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Friday, January 07, 2005

Censored

Project censored released their annual Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004
  1. Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
  2. Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable
  3. Bush Administration Censors Science
  4. High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians
  5. The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources
  6. The Sale of Electoral Politics
  7. Conservative Organization Drives Judicial Appointments
  8. Cheney's Energy Task Force and The Energy Policy
  9. Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. government for 9/11
  10. New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits
  11. The Media Can Legally Lie
  12. The Destabilization of Haiti
  13. Schwarzenegger Met with Enron's Ken Lay Years Before the California Recall
  14. New Bill Threatens Intellectual Freedom in Area Studies
  15. U.S. Develops Lethal New Viruses
  16. Law Enforcement Agencies Spy on Innocent Citizens
  17. U.S. Government Represses Labor Unions in Iraq in Quest for Business
    Privatization
  18. Media and Government Ignore Dwindling Oil Supplies
  19. Global Food Cartel Fast Becoming the World's Supermarket
  20. Extreme Weather Prompts New Warning from UN
  21. Forcing a World Market for GMOs
  22. Censoring Iraq
  23. Brazil Holds Back in FTAA Talks, But Provides Little Comfort for the Poor of South America
  24. Reinstating the Draft
  25. Wal-Mart Brings Inequality and Low Prices to the World

I have no qualms with this ranking. The stories underlined have a strong basis of energy policy underlying their selection (one could also say that Iraq, Climate/Weather, Wealth, and some others have a fundamental energy component).

Even though #18 is the peak oil "kicker", the fact that the other energy issues rank above this should come as no surprise. Over the past year, energy depletion has actually been well reported by the media. But looking at #3, #5, #8, and #13, I notice things that did not cross my path this last year, even though I have tried to keep track of energy related issues.

#3:
The EPA altered a report on the environmental damage of a hydraulic fracturing process1developed by Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s former company. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of benzene into the ground, which in turn contaminates ground water supplies over the federal limit.

#5:
Another example is in Gillette, Wyoming where a significant amount of natural gas (coal bed methane) exists. The only way to extract the gas is by draining groundwater to the level of the coal in order to release it. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that if all goes ahead as planned, the miners will discard more than 700 million gallons of publicly owned water a year. The mining of coal bed methane is as expensive as it is wasteful, and the industry has received promises from Congress of a $3 billion tax credit to help them on their way. It makes little economic sense to drill for marginal coal bed methane when larger deposits are elsewhere. Meanwhile, the U.S. government agencies normally responsible for protecting the land now serve as customer relations organizations for mining companies.

#8:
Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Club’s and Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, dated March 2001, also feature maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the project’s costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.

#13:
But Schwarzenegger's aides won't reveal the identity of the people advising the governor on his energy plan. In a page pulled straight out of President Bush and Dick Cheney's playbook on government secrecy, Schwarzenegger's aides have refused to disclose the names of the individuals who helped write the governor's energy plan, the one that was sent to the state's Public Utilities Commission in April 2004.

If you read to the end of #13 in particular, you will notice that this under-reported story is actually the energy depletion story under a different name.



1According to the EPA, Hydraulic Fracturing is used to bring natural gas and oil to the surface.

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