Interesting conversation with a stranger today. Cooling off with a $1 beer on the stoop of one of my favorite locals, I was asked how I felt about the August 4th passage in the New York State Senate of an 11-month moratorium on new hydrofracking permits in the Marcellus Shale. Hydrofracking is something that I have thought deeply about, and intermittently acted and advocated against, since I first learned of the issue late last year.
(To summarize: Hydrofracking (high volume slick water hydraulic fracturing) is a particularly toxic method of natural gas extraction. The Marcellus Shale formation, stretching from northern New York State to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has been identified as especially ripe for drilling. In Pennsylvania (and many other states) where the laws have been more lax, residential tap water has been shown to be flammable due to the effects of gas drilling. Hydrofracking uses a toxic mix of secret, proprietary chemicals (owned by the vile assholes at Halliburton, of course), sand, and millions of gallons of water to fracture gas pockets in the shale and force precious fossil fuel to the surface. In the process, a portion of the toxic fluid remains in the ground, while most of it returns to the surface. This fluid is industrial, radioactive waste that is known to cause birth defects, brain damage and cancer. And so on and so forth.)
So what did I say to the stranger who wanted my opinion? I said that the drilling continues. So-called "exploratory" drilling, which is presumably not covered by the moratorium, allows ecocidal corporations to drill without environmental oversight. But whatever. The Senate vote will first be reviewed by the State Assembly in September. Who knows how long they will discuss the matter, while current and new drill sites poison the water table. When they are done discussing, the Governor will review the issue. (The current Governor, by most accounts, appears to be a bought-and-paid-for, inept dick.) Meanwhile, if I am deciphering the insane politics correctly, the moratorium does not go into effect. At all.
The stranger who had asked for my opinion of this wonderful news countered with something about how "we did all we can" and "it worked" and the Senate vote "offers some hope." To which I responded that "we" did not do all we can. The main thrust of public effort on this issue has been political, and is moving in typical sludge-like political time. But the Earth cannot wait. I responded with the thought that "we" did all we wanted. Were we to do all we can, "we" might have slashed the throats of ecocidal maniacs willing to drill (to go to one extreme), or "we" might have set their machines on fire, or monkey-wrenched them to uselessness, or blockaded drill sites. I was not overtly advocating such behavior. I was pointing out the gulf that exists between what was done and what could be done. What was done was legal and sanctioned by the same forces ready to destroy the soil, water, and air tomorrow for a buck today. Calling for a moratorium, and maybe getting it passed (later, maybe, and perhaps with a shit ton of loopholes, why not, that's how this garbage always goes down) was already in the script.
There is a bottom line. What is it? It is clean air, clean water, and clean soil. That is the minimum requirement for species survival (our species and the various species with which we interact). The fraudulent, corrupt, make-believe, quote-motherfucking-unquote democratic process is a wholly inadequate channel for protecting the bottom line. How many tragic reminders do folks need? How many oil spills? How many "severe climate events?" How many extinctions per goddamn day? How many asthma sufferers, cancer patients, victims of brain damage? It is not a victory when the ecocidal corporatists that would readily sell your survival down the toxic river set the terms of your victory. (Hope & Change, anyone? I bet the hundreds of thousands of mothers and children killed during the Bush/Obama Imperial holocaust in Iraq are celebrating in their irradiated graves over President Peaceprize's announcement earlier today of the end of U.S. combat operations in their former Earthly home.)
Back to the stoop, and my friendly conversation. I added that there ought to be in place an "underground railroad" for heroic people dubbed "eco-terrorists", animal liberationists, monkey-wrenchers and so on. Not everyone will stand up, bodily, to the engines of war against the Earth. But when such folks do, and when they are on the run, they deserve our protection physically, legally, rhetorically, philosophically, spiritually.
The stranger, who claimed to be a 30-year veteran of anti-nuclear activism, then announced (like a perfect, left-liberal fauxgressive) that I was "harshing his mellow." Which was just fine by me. Fuck his fucking mellow. People sometimes ask me why I am so angry. I want to know why those same people aren't.