In the Lust for Money Nothing is Sacred – Not Even Water

cheneyIt seems that everything connected with Dick Cheney (photo at right) is tainted. He was the prime architect of the Iraq War, lying and scheming to send thousands of Americans – and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – to their death. And he is now desperately trying to justify his approval of “enhanced interrogation,” otherwise known as torture.

He is said to have instigated illegal CIA operations, to have manipulated CIA intelligence, and to have had a Special Forces “assassination squad” reporting directly to him. But nothing he may have done could be more evil than his complicity in endangering America’s groundwater. The long-term implications are frightening, and there is evidence that already one community has been affected.

Environmentalists charge that families in Midland, Texas, are without drinkable water because a  drilling company named Schlumberger has pumped poisonous chemicals into the earth. Investigators don’t have proof yet because a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act allows companies to keep secret the chemicals they use in such operations. But environmentalists are convinced the contamination is caused by “oilfield activity.” And they say they have evidence that Schlumberger is to blame.

This from The Daily Kos web site:

Hexavalent Chromium contamination is spreading in the groundwater used by some Midland, Texas residents and environmental investigators say the mounting evidence points to the oil and gas industry. Affected residents say they have proof that hydraulic fracture giant Schlumberger is responsible.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process where 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand, are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth….

Over 40 families in Midland are without safe drinking water and the contamination, which has already spread 1.5 miles from ground zero, is spreading through the aquifer at 1000 feet per year….

Residents have water filters issued by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality but there are many problems with the filters including frequent failures. Residents fill a white bucket to test the color of their water before use. If it’s yellowish-green, they know it’s not safe to use….

Residents have many health problems including rashes, burning eyes, ear aches, head aches and cancer. Their animals also have health problems. Most residents are afraid to use their water even to wash dishes because of the residue. They use paper plates, reduce bathing and don’t even allow their dogs or children to play outside for fear of stirring up contaminated dust.

brokovichAccording to famed environmentalist Erin Brockovich, who is investigating Midland’s water contamination, “The only difference between here and Hinkley is that I saw higher levels here than I saw in Hinkley.”

(You may remember the movie, “Erin Brockovich,” based on a true story in which Brockovich discovers the infusion of toxic and often lethal chemicals into the ground water of the Southern California community of Hinkley. Photo at right shows Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich with co-star Albert Finney. Roberts won an academy award for the role.)

The Daily Kos web site blames Cheney for Midland’s contamination:

In 2005, at the urging of Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, Congress exempted hydraulic fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2001, Cheney’s energy task force report “touted” benefits and ignored consequences. This exemption is commonly known as the Halliburton Loophole because Halliburton earns about $1.5 billion annually from hydraulic fracturing. The exemption allows hydraulic fracture giants like Halliburton and Schlumberger to keep the chemicals they use secret.

(In 2005, Cheney was America’s vice president, with all the clout that job carries. And you probably remember that when Cheney retired from Halliburton to run for Vice President, he got a severance package worth $36 million.)

The Daily Kos says Schlumberger denies responsibility for Midland’s contamination but is known to use hydraulic fracturing:

In Louisiana, Schlumberger was fracturing a Chesapeake Energy well when neighbors captured on video a yellowish-green substance sprayed on the ground in a nearby pasture full of cattle. Sixteen of those cattle died a gruesome death as neighbors watched. The investigation seems to be at a standstill.

I am sure you know Halliburton and its subsidiaries made billions from the Iraq War, thanks in large part to Vice President Cheney. You may also know that Cheney has made millions from “investments and consulting fees.” But I wonder whether he is familiar with this Biblical quotation:

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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