Category Archives: Oil

Man Camps and Sacrifice Zones

There  is no limit to industry’s reach. The corporation – who some want to be regarded as “people”- has no moral guidance, no mission of ethics, no feelings. Corporatists often throw up their hands and say, “What can we do? We are legally beholden to the shareholders to make as much money as possible” the part about disregard for quality of life for anyone but upper management goes unspoken but is understood.” As Chris Hedges says, “These corporations know only one word, and that’s more”.

Oil industry Man Camps Offer No Stress Living – this article offers a local paper’s view on the fracking boom. Reducing options, free time, and family time relates to being stress free in a similar way that a prison cell mate relates to feeling secure.

Another description of the man camp in assumably favorable terms -you will find the link on their own company’s website here.

The camps are basically a series of mobile homes linked together, only each doublewide is flanked with double occupancy bedrooms. Dining is group, there are group exercise rooms,  Here is one excerpt from the Billings Gazette:

Crew camp compounds are typically are made up of small, bedroom-sized units that are interconnected. The facilities usually are leased by companies in the oil industry, and can be deconstructed in days.

“When the bust comes, and it will, these facilities will be farming fields again,” Lash said. “We’re not sticking around, and will move them to the next great opportunity.”

Most counties in western North Dakota are ill-equipped to handle the swarms of workers, many of whom have been forced to live in campers, cars and tents.

“We’re running out of water, out of sewer, out of electricity, and until those get taken care of, how do you add more man camps to the mix?” said Dan Kalil, a commissioner in Williams County, the hub of the oil bonanza.

In Dickinson, in the southwest corner of the oil patch, the planning and zoning commission on Wednesday approved what would be the state’s largest man camp, a 3,000-unit facility in an industrial area near the wastewater treatment plant.

It makes no sense. The workers can’t afford to live there, so they fly home every two weeks to see their family. If an industry can’t allow a human being to live a decent life with their family (not next to a wastewater treatment facility), they should have to offset the environmental costs to the rest of us for their wreckless encouragement of such a high carbon impact lifestyle. Government subsidies to these fossil fuel companies should cease immediately – fracking included.
The article later speaks of the boomtown/ghostown phenomenon in a small town; like a gold/oil/gas rush. Longtimers have high hopes for the revival of their town, industry stays focused on the bottom line, and everyone else scrambles for a living wage any way they know how, moving where the work takes them.

As if that wasn’t cheery enough, here’s a companion piece, aRawStory article featuring Christopher Hedges with Bill Moyers. I’ll leave you with this (and there is a video at the end of this article) to ponder. Perhaps tomorrow we can discuss some of the issue that arise. I would love to hear your input.

Journalist and activist Chris Hedges appeared Friday on Moyers & Company to talk about the conclusions of his latest book. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is dedicated to investigating the most exploited and impoverished places in America, places that he says are “virtually off the radar screen in terms of the commercial media.”

“It’s absolutely imperative that we begin to understand what unfettered, unregulated capitalism does,” Hedges emphasized. “These are sacrifice zones, areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. And we’re talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed. And because there are no impediments left, these sacrifice zones are just going to spread outward.”

When Moyers asked Hedges what he meant by saying there are no impediments left, he explained, “The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless.” Even worse, Hedges believes these devastated communities represent the future for all of us.

Hedges was particularly eloquent in describing the coal-mining areas of West Virginia, which “in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States [but] harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted, and that money is not funneled back into the communities.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but they’re extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed. … They no longer want to dig down for the coal, and so they’re blowing the top 400 feet off of mountains poisoning the air, poisoning the soil, poisoning the water. … You are rendering the area moonscape. It becomes uninhabitable. … It’s all destroyed and it’s not coming back.”

Hedges went on to talk about Camden, New Jersey, which since the disappearance of manufacturing has become the poorest city in the United States and one of the most dangerous. “It’s a dead city,” he said. “There’s nothing left. There is no employment. Whole blocks are abandoned. The only thing functioning are open-air drug markets, of which there are about a hundred. And you’re talking third or fourth generation of people trapped in these internal colonies. They can’t get out.”

He spoke also about the Pine Ridge Reservation and migrant workers in Florida, saying, ” It’s greed over human life. … We, in that biblical term, we forgot our neighbor. And because we forgot our neighbor in Pine Ridge, because we forgot our neighbor in Camden, in Southern West Virginia, in the produce fields, these forces have now turned on us. They went first, and we’re next.”

“These corporations know only one word, and that’s more,” Hedges went on. “And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.”

“We have become complicit,” he noted sadly, “because we’ve accepted this as a kind of natural law. And the acceptance of this kind of behavior, and even the celebration of it is going to ultimately trigger our demise.”

 

 

 

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Judge Blocks NDAA – One Small Constitutional Victory

“The government was given a number of opportunities at the hearing and in its briefs to state unambiguously that the type of expressive and associational activities engaged in by plaintiffs — or others — are not within Section 1021,” Forrest said. “It did not. This court therefore must credit the chilling impact on First Amendment rights as reasonable — and real.” (this morning from Bloomberg)

Katherine Forrest would be the federal judge that blocked – if only temporarily – the law that allows for the indefinite detention of pretty much anyone the U.S. Govt. wants to say is associated with terrorism – including Americans and permanent residents of America. Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winner and foreign journalism correspondent (featured in my post on Monday here) along with RevolutionTruth were the lead plantiffs – both argued that the language of the National Defense Authorization Act was so ambiguous that they themselves could be considered to be a “person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces” as the law states. Hedges has done reporting on many foreign entities that could be considered to be al-qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces, RevolutionTruth has worked with wikileaks and whistleblowers in such a way that their work could fall under a governmental determination of “support” even though the government will not define any prosecutable actions. To refresh yourself on the NDAA you can check my blob post here.

The quote above sums up the case, the government called no witnesses, offered no evidence, but did cross examine the plaintiffs. It was an unusual case because the plaintiff’s didn’t really have complaints yet about what the government was doing, but they both knew that once they did have a complaint, that there would be little chance of a fair trial as they normally knew it in this country. They would be silenced. They could be whisked through the looking glass and find themselves in an orange jumpsuit without trial – FOREVER! They might never even be told why they were detained.

This report from the Huffingtonpost:

Forrest found the language too vague, and repeatedly tried to get government attorneys to say that the reporters’ fears were unfounded. The lawyers declined.

“At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [section] 1021,” Forrest wrote. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.

“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” Forrest wrote. “In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more.”

Whew! At least one judge has her constitutional principles intact.

Since the House is debating amendments to the NDAA today, perhaps they will take note that a federal judge has blocked a portion of the law. I did skim through the proposed 142 amendments to the law to be sure that at least one of them dealt with the issue of indefinite detention and/or more clearly defining the objectionable behavior.

Ironically, last week I titled a post “Obama as Progressive“, because he made the announcement about gay marriage. I think for the less politically obsessed, Democrats roughly equal liberals who roughly equal progressives – I would not be so generous. Democrats do not always propose and support progressive ideas, many times their affiliations, establishment, and corporate ties do not enable them to publicly support ideas that are progressive. While I think Obama certainly thought of his statement politically, I do feel that he made it due to more of a personal obligation to the GLBT community, to recognize their contributions to society at large and to acknowledge their normalcy. Also, not making a statement at that time would have also made a statement.

The laws and ideas that are put forth in the NDAA were born out of the fear following 9/11. Those fears birthed many institutions that used to be an insult to Americans – increased surveillance, increased infringement on liberty, increased invasions of privacy, and increased false accusations of terrorism. Bush/Cheney were wrong to implement them and Obama is wrong to uphold them as if he is proud (or afraid) of the culture they promote. Hey, with a name like Patriot Act, only wholesome American activities can result, right? Is your eagle/flag pin on the correct lapel? George Orwell would approve.

The Patriot Act and the NDAA are not the same, but they work together to cinch down the freedoms, curiosities, expressions, explorations, and accountability we have as US citizens. Upon learning about the Patriot Act, before it was actually passed – in a teach-in at a local library by a constitutional atty – I was shocked at what was being done in the name of America. I was even more shocked to learn that because the constitutional atty. teaching about the Patriot Act was, in fact, on a governmental watch list as an activist, I was automatically his “associate” for listening to him and could be treated the way any other “terrorist suspect” was treated. This was compounded by the fact that at least one other audience member was knowingly being tracked by a govt. task force. He emphasized that the likelihood was low, but according to the new way of unconstitutional law, the language written was purposefully written in such a vague manner that lil’ ol’ me sitting in a public library conference room on a Saturday afternoon could be construed as a terrorist operative. The NDAA could – if unblocked – provide the legal means to vanish me forever from general society.

Obama has failed us on his constitutional scholar credentials, why he did not take a constitutional stand, we may never know. Hedges and RevolutionTruth have every right to worry about indefinite detention – the government won’t even deny it. What used to be the unspoken 4th estate of our country – a free press – is quietly being chilled. It seems that the government would be quite happy to freeze them out totally  so they will stop digging for any contradictory information to what the state is reporting.

I for one would like to thank Judge Katherine Forrest for being brave and making a ruling that will make some waves. Thanks for knowing our Constitution and taking a stand with it.

 

 

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Alternative Energy Power Brain Storm

Just yesterday I glanced at a “Fun Fact” on my way to market, “Enough energy falls on earth from the sun each day to power a …..” , ok, so I don’t exactly remember it but it was a whole lot of energy that could last the whole world quite a long time. It was really impactful and reminded me that I forgot my reusable tote bags before I entered the store. We see these lil’ quips around and tips for being “green”, but using the same analogy of the Titanic from yesterday’s post, in the big picture, the “green tips” seem a little like choosing the outfit we are going to be treading cold water in. We need some action and we need it sooner rather than later. Our political system is not really up for the task, so it seems that another tact must be taken without the express consent of the political game – which is to make it make sense on the market.

Perusing some of the materials a place like Smartpower.org, they have found that the top four reasons why people don’t buy green energy are:

1.  Reliability: “I don’t think it actually works!”
2. Availability: “I don’t know where to buy it.”
3. Cost: “Buying into the ‘lifestyle’ is too expensive!”
4. Inertia: “It’s easier to do nothing.” Continue reading

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Greasy Thugs and Sunnier Days Ahead

It is painful to fill up my gas tank these days, and while I hate what it does to my monthly budget, part of me knows we are approaching a tipping point that might be very good for us. We are living in peak oil times. Even if we suck the earth as dry as possible with new oil drilling, we have more access to oil now than we will ever have again, and from here on out there are diminishing return on our financial investments. Very soon our supply will be in terminal decline. Any person that has the cognitive power to project that situation into the future can see that our gas and oil prices will not be coming down anytime soon, (according to the law of supply and demand). Subsidizing this lame duck energy source makes no sense for our security, comfort, or pocketbook – and Americans know it.  Cursory googlings found that somewhere between 59%-74% of Americans are ready to cut subsidies that act like training wheels for an industry that has left tire tracks across our backs.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that “[oil and gas] receive about $41 billion in annual subsidies annually. That amounts to more than half – 52 percent – of total benefits distributed to energy sectors by the federal government.” Continue reading

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