Monthly Archives: February 2014

Henry Giroux on Resisting the Neoliberal Revolution

by Henry Giroux, Moyers & Company, February 21, 2014

The notion of the “Deep State” as outlined by Mike Lofgren may be useful in pointing to a new configuration of power in the US in which corporate sovereignty replaces political sovereignty, but it is not enough to simply expose the hidden institutions and structures of power.

What we have in the US today is fundamentally a new mode of politics, one wedded to a notion of “power unaccompanied by accountability of any kind,” and this poses a deep and dire threat to democracy itself, because such power is difficult to understand, analyze and counter.

The biggest problem facing the US may not be its repressive institutions, modes of governance and the militarization of everyday life, but the interiority of neoliberal nihilism, the hatred of democratic relations and the embrace of a culture of cruelty.

I would suggest that what needs to be addressed is some sense of how this unique authoritarian conjuncture of power and politics came into place. More specifically, there is no mention by Lofgren of the collapse of the social state that began in the 1970s with the rise of neoliberal capitalism, a far more dangerous form of market fundamentalism than we had seen in the first Gilded Age. Nor is there a sustained analysis of what is new about this ideology.

How, for instance, are the wars abroad related increasingly to the diverse forms of domestic terrorism that have emerged at home? What is new and distinctive about a society marked by militaristic violence, exemplified by its war on youth, women, gays, public values, public education and any viable exhibition of dissent? Why at this particular moment in history is an aggressive war being waged on not only whistle blowers, but also journalists, students, artists, intellectuals and the institutions that support them?

What’s missing in Lofgren’s essay is any reference to the rise of the punishing state with its massive racially inflected incarceration system, which amounts to a war on poor minorities, especially black youth. Nor is anything said about the culture of fear that now rules American life and how it functions to redefine the notion of security, diverting it away from social considerations to narrow matters of personal safety….

continue reading at Moyers & Company

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A fracking warning for PA: Close your doors and go away?

excerpt from the multi-part series “Big Oil, Bad Air: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas” by Lisa Song, Jim Morris and David Hasemyer, Center for Public Integrity, Feb 18, 2014. Readers’ responses are under the instructive heading “‘Close your doors and go away:’ readers react to fracking investigation.

Lessons From the Barnett Shale

Texas regulators and politicians had a clear idea of the problems that would arise in the Eagle Ford even before the drilling boom began.

Between 2003 and 2011, some 2,000 wells had been drilled within the city of Fort Worth, which lies atop the Barnett Shale formation, and six times that many were drilled in nearby communities. Tanker trucks rumbled past suburban lawns. Flares burned next to schools and playgrounds. An industry normally hidden in rural areas was suddenly visible to suburbanites, some of whom were frightened and incensed by the intrusion.

Under pressure from residents and the EPA, the TCEQ added more air monitors in the Barnett and agreed to respond to complaints in a timelier fashion. It also tightened its permit-by-rule regulations in the region.

The TCEQ was going to extend the new rules statewide, but in 2011 the legislature stepped in and passed a bill that effectively blocked the plan. The following year, the TCEQ itself limited the rules’ use in the Barnett, restricting them to 15 of its 24 counties.

The Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas is in the midst of a massive drilling boom that’s generating billions of dollars for oil companies. But a months-long investigation in partnership with InsideClimate News and The Weather Channel finds some residents saying emissions of dangerous chemicals are making them sick, and state regulators have offered little help.

A 2012 agency memo shows the TCEQ was fully aware that drilling companies needed more oversight. Titled “Findings and Lessons Learned from Barnett Shale Oil and Gas Activities,” it said “nearly all of the issues documented [in the Barnett] arose from human or mechanical failure that were quickly remedied and could have been avoided through increase [sic] diligence on the part of the operator.”

Soward said Barnett residents got at least a little protection because they “yelled and screamed” until the TCEQ responded. But yelling—and organizing—doesn’t come naturally to most residents in the Eagle Ford, who tend to have fewer resources and less political power than people in North Texas.

The demographic differences may help explain why the city of Dallas recently passed one of the strictest setback rules in the country: No well can be drilled within 1,500 feet of homes, schools, churches and other sensitive locations. In Colorado, the equivalent rule is 500 to 1,000 feet depending on the type of building; it’s 500 feet in Pennsylvania.

Texas has no statewide setbacks, aside from a 1,320-foot buffer zone for facilities with high levels of hydrogen sulfide. For all other oil and gas sites, it relies on communities to take the lead. Eagle Ford counties like Karnes, LaSalle and McMullen have no restrictions despite a glut of drilling.

read the other parts of the series at Center for Public Integrity

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Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because it Will Affect His Property Values

by Rebecca Leber, Nation of Change, 2/22/14

As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.

The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.

The Wall Street Journal reports the tower would supply water to a nearby fracking site, and the plaintiffs argue the project would cause too much noise and traffic from hauling the water from the tower to the drilling site. The water tower, owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation, “will sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” the suit says.

Though Tillerson’s name is on the lawsuit, a lawyer representing him said his concern is about the devaluation of his property, not fracking specifically.

When he is acting as Exxon CEO, not a homeowner, Tillerson has lashed out at fracking critics and proponents of regulation. …

continue reading at Nation of Change

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Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike on America’s Energy Future

by Harvey Wasserman, EcoWatch, 2/20/14

So the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won’t touch. Georgia state “regulators” are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense … except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

Substandard concrete, unspecified rebar steel, major labor scandals, non-existent quality control … all the stuff that’s defined this industry since the Shippingport reactor started construction outside Pittsburgh some six decades ago is with us yet again.

It would be nice to say this is merely $6.5 billion wasted. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long Island’s Shoreham and New Hampshire’s Seabrook came in at 5-10 times their original cost estimates.

Shoreham never made it to commercial operation. Neither did Seabrook Unit Two….

continue reading and follow links at EcoWatch

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