President Obama’s Energy Problem


Written by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch

With 14 million Americans unemployed, buzz about a possible double dip recession reverberating in many ears and approval ratings at an all-time low, President Obama cannot afford to lose the support of any more of his constituents. Just last week, hundreds of concerned Americans descended on Philadelphia to speak out against the damages that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has already inflicted on communities throughout the region. Recent protests in Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere show that President Obama now has a fight over our nationís energy future to contend with, and the next battleground will be in the Delaware River Basin, where the Delaware River Basin Commission will vote next month on whether to approve new rules to open up wide areas of the Northeast to fracking.

Here President Obama still has an opportunity to salvage his approval ratings by blazing a new path in the burgeoning movement to protect our shared resources from the public health and environmental problems associated with fracking. President Obama can lend his considerable influence to the Delaware River Basin Commissionís upcoming decision by voting against fracking. The stakes are high: 18,000 proposed natural gas wells are on the table, and the drinking water of 15 millions Americans is at stake. Given the many unanswered questions about the long-term public health and environmental impacts of fracking, it would be reckless to allow this industrial, dangerous practice to take place in the Delaware River Basin.

The process of injecting millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into shale rock formations at high pressures to release gas, fracking has earned plenty of opponents. Over the past 20 months, at least 10 studies by scientists, Congress, investigative journalists and public interest groups have documented serious environmental and public health problems associated with the practice, helping to further galvanize the movement for a nationwide ban.

The fervor against fracking, a widely and deeply felt issue affecting the very lifeblood of AmericansĖour precious water resourcesĖis unlikely to subside any time soon, and so far, President Obama has failed to show a serious regard for it.

The Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board was President Obamaís first official foray into the thorny politics of fracking, but rather than assembling a team of experts committed to recommending policies that would safeguard our collective public health and our nationís treasured natural resources, he assembled a panel where six of its seven members maintain direct financial ties to the oil and gas industry. Unsurprisingly, their recommendations on fracking were widely lambasted for not going nearly far enough to protect consumers and the environment from the risks associated with the controversial energy practice.

The oil and gas industry has sold the promise that shale gas obtained through fracking will secure our nationís energy future. But U.S. natural gas consumption is actually expected to decline through 2015, while demand overseas increasesĖas much as 44 percent by 2035. Additionally, analysis by Food & Water Watch shows that the gas, along with the profits, will increasingly go abroad as many international players such as Reliance Industries, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and BP. So while the industry talking points about economic prosperity and energy security might be appealing on the surface, President Obama needs to take a deeper look at these claims, while assessing frackingís full impact on rural communities, our environment and public health.

President Obama can now either stand with the American public, and lead us down a path to a brighter, cleaner, more sustainable energy future, or he can side with an industry that has exploited every regulatory loophole possible to skirt clean air and water policies for the sake of a hefty profit. On September 13, thousands of concerned Americans will flood White House phone lines to remind him of this choice, joining with the almost 77,000 that have already taken action to ban the practice.

With the Shale Gas Subcommittee, President Obama chose the wrong bedfellows to help him determine frackingís place in our nationís energy future. But there is still time for him to do whatís best for his constituents, starting with those in the Delaware River Basin. Then, he must work to ban fracking throughout the entire U.S. While job creation is essential to boosting our nationís economy, it should be attained through developing a clean, sustainable energy portfolio and investing in our essential water resources. Closing the gap in federal funding to community water systems could create as many as 750,000 new jobs, a promise the natural gas industry canít be trusted to deliver on.

Take Action: Tell President Obama to end fracking now!

This post was republished with permission from Food & Water Watch.


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Photo from davipt via flickr creative commons


Crystal Cox
Crystal C6 years ago

I hope that he does choose the positive choice. I'm not into him by no means, but he's already president and nothing can change that at the moment. So while he is in charge, he should put his best efforts forward to make change. Which is what he said he would do. Thanks for the article!

Ginger Strivelli
Ginger Strivelli6 years ago

his problem with energy (his own and the countries) is he won't stand up to the GOP Bullies and fight for his side...he just compromises with them over and over till he is working for their side.

William DeCianni
Dog Spirit E6 years ago

The world which we have created is to complex. As you walk the weight of all the madness that you carry is like chains upon your feet. There are bags and bags full of stuff and they are upon your shoulders. You walk like this every day. Where is the freedom? Technology is what you hide behind because you are afraid of your birthright engrained upon every vibration of your existence. The answer for the world lies there for all.

That place lies the wisdom to create a world that is reponsible.

pete M.
peter m6 years ago

We can't out spend the multi-nation energy vested interests but we can out demonstrate them.

We have to follow Germany and invoke the new thin film country wide solar use.
If Germany can sell more electric back to the producers to the point that they maxed out the grid sending electric back from solar so the suppliers had to revamp to accept the solar feedback what the heck is wrong with America?
Don't they realize this effects companies lost profits and American unemployment as well.

Shirley Marsh
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

Cont... Nothing speaks louder than money! So it's up to us people to get interested, research and educate ourselves, and insist our governments and corporations act in everybody's interests. Necessity is the mother of invention; that necessity is very much with us now. But how exciting is it to know our inventors are up to the challenge; all they need is our support!

If you love your children, act, and act now.

Shirley Marsh
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

Bear with me people, but this is a subject very close to my heart. Quite apart from our 'beliefs' on global warming, an uncontested fact is that we are polluting our planet at a terrifying rate. Surely any we should be pursuing every avenue to halt this pollution rate? This is just as urgent a problem as global warming, and even more immediate.

Fracking has the potential to pollute on a massive scale, to the point of putting our water and food supplies at serious risk. Solar power, especially incorporating new and emerging technologies, has the potential to supply all our energy needs, around the clock, virtually free! But the technology research would be ongoing; the market would always be there and increasing with time, and the potential for profit would grow accordingly. If all the money currently spent in frantically searching for diminishing and outdated fossil fuel sources was poured into fast tracking and developing these new techologies and introducing them into daily life ASAP, we could be looking at a very different world in a very short time. However, it does require vision, commitment, and a desire to benefit humankind as opposed to greed, self interest, and a total inability to see the big picture.

If the fossil fuel magnates could see the enormous benefits to themselves and their shareholders by embracing and investing in these new ideas so they can instigate a seamless transfer from the outdated to the innovative, perhaps they would be more receptive. N

Shirley Marsh
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

@John M: Haven't you watched the film on the consequences of fracking in the US? We have similar evidential film of the industry here in Australia. Europe has placed a moratorium on the industry based on this visual evidence. I'm flabbergasted.

Have you researched the actual and potential technology for solar power, especially the new fine film technology? The potential is staggering. I've copied it below for you to check out in case you don't see it in my reply to Roopak.

You wouldn't have shares in the fracking industry by any chance, would you? I can't imagine why anyone other than those with vested interests in this technology would even consider it! TF/BIPV_web.pdf

Shirley Marsh
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

Roopak, here's another url which shows a number of photovoltaic film applications in a variety of buildings already in use. There's a huge amount of information out there; I just Googled 'photovoltaic film in buildings' for this specific technology. This is such exciting technology; one of the sites suggests that it would be in much greater use if public awareness and understanding was increased, because the stumbling block for new technologies is always ignorance and suspicion of the unknown. This particular website should dispel any doubts; I for one would be utilising this technology as much as possible - free electricity? A no-brainer, surely? TF/BIPV_web.pdf

Charles Wallace
Charles Wallace6 years ago

@ Roger B: "One of the pieces of evidence for AGW is that the CO2 levels appear higher when the temperature is higher."

No, Roger. You've got it backwards. One of the pieces of evidence for AGW is that the temperature is higher when CO2 levels are higher. This is a simple experiment that every intro Physics class did, back when I was in college. You can see it done for yourselves right here:

We're dumping tons and tons of CO2 into the air every day. You're an absolute moron, if you don't think that doing so won't cause temperatures to rise around the world. You right-wingers are so worried about the damage to the economy that instituting anti-GW measures will cause. But how much will the economy be damaged when large portions of New York, Miami, Boston, and other large cities are under water because of rises in sea level due to the melting glaciers and ice caps? How much economic damage was caused by all the tornadoes, droughts, wildfires, etc., this summer? Do you really think that climate change contributes nothing to all this? You can ignore reality all you want, but that doesn't make it any less real. Not believing in gravity won't keep you from from being killed if you jump off a skyscraper roof.

Roger B.
Roger Bird6 years ago

One of the pieces of evidence for AGW is that the CO2 levels appear higher when the temperature is higher. This is on the geological time scale, like over the past 20 million years. But on closer inspection, it appears that the CO2 levels rise AFTER the oceans warm, not before. Warmer water has less capacity to hold gases than colder water. This is why the colder waters in Alaska, the North Atlantic, and around Antarctica are such good fishing areas, because O2 and CO2 and other gases dissolve better in cold water. The fishing in the tropics is sort of lame.