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Obama Backs the Frack

EPA Stands Down as Army Corps Speaks for “The Administration”

[Update: 12/15/10 – NY Gov. Paterson Executive Order – looks like fracking starts July 1, 2011 in the Empire State.]

Work with me here as I connect the dots in important recent developments on fracking.

Last week, we testified and wrote in support of NJ Legislation (A 3314) to block NJ officials on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) from approving  fracking (see: NJ Legislators Look To Block Fracking to Protect Delaware River).

Back in September, we blasted Gov. Christie for supporting fracking.

Based on last week’s highly misleading DEP press release, we now criticized NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin for going even further and undermining the DRBC’s regional regulatory powers, which are under attack from the gas industry. Martin effectively joined State officials in Pennsylvania and New York in attacking DRBC regulations.

In light of an ongoing US EPA national study on the impacts of fracking, we suggested amendments to the NJ bill to impose a moratorium until the EPA study was completed and protective regulations were promulgated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. We attended the EPA public hearing on that EPA national study held last September in Binghamton NY, see:   On the Threshold of a Fracking Nightmare.

Subsequently, in an unrelated post, we wrote about the Obama EPA’s retreat across a broad front of environmental regulations, in deference to a corporate agenda and the right wing anti-environmental Republican control of the House (see:  Obama CEO Summit Explains EPA Regulatory Retreat).

One of the more egregious examples we offered was Obama’s support of off shore oil drilling, just weeks before the BP Gulf oil blowout, with no objection by US EPA.

Well, now we can connect the dots between retreat and fracking. And we add another regulatory issue to the Obama retreat – fracking.

In addition to attacks by the gas industry and State officials, it is now clear that the DRBC also is under attack from the Obama Administration.

The New York Times reports today that Obama backs the frack and wants DRBC to back down. Not surprisingly, just as we predicted, EPA is invisible and the Administration’s position is controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers:

Obama Admin Wants Study but Backs Northeast Shale Drilling

Published: December 14, 2010

The Obama administration supports a full study of the effects of gas drilling in the watershed that provides drinking water for Philadelphia and New York City, but it doesn’t want to wait until it’s finished for drilling to begin.

Gen. Peter “Duke” DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the position in a letter (pdf) written to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and released today.

The letter offers the first indication of the administration’s position on gas drilling in the Northeast since the day after the Nov. 2 midterm election when President Obama highlighted gas drilling as a potential area of common ground with Republicans (Greenwire, Nov. 4).

DeLuca, the Army Corps’ North Atlantic division engineer, is the federal representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is developing regulations for gas drilling in eastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

“The administration’s position is to continue fully supporting the need for a cumulative impact study,” DeLuca wrote. “Simultaneously, all these agencies support the DRBC’s decision to develop and release draft natural gas regulations.” …

DeLuca said there was a “DRBC Federal Agency Summit” in October, at which he led a discussion about the importance of an impact study and asked agencies to suggest sources of money to conduct it.

So, once again, just like the initial insane position in support of off shore oil drilling, Obama is controlled by the gas and oil industry.

Where is Lisa Jackson and EPA?

Once again, EPA is cut out of policy decisions, or incapable of mounting an effective argument.

Anti-fracking activists have virtually no support at any level of government or political party. Even the DRBC is folding to gas industry pressure and the DRBC policy ultimately is controlled by hostile state and federal officials (with the exception of Delaware).

Activists must abandon any false hope that Lisa Jackson or Democrats are supporting the environment and ramp up protest and direct action. Institutions have failed us.

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