Fukushima, Pennsylvania

ProPublica reports that Pennsylvania is limiting the ability of inspectors to cite operators of hydrofracking operations:

The memos require that each of the hundreds of enforcement actions taken routinely against oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania each month now be approved by the department’s executive deputy secretary, John Hines. The memos are raising concerns that the state’s environmental inspectors can no longer act independently and that regulations could be overridden by the political whims of the state’s new governor, Tom Corbett.

“What this apparently is saying is that before any final action, the inspector must get approval by two political appointees: the secretary and the deputy secretary,” said John Hanger, who headed the DEP until January under former Gov. Ed Rendell and worked to strengthen the state’s oil and gas regulations. “It’s an extraordinary directive. It represents a break from how business has been done in the department within the Marcellus Shale and within the oil and gas program for probably 20 years.

ProPublica also reports that there are 120,000 deteriorating gas wells across the country, some of which are leaking gas into homes and causing explosions. Some of those wells are close to 100 years old.

As Fukushima dumps radioactive water into the sea, and it’s revealed that the Japanese government didn’t release projections that showed high levels of radiation far from the plant, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t just nuclear energy that leaves a toxic legacy, and that the Republican decision to leave frackers to their own devices will probably be causing problems long after the last victim of thyroid cancer is buried in Japan.

29 replies
  1. 1
    Davis X. Machina says:

    One part constituent service, one part the sanctity of contracts. The gas companies bought themselves a state government, and expect to get what they paid for.

  2. 2
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Just start rehearsing the lines now “Nobody could have predicted…”

  3. 3
    Jim says:

    The fun part here is that PA has been industrially raped by the coal industry in the early part of last century (hint: It’s why streams are orange.) And we’re still working on that one. The companies that did it are long gone and any work that gets done is on the taxpayers dime. This’ll be the same.

  4. 4
    PeakVT says:

    @Jim: Privatize the profits, soçialize the losses – it’s the American way.

  5. 5
    SFAW says:

    You f’ing liberals – always trying to impede the progress of our Galtian overlords.

    I, for one, welcome the impending environmental destruction – of some place not near my home, that is – as it will reaffirm our pre-eminence as the world’s Number 1 (with a bullet!) home for allowing Uber-Capitalists to make as much money as they want, no matter the consequences.

    I SPIT on your concern for humanity! If people don’t like environmental rape, then they should move to France, where they can eat cheese with the rest of the surrender-monkeys.


  6. 6
    nancydarling says:

    I wonder if the fracking companies are paying for the wear and tear on roads and highways in PA. Here in Arkansas, our corporate-owned lege is trying to pass the cost on to the taxpayers with a half cent sales tax increase for highway repair and maintenance. Groceries are also subject to sales tax. Hopefully when the increase comes to a vote by the public, the public will say no. Our legislature is on overtime now with “must do” legislation. They fiddled away much of the regular session trying to pass guns in churches and bible courses for high school. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

  7. 7
    jayboat says:

    Seems like this crap never ends. Phucking depressing.

  8. 8
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    The most depressing thing is that, within 2 years, they’ll probably have done so much damage that it’ll take 30 years, minimum, to fix it all. And the American public will probably not give anyone non-GOP more than maybe 4 fucking years before they decide the Republicans love America more than the dirty fucking libs do, per fucking always.

  9. 9
    Punchy says:

    So when they investigate the payments from the company to these pols, what used to be called a bribe will now be called a “campaign donation”.

    Seriously, now that politicans are involved with adjudicating the law, hasn’t that de facto legalized bribes disguised as donations?

  10. 10
    The Political Nihilist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:


    Why do you hate business and progress, Punchy? Don’t you know that businesses and corporations are people too? In fact, under law, they’re more people than YOU are! Doesn’t it make sense that their voice should be worth more too?

  11. 11
    cd6 says:

    This is totally off topic,

    But somebody needs to make fun of HotAir today. Special Ed has a post up about how E! True Hollywood story is going to help burnish Sarah Palin’s political career.

    Right between Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, a hard hitting political expose, or something

  12. 12
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    @Punchy: This is a good point. This seems to be ripe for massive “donations” being paid to Mr. Hines, in exchange for somehow finding, each and every time, that the drillers have done nothing wrong, and also, they need a tax cut, irregardless of the obvoius and extensive environmental damage that is all but certain to manifest.

    PA and WI (and soon OH) need to get together and throw an Elections have Consequences, Bitches Party.

  13. 13
    geg6 says:

    Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

    My state is now owned by fracking drillers. I’d say god damn Corbett if I believed in a god.

    The only good thing about all this is watching all the Corbett voters crying sweet, sweet tears of regret. And I smugly sit there and say to them that they got what they wanted, so shut up and lie still while you’re being rogered.

    Well, that and the fact that Cole will be happy that I can’t make fun of West Virginia for having a stupid electorate and being an environmental wasteland any more.

  14. 14
    jwb says:

    @nancydarling: Yes, you will say “no,” and then they will just take the money from education and what’s left of the safety net to pay for the roads.

  15. 15
    singfoom says:

    Obviously there’s a free market solution where the fracking companies have an incentive not to poison the land around them, right?

    Or is that invisible hand only for fisting the public?

    It’s such a wonderful corporate Republic that we live in.

  16. 16
    SFAW says:

    that I can’t make fun of West Virginia for having a stupid electorate

    Distressing tho’ the PA doings may be, you can still make fun of WV for that. It’s kinda like a permanent “Get Out of Jail Free” card. And if Cole doesn’t like it, he can always comment at some other blog, the whiner.

  17. 17


    to be fair, our roads were so shitty before the drillers, it would be hard to demonstrate that they made them worse.

  18. 18

    No, no, there will be no political donations. But a group of businesses that don’t have to tell anyone who they are will “independently” write and broadcast a whole bunch of ads telling voters how great their favorite politicians are. Then, when/if the voters ever defenestrate the pols for corruption, they’ll have nice golden parachutes into whatever industry they’ve spent their careers helping. No bribes involved. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

  19. 19
    someguy says:

    The nice thing about Republicans occasionally taking office, is that it prevents us from ever having to hold Democrats accountable for having colossally fucked up. The President is currently in his grace period, trying to fix the nation after Bush and Reagan destroyed it, hell, and Nixon too – because it takes generations to undo the havoc that even a single Republican Congress can do, much less so many years of a Republican presidency. We’re just so helpless, you know?

    In PA, it’s a crime that the Republican governor isn’t regulating 100 year-old gas wells, and it will take 30 years to recover from that. One wonders what Democrats did during the past 99 years; and we’re already granting future democrats amnesty because it’ll take so long to recover from even one Republican governor. We’re all upset about the Republicans screwing around with the federal budget; but the Democratic Congress (who were supposed to have one in place by October 1) didn’t manage to get one put together by December 31st despite having control of both houses and the White House, giving the Republicans the opportunity to play games with fiscal year 2011. Even now everything is the fault of the Republican House, as if the President and a strongly Democratic Senate didn’t even exist. Hey, what if the Senate and President decided for a change to play hardball?

    Naaaah… that’d never work. Bush fucked up Congress so bad that hardball would be ineffective. Those damned Republicans…

  20. 20


    …despite having control of both houses and the White House…”

    I see that error a lot. Basically, neither party “controls” the Senate unless they’ve 60 or more votes. In this specific case the Democrats passed a budget in the house. The Senate couldn’t get past the filibuster. They needed 60, they couldn’t get past 59.

  21. 21
    piratedan says:

    @someguy: yeah, because we all know that Democrats are just like Republicans, always toeing the party line and never having a conscience or disagreeing with the people in charge. Especially so in the Senate, despite the House passing hundreds of pieces of legislation, there was such en example of bipartisanship that filibustering over each and every judicial nomination, nominal legislation over naming post offices and budgetary items was seen on a level of scorched earth tactics that were ever so helpful in allowing the nation recover after the biggest recession/depression seen in the last three generations for purely partisan purposes.

    Feel free to check back in when Rep Barton of Texas stops fellating his BP overlords will ya? kthnxbai!

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Xboxershorts says:

    The trolls are out in the local online blogs (http://solomonswords.blogspot.com/) calling the inspectors we do have untrained and unqualified.

    And it’s total bullshit.

    We have 2 oil and gas inspectors for our 14 county region including where I live, Potter County. And these 2 inspectors have about 80,000 oil and gas sites to monitor. These include wells, both new and known abandoned, pump and compressor stations and pipeline installations and storage facilities.

    the trolls at the link above are very, very thuggish and practice on-line intimidation regularly. They were out the very day this was announced. It’s all very well organized.

    Pray for us in Potter County

  24. 24
    catclub says:

    @Kirk Spencer: well they still fucked up by putting the rules for the 2011 budget as NOT under reconciliation – hence a filibuster can stop it.
    Why? I have no idea. And these are budget bills!

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:


    Hey, what if the Senate and President decided for a change to play hardball?

    Great! Now tell us what your actual strategy would be without using vague buzzwords like “playing hardball.”

  26. 26
    Paris says:

    @peach flavored shampoo: The gas companies already get the gas in Pa for free – they pay no tax for it. They need a tax credit. Just because.

  27. 27
    trixie larue says:

    But the upside of the fracking is that soon I will be able to fill my car up with water and drive for a lot less than whaat it costs now at the gas pumps. I’m curious about the mileage though.

  28. 28
    nancydarling says:

    @Paris: This is true, they pay no severance fee. One of the arguments in Arkansas not to raise our severance tax to something like, oh say what Oklahoma charges, is that the frackers (we should call them what they are…fuckers) will pack up their toys and move to PA. Chesapeake is selling their Fayetteville shale interests to an Australian outfit. I’m not sure if the deal is complete and signed.

  29. 29
    NadePaulKuciGravMcKi says:

    Fukushima Internal Emitters

    An ill wind comes arising
    Across the cities of the plain
    There’s no swimming in the heavy water
    No singing in the acid rain

    Absalom Absalom Absalom

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