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Photo via YouTube screencap

As the old saying goes, “You win some, you lose some,” and no one knows this better than President Barack Obama.

In his continued efforts for environmental preservation, the President recently chalked up a big win for himself when Supreme Court justices voted to uphold a list of mercury emission laws set forth nearly two years ago. Unfortunately, it was too early to break out the champagne, as his attempt to limit fracking on public lands was later struck down in a federal court.

Anti-fracking demonstrators outside the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, October 2012. (Source: Flickr)

Anti-fracking demonstrators outside the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, October 2012. (Source: Flickr)

The decision comes by way of Judge Scott W. Skavdahl in Wyoming, and blocks a 2015 rule regulating construction standards for oil and gas wells on federal acreage. The rule would have also required companies to seal off water-waste pollution and disclose underground chemical data. The Interior Department says the decision “prevents regulators from using 21st century standards to ensure that oil and gas operations are conducted safely and responsibly on public and tribal lands.”

Skavdahl is proving a hard nut to crack, having put a hold on the same measure early last year. Environmentalists are particularly unhappy, saying the mandates wouldn’t cost much, and could ultimately limit chemicals spills, wildlife deaths and further groundwater contaminations.

“While there is no way to ever make fracking safe, the oil and gas industry has repeatedly proven that it needs more standards to keep the public safe from the dangers of fossil fuels, not less,” explains Sierra Club director Lena Moffitt.

This is the second major blow to Obama’s ecological streak in just the last four months, following a February Supreme Court decision to block the President’s “Clean Power Plan,” which would have ultimately cut carbon emissions from power plants. SCOTUS also found itself gridlocked regarding Obama’s recent immigration plan, so executive and judicial powers appear to be evenly matched.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing as it’s formally known, is the process of pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to extract oil and gas. According to conservation groups, fracking is not only a source of groundwater contamination, but can lead to spikes in earthquake activity. While the loss comes as a heavy blow, Obama is refusing to back down, and an appeal is likely underway.

How hydraulic fracturing contaminates aquifers. Image via Belinda Waymouth

How hydraulic fracturing contaminates aquifers. Image via Belinda Waymouth

“We’ll continue to make our case in the courts,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “We believe that we have a strong argument to make about the important role that the federal government can play in ensuring that hydraulic fracturing that’s done on public land doesn’t threaten the drinking water of the people who live in the area.”

But not everyone is opposing. House speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin believes that further regulation of a billion-dollar industry like fracking could ultimately affect the job market and hike up energy bills for most Americans. He says the ruling is one of economic justice and praises Skavdahl, an Obama-appointed judge, for taking a stance against his “employer.”

“Hydraulic fracturing is one of the keys that has unlocked our nation’s energy resurgence in oil and natural gas, making the United States the largest energy producer in the world, creating tens of the thousands of good-paying jobs, and lowering energy prices for consumers,” he says. “Yet the Obama administration has sought to regulate it out of existence. This is not only harmful for the economy and consumers, it’s unlawful – as the court has just ruled.”

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One Response

  1. Marc says:

    Poor, pitiful Paul Ryan. The boy is dumber than a box of rocks, but that does not stop him from opining about things he does not know or understand. “House speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin believes that further regulation of a billion-dollar industry like fracking could ultimately affect the job market and hike up energy bills for most Americans.”

    “Hydraulic fracturing is one of the keys that has unlocked our nation’s energy resurgence in oil and natural gas, making the United States the largest energy producer in the world, creating tens of the thousands of good-paying jobs, and lowering energy prices for consumers,” he says. “Yet the Obama administration has sought to regulate it out of existence.”

    Okay, let’s not let little things like facts get in the way of what we believe. But, just for grins, let’s look at a few facts.

    There are 500,000 – 600,000 FEWER jobs in the US oil and gas industry today than one year ago.

    74 US oil and gas companies have already declared bankruptcy since last year, and it is estimated that at least that many more will declare before the end of this year.

    The greed and success of American oil and gas producers created massive global market saturation with far more oil than we can possibly use, especially while the economies of so many countries are in the toilet bowl and spiraling downward.

    WTI, the US benchmark crude, sells at or just below breakeven for production cost right now.

    Brent North Sea, the global benchmark crude, sells below production cost breakeven.

    Natural gas sells for about one third is production cost.

    Nobody is hiring! All those jobs Ryan is worried about are already gone and they are not coming back anytime soon.

    Lastly, more oil and gas have been produced under the Obama Administration than under ANY US administration ever! Most of us who are true environmentalists thing Obama is a traitor to our cause because all he has done has been to promote and allow oil and gas E&P anywhere and everywhere.

    All these facts are lost on Ryan, who had to go to the GOP playbook wherein it is written, on whatever it is that they write it on over there, that if you don’t have any other play, then blame it all on Obama.

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