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President Obama's Inaugural speech

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  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Transcript compliments of the Washington Post:

    President Obama’s second inaugural address (Transcript)

    I appreciated President Obama's second inauguration speech. Here are a few lines that resonated with me:

    "Together we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune."

    "America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive, diversity and openness, of endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention."

    "My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together."

    "For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it."

    "We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

    "We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear."

    “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.”

    “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition. We must lead it."
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Portland, OR
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    I would say that was exactly the type of speech that I was looking for from President Obama. You could tell that the weight of the election cycle is off of his back and he can finally express his views without having to worry about another election ever again. I was incredibly happy with how populist of a tone he struck throughout the vast majority of the speech. I only hope that he continues to push forward with his agenda and build a grass roots movement that will force the Republicans in Congress to work with him.
  • Democrat
    Meridian, MS
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    Do you or anyone think the existing congressional Republicans will now be forced to work with our beloved President? It would be wonderful to see, but I really doubt it. In fact, it might be two years before our citizens realize that these stubborn and anti-presidential Republicans are actually the blame for lack of progress and cooperation, and vote them out. But that would still leave 2 years where the Democrats can shine, along with the newest group of Republicans who will be much more willing to work WITH the Democrats to accomplish what has been lacking thus far. And just to reiterate the point of others, the speech was amazing and wonderful, showing a true desire for governmental cooperation and togetherness, that will lead to great things for America.
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    michaels39301 Wrote: Do you or anyone think the existing congressional Republicans will now be forced to work with our beloved President? It would be wonderful to see, but I really doubt it. In fact, it might be two years before our citizens realize that these stubborn and anti-presidential Republicans are actually the blame for lack of progress and cooperation, and vote them out. But that would still leave 2 years where the Democrats can shine, along with the newest group of Republicans who will be much more willing to work WITH the Democrats to accomplish what has been lacking thus far. And just to reiterate the point of others, the speech was amazing and wonderful, showing a true desire for governmental cooperation and togetherness, that will lead to great things for America.
    That may well be why middle of the road Republicans revolt against their base. Abandon the party to keep ones job.
  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Yes...I agree. A wonderful speech, and watching all the various TV pundits (MSNBC mostly) it was well received by the liberal/progressive base. I like the issues that he highlighted: climate change, immigration, diversity, peace, voting, protecting our children, LGBT rights, and more.

    I have volunteered for Obama's Organizing for Action and will do whatever he asks to help promote his agenda at a grass roots level.

    I'm in.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Schmidt, I apreciated the thrust of Obama's speech, and I hate to be Debbie-Downer; but if Obama doesn't drop the deficit myths, like he's taking on the 2nd Amendment myths propelling gun violence, none of what he wants to do on the economic equality side of things is achievable. I realize the value of Obama on a wide variety of social issues, but I also recognize his failures on a host of civil rights issues: Bradley Manning for one. He has lost his f#$%ing mind if he thinks that holding Manning for nearly 3 years w/o trial and punishing other whistle blowers of great government crimes is what he was elected to do. On the environmental front, it was Obama who signed off on the southern leg of Keystone XL and allowed the acceleration of fracking across the nation. When it comes to Wall Street, Obama has failed in every capacity to prosecute clear frauds, and now the largest TBTF institutions in America have been deemed Too Big To Prosecute. These are issues that I cannot stand with the Democrats in good conscience, or stay silent about. This is not just imperfection, these are clear f#$% ups of epic proportions. Unfortunately, the White House refuses to listen to progressive economists (actual economists), and continues to cater to the Wall Street-Washington neoliberal consensus, despite its spectacular failures on virtually every issue that they get their hands on. In my view, President Obama has lost his membership in the progressive club. That might not be a popular statement to make. But I don't care. I refuse to just 'go with the flow' of this insanity. None of what I have outlined as criticism is inevitable.

    "The press generally won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning: the truth must be told" from MLK's "Radical Revolution of Values" speech.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    The national debt is not a problem. There is no risk of insolvency. Treasury rates reflect expected changes in the effective fed funds rate, which the FED controls as the monopoly supplier of reserves by Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) vote. There are no bond vigilantes in the Treasury bond market. The limit on the amount of dollars the government can create is on the real side of the economy, i.e. real resources including labor, industrial capacity, natural resources, etc. And it's not an operational limit, but if the resources aren't there to put towards productive output, deficit spending can cause inflation. However, if there's resources that we are not using, we can always spend to put those resources to use. Furthermore, the government does not control the deficit, and a deficit, per se, does not tell us if the government is of an expansionary mind. The size of the deficit is determined by the savings desires of those that use the currency. It is a national equity, and it is what supports the private credit structure. When that equity gets too low to support the credit structure and savings demands, the economy must necessairly contract. We literally have morons running the big show. It's literally that simple. We have a belief system in place that precludes us from doing the right thing. These neoliberals have everything backwards.

    The funds to pay our taxes and buy government securities come from government spending. If the government did not offer Treasury bills, deficit spending would just pile up as excess reserves in the banking system, and the fed funds rate would drop to zero, without the FED paying interest on excess reserves. Again, none of that is a problem. The only reason the government offers Treasuries is because the Treasury cannot LEGALLY overdraft on its account at the FED, which capitally solvent private banks are allowed to do.

    The 12 Federal reserve district banks are privately owned co-ops by the private banks. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors is a government entity. Federal Reserve does not lend to the US government. The US Treasury cannot borrow directly from the FED, by law, unlike private banks which are even allowed overdraft privilages. Furthermore, the US FED turns profits over to the US Treasury. Rate of interest paid by the US Treasury to sell government securities reflects expected changes in the FED FUNDS rate (overnight interest rate for bank reserves). The Fed Funds rate is a policy variable decided by the vote of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which includes the Board of Governors, the NY FED president, and 4 rotating district bank presidents. US government securities are functionally just like having a savings account at the FED. The only operational reason for offering interest paying securites is to allow the FED to target a positive Fed Funds rate. Otherwise, deficit spending by the US government would cause the Fed Funds rate to fall to zero. None of that is a problem and the interest paid by the government is like free money for US bond holders, and thus a classic special interest subsidy. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) advocates doing away with government securities and a permanent 0% Fed Funds rate, as higher interest rates are inflationary, while the Fed's policies regarding reserve liquidity disadvantage small banks and are counterproductive.

    THE TRUTH MUST BE TOLD.

    THE DEFICIT IS NOT HIGH ENOUGH.
  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos Wrote: Schmidt, I apreciated the thrust of Obama's speech, and I hate to be Debbie-Downer; but if Obama doesn't drop the deficit myths, like he's taking on the 2nd Amendment myths propelling gun violence, none of what he wants to do on the economic equality side of things is achievable. I realize the value of Obama on a wide variety of social issues, but I also recognize his failures on a host of civil rights issues: Bradley Manning for one. He has lost his f#$%ing mind if he thinks that holding Manning for nearly 3 years w/o trial and punishing other whistle blowers of great government crimes is what he was elected to do. On the environmental front, it was Obama who signed off on the southern leg of Keystone XL and allowed the acceleration of fracking across the nation. When it comes to Wall Street, Obama has failed in every capacity to prosecute clear frauds, and now the largest TBTF institutions in America have been deemed Too Big To Prosecute. These are issues that I cannot stand with the Democrats in good conscience, or stay silent about. This is not just imperfection, these are clear f#$% ups of epic proportions. Unfortunately, the White House refuses to listen to progressive economists (actual economists), and continues to cater to the Wall Street-Washington neoliberal consensus, despite its spectacular failures on virtually every issue that they get their hands on. In my view, President Obama has lost his membership in the progressive club. That might not be a popular statement to make. But I don't care. I refuse to just 'go with the flow' of this insanity. None of what I have outlined as criticism is inevitable.

    "The press generally won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning: the truth must be told" from MLK's "Radical Revolution of Values" speech.
    CBB --

    When you are preaching MMT, for me you are preaching to the choir. I agree with you on the theory. You converted me a long time ago so I haven't even bothering to respond on your other MMT posts. I think you know where I stand on that issue, and I commend your efforts to educate others on this website. However, I think where we disagree on that and other issues is what I would call "dealing with reality." Castigating President and Democrats for not getting on board with MMT or at least dealing with the "deficit propaganda" is okay. But you are expecting them to climb a very big mountain and very quickly, while also bringing along all the masses. As you impatiently look down upon the rest of us all I'm asking is for is a little critical thinking...one of your strong points, but perhaps now getting pushed aside a bit by ideology.

    So let me move onto Bradley Manning. I approached his "trial" in much the same way I looked at MMT. I spent a lot of time examining facts and opinions and tried to separate the two, especially taking out all the emotions. So what exactly are you advocating that President Obama should do or should have done with respect to Bradley Manning? His trial is coming up in June and looking at the evidence and the law, it seem to me that the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Go back and read the law. He is being tried in a military court as he should be. Should President Obama as Commander-in-Chief have intervened in the due process of the law that is taking place, albeit slowly? Why should he?

    Ditto on fracking. I did a lot of research on that topic and tried to separate facts from myths. One website that seemed to look at the issues more objectively was Popular Mechanics. Is Fracking Safe? The Top 10 Controversial Claims About Natural Gas Drilling

    A couple of extracts:

    "These advances have led to an eightfold increase in shale gas production over the past decade. According to the Energy Information Administration, shale gas will account for nearly half of the natural gas produced in the U.S. by 2035."

    "It's an iconic image, captured in the 2010 Academy Award—nominated documentary GasLand. A Colorado man holds a flame to his kitchen faucet and turns on the water. The pipes rattle and hiss, and suddenly a ball of fire erupts. It appears a damning indictment of the gas drilling nearby. But Colorado officials determined the gas wells weren't to blame; instead, the homeowner's own water well had been drilled into a naturally occurring pocket of methane."

    I am not defending the fracking practices. We certainly need to have more regulations to see that it's application it is not abused and that aquifers are protected. However, I am not ready to throw out the technology based just on the emotions of the Gasland movie. The technology is giving us a cleaner option than coal fired power generation...not as clean as wind and solar, but nevertheless a viable replacement for the much dirtier fossil fuels.

    I could go on about the other criticisms of Obama that you have listed. The Republican Governor of Nebraska has now put the Keystone XL pipeline back in Obama's court (much to the chagrin of Republican landowners in Nebraska that opposed the pipeline). Obama will make a decision on that pipeline in April. However, if he can find some legal mechanism to rule against it and not act like a king, that decision will not necessarily prevent the Canadians from proceeding with development using an alternative, more expensive pipeline route to the Pacific coast with an outlet north of Vancouver. That crude will be sold to the Chinese. Canadian public opinion is divided, but I believe when you dangle "jobs" in front of them the will go along, much like "jobs" are the selling point on the Keystone pipeline route. That's the reality.

    Okay, I'm writing many too long posts lately so will stop now.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Manning was a whistleblower exposing the killing of civilians. What's the greater crime? Killing innocent Reuters reporters in violation of international law and basic human rights standards, and lying to the American people about it, or exposing it?

    I agree that Manning broke the law. But 3 years in the brig and the treatment he's recieved is a violation of his constitutional rights. I think that kid has earned a pardon. He's not the only whistleblower Obama has prosecuted. Obama "turned the page" on Bush's admitted torture practices that violated our own laws and international laws. Why the pass for the elites, but not the people exposing their crimes? That's a two-tiered standard of justice and Obama knows the consequences of that.

    Here's Josh Fox's reponse to gas industry claims regarding the scene you've described:

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/10118-gasland-director-josh-fox-on-his-new-film-...

    "JF: First of all, it's important to note that there are many families in "Gasland" who can light their water on fire. Lighting their water on fire right after drilling is very common, from Pennsylvania to Canada to Wyoming to Colorado. So, they zoomed in on one case, cherry-picked this one case, in which the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) had said it was biogenic gas. Now, when it occurred at the next-door neighbor's house, and this happened six or seven months later, the COGCC said, "Wow, this is clearly the gas industry's fault." And they validated that. The gas industry doesn't want you to know that. But in their own reports, like one from Schlumberger, the number one-fracking company in the world, there are diagrams showing that shallow gas can migrate up to the aquifer if you drill through that pocket of biogenic gas. Plus, the gas industry drills for biogenic gas; they drill for huge pockets of it, and they drill for it in Colorado. So, it's a red herring. It's one of those bogus scientific statements that does not actually hold up. But it sounds good in the media.

    When I first heard about this, I thought it was totally ridiculous. I mean, how could anyone believe this? Water does not usually catch on fire; that is just not what happens. But this is not about the public believing that they are right; it's just about casting doubt on the reporting and science that exists. Because as long as there is doubt, then the gas industry says, "Well, we don't have to regulate this." So the whole biogenic/thermogenic "controversy" is drummed up, made up. So, doing this is a way of obscuring the public understanding of what is really happening out there.

    But if you look at the incredible investigative track record by The New York Times, by ProPublica, into the thousands of reports of water contamination and other issues, if you look at the EPA report showing 50 times the level of benzene in the water in Pavillion, Wyoming, if you look at the EPA report showing, on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) report, huge amounts, flammable amounts, explosive amounts of methane in the water in Pennsylvania, in Dimock, if you look at the recent ruling of $1.6 million against Chesapeake Energy for families whose water was contaminated, there is a long history here that shows, okay, this is what's happening. There's no way you can credibly deny it at this point.

    However, when you have somebody like Tom Ridge go on The Colbert Report and say, "This is naturally occurring" - this is a man who was governor of Pennsylvania, who was the Department of Homeland Security's first secretary, people will listen to that, and they won't realize that he was paid $900,000 to be the chief Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesperson for a year. So, even though people are saying something ridiculous, they are employing people who have some credibility to say it."
    .....................

    We need to light a fire under Obama's ass. His legacy is in jeopardy if another recession hits before he leaves office, and so is the Democrat party's electoral chances.
  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    CBB --

    Regrading hydraulics fracturing (fracking), there is no question in my mind that the state and federal governments need to tighten up regulations to ensure that our drinking waters remain safe. It is not a question of technical know-how, but rather loose regulations and poor oversight by the regulatory authorities. Furthermore, it is not so much a question of the fracking technology itself, but rather the cementing of the casing in wells.

    However, for those that want to stop all fracking everywhere, I would point out that the new natural gas reserves being developed by the fracking technology have pushed the price of natural gas down to levels to be competitive with coal. Basically shale gas is driving out coal for power generation, which as every one knows, has a positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

    As Julie M. Carey, an energy economist with Navigant Economics, writes for Forbes:

    Surprise Side Effect Of Shale Gas Boom: A Plunge In U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    For 2012: "The U.S. achieved approximately 70% of the CO2 emissions reductions targeted under Kyoto (as compared to the 1998 EIA CO2 forecast). That’s substantial progress. A major factor in CO2 emission reduction is shale gas, which, with the continued displacement/retirement of coal plants, has the potential to provide even more CO2 reduction benefits in the future."

    "The U.S. has made astounding progress towards the original Kyoto climate change goal for CO2 emissions, and additional progress is possible. Nearly 20 GW of coal-fired generation is scheduled retirement prior to 2021, and industry observers believe additional coal fired generation is at risk for retirement in the coming years. These coal fired power plants will be displaced by new cleaner burning natural gas fired power plants, further reducing CO2 emission."

    Take a look at the two figures in the linked article. They tell a story. And not only are we benefiting by lower greenhouse gas emissions, we are also benefiting from lower energy prices which helps the economy and pocket books of every American.

    So regulate it but don't block it.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Natural gas is certainly a cleaner burning fuel than coal, by about half, but the extraction process, as well as the energy used in both extraction and the clean up of the messes created certainly reduce the net-greenhouse benefit. As far as greenhouse gas emission reductions in America, there are also many other factors, like greater production of renewable energy, new vehicle emission standards, intro of hybrids, and new rules governing industry as well as coal; we have also been through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression and there's been a massive drawdown in economic activity. But I think the numbers show that the switch over from coal to natural gas is the driver in the numbers celebrated by industry and government alike in emissions reductions; however, it also comes down to what they count and how they count it. Those C02 numbers do not include emissions from methane, biomass or flaring, and they undercount CO2 emissions from the energy sources used to frack.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/05/1275811/why-claims-about-reductions...

    Then you have the water contamination, health risks to humans, fire hazards, earthquakes, etc.

    For the conservatives, their support for fracking is totally hypocrticial. Government's role in funding the tech that has made the shale revolution possible is extraordinary, which nobody is talking about. http://thebreakthrough.org/archive/new_investigation_finds_decade

    Further still, nobody is talking about the extraordinary success of Bush II & Obama's clean tech intiatives. It's one of the best investments government can make in creating jobs.
    http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Series/resources/0713_clean_economy.pdf

    Government and agents under the government's control (i.e. banks, the FED) are the monopoly supplier of US dollars. Monopolists are price setters, whether they realize it or not. Solar, wind, & hydro power are not pie-in-the-sky technologies anymore. Rising demand for these products lower marginal costs of production, and even if that wasn't the case it would still make long term sense to subsidize these industries.
    I say build massive public utility solar, wind, and hydro facilities, and provide that power at the lowest possible cost to industry and people, that would unleash an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen, and do a lot to reduce the volatility of the business cycle.

    While there are upfront costs and a need for smart grid to link the power sources, power generated by solar, wind, and hydro is cheaper to generate on an ongoing basis than power derived from coal, gas, or oil. The input is free. Coal, gas, and oil costs money to find, and costs money to turn into electricity or fuel.

    Also, the EPA has plans to establish rules to regulate harmful fracking emissions, but they won't be in place until 2015. No doubt, heavy lobbying by the industry will keep the rules watered down.

    Either way, fracking is not an answer to climate change. It's like switching over from Marlboro 100s(longer cigarette) to Marlboro Shorts or 72s (shorter cigarettes) when we need to quit smoking all together. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere don't just go away when you stop adding. They stay in the atmosphere for a long time.
  • Democrat
    Brookline , MA
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    hi Schmidt....
    sending this reply post to test if this is working for me now

    Sabrina
  • Democrat
    Brookline , MA
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    Michael.....
    I hope your wish for the GOP cooperation will indeed happen....but I doubt it.
    I hated Marco Rubio and I sure abhor Rand Paul the derange lunatic.
    Paul Ryan can hang it up, he is a lost cause. He still harping on that abortion thing.
    They need to vote out Eric Cantor, this asinine is a pain in the butt.
    Christie sure is socking it to his fellow GOP, Jindall the hypocrite trying to follow Christie's lead
    I have more to say...but got to go....
    talk later

    best
    sabrina
  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos Wrote:
    I say build massive public utility solar, wind, and hydro facilities, and provide that power at the lowest possible cost to industry and people, that would unleash an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen, and do a lot to reduce the volatility of the business cycle.

    While there are upfront costs and a need for smart grid to link the power sources, power generated by solar, wind, and hydro is cheaper to generate on an ongoing basis than power derived from coal, gas, or oil. The input is free. Coal, gas, and oil costs money to find, and costs money to turn into electricity or fuel.

    Also, the EPA has plans to establish rules to regulate harmful fracking emissions, but they won't be in place until 2015. No doubt, heavy lobbying by the industry will keep the rules watered down.

    Either way, fracking is not an answer to climate change. It's like switching over from Marlboro 100s(longer cigarette) to Marlboro Shorts or 72s (shorter cigarettes) when we need to quit smoking all together. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere don't just go away when you stop adding. They stay in the atmosphere for a long time.
    CBB -- Thanks for sharing the links to articles on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and greenhouse gases primarily methane and carbon dioxide (CO2). I have read them all along with several other articles (pro and con) as well as the numerous additional links to the underlying technical reports. Many of them have a bias...either pro environmental or pro industry, and I have considered that in my analysis. That's also why in my initial response to your first post I chose the Popular Mechanics article as being more politically neutral.

    My decision to support hydraulic fracturing is not an easy either/or decision, and I don't take it lightly. My two big passions in the world are protecting our environment (including Climate Change) and jobs for middle class workers. Often the two are in opposition to each other, but I also believe that with proper commitment by industries, regulators and environmentalists, the exploitation of shale gas can be accomplished in an environmentally safe manner. So let me elaborate a bit more on my thinking.

    So after careful consideration, I still maintain that the technology of hydraulic fracturing is not so much the culprit, but rather a combination of 1) loose regulations and minimal regulatory oversight of even the minimal existing regulations 2) inadequate well casing and cementing programs of current wells, and 3) very old abandoned or orphaned wells drilled perhaps as much as a 150 years earlier without the regulatory oversight to provide for the long term protection of these shallow aquifers. In a few cases like the recent Shell Tioga County well drilled into the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, the fracking operation can encounter one of these old unknown abandoned wells and all hell breaks loose. More about that one later.

    Perilous Pathways: How Drilling Near An Abandoned Well Produced a Methane Geyser

    Your postings covered several issues thrown into the mix, so in this post I'll only cover hydraulic fracturing and not comment on greenhouse gas emissions due to leakage and flaring during the extraction and transportation processes or the burning of the fossil fuel (coal versus methane) for heat and energy...or alternative energy sources. I'll cover those topics separately in another post.

    Drilling, completions, horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing

    The federal and state regulation of drilling/casing programs of wells with respect to protecting shallow aquifers from contamination has been fairly standard practice for a long time. Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled across the United States with minimal impact on shallow aquifers. Likewise, the hydraulic fracturing technology, which dates back to 1949, is a highly proven technology with, "close to 2.5 million fracture treatments performed worldwide," according to a December 10th Journal of Petroleum article. The application of this technology in the United States alone is credited for adding 9 billion bbl of oil and over 700 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves that otherwise would have been uneconomical to develop.

    According to an IHS Global Insight study, in 2010, the "shale gas industry supported over 600,000 jobs, which included 148,000 direct jobs in the US, nearly 194,000 indirect jobs in supplying industries, and more than 259,000 induced jobs. By 2035, the shale gas industry will support a total of over 1.6 million jobs across the US economy, comprised of more than 360,000 direct jobs, over 547,000 indirect jobs, and over 752,000 induced jobs."

    Well those number may be a bit inflated, but nevertheless they are significant, and if somehow hydraulic fracturing of wells was banned through legislative action, it would have an immediate effect on natural gas prices, unemployment and the economy.

    Also, as the ThinkProgress article pointed out, much of the impetus for the success of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well technology came from federal government research and corporate tax credits. The oil industry "didn't build that." Ha! I can't see the federal government taking any major negative action on what they perceive as a success story that they share in.

    Going much further back in time, however, the record of the oil and gas industry and government oversight is less stellar, and the industry is now paying the price for their past sins. As the previous article on the Pennsylvania "geyser" stated:

    "Companies have been extracting oil and gas from Pennsylvania’s subsurface since 1859, when Edwin Drake drilled the world’s first commercial oil well. Over that 150-year timespan, as many as 300,000 wells have been drilled, an unknown number of them left behind as hidden holes in the ground. Nobody knows how many because most of those wells were drilled long before Pennsylvania required permits, record-keeping or any kind of regulation.

    "It’s rare for a modern drilling operation to intersect — the technical term is “communicate” — with an abandoned well. But incidents like Shell’s Tioga County geyser are a reminder of the dangers these many unplotted holes in the ground can cause when Marcellus or Utica Shale wells are drilled nearby. And while state regulators are considering requiring energy companies to survey abandoned wells within a 1,000-foot radius of new drilling operations, the location of nearby wells is currently missing from the permitting process."


    I examined various technical reports of instances of shallow water contamination in Pennsylvania, but also Colorado, Ohio, and New York. In almost all cases, the contamination is real and is documented by geochemical analysis of the methane and other contaminants like chlorides. There is less agreement on how the contaminants got into the drinking water (some of it is CYA), but it sure appears from reading the technical reports that the preponderance of evidence points towards the casing and cementing programs and/or the failure to appreciate the risks of contamination from those programs, both in the distant past and the present. Those technical reports contain several "should haves" with respect to casing/cementing programs that "would have" mitigated the problems...perhaps with 20:20 hindsight. The fracking operations, whether in vertical or horizontal wells, do put additional stress on the casings, but with proper designs and application, those operations should pose minimal risk to the shallow aquifers.

    Incidentally, the 2010 BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico can also be attributed to the casing/cementing program amongst other deficiencies. Three BP employees have been charged with manslaughter in the death of those 11 rig workers.

    I have not watched the documentary movie Gasland, but I will credit Josh Fox with at least bringing attention to a problem regarding contamination of drinking water from oil and gas activities, present and past. However, I wish that he hadn't made modern "fracking" technology his target and instead had focused more on oil field practices and regulations as a whole...it might have made for a more plausible and better story. Yes, to his credit he also covered the need for more regulations, but for me at least his credibility overall suffers. For anyone interested, the New York Times published Mike Soraghan's Greenwire comments and point by point rebuttal of Josh Fox's claims. Many of those points make sense to me.

    Groundtruthing Academy Award Nominee 'Gasland'

    So my recommendations are similar to the recommendations in the technical reports...to reexamine all the things that have gone wrong in the contamination of aquifers, and develop common sense regulations at the federal, state and local level that may be specific to the area. I know some of that is already happening. If, for example, that there is evidence of old abandoned wellbores in the area, the operator should do due diligence surveys to make sure they won't be impacted the hydraulic fracturing programs. Methane gas migrating into water supplies and house basements via the abandoned wellbore can have lethal consequences if those unknown wellbores are "reactivated" in the fracking process. And especially for the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, and perhaps New York and Ohio as well, I can potentially see that the abandoned well problem is so severe that it may eventually squash the horizontal well/hydraulic fracturing program in that entire state area. I recommend reading this article if nothing else if you are a resident of Pennsylvania. It shocked me.

    Perilous Pathways: Behind The Staggering Number Of Abandoned Wells In Pennsylvania

    The article states that there are some 200,000 abandoned and orphoned wells that are largely or relatively unaccounted for in the commonwealth. Any one of them, if unaccounted for, could be the next geyser. If this Marcellus shale gas is to be exploited it might need some form a "Super Fund" program to find and fix all those wellbores. I doubt that that will happen, but keep an eye on it.

    The problems with old wellbores not withstanding, the fracture technology still has enormous potential in other areas of America that have been less abused by past practices, and that's why I continue to endorse it. I looked at the problems in my home state of Colorado, and it appears that the regulatory authorities have recognized the problems and are clamping down...well sort of. There's more work to do. I'll leave that topic alone for now. I have reassured myself, but probably not you or others.

    Okay...I've also been reading about greenhouse gases and I'll cover those in my next post here. I just wanted to get this post out while the topic is fresh in my mind after reading and reading.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Dallas, TX
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    As somebody who admires big moving machines, I do say that fracking is an engineering marvel.

    Clearly, if you're going to frack, you need to regulate it; but that adds to the costs and reduces the profitability.

    Here in Dallas, we are currently gearing up for another round of hearings at the City Plan Commission on Feb 7 to stop a plan to frack in the flood plain of the Trinity river, a few hundred yards from soccer fields, schools, and neighborhoods. This is currently against city ordinance, and would violate the city's own promise to the community to allow fracking only after adopting comprehensive regulations. The CPC refused to allow the plan on Dec. 20, but recently held a hearing to put it up for vote again.

    Anyways, fracking is not my only environmental beef with Bush, eh... I mean Obama. The southern leg of Keystone XL is another issue that local area allies have been fighting. Here's Tammie Carson, member of Occupy Dallas, and one of the lead organizers of Tar Sands Blockade, something that takes her hundreds of miles away from her home each week to participate in (video here). She's got my vote for Occupier of the Year. She's one hell of a lady and I have enormous admiration for her. I was at the speech and I literally cried hearing about homeowners land being taken away on dubious emminent domain and public carrier grounds. As you know, I'm a progressive political hybrid and both sides of my brain are absolutely furious. KXL has managed to put Occupiers and Tea Partiers on the same page, and there's Baptist churches that have even lended their support to their activist efforts (story about one of them here).

    As you know, I campaigned for Obama in 2008, and I kept my mouth substantively shut during the campaign in 2012. I did vote for Jill Stein, but I would have voted Obama if I had lived in a swing state. I understand the intense special interest pressure put on the president and on Democrats, but I also see a tendency to fold at the first sign of trouble. Here's Obama's Cushing speech (link). There's no mention of the "liberty issues" affected by the pipeline.

    Right now, West Texas Intermediate crude trades at a discount w/ Brent crude b/c there's a supply glut in Cushing that puts delays on delivery. For buyers that can put up with the delivery delays this is a substantial cost-break.


    Oil is traded in the spot market, which is stupid and adds substantial cost. As a result, firms have to employ more analysts, pay more to secure prices, and it provides the incentives for market manipulation. Here's Chris Cooke, former head and founder of the International Petroleum Exchange at Naked Capitalism, "Naked Oil" (link). Cooke had no contact with Warren Mosler or MMT, but came to the same conclusions about how the monetary system actually works. I have had the privilege of speaking with online.

    Warren's solution would have government engage in a long-term futures contract with Canada and Mexico at a price that makes sense to everybody, thereby reducing costs on everybody by eliminating all of this nonsense that gets in the way of efficient markets. Given the primacy of oil as an energy source, inflation hawks should be the first ones on board; but as we all know, they are all for show, and our world is ruled by stupid, short-sighted, greedy people.