Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The EPA is under attack, but what about natural gas.

I normally keep the tube on while washing dishes. It is mostly audio wallpaper. However, last night it was on MSNBC and when Rachel Maddow said that she was going to interview EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, I stopped working, poured a glass of a Paso Robles barbera and sat down to listen.

It was an intriguing opportunity for Jackson to score some points and she almost hit it out of the park, but missed an opportunity to deal with climate when discussing fracking and the use of un-natural gas.
I can't imagine a better setup to this piece that Maddow provided. She started with Nixon's establishment of the EPA and led that into the current Republican presidential candidate unbridled antipathy for even using the initials. This led her into the interview where she gave Jackson the opportunity to defend the EPA, which Jackson did very well. And that is where things diverged. Yes, Jackson wants to protect air and water from the excesses of fracking (after they get the science right)… right.  But then she repeated the same things that we hear from all of the petro-industry commercials.

I think natural gas is important to our country.  I do think that it is a potential big change for us.  It has immediate benefits from a pollution side.  It has immediate benefits from an energy security side, but what we have to  be able to say to the people is that in the process of getting this natural gas, we're not going to screw up your groundwater or drinking water or your air.

This coming election cycle is going to feature a concerted attack on "regulation" by the Republicans and that pushes the EPA to the top echelon of issues. While we know that both Mesplay and Stein would be staunch protectors of the EPA, it is not yet clear which will be most able to articulate a narrative in which we can:
  • protect our water resources,
  • manage to control greenhouse gases,
  • provide useful employment for all our population. 
That is a tough task, but it is what we have to do if Greens are going to make even a ripple in the national political pond.


Alex Walker said...

Here again, the problem is how to educate the public on how Republicans and Democrats are the One-Party-With-Two-Names.

In California attacking nuclear power is definitely a popular "wedge issue."

It is amazing to me how nobody seems to remember the phony electric power crisis of 2000-2001. In that "crisis" Enron was gaming natural gas prices and Democratic Governor Gray Davis played their game. That incident should have proven that the supply of natural gas is not the problem, but that a centralized, unsustainable energy regime pimped by corporate crooks is.

Martin Zehr said...

The real problem is how we define the problem and how we solve the problem. There is no wisdom inherent within the E.P.A. that preserves the environment. We have a political structure that is unable to present the fundamental differences as they exist in the real world and are often left with the rhetoric of academics in explaining policies and the politics of environmental regulations and the administrative mechanisms established to maintain them. What we miss is the interactions of diverse stakeholders based on demonstrated demand and capacities to respond and adapt effectively to changing conditions. It is worth stating that Greens should be grasping the ramifications of the discussions of E.P.A., and not simply respond as E.P.A. apologists. There is a need to become more inclusive of the input and feedback of all stakeholders and the increase the transparency of the decision-making processes and work towards the regionalization of its administrative powers.

Wes said...

Martin, I agree with you on how things should be done. There seems to be no way to get there from here. It is particularly troublesome in that the various stakeholder groups are subject to manipulation by those with the money to buy enough media: i.e. big agriculture and the water agencies. Dan Bacher details this redefinition of stakeholders. When he says, "Fish, farmers and the 25 million average Californians who rely on the San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta for water deserve nothing less," Laird echoes the false notion that the only "real stakeholders" regarding the future of the Delta are fish, "farmers" and urban water users, a concept that both the Delta Vision and BDCP fiascoes have embodied.

What about Delta residents, boaters, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, California Indian Tribes, conservationists, environmental justice communities, business owners and all of those other people whose lives depend on the health of the Delta and its fish populations? Laird has to date done nothing to include them in the BDCP Management Committee because he apparently considers water exporters and political hacks to be the only "real" stakeholders.