Two months before my community and so many others were overwhelmed this week by epic rains, our state’s chief oil and gas regulator, Matt Lepore, appeared onstage in nearby Loveland with representatives of the fossil fuel industry. During that event, Lepore — an industry-lawyer-turned-public-official — proceeded to berate citizens concerned about the ecological impact of fracking and unbridled drilling. More specifically, he insisted that those asking fossil fuel development to be governed by the precautionary principle are mostly affluent and therefore unconcerned with the economic impact of their environmentalism.
Ignoring public polling data that documented the broad support for tougher environmental regulation, Lepore was making the classic populist argument against the precautionary principle. In this instance, an industry puppet: 1) pretended environmental stewardship is merely a luxury for those fortunate enough to be able to afford it; and 2) insinuated that a lack of such stewardship primarily harms the sensibilities of rich folk, but not much else.
Today, parts of the same city where Lepore delivered his diatribe remain inundated. Same thing for “thousands of oil and gas wells and associated condensate tanks and ponds,” according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
Already, there is at least one confirmed oil pipeline leak. At the same time, the Denver Post reports that “oil drums, tanks and other industrial debris mixed into the swollen (South Platte) river.” Some of this has been caught on camera, as harrowing photos of partially submerged oil and gas sites now hit the Internet. It all suggests that there’s a very real possibility of a slow-motion environmental disaster, one whose potential damage to water supplies, spread of carcinogenic chemicals and contamination of agricultural land should concern both rich and poor.
In retrospect, then, the flood powerfully illustrates the problem with officials like Lepore (who later apologized) pretending that environmental stewardship and the precautionary principle are just aristocratic priorities. They are, in fact, quite the opposite: They are priorities for everyone and if those priorities have any class implications at all, those implications disproportionately involve the middle and lower classes.
~ from Industry Puppets Spew Obscene Lies While People Drown by David Sirota ~
Another odd thing about the situation in Colorado is the overall lack of analysis in the mainstream media of possible causes. I heard many a host and correspondent say words like epic and historic, but I don't think I heard any of them say the most obvious ones: global warming/climate change. When an area that has been dry for hundreds of years experiences torrential rains, one would think that it would be okay to explore the possibility that one of the reasons for this event had to do with climate change.
Too often, unfortunately, the mainstream media treats atypical storms just like they treat mass killings perpetrated by white men -- they utilize the "lone wolf" rationale. In terms of storms, we are told it is a freak occurrence completely unrelated to any number of other so-called freak storms. Though all these huge dots seem to be staring the establishment in the face, they are loathe to connect the dots! It's not that they don't see the obvious connections; it's more that they don't want us to recognize them.
Why? Because, if the majority of people start connecting the dots, we will demand significant changes to business as usual and that might mean a dip in the corporate world's short-term profits. We can't have that now!