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Why the Fracking Industry Is Lying About its "Free-market Success"

Supporters and leaders of the hydraulic fracturing industry aren't being honest about government support for this new natural gas boom.
 
 
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Photo Credit: billb1961 via Flickr

 
 
 
 

 

As they drill for quick corporate profits deep inside our Earth, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, and other titans of the natural gas hydraulic fracturing industry are harming people's health, the environment, and local economies across the country. They're also fracking something essential to a properly functioning democratic society: the truth.

They're hailing themselves both as exemplars of free-market success and as the "virtuous ones" in our society — the producers and makers, as contrasted to the mass of Americans that the far-right corporatists are now openly calling "moochers" and "takers."

Fracking companies and political front groups are selling the public a self-serving narrative. They claim the current natural gas boom is a victory over those wimpy and undeserving producers of wind and solar power who are dependent on government subsidies to get up and running.

The shale gas boom, wrote the oil-and-gas-funded American Enterprise Institute this year, has occurred "away from the greedy grasp of Washington." AEI's laissez-faire fabulists snidely added that "surely Washington would have done something to slow it down, tax it more, or stop it altogether" had the bureaucrats realized that the private enterprise was making such progress. Indeed, crowed an industry PR group, "The free market has worked its magic."

Sheesh — their bull goes deeper than their fracking gas wells. For three decades, the federal government has pumped more than $100 million into research for the frackers, finding ways to make the technique work. And, since 1980, the big bad government they now badmouth has paid frackers more than $10 billion in a subsidy written specifically for them. These oil giants are liars, fracking away at their own integrity.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, "Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow." (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly "Hightower Lowdown," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.
 
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