PennEnvironment is at it again, using its money from the Heinz Endowments, to ally with Attorney General Kathleen “Ellie” Kane in supporting a political prosecution of XTO.
The Heinz Endowments, along with a handful of other rich foundations, has funded most of the opposition to fracking in this country, even as it has positioned itself publicly as way above the fray and a seeker of the supposed middle ground. Much of that opposition falls into what can only be described bizarre and irresponsible, but the worst of all may be PennEnvironment, one its pet organizations, which has received $175,000 in the last four years from the Heinz Endowments to engage in some of the dirtiest of stupid pet tricks.
PennEnvironment is, in fact, involved in another such trick now, having allied itself with Kathleen “Ellie” Kane. She is the politically ambitious Pennsylvania Attorney General who is trying hard to make a name for herself going after XTO as she continues to fund-raise for some future political contest. Kane is a superb fund-raiser who knows just how to curry favor with a trustfunder set always drawn to environmental causes as a means of demonstrating their social consciences. Treating XTO as criminal is precisely the sort of thing that endears her to them.
Far more importantly, her second biggest donor, after her husband, is what used to be known as the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association (now euphemistically known as Pennsylvania Association for Justice), which is doing its best to create a market in fracking litigation and has given Kane $558,000, not to mention individual donations from trial lawyers.
PennEnvironment has launched a campaign of its own to support Kane in this endeavor, creating an online petition for this purpose that just happened to get a boost the other day from retiring State Senator Jim Ferlo, who has his own less than sterling record on these matters (see here also) and has been a recipient of trial lawyer funding. She is supposed to be non-political, of course, in her activities as Attorney General, and a petition encouraging prosecutions on an ideological basis is about as seemly as it gets. It encourages supporters to “get Kane’s back” with the following statement, which is false at its core:
We need to defend those who are standing up for every day Pennsylvanians like you and me–like PA’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
XTO Energy was found releasing illegal fracking wastewater laced with harmful chemicals in northern Pennsylvania. Now that the Attorney General has announced charges to hold XTO responsible, they’ve launched an all-out PR campaign against the AG’s office.
Stand with the Attorney General against frackers who break the law by taking action below.
Someone reading this might think XTO had deliberately and secretly disposed of produced water with callous disregard for the environment. That is anything but the case. It’s not even clear the problem wasn’t a matter of vandalism, although it’s more likely a sub-contractor forgot to close a valve. And, XTO has already taken responsibility; no one needs to force them to do so.
What PennEnvironment is doing, with funding help from the Heinz Endowments, is piling on to create publicity and undermine responsible shale development, bearing in mind XTO was following best management practices in collecting produced water for recycling purposes and use in developing other wells. They were taking what would have been wastewater in other circumstances, cleaning it and reusing it; exactly what everyone interested in responsible shale development desires, yet PennEnvironment would punish them for doing so on the basis of what was either an accident or a case of vandalism. It never provides those details, of course, and a reader will search their website in vain for anything else about XTO. No explanation is apparently needed when it comes directing their environmental storm troopers, their true believers.
PennEnvironment supporters, in fact, are about as low maintenance as it gets. They’ll buy anything. Readers will recall, for example, the flooded Pakistani drilling rig PennEnvironment successfully (for about an hour) passed off as an example of a Pennsylvania operation. I well recall receiving a copy of the photo they distributed from a fractivist who, for some reason, keeps me on his own e-mail list. His excitement was palpable as the thrill of a possible “game-changer” pulsed through his ideologically tilted brain. He later withdrew it with little or no apology but, of course, the damage had been done, to both sides.
Undeterred, PennEnvironment later proceeded to use a South African photo of a pipe that was part a sewage treatment plant operation in that country to suggest it was an example of Pennsylvania stream pollution from discharging of fracking wastes. They tried blaming that one on one their hired guns, which produced the shallow report. PennEnvironment produces nothing but shallow reports and this was evident in still another case where it pursued its own recycling initiative. And, there’s still more here.
The XTO petition, therefore, is just more of the same. The anti-fracking movement owes its existence to wealthy foundations captured by ideologues and trial lawyers with piles of money and connections at the highest level. They operate behind several facades, ranging from the rogue to the respectable, PennEnvironment is at the far left end of the spectrum but, then again, there really is no center or right; only the same people speaking with different voices through different pet organizations. This latest stupid pet trick is one more example and it won’t go much further than the others but, in the meantime, our justice system is being corrupted. When and where will it end?