Los Angeles Times Attacks Jerry Brown for Supporting Fracking

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by environmental activist Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben in which he attacks California Governor Jerry Brown’s support for fracking, calling fracking during a drought an “obscenity” because of its use of water.

McKibben, who has functioned as an advisor for the Obama Administration on environmental issues, has made statements like these:

If you carpooled [six miles per day], you’d have about three pounds of CO2 left in your daily ration — enough to run a highly efficient refrigerator. Forget your computer, your TV, your stereo, your stove, your dishwasher, your water heater, your microwave, your water pump, your clock. Forget your light bulbs, compact fluorescent or not.

He wants an alternate food reality: “Local, labor-intensive, low-input agriculture … You’ll be standing guard over your vegetable patch with your shotgun, warding off the marauding gang that’s after your carrots.” He also wants a poorer America: ” … one-seventieth the income means one-seventieth the damage to the planet.” And less people: “… the human population would need to get gradually smaller.” And less children, we should “develop an enormously powerful social taboo against ‘progress’ of the defiant kind — a religious or quasi-religious horror at the thought of ‘improved chickens’ or large families.”

Thus fracking, which could make America energy independent, triggers hatred from McKibben. Grudgingly, he admits that supporters of fracking correctly argue that fracking uses less water than to grow food, but responds that “when you eat an almond, you are not making the drought worse. And the water used in fracking is bringing up more of the oil that is raising the Earth’s temperature. In a state where many people are limiting their toilet flushes and some are doing without showers, it’s disgusting to waste millions of gallons of water this way.”

McKibben resorts to the time-honored leftist emotional appeal, asserting that in Kern County, where fracking could thrive, 22% of the population lives under the poverty line, and, horror! – “69% of them within a mile of an oil well.” If that emotional pitch doesn’t reach the reader, McKibben throw in this non-sequitur: “The region has one of the highest cancer rates in the country, according to one community hospital.”

McKibben should know that according to KQED, which ran a story in October 2014 about Kern County and fracking, “ … whether they work for the industry or not, it’s hard to find anyone here who has a bad thing to say about fracking.” KQED interviewed Lorelei Oviatt, Kern County’s planning director, who said, “At least 50% of our revenue comes from the oil industry,” KQED wrote, “Oviatt said she wishes environmentalists on the coast who criticize Kern County’s energy development would worry less about what she sees as tenuous environmental issues and give more support to policies that help create jobs.”

McKibben attempts to use the herd argument: “Across the nation, other governors have stood up to the oil and gas industry and decided their states were better off without fracking.” He finally concludes: “Jerry Brown was for solar power before most people in the country knew what it was. He can cite chapter and verse about carbon and its effect on the planet. He has been noble in his efforts to help alert the world, long before Al Gore or any of the rest of us. But his willingness to let oil companies have their way on fracking is a serious blind spot. Given the severity of the drought, Brown has all the room he needs to say no more fracking. Let’s hope he does — for the sake of the atmosphere, the people of Kern County and what should be an unblemished legacy.”


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