After talking about how the Democrats and Republicans took symbolic votes this week on oil company subsidies and increased offshore drilling, both of which are expected to go nowhere, Andrea Mitchell brought on T. Boone Pickens to discuss drilling
May 20, 2011

After talking about how the Democrats and Republicans took symbolic votes this week on oil-company subsidies and increased offshore drilling, both of which are expected to go nowhere, Andrea Mitchell brought on T. Boone Pickens to discuss drilling for natural gas as an alternative.

Pickens proceeded to tout the plus side of turning to natural gas rather than our dependence on foreign oil and talked about our need for a real energy plan here in America, which I don't disagree with.

Pickens defended the use of fracking for natural gas and claimed that those problems have been limited to eastern Pennsylvania and that there have never been those same kind of problems in the areas where his company has done business.

While I have not come across any articles to the contrary as far as Pickens' businesses go, that doesn't mean that the natural gas industry is being properly regulated to assure we won't see more nightmares with people across the country having their drinking water contaminated like we have in the NY-NJ-PA watershed, as Susie wrote about in her post on the documentary GasLand here at C&L.

I think we suffer from the same kind of problems we've seen with offshore oil drilling when it comes to natural gas exploration. We've got lax regulatory agencies and companies that are willing to cut corners to make a buck and no real penalties after they screw up and destroy the environment because someone didn't bother to make sure that a well was properly cemented, or they don't put enough safety measures in place if it's going to cost them a buck.

It's penny-wise, pound-foolish to the extreme, with no consequences because we've also got our politicians railing against the evils of government regulation destroying our economy. Never mind the damage done by lack of regulation. And -- par for the course -- the bad actors never get punished properly for their malfeasance. If you're a large corporation that kills people or destroys the drinking water in an area, nothing happens to you because you can afford enough lawyers to hold things up in court forever until those suing you are dead or you buy off enough politicians so that what you're doing is not considered illegal in the first place, but if you're a common criminal, look out. The full force of the law is going to come down on you.

And what Mitchell and everyone who brings this guy on to defend his "energy plan" for America always ignores is that he's also interested in doing a huge water grab where he wants to put some of his wind farms.

If we're going to have an "honest discussion" about America's energy needs and what our alternatives are, that ought to start with what the true motivations are behind those like Pickens and the policy changes he's advocating for.

Here's more on Pickens and his "blue gold" that Mitchell didn't bother to ask him about.

“Blue Gold”: T. Boone Pickens and the Privatization of Water:

Imagine a future where water is more valuable than gold – where corporations have control over the public’s water sources, and everyone has to pay a premium for access. It’s a scary thought for most of us, but for T. Boone Pickens, it’s a dream he’s banking on.

When Pickens, a billionaire oil tycoon, purchased eight miles of bare scrubland in the Texas panhandle recently, some people were confused: there’s no oil in them there flatlands. What he’s interested in, though, isn’t black gold, it’s blue gold: water, contained within the Ogallala Aquifer partially located under the ranch. His plan was to build a pipeline from the aquifer to larger cities, selling the water as a commodity that, at least in his mind, would undoubtedly be in demand during times of drought.

While it seems like there should be some kind of law against doing such a thing, the groundwater laws in Texas and many other states make it easy to get away with. When the laws were put into place, water was so abundant and readily available that no one ever considered the idea that people might try to buy and sell it in this way. So when it was time to vote on allowing the creation of Pickens’ water district, the only people required to vote on it were the people who live on the land: Pickens, his wife and three employees. Read on...

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