Why Is Obama Cuddling Up to Karl Rove and His Gas Drilling Friends?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rove pronounced the movement for clean energy dead at a natural gas drilling conference. But a massive protest outside reveals just the opposite.

In the days following Tuesday's election, President Obama's first peace offering to hardliners across the aisle was telling: "We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country," he said. At the same time he was giving the thumbs-up for natural gas drilling, Karl Rove was doing the same, appearing as the keynote speaker at Pittsburgh's David Lawrence Convention Center for the DUG (Developing Unconventional Gas) East Coast conference on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

On Wednesday, November 3, the main day of DUG programming, an estimated 500-800 people marched across the Rachel Carson bridge through downtown Pittsburgh, surrounding the convention center for a rally. As they crossed the historic bridge, they shouted "No fracking way," "Clean air, clean water," and "It used to be Frick and now it's Frack," (referring to Pennsylvania's coal and steel robber baron Henry Clay Frick). They played trombones and drums, carried 7-foot-high puppets, and held homemade signs, the most dramatic being a 12-foot-square banner reading, "The people have a constitutional right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment -- Article 1, Section 27 PA Constitution."

The consensus of the day was that the Marcellus is the most important shale in the country and Pennsylvania is the most important part of the Marcellus. Others, like John Pinkerton, President and CEO of Range Resources, who announced in October it would be selling off most of its Barnett Shale holdings in Texas to invest in the Marcellus, talked about the new frontier of the Marcellus. Tom Sherman, an analyst for Bentek LLC, an energy industry analysis firm, said, of Marcellus development, "It's not that we don't think West Virginia and New York are important. The point is that Pennsylvania's production and acreage is prolific and ample enough to drive the forecast on its own, regardless of what happens in West Virginia and New York."

President Obama might be feeling friendly to fracking. As reported by Mike Soroghan of Greenwire, fracking industry spokesmen found Obama's statements at his November 3rd press conference are consistent with positions of his State Department, which is looking to push the technology globally and the Energy Department also puts a lot of stock in shale gas production.

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