Political Common Sense
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An article online caught my eye the other day. I read it, and realized that the described political actions by our lawmakers were predictable in many ways. The article manages to provide a window into how expected political transactions work out. If you are one to frequently discuss politics, please be sure to understand that this page is meant to either confirm your knowledge, or even to add to it. My intent is to provide a layer of understanding you may otherwise miss in the fray of current politics.
I will take bits of the article and point out various expected political moves and actions, as demonstrated by our lawmakers. If you are already aware of the principles contained within this page, congratulations! You and I should have a chat. If you don't understand, you now have a perspective from which to launch your political ship. (View the entire article, which is transcribed below)
"The Obama administration said Friday it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the first major federal regulation of the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination. A rule to take effect in June also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, as the drilling method is more commonly known. The rule has been under consideration for more than three years, drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry and environmental groups alike. The industry fears federal regulation could duplicate efforts by states and hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that lenient rules could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater."The topic is a hot-button variety, sure to polarize the two main parties. We already know that when it comes to capitalism vs. the environment, Republicans (Conservatives) and Democrats (Liberals) have complete opposite ideologies and agendas. In this case, it is safe to acknowledge that Conservatives will favor industry, and Liberals will favor the environment, in general. As is the rule with any stereotyping, however, it is important to realize that this type of categorizing is quite limited, and only useful in a rough way. Because this issue is sure to polarize, it makes for a useful model for a limited, rough type of categorizing.
It is no surprise that Obama is left (Liberal) on this issue. It makes sense, and is expected. Also expected is that those on the right (Conservatives) have had their eye on this rule from the beginning, as their corporate interests are at stake. It is well known that when it comes to how Conservatives and Liberals view money and its use, a majority of oil interests are Republican, politically. Naturally, regarding fracking, it pits both parties against one another, as a result. Both sides offer valid and compelling arguments.
This issue puts the ball in the court of those opposed to wanting chemical disclosure. The common sense question here is, "Why WOULDN'T the public have an interest in knowing what chemicals are being put into their ground?"
"Reaction to the rule was immediate. An industry group announced it was filing a lawsuit to block the regulation and the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced legislation to keep fracking regulations under state management."There is no surprise here. It makes sense that Republicans would immediately have an answer to the rule. In this case, the Conservatives stayed true to the party ideology by announcing their intent to steer management of fracking from federal control and into state control. This is one of the agenda items of the right wing - that there should be less "big" (Federal) government, and more state control. The Liberals have the opposite agenda item, in the form of federal oversight. In reality, these two ideologies overlap.
For example, it makes sense for our government to have a Food and Drug Administration to oversee the quality of medicine, among many other things. However, states have the right to manage the distribution and legality of any of those drugs, in most cases. The common sense question here is, "If a compromise is made, how will it affect the public?"
Of course, there is a flurry of dialogue being exchanged among those on Capitol Hill. The party hard-liners are already digging in, and the political arena is filled with all sorts of mud-slinging, accusations and other governmental fodder. Here is what a couple of leading Republicans had to say, according to the article:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) - "This administration never misses a chance to appease radical environmentalists...the people who work hard every day to produce American energy safely and reliably will have to bear needless costs and headaches."Here is what a couple of leading Democrats had to say, according to the article:
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) - introduced a bill to keep regulations under state management - Regarding the new rule: "...[the new rule] adds unnecessary, duplicative red tape that will in turn make it more costly and arduous for our nation to pursue energy security."
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell - "I've personally fracked wells, so I understand the risk as well as the reward...we owe it to our kids to get this right."
Brian Deese, Senior Adviser to President Obama - "Ultimately, this is an issue that is going to be decided in state capitals and localities as well as with the industry."
If you want to take a side and dig in, I can tell you that this idea is a double-edged sword. If you pick a side, there will be plenty of ammunition for you to use as you build your case, in an attempt to destroy the case of the opposition. If you are a Republican, you will find talking points to argue, and vice-versa if you are a Democrat. Both sides will promote their talking points, ad nauseum (until we puke).
The problem with this is that it creates a divided America. Now, instead of watching those who are in position to do us the most harm (lawmakers and corporatists), middle class Americans are at each others' throats, claiming that one group is better than the other.
The common sense question here is, "Is one party truly any better than the other party regarding (insert most important issue to you here)?" Do this several times, with different important issues. Keep track of the 'yes' and 'no' tallies. You may find that both or neither party is working well in certain categories. You may find that there is a difference in how local and national government handles the issues which are important to you, as well. You may find that both parties play the same games, and that money and political interests make the rules.
There are some things to consider, as you decide how to participate in this political sphere we understand to be American democracy.
- People are NOT their political ideologies, for the most part. Your every decision is not dependent on your politics. People will try to influence you otherwise. "So-and-so does this, therefore so-and-so is a Liberal" or "so-and-so believes this, therefore so-and-so is a Conservative" are examples of this. If you fall into this trap of labeling and stereotyping, you will not be taken seriously in political discussions.
- Politics shouldn't be an "us vs. them" proposition. The political leaders are fine with us regular grunts fighting amongst ourselves. It keeps the real issues out of the line of fire, and as long as the candidate can keep their popularity among their voters (their 'base'), the infighting doesn't matter. The way to counter this is to smarten up, grow up and team up. When this happens, and Americans begin noticing the corruption and dishonesty that is our leadership, then things will begin to change. This will never happen as long as a majority of Americans think that they are right about something that absolutely has no right or wrong.
- If it weren't for Liberals, the United States wouldn't exist. If it weren't for Conservatives, tradition wouldn't exist. Without the two, we have no value. With the two, we have worth and unity. The truth is that statistically you can count on about ten percent of either group being "fringe" and quite extreme in their views. The rest of the electorate vary from being hard-liners for their ideologies, to having any mix of both ideologies. This is usually around 2/3 of the voting population.
This group is tricky to track at any given moment, and they are the easiest to persuade, given their beliefs regarding how a candidate best fits their interests. Hard-liners and party extremists are the least likely to change their biases, thus skewing the curve a bit, depending on which fringe has the strongest showing at the ballot boxes.
However, people who vote with no real knowledge of the candidates, their platforms, or anything else fall into the majority group. This means that there is a demographic which includes people who are likely to vote based on advertising and other current communication mediums. Many political advertising dollars are spent in this manner, and studies upon studies show that this type of advertising is effective.
The information on this web page is just scratching the surface of political parties and their place in American politics. It doesn't include the many other parties which are rarely, if ever, serious political contenders. You may occasionally see Independents or other third-party candidates (a party which is neither Democrat or Republican) in local political seats, but rarely are any of them serious contenders for president. It is important to understand why this matters, but not in this blog.
If you are learning, great! Keep up the good work. If you already knew all of this stuff, great! We are on the same page. If you are in some ten-percent fringe, well, I am sure you aren't reading by now, so it doesn't matter anyway! Take care, and make a friend vote the next time you do!
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Fracking: US tightens rules for chemical disclosure
Matthew Daly and Josh Lederman,
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Friday it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the first major federal regulation of the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination. A rule to take effect in June also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, as the drilling method is more commonly known. The rule has been under consideration for more than three years, drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry and environmental groups alike. The industry fears federal regulation could duplicate efforts by states and hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that lenient rules could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater. Reaction to the rule was immediate. An industry group announced it was filing a lawsuit to block the regulation and the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced legislation to keep fracking regulations under state management. The final rule hews closely to a draft that has lingered since the Obama administration proposed it in May 2013. The rule relies on an online database used by at least 16 states to track the chemicals used in fracking operations. The website, FracFocus.org, was formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011 and allows users to gather well-specific data on tens of thousands of drilling sites across the country. Companies will have to disclose the chemicals they use within 30 days of the fracking operation. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the rule will allow for continued responsible development of federal oil and gas resources on millions of acres of public lands while assuring the public that "transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place." Jewell, who worked on fracking operations in Oklahoma long before joining the government in 2013, said decades-old federal regulations have failed to keep pace with modern technological advances. "I've personally fracked wells, so I understand the risk as well as the reward," Jewell said. "We owe it to our kids to get this right." Fracking involves pumping huge volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to split open rocks to allow oil and gas to flow. Improved technology has allowed energy companies to gain access to huge stores of natural gas underneath states from Wyoming to New York but has also raised widespread concerns about alleged groundwater contamination and even earthquakes. The Interior Department estimated the cost of complying with the rule would be less than one-fourth of 1 percent of the cost to drill a well. Despite that assurance, the new rule drew immediate criticism from energy industry representatives and congressional Republicans, who warned it could disrupt the years-long energy boom in the U.S. "This administration never misses a chance to appease radical environmentalists," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The new rule amounts to "regulating a process that is already properly regulated" by states, Boehner said. "Meanwhile, the people who work hard every day to produce American energy safely and reliably will have to bear needless costs and headaches." Two groups, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, filed suit in federal court in Wyoming seeking to block the rule. The suit claims the rule would impose unfair burdens that will "complicate and frustrate oil and gas production on federal lands." Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate environment panel, introduced a bill to keep regulations under state management, saying the new rule "adds unnecessary, duplicative red tape that will in turn make it more costly and arduous for our nation to pursue energy security." The League of Conservation Voters called the bill an important step forward to regulate fracking. Even so, the group was disappointed with the continued reliance on FracFocus, a private website that has taken on increasing prominence in recent years as it collects data on drilling sites. The final rule improves on previous versions, said Madeleine Foote, legislative representative for the conservation league, but "it represents a missed opportunity to set a high bar for protections that would truly increase transparency and reduce the impacts (of fracking) to our air, water and public lands." While the new rule only applies to federal land — which makes up just one-tenth of natural gas drilling in the United States — the Obama administration is hoping the rule will serve as a model and set a new standard for hydraulic fracturing that states and other regulators will follow. Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said the rules for public lands could serve as a template that the oil and gas industry could adopt to help address the public's concern about the health and safety of fracking. "Ultimately, this is an issue that is going to be decided in state capitals and localities as well as with the industry," he said. The rule will make the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management the largest customer of FracFocus. Nearly 95,000 wells nationwide are registered with the site, which is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Both groups are based in Oklahoma. The groundwater council is a nonprofit organization while the oil and gas commission is a collection of state officials from energy-producing states. Jewell said BLM will have representation on FracFocus' board, adding that the group has taken steps to improve its platform, including adopting a new format that allows data to be automatically read by computers. While Inhofe and other congressional Republicans are likely to mount an effort to block the rule, Jewell predicted the rule would survive because the industry recognizes that sensible regulation of fracking is appropriate. "We expect that these rules will stick," she said.
|Stephen L. Wilson is a writer for Blog of Ages. His experience as a self-publisher serves him well in this capacity. Wilson is the editor of two international charity anthologies, Twist of Fate and Angels Cried. He is also the author of the self-published eBook Life Bits and Other Chunks: Memoirs of an untrained man. Stephen has established and managed many international social network groups. E-MAIL|