A number of years ago, a small community in a county north of State College, Pa. added an ordinance to their conservative charter in the form of “benefits for the county.” Sadly, I don’t have the url and whether you believe it or not is irrelevant. I read about it, commented on it at the time and a number of us Professional Leftists discussed it. The gist was that no “person or family not affiliated with a utility company” was allowed to install, own, rent or operate any device for the production of power, electrical or otherwise, that could be provided by or in lieu of a utility company.” This includes wind, solar, hydro, geothermal or anything to be developed or in development. Fines were written in in case anyone tried to beat the utility companies out of their “right to make a profit by controlling the power” capability.
A few years later an agreement was entered into by a number of states and utility companies (with the help of utility lobbyists) to make us more energy conscious…and to save us money by introducing power meters that can control new appliances in your own home. Yep. In case you’re unaware of that, some electrical companies now have and most will have the ability to turn off your new air conditioner, television, computer, lights, (plug in vibrator?) or any other appliance they deem uses too much of “their power” if the demand becomes too great. (By the way, stock up on incandescent light bulbs. Production of them, in the U.S. will stop January 1, 2011 and you MUST use CFLs)! We’ve heard some rumors (and so far they are still only rumors) that possession and/or use of incandescent bulbs after a suitable period will result in fines levied from additional charges to your utility bills because you’re not doing your part to conserve electricity to curtailment of electrical serices. (None of this pertains to big businesses in case you’re wondering).
Meters will be installed that monitor and allow control by the utility company of your power usage. It’s happening in parts of Maryland now and I’ve already heard a few complaints that during the last hot days of summer, when the demand for electricity was higher than normal some people had their air conditioners shut down for a few hours. (How about losing your parent's oxygen supplier? They breathe too much?)
How is this possible you ask? It goes back to the sneaky lobbying that includes hidden rules in obscure legislation. These rules for the power companies were instituted so that Americans could save power and money…supposedly, for Americans but allow higher profits over time for companies.
Just a side note. In the 80s the advertising lobby got a bit of shit added to the Communications Act that forbade any manufacturer of television, radio, stereo, or any product capable of delivering commercial broadcasting to consumers the ability to regulate the volume of commercials. There used to be a button on your TV called AGC or “automatic gain control” which kept the volume at “normal levels of whatever you set. After the legislation, no more agc on any electronic devices! That’s why many of your commercials are louder than regular programming despite the claim that “those commercials are just recorded louder.” You can find lots of bullshit added to the U.S. Code at Cornell Law
All of this was done for business interests. Now comes the next big thing – Marcellus Shale Gas. This is the savior, the Messiah of American dependence on foreign oil! There are trillions of cubic feet of natural gas under most of Pennsylvania, New York eastern Ohio and soon to be prairie land, West Virginia. This is a godsend or allahsend or whichever deity is currently in charge.
So what are the ramifications? We here in America will have “clean” natural gas for eleventy billion years if we just let these (small) companies get it for us. Sounds fantastic. But already, the greed is showing. Many of these small companies make agreements with the locals to drill on their property in exchange for promises of huge and perennial wealth for them and their children and children’s children. Can you say bullshit, boys and girls?
When some land owners say no, these companies go to court to get permission to drill whether the owners of the surface land object or not. And in almost every case, the courts award rights to the companies mainly because they or some other business has bought the mineral rights to literally everything under a homeowner’s surface or a law has been passed (usually by a Republican legislature) to allow the sale of anything under the surface to anyone with enough cash. If there’s coal under a home, a mining company can remove it and if the house collapses because of mine subsidence, tough shit. I can’t wait until there’s a huge demand for clay. They will, by law, be able to remove the clay from under your house and you can’t do a thing about it.
These gas recovery companies use a method called fraking, not to be confused with the invented word “frak” first used by Apollo and Starbuck on Battlestar Gallactica back in the 70s. Glen Larsen wanted to allow the actors to express themselves without offending the virgin ears of Americans so instead of saying “shoot that FUCKING alien ship”, they said “shoot that fraking alien ship!” Its use was popularized by the recent redo of Battlestar Gallactica on the SyFy network.
The companies, however (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) claim the word is derived from “fracturing” the shale with high pressure water which uses an ”Ancient Chinese Secret” ingredient that is, just like the shit BP used in the Gulf, absolutely, totally safe to drink, ingest, bathe in or let your kids squirt each other with. (However, the owners of the secret ingredient will not allow their wives, children or those of their employees anywhere near the stuff. And oh, yeah, they won’t tell the government what the ingredient is…but take their word for it, it’s safe)! If you haven’t seen it already, you owe it to yourself and family to watch “Gasland” the HBO Special to get some idea of how people are getting screwed.
But the most interesting point of all of this is now the big oil companies are getting involved. Yep. You betcha. They see the writing on the wall that their profits will soon go down as foreign oil becomes scarce and Americans find other fuels. So what’s a poor multi-billion dollar company to do when staring possible revenue loss for their parasitic investors? Why they buy up the rights to the small companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale Fields as some have already leased areas of the Oceans near America in case Hydro power from the Tides can become profitable to them. Same thing with thousands of acres of windswept land in the Midwest for turbines. Gotta corner the market so no one else can make money but them!
Chevron just bought the rights from a company in Western Pa. that will allow them to own the gas that comes from the area. Check out this report. And this one. The ads are already local about saving America from foreign oil. Patriotic and pathetic music plays in the background; farmers regale us with tales of how gas wells on their property have provided them with financial security (many of the same farmers who have gotten government subsidies over the years); a wife comes on and tells us how these companies provided peace of mind with money for her ailing, Alzheimer’s afflicted mother and made things just swell for her and her family. True? Probably. The norm? Not on your life!
One of the things these parasites are doing is making sure the legal aspect of what they do is locked down tighter than Christine O’Donnell’s supposed virginity. For example: a group of home owners (individually) agree to allow drilling on their property for a specified amount of money. So far, so good. In the agreement it’s stated that nothing lasts forever so they will be paid until the gas runs out and/or for the amount recovered…but don’t worry, there’s lots of gas and they show the marks the charts and government data! So each of these families has visions of sugarplums and Disneyworld dancing through their heads when they sign their future away on the titanium line. What happens then ain’t quite so nice, but it’s sure 100% American.
It seems the companies now have the right to provide access to the drilling site by any means necessary, even if they have to rip up lawns, driveways and in one case, remove a man’s garage to get to the site, and drill all hours of the night regardless of noise. AND…they don’t have to replace the divots…at least for years (when ALL the gas runs out, and that’s the key wording). So what’s so bad about this? Well, they offer a nice figure to the home owners; say $20,000 per year and the starry eyed dupes sign. Now you have 15 to 20 families in the area agreeing to this. The cost to the company could be $400,000 per year just to these families. That means the cost of the gas will be higher, to compensate for their terrible losses!
But wait! If you order now, you’ll get this important piece of news from another neighbor. Seems he’s getting $50,000 for a longer contract. Big deal, you say? Yep. What’s happening is the drilling companies are using horizontal drilling as do all of them. This means the one drilling site can install a much larger pipe, suck out a hell of a lot more gas from it and from under the homes of the other properties and cause their gas rate to reduce to a trickle. Because of this, the gas production under the 19 other families homes will drop considerably thereby reducing the income these families agreed upon. So instead of paying 19 families 20k per year, they may get less than 1k!! While the 20th family (probably someone the driller knows) gets their 50k (along with a kickback to the local commissioners)! The companies save over $300,000 from the deals the people thought was so great. The company keeps the cash for investment in the next sucker’s property and prices rise. And the other 19 families get to keep noisy equipment on their property, muddy access ways to get to it (and the families can’t use the access way or block it!), face lowering home values but still have to pay their taxes. Of course, this won’t happen immediately and the incidents already occurring have been downplayed, but once Big Oil takes over, you can bet Sarah Palin’s inflated boobs that Americans will get screwed again.
Bottom line? This time the long term effect will be much worse than paying OPEC. We’re being sold another bill of goods by American Business and our legislators don’t give one damn about it. We stop being dependent on foreign oil and become dependent on that old-time price gouging by American Business we’ve all come to accept.
Will we do anything about it? Don't we all love big brother?