The Top Five Lies About Fracking

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Gasland Part II, the sequel to director/activist Josh Fox’s earlier anti-fracking docudrama Gasland, will run on HBO next Monday. It appears to have rounded up the usual corporate villains and appealing victims of profit-hungry capitalist skullduggery, rather than telling the more substantial story: that fracking combined with horizontal drilling has unleashed a bonanza of cheap natural gas.

Fracking involves injecting pressurized water combined with sand and small amounts of chemicals to crack open shale rocks so that they will release trapped natural gas. Generally, the shale rocks are thousands of feet below the aquifers from which people draw drinking water. No doubt to the dismay of activists, President Barack Obama appears to endorse the process. “Sometimes there are disputes about natural gas,” he said at his climate change speech last week at Georgetown, “but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”

The president gets it, but a lot of activists don’t. To help bring them around, I thought I’d take a look at some of the misleading claims made by opponents of fracking. Fortunately I just got a fundraising letter from fine folks at foodandwaterwatch (FWW) urging me to sign and send in a petition to the president to ban fracking. The letter is a nice compendium of anti-fracking scaremongering.

AARP Fights Against Utility Rate Increases

Press Release from AARP’s Legislative Arm:

UPHOLD THE GOVERNOR’S VETO OF SB9!

SB 9 is follow up to the controversial 2011 legislation (SB1652) passed by the Illinois General Assembly writing utility company profits into state law by guaranteeing companies a return on equity of over 10 percent, and nearly automatic annual rate increases.

SB 9 further tilts the balance in favor of Illinois utility companies by allowing them to circumvent Illinois’ regulatory process and avoid paying back a multi-million dollar rate cut ordered by the Illinois Commerce Commission last year. The language in SB 9 allows ComEd and Ameren to not only avoid paying refunds to consumers; it allows them to instead receive a retroactive rate hike with interest.

Illinois General Assembly passage of SB9 was premature since the utility’s objections to the ICC rate cut decision are currently under consideration by the Illinois Appellate Court. SB9 also further ties the hands of the ICC by deeming ComEd and Ameren to be in compliance with their promised performance metrics, despite ComEd’s delayed implementation of smart meters.

ComEd Rate Hike Vetoed by Governor Quinn

Despite  Veto, Will the Legislature Over-Ride?
by McHenry County Blog

The two roll calls on the Com Ed/Ameren electric rate hike bill have appeared here before.

Some might wonder why I feel so strongly about this legislation that will ad $6 a month to most homeowners’ electric bills.

The reason is that I was told on a train ride to Springfield in the 1970′s that by Samuel Insull‘s secretary that he got the Illinois General Assembly to create the agency because he was tired of having to pay off legislators. Insull figured, it seems, that buying off a majority of the ICC would be cheaper (probably easier, too).

Now that the Commerce Commission is not acting like the electric industries handmaiden, electric utilities seem to have reverted to the original way of doing business.

And, as far as the money being needed to upgrade the electric grid, I’d ask, “Wasn’t keeping the infrastructure in top shape part of the deal with Com Ed and Ameren were given their monopolies?”

ComEd wants $311 million rate hike in 2014

by Steve Daniels | Crain’s Chicago Business

Commonwealth Edison Co. moved today to raise the cost of delivering electricity to the average household by $5 a month in 2014, part of the utility’s plan to modernize its local power grid.

ComEd filed for a $311 million increase in the revenue it receives from ratepayers, a figure that ComEd executives said will be more like $335 million once recently passed legislation by the General Assembly to increase the utility’s revenue becomes law.

But ComEd executives emphasized that, despite the delivery rate hike, customer bills actually will decline in 2013 from where they are today. That’s because the cost of the energy itself, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of the normal electric bill, will fall significantly beginning in June. The average household monthly ComEd bill of $81 will fall to about $66 beginning in June before rising again to about $72 in January, when the new delivery rates kick in.

The majority of ComEd customers already are purchasing power from cheaper suppliers, mainly as a result of municipalities that bought in bulk on behalf of residents while ComEd’s power prices were substantially higher than market rates, due to old power-purchase contracts that will expire soon.

Only One Local Legislator Votes Against COMED’s Rate Hike

Two years ago COMED and Ameren over-rode Governor Quinn’s Veto against a rate hike by contributing to most of Illinois’ legislators. A couple hundred thousand dollars goes a long way. Last week another rate hike swept through both the Illinois House and Senate. The only local holdout was Lake Barrington Senator Dan Duffy.

Illinois House roll call on Senate Bill 9, to hike electric rates.

Illinois House roll call on Senate Bill 9, to hike electric rates.

 

Illinois State Senate roll call on Senate Bill 9. The only local legislator to vote against the rate hike, Sen. Dan Duffy.

Illinois State Senate roll call on Senate Bill 9. The only local legislator to vote against the rate hike, Sen. Dan Duffy.

Why you’re paying more for gas than you should

One item this article misses is that IL is a double gas tax state. IL doubles the motor fuel tax to fund programs other than roads.
– Allen


By Joe Cahill of Crains Chicago Business

If you pay more at the gas pump this summer, thank an ethanol lobbyist.

By all rights, gasoline prices should decline in coming months. Crude oil supplies are up and demand is down. Yet gasoline futures prices keep rising.

What gives? The answer, at least in part, is a federal mandate requiring refineries to mix ever-increasing amounts of ethanol with petroleum to make gasoline. In 2013, this mandate is expected to reach 13.8 billion gallons, up from 13.2 billion last year.

The mandate exists because of the politically powerful ethanol industry, which stretches from Illinois cornfields through executive suites at giant corporations like Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. to the corridors of Capitol Hill. Its lobbyists convinced Congress and the Bush administration about a decade ago that subsidizing an alternative fuel would help assure energy independence and reduce pollution. Ethanol makers needed the mandate because their product can’t compete profitably in energy markets where prices are based on the cost of a barrel of oil, which is cheaper to produce than ethanol.

By requiring refiners to buy ethanol, the mandate buttresses an industry that would struggle to survive on its own. The requirement also boosts food prices by raising demand for corn.

Rescinding Jones Act First Step to Lowering Gas Prices

By Gregg Laskoski

Just how bad have gasoline prices really gotten if folks in Los Angeles ($4.37 per gallon) and Chicago ($4.07 per gallon) look at New York City as a relative bargain ($4.01 per gallon)? Isn’t it the East Coast that has the biggest refinery problems, lost capacity, and over-reliance on Brent crude?

And the ides of March is still ahead of us. With steadfast consistency we continue to see the average price of gasoline nationwide climb steadily as the world awaits what might happen in the Middle East.

Will Iran be the aggressor? Will Israel launch a first strike? Should Israel believe inertia is in its own best interest? Will President Obama commit U.S. troops to Israel’s defense? As early indicators of answers to any of these questions develop, global crude oil prices move accordingly. American consumers lose patience, not only with the price at the pump, but with anyone who might be in a position to do something about it.

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