Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hating Fracking

By Alan Caruba

Among the many things that people who identify themselves as environmentalists have in common is a fear of anything that can provide the energy to drive your car, heat or cool your home or apartment, power communications technologies, and the endless other uses that we all take for granted. Say oil, coal or natural gas to these people and they begin a litany of nonsense about how they are destroying the environment or pose a heath hazard.

Whatever you do, don’t mention the name of any chemical because it can bring on trembling or an instant demand that it be banned from use. When I tell people that I ingest selenium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, as well as retinoids, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, egocalciferol and tocopherols, I fully expect the average environmentalist to drop to the floor in a faint.

These are the same people who give no thought to the hundreds of thousands of birds that are hacked to death by wind turbines or the acres of panels on solar farms that destroy the natural habitat of various species. They don’t even favor protecting our forest areas against catastrophic fires by the managed removal of dead or diseased trees and clearing out undergrowth.

What environmentalists have in common is a sense of superiority over all the people who they see as insisting on driving anywhere, flying anywhere, using plastic bags, or polluting the air at tailgate parties. They fear that carbon dioxide is going to destroy the Earth when all life on Earth depends on this gas (0.038% of the atmosphere) for all vegetation growth and on oxygen that keeps all living creatures alive.

Stoking all the fears environmentalists have are the environmental organizations that make millions off of these fools and the Environmental Protection Agency that exists to ban every beneficial chemical that actually protects people against pest-borne diseases and every form of energy that powers the technological advances the former generations could only read about in the earliest science fiction novels. Dick Tracy had a two-way radio-wristwatch. Today, everyone has a cell phone. When I was born television didn’t even exist, let alone computers.

The latest environmental battleground is fracking. The EPA is busy trying to convince everyone that this long-established technology “indicates likely impact to ground water”, but fracking takes place well below groundwater levels and is separated from them by layers of rock and sediment.

Fracking is slang for hydraulic fracturing. It refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the well from where it can be extracted

As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted in December 2011, “More than one-third of all natural gas drilling now uses fracking, and that percentage is rising.” Even the EPA says of one study, “detections in drinking water well are generally below (i.e., in compliance with) established health and safety standards.”

“Most fracking today,” the editorial noted, “occurs 10,000 feet deep or more, far below drinking water wells, which are normally less than 500 feet.”

More to the point, “Natural gas carries a smaller carbon footprint than coal or oil, and greens once endorsed it as an alternative to coal and nuclear power. But as the shale gas revolution has advanced, greens are worried that plentiful natural gas will price wind and solar even further out of the market.”

So, naturally, the EPA is conjuring up more stringent regulations to slow this advance, along with ever deeper drilling for oil that has the potential of making American energy independent within a decade or two.

The Greens are now holding rallies and assailing legislators in individual communities and in various States to get fracking banned. In New York State, the favorite public relations agency for environmental scares, Fenton Communications, got a bunch of celebrities, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Lady Gaga, and actor Mark Ruffalo to support Artists Against Fracking to issue warnings that any sensible person would ignore. In North Carolina, the legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Bev Perdue (D) making gas production through fracking legal.

Fracking and accessing other sources of energy will generate, not just lower cost energy for consumers, but produce hundreds of thousands of jobs the nation needs to get out of this horrible lagging economy.

Town by town, state by state, the Greens will wage this new war on energy with the same enthusiasm and stupidity they embraced the greatest hoax of the modern era, global warming. Shun them. Defeat them. They want to keep you shivering in the dark.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Oil Forever!

By Alan Caruba

I suspect that most people think the Earth is running out of oil or that the U.S. and the rest of the world are “addicted” to its use.

Both beliefs are wrong, but in different ways. First because the Earth produces oil in abundance deep within its mantel in ways that have nothing to do with dead dinosaurs and gives no indication of ever stopping this natural process and, second, because the use of oil for fuel and for thousands of other applications, not the least of which is plastics, is one of the great blessings of modern technology and life.

All this is made dazzlingly clear in Dr. Jerome R. Corsi’s new book, “The Great Oil Conspiracy” ($22.95, Skyhorse Publishing). By way of explaining why there is so much oil within the planet Dr. Corsi tells the story of the Nazi regimes development of synthetic oil after German scientists “cracked the code God built into the heart of chemistry to form hydrocarbons in the first place.” Known as the “Fischer-Tropsch” process, it permitted the Nazis to pursue war even though Germany had no oil fields of its own.

The widespread use of the term “fossil fuels” is a deception created by anti-energy propagandists and earlier theorists to make people believe that oil is the result of countless dead dinosaurs and decaying vegetation. Oil, however, is “abiotic”, a term that means it is a natural product of the earth itself “manufactured at deep levels where there never were any plants or animals.”

Corsi writes of Thomas Gold, a professor of astronomy who taught at Cornell University. In 1998 he published a controversial book entitled “The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels” in which he applied his knowledge of the solar system, noting that carbon is the fourth more abundant element in the universe, right after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Gold pointed out that “carbon is found mostly in compounds with hydrogen—hydrocarbons—which, at different temperatures and pressures, may be gaseous, liquid, or solid.”

Gold, who passed away in 2004, was way ahead of most other scientists with his assertion that the earth produces oil at very deep levels. While telling the story of how the U.S. went to great lengths to acquire the data regarding synthetic oil production as our military overran Germany and then took care not to let the public know about. It was, after all, our own oil industry that had provided the fuel that aided the war effort in both theatres.

Correspondingly, the oil industry had no reason to develop “relatively expensive synthetic oil when billions of dollars in profits could be made annually bringing to market naturally produced and reasonably priced hydrocarbon fuels, including crude oil and natural gas.”

This mirrors the efforts of “renewable” energy producers, wind, solar, and biofuels like ethanol, to profit at the cost of billions of dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees paid for by taxpayers along with higher electricity and gasoline bills paid for by consumers; all of which are mandated by the federal government. It is pure crony capitalism to enrich a few at the expense of all the rest of us. None of these alternative forms of power could exist or even compete without such government mandated support.

As Dr. Corsi points out, “Eliminating the fear that the world is running out of oil eliminates an urgency to experiment with or to implement alternative fuels including biofuels, wind energy, and solar energy as long as these energies remain less energy-efficient, less reliable, and more costly than using oil and natural gas.”

There are, in fact, “more proven petroleum reserves than ever before, despite the increasing rate at which we are consuming petroleum products worldwide” says Dr. Corsi, noting that the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, in on record that “there are more proven crude oil reserves worldwide than ever in recorded history, despite the fact that worldwide consumption of crude oil has doubled since the 1970s.”

So tell me why, since the Obama administration took over, have gas prices per gallon risen from $1.84 to $3.80 now, a rise of 105%? The American Energy Alliance compared costs between 2009 and 2012, publishing them to reveal that we are all paying more for energy. The average monthly residential electricity bill has increased 6% and annual household energy expenses have increased 31%.

At the same time, the Obama Department of Energy increased new rules whose implementation cost more than $100 million each 141%! The Environmental Protection Agency increase of such regulations increased 40%, the Department of the Interior, 13%.

Total regulatory costs (all sectors) went from $1,172 trillion in 2009 to $1,752 trillion today! If you were trying to bankrupt the energy sector and its consumers, this is a great way to do it.

You can access the AEA chart at

The Obama administration came into office declaring a war on coal, further restricting oil and natural gas exploration on federal lands and offshore, and wasting billions on solar, wind, and biofuel companies. That in itself would be reason enough to turn them out of office.

The Earth is not running out of oil and likely never will.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The BPA Wars: Junk Science and Junk Journalism

By Alan Caruba

On Tuesday, September 18, posted an article by Alex Crees, a health news reporter, “Chemical BPA linked to obesity in children, teens.” If Ms. Crees had done any research to verify the facts she recounted in “a new study”, she would have known it was yet another bogus effort to correlate eating food with BPA.

Bisphenol-A, more commonly called BPA, is a chemical that has been in wide, safe use for over 50 years. It is used to coat the insides of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and protects them against food pathogens such as botulism and has the added value of protecting plastic bottles against breakage.

As I noted in my six-part series, The BPA File, In 2011 “the German Society of Toxicology released a review of more than five thousand previous studies of BPA exposure that concluded that BPA ‘exposure represents no noteworthy risk to the health of the human population, including newborns and babies.’” Researchers concluded that BPA is neither mutagenic nor likely to be a carcinogen.’”

Let me repeat that, “more than five thousand previous studies.” At what point can one expect a Fox News journalist to actually check her facts?

A graduate of New York University, Ms. Crees studied journalism, psychology, and Spanish. There is no indication she studied chemistry. If “journalism” is defined as mindlessly repeating some news release that says BPA “may increase the risk of obesity in children and teens”, permit me to suggest that eating lots of snacks, ice cream and candy “may” also increase that probability!

Anyone who wants to learn the truth about BPA is advised to visit, the website of Steve Milloy who has gained a solid reputation for debunking so-called “science based” fear campaigns. His data on BPA reveals that there is no scientific evidence that BPA:

• Has ever harmed anyone despite 50 years of use;

• Acts as an endocrine disruptor; and

• Has any health effects at low doses;

Furthermore, the data debunks some of the most oft-cited and false claims about BPA.

• BPA is not carcinogenic or mutagenic;

• BPA does not adversely affect reproduction or development at any realistic dose;

• BPA is efficiently “metabolized” and rapidly excreted after oral exposure

My series on BPA confirms Milloy’s findings, but Ms. Crees has written an article intended to add to the multitude of similar distortions while questioning the facts offered by authoritative sources.

The effect of this avalanche of articles has triggered a number of governments to ban some uses of BPA despite more than a half century of its use without any evidence of alleged harm, but governments are famous for acting on the bogus “precautionary principle” that essentially says that anything that might cause harm should be banned.

Going back centuries, it has been known that it is the amount of any given chemical that represents harm. Let’s understand a fundamental determination of what is toxic or not. As Paracelsus (1492-1541) said long ago, “All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison.”

Ms. Crees’ article noted that “the study’s lead investigator Dr. Leonardo Trasanda, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, told, ‘This study raises concerns about the need to reconsider that stance (the presence of BPA).”

Excuse me, but what the heck is “environmental medicine” other than an excuse to scare people with studies about every chemical known to man and God? As for Dr. Trasanda’s study, it set out to correlate extremely low amounts of BPA in the urine of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 years old.

In the event no one has pointed it out to Dr. Trasanda and Ms. Crees, urine is excreted by the body, but Dr. Trasanda said, “We are especially concerned that children who ate too many calories might also ingest BPA.”

The operative word here is “might” and the likelihood that eating “too many calories” might play a far larger role in obesity than any other factor!

To her credit, at the very end of the article, Ms. Crees quoted Steven Hentges of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, who she identifies as a representative of “chemical manufacturers”, as saying that “Attempts to link our national obesity problem to minute exposures to chemicals found in common, everyday products are a distraction from the real efforts underway to address this important health issue.”

“Due to inherent fundamental limitations in this study, it is incapable of establishing any meaningful connection between BPA and obesity.”

Ms. Crees is guilty of both junk science and junk journalism. The Steven Hentges quote should have been the lead paragraph, not the last.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have You Used Siloxanes Today? Yes!

By Alan Caruba

Back in 2010, I wrote about the EPA’s war on siloxanes, a silicone derivative that comes from sand. At the time I noted that siloxanes were “inert, non-allergenic, odorless, and colorless” and that they have been safely used for decades in thousands of consumer and industrial products.”

In April of this year, Canadian Environmental Minister, Peter Kent, announced that the government of Canada had concluded that siloxane D5 was not harmful to the environment. D5 is used in a host of consumer and industrial products including automobile parts, and life-saving medical devices.

Why, then, should you be concerned about siloxanes? The answer is that you shouldn’t.

As noted in an article by Kevin Jankowski that appeared on the website of Applied Technologies, Inc. Engineers-Architects, siloxanes “play an important behind-the-scenes role in our daily lives; they have washed our hands, brushed our teeth, cleaned our clothes, driven us to work, helped us lose weight, and even print our newspapers.”

One might think that siloxanes play an extraordinary role in our everyday lives without posing a problem for our health or the environment and you would be right; unless, however, you worked for the Environmental Protection Agency. No amount of scientific studies matters to the EPA when it determines to attack anything that is widely used in many manufacturing processes and, as a result, contributes to the economy.

At the heart of my argument is the way, since its founding in 1970, the EPA, while initially devoted to cleaning the nation’s air and waters, metastasized like a cancer into other areas that have actually put our lives at risk as it banned beneficial chemicals such as the pesticides that eliminate insect and rodent pests that spread diseases.

In their zealous, agenda-driven efforts to regulate everything, the EPA has become the classic rogue government agency.

Siloxanes are an example. In his book, “Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry”, Rich Trzupek, a chemist who has been an environmental consultant for a quarter century, noted a fundamental truth about toxicity. “Toxicity is a matter of dose, as sober scientists have observed since ancient times. A particular compound may kill you if you drink it, but a few parts per billion of the same compound can have no effect at all. One can, for example, find toxic air pollutants in the parts-per-billion level in human breath.”

I have returned to the subject of siloxanes because the manufacturers of silicone have turned to Congress to rein in EPA’s continued attack on siloxane chemicals in wastewater, demanding that the industry’s testing program be vastly expanded to provide more data for assessment. Recall now, Canada has exonerated siloxanes when used in drycleaning products.

The EPA is demanding that the industry conduct incredibly costly studies to determine the extent of two widely used siloxane chemicals, commonly called D4 and D5 that show up in discharged wastewater at forty-two publicly owned treatment works. They have given the industry a deadline of December 27 to comply with the threat of issuing mandatory test orders.

Jeff Stier, a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, director of its Risk Analysis Division, in a September 6 edition of, noted that “Earlier this year the silicones industry voluntarily agreed to provide, at its own expense, the EPA with a wealth of new information about its materials, including environmental monitoring data from wastewater facilities.”

The demand for a vastly increased testing program is an example of why it does not matter how much cooperation is extended to the EPA, when its intention is to unduly regulate a chemical; its demands increase exponentially until they achieve their goal.

Have you used siloxanes today? As Jankowski points out, “Siloxanes are most widely used in the cosmetics industry, adding beneficial qualities such as spreadability, enhanced skin feel, reduction in greasiness, increased absorption, that silky shiny look, and more.”

In addition, silicone materials are used in life-improving medical applications, such as prosthetic limbs and on needles to ease their insertion through the skin, making dermal injections less painful. Silicones are also found in fabrics and sports equipment like snowboards and swimming goggles.

There’s more, much more,. “siloxanes are a popular additive to plastic products since they provide numerous desirable qualities including flexibility, abrasion resistance, and heat resistance."

One of my favorite programs on the Science Channel is “How It’s Made”, taking the viewer through the production of all manner of products and in virtually every one there is not one, but several chemical components before one gets the final product.

If we are we supposed to fear medical devices and sports equipment because the EPA has decided it wants unnecessary regulations on siloxanes, then it would be a bleak world devoid of hundreds of thousands of items we use or consume daily without a hint of harm.

That, however, is the current intention of the EPA and only Congress can exercise the oversight and control to avoid this calamity.

© Alan Caruba, 2012