The London Times, quoting NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, reports that, “Russian agents are secretly working with environmental groups campaigning against fracking to try to maintain Europe’s dependence on gas imports from Moscow.
It should be no surprise to us. This sort of manipulation of left-leaning activists was a characteristic and quite successful ploy during the Cold War period, when, for example, western anti-nuclear groups were exploited to protest against the dispositions of NATO forces in Europe in the 1980s. The successful resistance to these pressures by (in particular) President Reagan and Prime-Minister Thatcher, led to the ultimate collapse of the ‘evil empire’ that was holding a substantial part of Eastern Europe in what then seemed perpetual political subservience.
Now, as then, Greenpeace and ‘green’ parties must understand that they are being manipulated (politically ‘fracked’ even; by which I mean, ‘penetrated’ and roughly shaken about!). The strategic value of keeping European countries dependent on Russian oil, and particularly, Russian gas, is obvious. It has already contributed to the weak response to Russian annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent supplying of sophisticated weaponry to Ukrainian dissidents in the east. And there is more to come. I wrote about this in late March (‘The Munich Moment’, 24 March, 2014).
For New Zealand the opposition to fracking is not so much strategic failure as simple stupidity! There is enormous potential for well-paying employment and national economic development from the further exploitation of this technology and, need I say, no shortage of deserving causes to which increased national wealth might be devoted. We should really need compelling reasons not to go ahead.
The technology of fracking has been widely used and there is now a great deal of research on it. It has been carried out in New Zealand for more than twenty years. In 2011, the Taranaki Regional Council, in whose district most of this has been done, reported that there was no evidence of any related environmental problems. A similar conclusion has been published for the much more extensive American programme from its own Environmental Agency. It should be added that the United States Environmental Protection Agency is not, particularly under the Obama administration, notably pro-business or lax in its enforcement of environmental standards!
More recently, the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (Jan Wright) has acknowledged that she could not find anything substantial to condemn it either, citing a report from the British Royal Society. In the bizarre way of these things, she nonetheless called for ‘tighter regulations’. It is hard to resist the conclusion that, for persons like Dr Wright and the various green activist groups, it is more a matter of ideology, than it is of science.
Ultimately what we do about fracking should turn on a hard-headed cost benefit analysis and not on a sentimental attachment to a utopian ‘clean-green’ paradise. In the real world, there are hard choices to be made. There is a wide consensus that there is much to be done in the matter of health, education, housing and it all requires revenue. We ought to think carefully before we cut-off, or even needlessly handicap, a potentially substantial source. It is also worth noting that, if we fail to do ‘due diligence’ on the facts in these sort of cases, we make ourselves more vulnerable to those who mean us no good, just as Germany has by its closing down of nuclear power in favour of windmills and mirrors.
The ‘believe it or not’ section
Back in May of last year, I wrote about an emerging scandal in the United States which concerned accusations that, at the time of the 2012 presidential election, the United States Internal Revenue Service was administratively harassing President Obama’s political opposition (‘Cover-ups and scandals – another Watergate’, May 2013). These accusations, which concerned a particular individual and her potential connection to the Whitehouse, have been the subject of Congressional inquiry right up to the present time. After many requests for documents, and particularly emails sent and received by the person centrally concerned, it has now been announced by the IRS that unfortunately her computer crashed at the material time and that her hard-drive was subsequently ‘recycled’. As a result of this, none of the emails sought are available. Whether the Administration will get away with this astonishingly unbelievable claim remains to be seen. The US media brought down President Nixon for his ‘losing’ twenty minutes of incriminating material in the Watergate affair. To date they are still looking away.