05 Jun 2017

The EPA Says: “Show Me the Money!”

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At the end of May, an especially pointed essay by Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel examined the Deep State.  Here’s a link to this important work.  This entity is the government within government that is devoted to and pursues an agenda unto itself.  It is the government of fiefdoms, “federal family,” and wink-and-nod actions by insiders. Call it the Skull and Bones of the public employee cabal…hidden from view it advances government control, strictures and leverage.  Please read and absorb this important essay.

In previous entries, the Policysmith has examined suspect BLM behaviors and fiefdoms, the “Federal Family,” and other problematic attitudes and behaviors of the bureaucratic class.  Emboldened by an administration aligned with its goals, in 2014 the Deep State took adventurism to new levels of aggression and malice.

Colorado has been, and remains, ground zero for the confrontation between extractive commercial activities and the resistance to same.  Leading the charge of the anti forces are the Mother Earth/vegan/soft path/climate change purists.

Riding public transportation daily (of course there’s nothing wrong with that) from Boulder to Denver, EPA management and their buddies in the Department of Justice forged a singular alliance.  This federal family evidences an elevated, preening attitude coupled with sanctimonious do-gooderism.  These “save-the-world” EPA staffers and their DOJ cohorts got the go-ahead to pursue the infidels who produce oil and gas – and yes – FRACK!

They scored big when Noble Energy was found to be leaking methane from its legacy facilities in the D-J Basin of Colorado.  The company negotiated a settlement with EPA involving retro-fitting, purchase of alternate fuel vehicles and a variety of other “investments” totaling in excess of $70 million.  Noble lipsticked the settlement pig, declared victory and vowed to build and maintain facilities to the highest standards…all while touting its industry leadership and calling on other producers to join in the fun.

The governor of Colorado congratulated Noble and declared war on methane emissions from oil and gas operations.  It’s noteworthy that another collaborator in the Noble, EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment “celebration” was none other than the Environmental Defense Fund.  EDF has laid claim to “joining with industry” to “seek solutions.”  Most in industry have learned the hard way that such engagement means check for a knife in the back and watch your wallet.  One set of facts that never entered the methane discussion, and is studiously avoided by EDF, is that the primary sources of such emissions worldwide are natural seeps/volcanic eruptions, wetlands and animal flatulence, among others.  Oil and gas production activities as a percentage of worldwide methane emissions are in the mid-single digits.

Regardless, let no opportunity pass to impugn oil and gas producers.  With this victory in hand, and its budget having been reduced (by its own definition “devastatingly”), EPA Region 8 with legal support from DOJ received the go-ahead to pursue similar outcomes in the autumn of EPA Administrator McCarthy’s tenure.  In shale’s a target-rich environment, there was no target richer than the newly-minted petroleum power house, North Dakota.  Not only were there multitudes of production facilities, its national delegation and state government were/are comprised of political and social conservatives.

The opportunity for a two-fer, maybe even a three-fer, was too delicious to pass up.  With the exception of a lone Democrat senator (pro-oil at that), the federal delegation and the state government leadership were and are Republicans.  What’s not to like for the anti-oil crowd?  Never mind that the state was (and is) in compliance with air standards, and had been as far back as can be tracked.  Never mind that the bulk of the land is privately held, there is tribal land and that provided the entry for adventures in enforcement.

The EPA has many dedicated and impartial professionals on its staff.  But the political caste in leadership employs, at best, disingenuous and ignoble poses of acting “in the public interest” and “protecting our heritage for our grandchildren.”  Media drags out its shopworn boilerplate, casting industry in general as villains and opposition to EPA overreach as “greedy polluters degrading public health.”  The whiskers on these hackneyed concepts are long, and indeed quite gray.

Up next, the North Dakota saga begins – innocently enough.


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