• RSS
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
AdLib On August - 14 - 2013

drought600

I remember a couple of years ago, T. Boone Pickens was doing the rounds on news and talk shows trying to convince the nation to end their addiction to oil…by starting a new addiction to natural gas. He went as far as buying a proposition on the California ballot that would slash and limit the ability to use solar and other renewable fuels and force the state to convert to natural gas in government owned vehicles including buses, vehicle fleets, etc. Back then his greedy proposition failed but look around today in the era of fracking and it’s clear that he and he cohorts have won big time.

T. Boone Pickens is the quintessential greed-driven, environment destroying ruthless Texas oil man, famous for being a corporate raider and a big financier for the fraudulent Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry during his 2004 Presidential  bid. And he and his hedge fund, BP Capital are heavily leveraged into natural gas…what a coincidence!

Pickens and the rest of the oil company folk have all gotten behind natural gas and are in the midst of doing for our water supply, what their fossil fuel industry has done to our ozone layer and climate.

If you haven’t seen Gasland or its recent sequel, Gasland 2, you still may have heard the dirty truth about fracking. Here’s the sobering trailer for Gasland 2:

People who live on land where fracking is going on (sometimes they unknowingly have horizontal drilling coming from a distance away and don’t even know what’s going on) have experienced gas infiltration into their ground water supply so their water is toxic and can actually be lit on fire. Many of these people are now forced to pay on their own for trucks to deliver water to them because the toxic fracking chemicals have poisoned their water. Some have even been forced to move off of their land because of how the toxicity around them is making them and their children ill. Meanwhile, the fracking oil/gas companies use their wealth and power to keep residents from having an easy time taking any recourse with their government or in the courts.

Putting aside the greater pollution natural gas causes to the atmosphere because of massive amounts of escaped gas and exhausts during processing…as well as the unprecedented earthquakes following the use of this earth fracturing process, the enormous amount of water they poison with toxic fracking chemicals and inject into the ground to shatter it and release the natural gas will be a key factor in creating a water shortage in America.

From an article on this by the Energy Collective:

All shale gas wells drilled and completed in the United States in 2011 consumed on the order of 135 billion gallons of water.

In towns that already have little water such as those suffering through ongoing drought (more on this below), the massive usage of water for fracking can profoundly harm water availability right now as this USA Today article describes:

What’s exacerbating water worries in parts of Texas is water-intensive fracking, which is taking off in some of the state’s driest areas.

Half of Texas’ oil and gas wells were in “high or extremely high water stress” regions, according to a report in May by Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit that promotes corporate sustainability. Nationwide, the report says, 47% of these wells are in water-stressed areas.

In Texas, water for fracking jumped 125% in three years and will continue to increase before leveling off in the 2020s, according to a University of Texas-Austin study this year by research scientist Jean-Phillippe Nicot.

The UT study says oil and gas drilling accounts for less than 1% of water use statewide, and one-fifth of water used in fracking is recycled or brackish. But a similar 2011 study, also by Nicot, found it accounts for at least 20% of water in some counties where fracking is big business.

And this from a Guardian Article on a town that has run out of water after a fracking operation set up shop in their town:

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”

In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

Shrinking supplies of water may be a catastrophe for all Americans but it would be a massive boon to others including one beloved corporation in particular, Nestle.

Yep, those toll house cookie folks are intending to take a big toll on people’s ability to have life sustaining water. And don’t just take it from me, here’s what the current Nestle Chairman said about it:

Nestle Chairman and former CEO Peter Brabeck:

“Water is of course the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. And the other view says water is a foodstuff like any other. and like any other foodstuff it should have a market better. Personally I think it’s better to give foodstuff a market value . . .”

Here’s the video, you can watch him say it for yourself (via subtitles unless you speak German), skip to 2:06 to see him start the above speech:

So why should anyone care that a chocolate and candy company thinks that corporations have every right to monopolize drinking water and only provide it to those who will pay them what they demand for it?

Because Nestle isn’t just a candy company, they are approaching a monopoly on the drinking water industry in the US (but have already established water monopolies elsewhere in the world). There’s a good chance that the last bottle of water you had was probably owned by Nestle. Perhaps you had Arrowhead? Or maybe Calistoga? Maybe you sipped a Perrier? If not, could it have been a Poland Springs? How about a San Pellegrino? Am I getting warm? If so, I may need a drink of Vittel. And don’t forget to give your baby a sip of Gerber water.

In addition, Nestle has various name brands of water, including the ironically foreshadowing named Nestle’s Pure Life.

In all, Nestle owns 66 brands of bottled water (here’s a link to the list on Nestle’s site: http://www.nestle-waters.com/brands/all-brands), making up over a 32% share of the bottled water market in the US.

Nestle is also succeeding in their city-by-city campaign of contracting to siphon off water from public water systems and buying up water rights around states then reselling that water at an obscene profit. From a 2009 report from the non-profit organization, Food and Water Watch:

The average state rate for municipal use of groundwater (in California) is one cent per 40 gallons. Meanwhile, Nestlé can sell the cheaply acquired water in a 16-ounce bottle for around $1.29, or $10.32 per gallon. That pencils out to Nestlé making more than 127,000 times as much money selling a gallon of water compared to what it paid for the right to the water.

A decrease in the availability of water would be a bonanza for Nestle so they have to be sending muffin baskets daily to the oil and gas industry not just for using up billions of gallons of water for fracking but for causing CO2 pollution along the way which has caused Climate Change and a vast reduction of available water globally accompanied of course by unprecedented droughts.

Here’s a recent drought map which shows over half of the US in unusual to exceptional droughts (and some of our country’s most important farmlands are in the midst of them):

US Drought Map

In many of these areas, fracking and water bottling is draining the diminishing public water that is available.

At the same time, Utah, Washington and Colorado already have laws against collecting rainwater and the trend appears to be spreading.

Here’s a video from NASA on The Weather Channel which shows the startling and terrifying visual projections up until the year 2100 as massive droughts encompass the entire nation:

Our problem with not stopping Climate Change was our short-sightedness in thinking, “Well, everything’s okay right now, we’ll deal with it later.” Then of course, later comes and it’s too late.

These Three Horsemen of the Water Apocalypse, fracking, privatization of public water and drought may seem incidental to our lives today but it would be wise to look ahead and imagine…what if Climate Change continues as predicted and we have one decade after another of droughts? What if fracking continues to proliferate over the next several decades and both sucks up billions of gallons of water as well as permanently pollutes billions more? What if mercenary companies like Nestle (there are others of course) continue to drain off and bottle for obscene profit, billions of gallons of public water over those same decades? And if all this causes the availability of water to diminish and the price of water to skyrocket substantially…and it’s against the law to even collect rainwater, what will the poorest people do? What will those middle class Americans who have trouble paying bills today do when they’re forced to spend more per month on water than gas for their car?

Corporations may be defined as people by our current Supreme Court but they don’t need water to live…they just want to horde it to make great profits on it and since they have no social or moral responsibility to the society they take it from, they have no reservations about taking it out of the hands of human beings whose lives depend on it.

Water shortage is the severe global crisis of the very near future and unlike with its relative, Climate Change, we should take steps today to avert the terrible impact that it could bring, keeping in mind that some of the most powerful corporations in the world will be doing everything they can to make it happen.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

19 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. AdLib says:

    The ongoing 12 years of drought in the US is nearing emergency levels. Again, the availability of water due to Climate Change induced drought is falling and there is no end in sight:

    Dwindling Colorado River Forces First-Ever Cuts in Lake Powell Water Releases

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – the agency charged with managing water in the West – announced Friday that it would cut the amount of water released next year by Lake Powell in Arizona by 750,000 acre-feet, enough to supply about 1.5 million homes.

    The move could trigger an “unprecedented water crisis within the next few years,” the business coalition group Protect the Flows told USA Today, as reductions could have major ramifications for farmers and businesses downstream that depend on those flows, as well as on hydroelectric power generation.

    http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/drought-lake-powell-lake-mead-climate-change-20130818

  2. Kalima says:

    I thought this article funny but truthful in light of the numerous anti-fracking protests around the U.K. since the lying Tory Cameron government have claimed that fracking will cure all of the country’s economic woes. Funny really, those woes were caused by their insane austerity policies in the first place, and now they want to destroy the environment for the poorer people too because it’s not enough to cut their benefits and kill them off with privatised healthcare.

    —-

    Lucy Mangan: fracking idiots

    ‘Governments should never support something that has a name so semantically suggestive’

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/17/lucy-mangan

  3. Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Artists Against Fracking

    Don’t Frack My Mother


  4. Nirek says:

    Ad, I was driving my 2 year old granddaughter home and listening to the radio. Switched to Shawn HaNUTTY , he was touting FRACKING, and other fossil fuels. Saying that we could provide all our energy without buying any from the countries that don;t like us. He had the nerve to say we wouldn’t have to fight wars in those countries to get oil. Not have to send our kids to fight there. This from a war monger who wanted us there forever. This from a guy who cares zero about our kids our our environment.

    I don’t hate anyone, but I sure don’t like him or his ilk. They want to destroy our environment for profit.

  5. kesmarn says:

    Finally had time to google the exact name of a very good documentary about fracking that I saw on Netflix. It’s called “Split Estate.”

    http://www.splitestate.com/the_film.html

    Before I saw this I hadn’t realized that while you might own your own home, the rights to the minerals and gas underneath that home could well belong to someone else. Someone like an oil/gas exploration outfit.

    And they can — by law in many places — do just about anything they want. It’s well worth a having a look.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks for the link and heads up on this doc! It is a devious practice, and the horizontal drilling practice exacerbates this, some people have no idea that a drilling rig a ways away is drilling right under their property and/or fracking right under their property.

      I’m afraid it won’t be until drought becomes severe and persistent in the US that people will get angry about billions of gallons of ground water being polluted and undrinkable due to fracking…but by then the fracking companies will be heavily leveraged into the bottled water business (and making much more than they did from fracking).

  6. glenn says:

    Good morning AdLib and everyone. Hope everyone saw Stephen Colbert’s “The Word” last night regarding fracking. It was absolutely brilliant! I’m beginning to believe that you, AdLib, must be one of the writers on his show, as his (Colbert’s) comments so closely mirror so many of yours. :)

    • AdLib says:

      glenn, that is great praise indeed, thank you! In case people missed it, here’s that segment from last night’s Colbert (“Stop reading my thoughts and get out of my mind, Colbert!”)

      EDIT:

      Here is the lead up bit to The Word segment that’s also aboout fracking:

      And here’s The Word segment:

  7. choicelady says:

    Good summary, AdLib!

    Nestle is here in Sacramento. They bottle our TAP WATER and then sell it for profit. I invite anyone wishing to drink Nestle’s water to come to my house -- I will give it to you for free.

    I have HUGE mixed thoughts about fracking because back east, in an entirely different geological zone, some of the major players are doing a relatively decent job of fracking without ruining water supplies. The people of parts of Ohio are getting needed jobs, and gas IS what runs most of the West’s public transit bus system. The issue for me is what geology is OK (Gasland is a very fragile environment that never should have been fracked), what companies are reliable, where will we get natural gas without fracking? These are complex issues that defy the NO Fracking vs All Fracking All of the Time scenarios. I just don’t know yet if it can be done well, without destroying the water resources, setting off earthquakes, contaminating the environment. For me the jury is out because the data are not in. I reserve judgement and demand FACTS that will either make or break this issue.The corporate support for fracking is just not a reliable source!

    But as for privatizing water? NOT ON. The absurdity is most obvious here -- the mayor, the ever ridiculous basketball player Kevin Johnson -- has sold our water for pennies to Nestle while letting them profit from it.

    Anyone buying bottled water on a regular basis seems ridiculous to me. Unless you live in a known contaminated place, tap water is fine. We have excellent sources, good quality wherever cities have decent filtration, and there is simply no justification for buying it. THAT is how it gets stopped on the market -- don’t buy it. But what then of the rush to privatize SUPPLIES when municipalities sell out to private sources for TAP water. THAT is a huge problem looming for us all. One has only to look at the debacle of Highland Park, MI where the municipal water system was sold to a private company that began turning OFF water to people struggling to pay bills and that failed to staff the water company making three employees work 7 days a week, no relief at all. The company finally ditched the effort because the community pushed back -- and pushed the company OUT. But it was the signature effort that is now almost universal in MI. Nothing succeeds like a really bad idea.

    MAJOR complexities. The rush and relentless drive to privatization of natural resources must end, period. Whether it’s the gormless Johnson or other pernicious elected officials looking for a quick fix to budget shortfalls, water must remain a public not private right. There is no excuse for selling out EVER.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey CL! Yes, I know Johnson is a real Johnson and sold out SAC to Nestle. Outrageous!

      Actually, I’d argue that the science is in as much as it ever will be because there will be no in depth government studies on fracking since Cheney has legally cloaked them in secrecy.

      I would highly recommend watching Gasland 2, they use night vision lenses to show massive amounts of methane pouring into the atmosphere from processing plants. Methane is far worse as an ozone pollutant than CO2 so what this fracking madness is doing is speeding up our driving off the Climate Change cliff.

      The disaster that has come with our not moving in a timely way to restrain Climate Change was brought about by arguing that capping CO2 would reduce jobs and fuel supply so it never happened. And now, we’re in big trouble.

      In a better reality, we could have a Progressive Congress devoting investment into alternative fuels so we could work our way off of fossil fuels (which includes natural gas) instead of digging in deeper on fossil fuels as fracking and the proliferation of natural gas usage has brought about.

      Switch grass into ethanol, wind power and solar power filling up the grid, more hybrid and all-electric cars with charging stations built around the nation, lots and lots of jobs in alternate fuels would dwarf those in fracking and there would be a decrease in ozone pollutants instead of an increase.

      I don’t connect with the pro-fracking argument when I look at the extreme weather and disasters caused by Climate Change. So we have more fossil fuels to power things in the short term but waste and contaminate billions of gallons of water (which is the resource we need to live) as droughts are projected to grow across the US from now on (check out the NASA animation in my post, it’s scary and should make anyone want to conserve our water).

      I think we really need to look long term, we absolutely need a Progressive Congress to make the things happen that need to happen and we should be looking to transitioning out of fossil fuels instead of finding alternate and worse-polluting ways to produce them (don’t get me started on tar sands!).

      • choicelady says:

        Hi AdLib -- I know Gasland, and I also learned that the geology of that area should NEVER have been tapped. It’s qualitatively different from Marcellus Shale that does not emit methane. You’re so right about that.

        I just read a report from (mumble -- can’t remember who but a good source) that electric cars are LESS green overall than hybrids because of the production issues and the emissions from electrical generating facilities. They contribute more carbon by a fraction than do hybrids. My money is on solar -- saw a student group once hauling one that had tested very well at a competition, and save for the obvious places such as Seattle that has too little sun to make them reliable, they may be our best answer.

        I once followed a car with a huge wind-up key in the back, and a web site printed on it (I no longer recall what it was) leading people to info on this very real, not a joke, mode of propulsion. I suspect it’s the Farragut principle -- there are flashlights that work just by shaking them, and this may be similar. I will try to find the web site again. Looked very silly, but it was for real.

        So we don’t HAVE to be trapped in dirty and unreliable modes of energy extraction and consumption. We must make good choices now -- time is, indeed, running out.

        The water wars though…it chills me to the bone that Monsanto just bought Blackwater (now Xe). It is my belief that the single biggest thing we need to observe is the creation of private mercenary armies to push multinational corporate take overs in underdeveloped nations. Water will be front and center in those issues. It started decades ago and was well documented in John Perkins’ horrifying book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” about his role in water and land theft as a CIA undercover operative. Add in a rogue private organization enforcing corporate takeovers, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

        We can see why the Chinese think the saying, “May you live in interesting times” is a curse.

        • AdLib says:

          CL -- That’s kind of a tortured argument that some make against electric cars. The total pollution caused by fracking is enormously more than an increase in some powerplants that are coal fired. It’s just plain wrong as a comparison.

          And the idea would be to improve alternative fuels and energy that would increasingly reduce coal-using powerplants.

          Put it this way, as solar and wind power an increasingly amount of the grid, coal pollution is hugely slashed. And it should be completely eliminated…if only we had a more aggressive alternative energy program.

          And with a smart grid in place nationally, the south, midwest and west can contribute solar, the northwest and northeast can contribute wind power and other alternatives.

          I was stunned by the news about Monsanto and XE and did some research on the web to find that this is not conclusively true, it’s based on an assumption. The assumption may or may not be correct but in any case, Monsanto has employed XE (now remnamed again as Academi) in the past and as a fellow evil, oppressive entity, is in the same category of Enemies of the People and are soulmates in militarily and economically taking over the world piece by piece.

          It is an open secret that corporations know that water is the next oil and that its growing shortage will give great wealth and power to those who control water. Monsanto is naturally predatory towards owning water rights and as you say, having control over both the growing of food and water would make Monsanto the fascist world leader it wants to be.

          It may sound too comic-bookish but it’s true, they and other corporations are dedicated to the domination of the planet. The closer they get to having iron fisted control over our food and water though, the closer they will be to an explosive revolution by the masses.

          They don’t get it, you can’t oppress billions of people like that and sustain it.

  8. kesmarn says:

    Oops… and I meant to add: wouldn’t this be a great time to start boycotting bottled water?

    • AdLib says:

      Actually, aside from a few exceptions, we have pretty much stopped buying bottled water already. And after learning about Nestle’s nefarious agenda and sociopathic philosophy, we have been boycotting Nestlé to my daughter’s disappointment (“But I love Butterfingers and they make the best chocolate chips!!” “Nope, Ghirardelli chocolate chips are better, trust me! And you can still have Reese’s!”)

  9. kesmarn says:

    AdLib, it was a little over four years ago that one of the Sisters of Mercy mentioned this at a meeting as “the next big human rights issue.” At first I was incredulous. How can you privatize water? How naive I was.

    In the midst of all the havoc that Tea Party Governor John Kasich has wrought here in Ohio, one measure that went virtually unnoticed was a bill he signed regarding the amount of water than can be withdrawn from Lake Erie and the tributaries that feed it. Needless to say, it was extremely business-friendly. Especially fracking business-friendly. (An earlier version had been even worse, but it raised such a stink that it was modified.)

    Here’s a little more detail, for anyone who’s interested:

    http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2012/06/kasich_signs_lake_erie_water_u.html

    The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, a Napoleon Republican, has drawn controversy for sitting on the board of directors for the International Bottled Water Association and owning a bottled-water company that uses water from Lake Erie tributaries.

    Surprise!

    Meanwhile — our Tea Party mayor, Mike Bell, here in Toledo (very near Lake Erie) has been bragging about balancing the city budget (unlike the previous Democratic, pro-union administration). How did he do it? He sold prime riverfront property rights to Chinese investors. Can they withdraw water from the river? Indeed they can. Will we ever, ever get that land back in the future?

    Literally…not on your life.

    • choicelady says:

      kes -- see if you can get the film, The Water Front, about the Highland Park fiasco in Michigan. (www.waterfrontmovie.com) The private company blew it big time, and the city fought back against them and won. Worth showing around Toledo to be a clear warning statement. I’m sure the good sisters would be only too happy to air it for community groups.

      • kesmarn says:

        Thanks so much for the recommendation, c’lady, and — as always — you inject a note of hope when you mention that the city fought back and won.

        At this point the mayor is so “cooperative” with the Kasich forces that there’s little chance of any fighting back happening. However — there’s an election coming up soon! :-)

    • AdLib says:

      Kes, we can’t help but take common sense things for granted, like human beings in a civilized society being entitled to water. Sociopathic corporate execs though see something people need like health care or water and say, “There must be a way to make people come through us and have to pay us a fortune to get it!”

      I remember your comment about K-Sick letting corporations drain Lake Erie of a lot of water, this is a disaster that won’t come to fruition during his Governorship it in the future, it will become quite clear.

      And as you say, selling off riverfront property and water rights to Chinese investors may be a forever thing. Then again, I watched a 60 Minutes and a Vice episode about the enormous housing bubble in China and when that bursts, these people might need to sell their property here for the cash.

      One thing we do know, the short term benefits from selling off long term water rights is short sighted and a recipe for disaster.


Leave your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Back to top
PlanetPOV Tweets
Ongoing Stories
Features