Could fracking finally kill off rural America?


Transition Voice

Gasland 2, the sequel to Josh Fox’s documentary about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, introduces a frightening image.

It’s not another money shot of tap water on fire, though the water well hose lit up by the owner of a multimillion dollar home in Parker County, Texas is a wonder.

Nor is the most frightening image an internal gas industry memo labeling residents of small towns in Pennsylvania or New York State an “insurgency” that must be put down with PSYOPS techniques honed by the military in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most frightening image in Gasland 2 is a map of the United States covered with potential fracking sites.

The United States of Fracking

Look at the map. It’s hard to find a state whose water supply doesn’t originate in or cross through a place that the industry would like to frack.

So what? The U.S. government says that fracking can be done without harm to groundwater. And the industry claims that no study has ever proven that fracking has contaminated one single water supply.

Don’t believe them, says Fox, with plenty of science to back him up. Using that science, the Gasland 2 website gives a clear answer to the question “Is fracking safe?”

No. Fracking, as currently practiced across the United States, poses serious risks to the health and safety of communities and the environment.

Water supplies across the country have been contaminated by fracking. There have been multiple documented cases where natural gas, or methane, has migrated out of wells and into underground aquifers. The fracking process also forces gallons of chemically-treated watered into the ground along with numerous byproducts including chemicals, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs), dissolved solids, liquid hydrocarbons including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, and heavy metals.

Wanna be a farmer? Fuggedaboutit.

The implications of fracking America go far beyond whether your natural gas bill stays low or some bedraggled folks in flyover states get somewhat more bedgraggled because they have to have their drinking water trucked in.

It’s not just Detroit that has gone bankrupt. Today, urban industrialism looks more ready than ever to collapse under the weight of its own staggering financial, ecological and spiritual debt.

Rural areas have had it tough for decades, losing family farms to industrial agriculture, losing Main Street shops to Walmart and losing young people to the allure of the big city. Yet these days, judging by all the back-to-the-landers, homesteaders and greenhorns fleeing corporate cubicles for fields of produce and pigs, you’d think that rural America was on the verge of a renaissance, ready to step up and provide the nation with wholesome food, natural carbon sequestration and a sense of community that our alienated citizenry yearns for.

Then — bam! — enter the frackers to put the kabbash on this happy ending and put rural areas back in their place as sacrifice zones for polluting industries.

By contaminating water supplies from sea to shining sea, the industry’s final desperate gambit to keep the fossil fuel party going for a few more years could render much of rural America uninhabitable. As despoiled rural communities shut down, families will have no choice but to seek housing and work in the city. And the cruel joke at the end of it all is that natural gas may turn out to be a bubble, with fracking ruining millions of acres of perfectly good land for only a few years of gas supply. The wells may run dry in five or ten years, but the pollution will remain for decades.

Meanwhile, urban escapees will have to forget their dreams of moving to a rural area, buying a little farm and building a self-sufficient homestead. If fracking renders large areas of countryside unfit for sustainable farming, not to mention plain old human habitation, disaffected downtown office workers may little choice but to stay in their cubicles, shut up and do their work — at least until the next round of layoffs.

Making the world safe for frack-ocracy

An image nearly as scary as the U.S. map is a corresponding map of the world showing shale plays that industry would like to sink its teeth into.

But don’t think the Obama Administration, which touts natural gas as a clean fuel that will help reduce climate emissions, is just sitting around waiting for other nations to get into fracking. Fortunately for top U.S. gas drillers such as ExxonMobil, Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko, the administration has recruited the U.S. taxpayer to help pry open reluctant markets like Poland and India through the State Department’s Global Shale Gas Initiative (now known as the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program).

Watch the Gasland 2 trailer. Then, find a screening near you or get a copy of the DVD to watch at home.


‘All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” Sun Tzu ~ Art of War

It is critical that all go see Gasland II to fully understand the strategies of Big Oil in using silent weapons for their quiet war on the innocent people and lands of this country.

Not only is there a 50 year plan to frack all available resources in this country and then ship much of it offshore, it is disclosed in Gasland Part II a taped secret meeting of the fracking industry, that show how they are actively using taxpayer funded Military Psy Operation personnel and procedures to overcome local community opposition.

“The movement toward a militarized method of minimizing opposition began when industry leaders gathered last year in Houston for an annual conference.

Matt Carmichael, external affairs manager for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, gave his public relations colleagues advice on how to move forward in the face of nationwide growing opposition to fracking, referencing military tactics. Brenden Demelle, reporter for the, an environmental news site, captured the audio from his Houston address.

“Download the U.S. Army, Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” he said. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there, and coming from a military background, I found that insight in that extremely remarkable.”

Carmichael was certainly not alone when he referenced military tactics to battle opposition movements.

Range Resources director of corporate communications, Matt Pitzarella, was recorded at the conference claiming his company had hired military veterans with psychological warfare experience.

“… they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Pitzarella said. “Really all they do is spent most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of PSYOPs in the Army and in the Middle East applies very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

    Hi J. Lee,

    I always smile when I recall that the only thing ever stollen from my car in Boonville was the Army Counterinsurgency Manual. Never got a chance to read it, but I suspect that living under Counterinsurgency in Viet Nam from ’66-’70 has given me a pretty good feel for it. We have come back to our roots. Insurgent colonist become insurgent citizens that must be dealt with cruelly.


The litany of horrors grows boring.

So now the ground water is destroyed. Of course before that the soil was destroyed and turned into a petrochemically enabled growth medium for genetically designed frankenorganisms. And before that the air was destroyed. And before that, pretty much beyond view, the oceans were destroyed. The big blow was probably the destruction of the forests. Just a few hundred years ago the North American continent was densely forested, the plains with deep perennial ecosystems, supporting an unimaginable, in this day, density and beauty of life. Then came the Europeans. Of course the Europeans had already destroyed their home environments so they had to come here and slaughter and displace the native peoples so they could destroy this place as well, or so it seems. All these shocking revelations about ongoing destruction miss the point. This dominator culture is toast. It has shot its wad. Dead culture walking, or barely crawling, to better suit the metaphor.

And at the base of all this destructive behavior is the same sociopathic thinking that has driven outbreaks of dominator culture around the world, and done similar destructive things to the life support systems of their environments. Dominator culture says, “We had to destroy the World to save it.”

The true sociopath has a brain that is incapable of feeling the pain of others. It is a brain stuck at an infantile level of conscience with the all of its capacities focused on self assertion and self indulgence. Dominator culture exploits these people in its quest to turn everyone into a slave. The intelligent sociopaths take control of large social structures, the armies, the banks, the corporations, and surround themselves with acolytes who must force their normal brains to think ruthlessly. Hence the popularity of drugs of oblivion. But the true sociopath is just a brain damaged individual that can do little damage to others without the active involvement of normal brained folks who have decided, or more exactly have been taught, to be ruthless in their ambitions. The physically deformed brain of the true sociopath inhabits a world totally unrecognizable to those with normal brains who have the ability to experience shame, wether or not they have suppressed that capacity. The sociopaths are not evil. Those who march at their backs are evil.

In the small social groups of the past millions of years that our social brains have been evolving, the rare congenital sociopath was easily dealt with, sometimes summarily. Our gigantic social structures of today provide the anonymity and consequence-free environments that favor the intelligent sociopath and give them the opportunity to deal with normals harshly. To a first approximation our problems all due to exaggerated scale. It is eerily suggestive of the plight of the great reptiles who grew immense in the favorable environment of their time only to catastrophically die off in a climate change event. The difference is that the dinosaurs did not directly contribute to their demise. Dominator culture, with its signature massive, hierarchically organized institutions is doing itself in. Just as in the remote past, it is the small, the light footed and the unambitious who will ascend in the wake of the unavoidable destruction of the grand social structures that rule us now. The last shall be first. The meek will inherit the earth (but not necessarily meek humans). In a way true sociopaths should be thought of as individuals sacrificing for the whole of the species. In the same way that Sickle Cell Disease is a byproduct of a useful adaptation to malaria, a common situation where recessive traits are helpful, but the double recessive individual is impaired, I suspect that sociopathy is the expression of a double dose of ruthlessness where a single dose is adaptive. The mother must source ruthlessness in the defense of her young. The tribe must be able to assert its access to resources and deal with conflict. These and many other possible roles for a little bit of ruthlessness can be imagined, and the tragedy of a double dose chronicled in the anthropology is not normally adaptive. Assholes don’t reproduce all that well in natural settings so some balance is maintained. Sociopaths are a normal expression of the gene pool. Dominant sociopaths are not.

This entire experience of the World-Falling-Apart around us is not best conceived of as an ecological disaster, but rather as a social disaster. Though recognizing that we are in the midst of another mass extinction event, that, left unchecked, will only exhaust itself when it has reduced life to its simplest forms, is a necessary step towards a true consciousness of our collective plight. In order to go to the root, to understand our situation in its entirety, one must recognize that all this is the result of a way of thinking that came on to the human stage only in the last few thousand years, and has only taken control of our fates in the last couple of hundred years. In a sense, when armies first entered the field of battle our path to this point in history was set. We could not avoid confronting this panorama of destruction. Victory in dominator culture, after all, goes to the last survivor, or so the sociopathic mind conceives of winning. The last human alive will likely be a congenital sociopath.

And yet I am encouraged. For in our time, the dinosaurs of our time, the massive hierarchical organizations that grow up in the shadow of sociopathic thinking, are about to do themselves in. For me this is a result that can not come too soon. The aftermath of this apoptosis, the self induced death of dominator social structures in an economic and ecological orgy of violence, is what draws my thoughts. If my species is to survive against astronomical odds, it won’t be because we won a fight against the obscenity of fracking, it will because we became self conscious enough to be aware of how the self destructive narrative of dominator culture is infecting our thoughts, our language and, most of all our relationships. In dominator culture the winners are the losers and the losers are the winners. Virtually every part of our cultural tool bag is crammed with weapons to wield against each other. The NRA, bless their hearts, in espousing real weapons, are only putting a face on the shadow of ruthlessness that stalks the land, that in one way or another infects all of us. We have been taught to betray each other in order to survive. We have the thinking of people so badly used. We have forgotten how to think as free people who have no need to diminish their neighbor in order to enhance their own status.

Who knows? When behavior is the issue, and thinking definitely is a sort of behavior, radical changes can occur as masses of people abandon the thinking of the past. Perhaps we will awake from our species wide drunken stupor, throw off aggressive individualism, materialism and dominator/submissive relationships in time to heal the hurt we have caused to the Earth. Or maybe not, and hundreds of thousands of years, maybe millions of years, from now some new intelligent species (I am rooting for the marsupials) will unearth the evidence of our folly and it will aid them in acquiring wisdom my species lacked.

In the meantime, be of good cheer. Nothing good will come from a negative attitude. Be thrilled, as I am, that evil is destroying itself.


All this destruction is being done with perfectly rational survival of the fittest, the finest technological science, the finest brains. But, the heart is nowhere to be seen. Let us concentrate on building new “communist” cultures a la Orlov and Berry and mark this one off as a lost cause, nothing to waste time on. Let us practice anarchism of the mind, atheism in regard to the supremacy of man. Will this help? I don’t know, but it can’t hurt.

    Well we have to start meeting regularly with each other in small enough groups to allow for trust, discuss problems that can be addressed directly and locally, generate proposals (not by working groups which should be avoided), act on those that do not require l larger groups, and forward those that do to delegate meetings, have the process cook back and forth till a fully formed effort comes to the fore as deserving of direct action on a larger scale, and so forth. As far as I know that is the way it has always been done, the social healing, and was the method that generated the American Revolution which was conceived in the pubs and the pews and letters of correspondence. The original attempt failed.

Specialty roles suppress direct participation and often lead to power struggles. Any sort of delegation caries this risk. Working groups are hardly needed when the challenge is to readjust our thinking by direct democratic participation. Besides, as Daniel Quinn points out in Beyond Civilization, the current tyranny is all geared up to deal with points of command and control as targets for infiltration and subversion. It is all right there in the Conterinsurgency Manual as I remember it from the brief time I had to inspect it before someone in Boonville stole it from my unlocked car. Under industrial logic there are people and places where things can be produced most efficiently so tasks are relentlessly divided into more and more narrowly based production, including the production of ideas themselves. Working groups are a sop to this sort of thinking that begins with, “What the f__k do I know. Better turn over responsibility to volunteer experts and community leaders.” Last words for any resistance group.

Nothing to stop an affinity group acting like a working group, of people with common interests and skills forming affinity groups, but never should there be a supernumerary group proposing solutions. Such groups, even if pure as the driven snow, evolve solutions that are centralized in sturcture, even if they try not to. The solutions we need are ones offered by small groups acting independently and locally and in alliance with other such geographically bound groups.

History buffs might recognize the Soviets. The workers councils of the Russian Revolution. They were betrayed by the bureaucratic Bolshiveks.

“Originally, the soviets were a grassroots effort to practice direct democracy. Russian Marxists made them a medium for organizing against the state, and between the February and October Revolutions, the Petrograd Soviet was a powerful force. The slogan “All power to the soviets!” (Vsya vlast sovyetam!; Вся власть советам!) was used by the Bolsheviks to oppose the Provisional Government led by Kerensky.

Based on the Bolshevik’s view of the state, the word soviet extended its meaning to any supreme body that obtained the authority of a group of soviets. In this sense, soviets turned into a hierarchical structure – Communist government bodies at local level and republic level[note 1] were called “soviets”, and at the top of the hierarchy, the Congress of Soviets was the nominal core of the Union government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), officially formed in December 1922.” (Wiki)

What will be needed are temporary agreements between neighbors to accomplish concrete goals. Delegation of authority in any way is destructive.

Besides, the future, if I am correct, heaven forbid, under conditions of collapse the self sufficiency of local groups will be the most important goal. The working groups I have seen tend to be where ideas go to die. The sorts of ideas we will need in this future will be highly localized and unique to a given area. Working groups tend to standardize and homogenize where variety and inspiration are needed. What probably will happen again is the institution of the itinerant tinker, but the tailoring and candlestick making are going to be a cottage industry once again. Clothes will once again signal geographic origins rather than class status. Candlesticks will reimerge as a practical lighting device and be used with great deliberation and frugality.

What we have is a collective tiger ride. There will be a moment when the tiger weakens and we can escape and recover control of our lives collectively. Not choosing to take control will lead to very sad outcomes. Control without heirarchy, representative government or authority figures is what direct democracy is about. Most people can not imagine that, having grown up in a coercive authoritarian state, but once witnessed, once participated in, Direct Democracy is the cure for much of what ails us.