesapeake flatly refused.

I had no choice at that time but to conduct extensive baseline testing, and the day I scheduled that air test Chesapeake began flaring a well on the other side of the farm. When I received the tests back there were very high levels of toxics, including benzene and other v-tex constituents and sulfur compounds, including carbon disulfide. The carbon disulfide was approximately 300 times higher than what is considered normal for ambient urban air.

Since that time numerous tests have been conducted both at my farm and other areas around North Texas during drilling operations confirming beyond a shadow of a doubt that such operations due contribute substantially to hazardous air toxics. We hear a great deal about fracking and drilling but all too often it's a bit misleading.

For instance, we all have heard that fracking is a process which has been around for about 60 years and it's been used on hundreds of thousands of wells. This is only partially true. While fracking has been used for a long time hydro fracking using horizontal drill bores has not.

Mitchell Energy began using them in the Barnett only ten years ago. No one knows for certain the migration paths of the water and the compounds injected because horizontal fracking, which is a new technology, creates different patterns and stresses than vertical fracks, which were the type of fracks that were used in the past and are still used occasionally now.

Further we hear only about water contamination and water usage, primarily, when people speak of fracking. Unfortunately air contamination is also an issue due to the massive diesel engines and the compounds used. Further, some compounds used during fracking are not only highly toxic, as the speaker before me just mentioned, but they can transform into even more toxics compounds once they combine with heavy metals and NORM, which is naturally-occurring radioactive material deep within the earth. These toxics are then returned to the surface and can cause environment problems if not disposed of properly.

In late 2009 two municipal water wells just outside of Fort Worth, which had been in operation since the '70s and tests it each year were shut down due to contamination of NORM. These wells had been tested and were found to be normal in 2008. Then four shale gas wells were drilled about four months later, and suddenly the wells were retested and found to contain high levels of radium, a known byproduct of gas drilling. Unfortunately, being Texas the gas wells were not shut in but the water wells were.

Air toxics from drilling operations have also -- are also known to be hazardous. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality concluded in its final report on the Barnett Shale that gas production facilities can and in some cases do emit air contaminants in amounts that can be deemed unsafe, and that is a quote.

Interestingly enough we had a study done by Southern Methodist University in 2009 which concluded that gas drilling in the Barnett Shale was contributing more ozone than all the cars, trucks and airplanes combined in the D-FW area. This was recently confirmed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Formaldehyde, known as a powerful precursor to ozone, was tested during an industry study last year in ranges from 69 parts per billion to 127 parts per billion. Industry, since these findings came out of their study, found themselves in a very embarrassing public relations position, and quickly attributed the formaldehyde to vehicular traffic. There was just one problem: the maximum two-hour roadside concentrations observed ever in the U.S. is only 17 parts per billion, well below the 127 parts found near the natural gas compressor station.

To really put things into perspective: the maximum concentration of formaldehyde in the Houston ship channel, which as we all know is one of the most egregiously-polluted places on Earth, has only been 52 parts per billion, again, less than half of the level that industry detected near its own natural gas compressor station, which by the way also happens to be in the neighborhood. The Houston Advanced Research Groups’ Dr. Jay Olaguer stated in hearings before EPA that after reviewing this data emissions of and human exposure to formaldehyde due to oil and gas exploration and production may be underestimated in the Barnett Shale. In conclusion, there are many unanswered questions with regard to environmental impacts of gas drilling and fracking in particular.

The Barnett Shale has the longest production history and certainly should be scrutinized as a model with regard to the very problems encountered with shale gas drilling. Until such questions can be answered with a relative degree of security, fracking should be allowed only under circumstances of the highest scrutiny. Chemicals should always be disclosed and ongoing monitoring should be imposed for the life of the well. Thank you.

Marge Baker:

Deborah, thank you. So we've heard a little bit about what Deborah's experienced first-hand in Texas. Bill, could you give us a little bit of a sense of what's going on in California on this issue?

Bill Allayaud:

Sure. Well thanks for your interest in this. Our interest was obviously in the subcommittee that's going to be holding the hearing Friday in Bakersfield. It's clearly a stacked witness list and looks like it's going to be kind of a cheering group for, "We need more fracking, we need more oil and gas production." I want to make it clear that Environmental Working Group is not taking a position on shall we drill for oil and gas in this country or anywhere else; we just want to make sure that it's done in a safe manner and that there's public disclosure of the potential impacts. And then things that go wrong should be disclosed.

First I think we came to this issue last year as we've been working on it nationally, and we wondered, "Well, is there fracking going on in California?" We have not heard much, and when we first started to look it appeared not really. And we contact our division of oil and gas overseas, oil and gas drilling in the state. They said, "Not really. One reason gas is too cheap, so they don't do that here," ignoring the fact that you frack for oil too. Second they said it's easy to get the gas out of the ground here; we're not the Marcellus Shale. Third is we don't see much water being used in these fracking wells so therefore they aren't being fracked. And last, we just need to go vertical drilling, not horizontal, which is the classic fracking you see in Texas, Colorado, back East.

So we looked deeper and we found out that indeed fracking has occurred in California for over 50 years. Wells have been fracked in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Monterey County, and all over Curran County. And we started sorting through industry papers and found such interesting facts as there have been well casing failures on fracked wells, that they do drill considerable distances horizontally. They are fracking in low permeability formations like the Marcellus Shale, they just have different names. And last we saw that there have -- like at Curran County there's been massive fracking according to the industry, and in fact the world's record for fracking was set in Curran County at the time in 1994.

So we tried to talk to the Division of Oil and Gas about this; they haven't been very cooperative or forthcoming, and we just noted that last week, after our first hearing on our bill, Assembly Bill AB 591, they removed their relevant web pages about fracking. And then said, "Oh, it was coincidental; we were going to remove those anyway." That's their story and they're sticking by it. But we think their web pages were confusing and just making the issue muddy, basically saying, "We don't do much here."

So we have AB 591 sponsored by Environmental Working Group and co-sponsored by Earthworks, with assembly member Ben Wakowski of the East Bay area. It would do five things; it would say, "Disclose your water use, where you get it, how much, disclose if you're injecting any radiologic elements as tracers and what happened to them. If you're near any active seismic faults, as we found in Arkansas and other states, that fracking can cause earthquakes. And most importantly, really, is what chemicals are you injecting? And we want to know what they are, the composition, the formulation, and lastly are you injecting any Proposition 65 chemicals?" So those familiar with California law these are those that cause cancer or reproductive harm. We think neighbors ought to be notified that if you're going to inject these chemicals and the industry says they're widely used you should know that. So if something shows up in your water you will know where it came from.

Last I would point out that the movie Gas Land was a revelation for a lot of people. We don't see those kind of incidents here yet; they may be, though, because occurring -- Division of Oil and Gas really can't tell us how many wells have been fracked, where they're being fracked, what chemicals are being used. There may be stuff going on out there we don't know about but more importantly as the industry gets more and more interested in fracking in California such as in the Monterey Shale formation which covers 13 counties in the central and coastal areas, we need to get ahead of the curve so that we're adequately regulating this type of drilling and oil and gas recovery, and California protecting the public interest, our natural resources, and there's transparency in the process. Thank you.

Marge Baker:

Bill, thank you so much. So Sarah, Bill alluded to the -- at the beginning of his comments about sort of the stacked witness list that we're expecting tomorrow. Could you talk a little bit about the money trail here? How much of what we'll hear at tomorrow's hearings will be coming from individuals and companies that have contributed to Chairman Issa and others on the Oversight Committee?

Sarah Callahan:

Absolutely. This is Sarah Callahan from the Courage Campaign and the Courage Campaign is a national accountability project called Issa Watch, which is designed to hold Chairman Issa accountable for his record, his rhetoric and performance as the House Oversight Committee chairman.

As soon as he took control of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa asked leading oil and drilling trade groups to recommend an agenda for his committee. Issa personally collected tens of thousands of dollars from oil companies with a direct interest in streamlining drilling standards, and the witnesses he's chosen represent oil interests who have spent millions on repealing environmental regulations at the ballot box last year, more specifically in Prop 23 here in California.

And just two weeks after fracking caused a major chemical spill in California Darrell Issa's using his perch at the helm of the Oversight Committee to really provide them a press conference on the taxpayers' dime.

His handpicked witness list includes a sort of who's who of spokespeople for the interest of big oil. The CEO of Devon Energy has contributed nearly $400,000 in personal donations in support of Republican candidates and interests, which also includes major funding in the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and IPAA responded specifically to Issa's solicitation for hearing recommendations with a request to explore streamlined drilling operations and relaxed EPA standards.

Issa has also called a representative from Westminster Petroleum Association, which kind of represents a who's who of largest oil companies in the world and combined member corporations have directly funded Issa with nearly $80,000 in campaign funds, and -- but more than $6 million attempting to suspend AB 32 Environmental Protections, which was Prop 23 on the November ballot.

Finally Issa called representative of the California Independent Petroleum Association which spent more than $200,000 in 2010 supporting Republican candidates in California. And he's done all of this hand-in-hand with House Republican whip Kevin McCarthy, who banked more than $100,000 personally from the energy and natural resources sector just in 2010. And this is really their opportunity to be able to showcase the industry and move forward to expand technologies like fracking at their behalf.

And tomorrow the Courage Campaign will be providing a petition, delivering a petition with thousands and thousands and thousands of Californians and constituents in this district would like them to focus more on the real problems of everyday folks and not doing the bidding of the oil and gas industry.

Marge Baker:

Sarah, thank you so much. So Mark, last but certainly not least. Sarah's given us an idea of who we'll be hearing from tomorrow and my guess is what we'll be hearing from those folks is that any regulation of fracking is bad for business. As a businessperson yourself what's your take on that flat out rejection of any kind of regulation?

Mark McLeod:

Well I am -- have been charged on this call with talking about businesses and business networks which take a very, very different position on this than Daryl Issa. The two organizations for which I'm speaking today are Business Alliance, which is in East Bay, in California, across from San Francisco -- East Bay Alliance of businesses that are focused on not just the single financial bottom line but on the triple bottom line, which is the three bottom lines are the environmental bottom line, social justice bottom line and the financial bottom line.

And in addition I am representing the American Sustainable Business Council, which also embraces those triple bottom line, and which is a Washington, DC-focused organization which identifies public policy that's being debated in Washington, DC, identifies those pieces of legislation which have a significant impact, have a triple bottom line focus, and which then tries to do effective lobbying on those groups. The organizations that I represent are focused on the bottom line, and another way of looking at that triple bottom line is three key words, they're focused on people, they're focused on planet, and they're focused on profit, the three Ps.

Because these businesses have their orientation, they support, very strongly support the Environmental Protection Agency's playing a strong regulatory role relative to hydrological fracturing, which is also known as hydrofracking.

The EPA’s charge, since passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, well over 35 years now, has been, quote, "To protect public health, adding injection wells, emanating underground sources drinking water.

In Urbana, or EEN Urbena, an article published a couple of weeks ago in The New York Times on April 16th explains why it is important for the EPA to play a strong role regulating hydrofracking. It makes two very significant assertions. One: 14 of the nation's most active hydraulic fracturing companies use 866 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products, and this is the topper: not including water. So that's 866 million gallons of the hydraulic fracturing products.

Of those 866 million gallons two thirds contain chemicals which are known or possible human carcinogens regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act. A prime example of such a carcinogen, which is used in great quantity in these hydraulic fracturing products is benzene, a long-identified carcinogen.

Companies which honor the triple bottom line do not favor responding to dwindling oil supplies by resorting to ever more desperate attempts to pump the last and most difficult to access oil reserves. To the contrary, companies that honor the triple bottom line favor responding to the dwindling oil reserves by investing heavily in the development of non-carbon energy technologies. The United States and Western Europe are to reach zero carbon emissions by the year 2050 which we must do if we are going to have a world in 2050 which we recognize having some similarity to the world we live in now, or young technologies.

And what is particular promising is one, new and improved technologies for carbon sequestration; two, wind energy; three, solar photovoltaic; four, solar thermal. Companies that honor the triple bottom line see such investments developing the energy of the 21st century in contrast to investment recovering the last gallons of oil, which was the energy of the 19th and 20th centuries.

In conclusion triple bottom line-oriented companies ought to grow new technologies, new jobs which will emerge as technologies do. While the EPA plays a vital role in minimizing the damage which hydrofracking will do over the next decade, our businesses ought to build the energy economy that will truly honor people, planet and prosperity. Thank you.

Marge Baker:

Thank you so much, and thank you panels. I think we're ready now to open this up to questions.

Questioner:

Hello.

Marge Baker:

Hi.

Questioner:

Hi. My question is just really a clarification on two points: the petitions that will be delivered tomorrow; who's delivering them and who are you delivering them to, now many are you expecting, et cetera? And the bill, I can't remember the number that you're talking about in California, I mean is there a path to passage this year on that or is that sort of maybe the first year of a multiyear effort?

Marge Baker:

Great questions. Sarah, do you want to take the first question on the petitions?

Sarah Callahan:

Sure, absolutely. It'll be delivered directly to Daryl Issa, and it will be tomorrow at his hearing at 10 o'clock at the chamber of the board of supervisors where he's conducting the hearings. And I think it'll be a small and hearty band of folks from the district, from Curran Counties that are -- have directly experienced the damage of fracking in their community. And many from the greater Central Valley area and the Central Valley Quality Coalition, who have been working on trying to clean up the Central Valley air for many, many years. So my guess is somewhere between a dozen and twenty folks will be there tomorrow morning.

Mike Sorogen:

And if I could just -- will they be protesting outside and holding signs or anything too?

Sarah Callahan:

There'll be signs, of course, and -- but particularly we'll be working on delivering that petition to oppose greatly expanded fracking and to not give in to his oil industry buddies, which we know is likely to do.

Questioner:

Thank you.

Marge Baker:

And Bill can you address AB 591 and its prospects?

Bill Allayaud:

Yeah we plan on moving it through this year. In California if you become what's known as a two-year bill it means you've likely failed this year and you're trying – they say, "Let's put it over to next year." We have no such plans. It already passed the assembly Natural Resources Committee; it was on a party line vote, incidentally. It's now in the assembly Appropriations Committee, which assesses fiscal impacts. We're concerned there because in this state right now you can kill a bill if you're the opposition by just showing that it even -- we have a hint of a cause.

So we're working -- what we want to work with the Division of Oil and Gas on that; so far we haven't sat down with them. But we have sat down with the various elements of the oil and gas industry, western states, Petroleum Association and the Independent Producers, and also a couple of individual oil companies.

And I would say our talks are hopeful with them. They're at least saying they want to work something out, and they want to be leaders in this realm of chemical disclosure, but we'll see. Obviously we'll have to wait and see; they may be biding their time too. I have to believe if we get through appropriations, we're confident we will, that on the assembly floor they will work the conservative members of the Democrat Party, and of course the Republicans and try and kill the bill on the assembly floor.

So our goal is maybe to sit down further and discuss possible avenues of agreement. If not, we know what our bottom line is about public disclosure and getting these chemicals listed, and other impacts related to water that should be known.

Questioner:

Thank you.

Marge Baker:

Okay well then thank you very much, everyone, for joining us for the call, and I'm sure we will be back in touch on these issues. So thank you so much.

 

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