Read that the New York Times is repeating the rumor that the Russians are behind the global backlash against fracking. This hoax first surfaced in Europe, then spread to the US (including Denton, Texas) and before it completely frittered away from disuse, a Times reporter recycled it, from a previous article, one more time:
By ANDREW HIGGINS
“Circumstantial evidence, plus large dollops of Cold War-style suspicion, have added to mounting alarm over covert Russian meddling to block threats to its energy stranglehold on Europe.”
Catch is that when you read the article, there is no evidence presented, real or “circumstantial” to indicate that the Russians are manipulating what is invariably a grass-roots push back against fracking – at home or abroad.
Here’s the best Andrew Higgins could come up with re the “evidence” – there is none:
“This belief that Russia is fueling the protests, shared by officials in Lithuania, where Chevron also ran into a wave of unusually fervent protests and then decided to pull out, has not yet been backed up by any clear proof.”
Here’s Higgins interview with one of the leaders of the Romanian fractavist groups, supposedly another Kremlin fractavist marionette:
“George Epurescu, the president of Romania Without Them, a Romanian organization that has played a major role in mobilizing opposition to Chevron here in Pungesti, said his group, set up in 2011 to protest corruption, shifted its focus to the fight against fracking after it “found out about the shale gas problem” from Bulgarian activists.
He dismissed allegations of a Russian role as a crude ploy to discredit the anti-fracking movement. “It is very easy: If you can put Russia in the equation you win your argument,” he said, adding that Romania, unlike Bulgaria, has a long history of bad blood with Russia that makes its people wary of any cause backed by Moscow. Including conspiracy hoaxes.
Mr. Epurescu, who works at a Bucharest scientific institute, said his group gets no Russian or other outside funding beyond small donations from activists. Most of its money, he said, comes from his own salary. “As you can see, we don’t have much cash,” he said, sitting in the group’s ramshackle single-room headquarters, equipped only with a few old computers.”
Higgins notes that the Russian media is reporting on the European fractavist protests:
“Russian news media . . . were curiously active in covering and fueling opposition to fracking in Pungesti. RT, a state-run Russian TV news channel aimed at foreign audiences, provided blanket coverage of the protests and carried warnings that villagers, along with their crops and animals, would perish from poisoned water.”
He did not point out the the Russian media is not covering the pro-fracking demonstrations in Europe, because there are no pro-fracking demonstrations in Europe. No “Drill, Baby, Drill” in Romanian. Or Polish. No landowners clamoring to sign with Chesapeake or Range Resources. No TV Gas Blonde Ads in Estonia.
Why is there a lot of opposition to fracking in Europe and basically no local grassroots support ? Four reasons that I can think of off hand:
1. The mineral rights are owned by the state not the people. So no shalionaires over there. No Beverly Frackbillies. No tricky Chesapeake leases, because the only lease is with the state. Which means that there are no farmers out there in orange T shirts chanting “frack, baby, frack.” No local support from leaseholder groups – which constitutes the core of local support in the US – because there are no local leases.
The leases are negotiated between the frackers and government bureaucrats – like the DEC in New York or DEC in Pennsylvania or Railroad Commission in Texas. Guess what the state leased the mineral rights for in Poland – the royalty was 2%. Meaning they missed a zero. The reason it was 2% is because the government officials that negotiated the deal got bribed. Imagine that. Pretty much the same scam happened in the Ukraine – the president pocketed the signing bonus from Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron. And fled to Russia. Not Fracklahoma. That last stunt precipitated the Ukranian uprising. Against the Russians !
2. The frackers are all foreigners – there are no local rig jobs, no local suppliers, local contractors. Just some temporary man camps. Everything, starting with the rigs and the crews to man them would be imported.
3. All the downside for the locals – ruined roads, gassed air and polluted water – and virtually no regulatory oversight; in fact, the regulators in some of the Eastern European countries are the ones that are selling the national fracking concessions. Imagine how that would work out for the environment.
4. Not much gas – Most of the exploratory wells have been dry holes. It is axiomatic that shale plays are overplayed by the frackers at the outset. Guaranteed.
Take away the mineral rights, the royalty checks and the local jobs, and what do you have left for the citizens ? Fracking nothing. Not even gas. Guess the New York Times missed all that ?
On the other hand, there’s the behavior of the frackers themselves – bribes, corruption and payola from Day One to endear themselves to the crooked politicians that get the signing bonuses to pay for their palaces: