Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Montebourg for Fracking

It's an interesting political sequence. First, Delphine Batho is ousted as environment minister for calling the government's budget "bad." Batho claims she has been done in by pro-fracking interests. Ayrault denies this and points to the anti-fracking law. But then Arnaud Montebourg goes before the Economic Affairs Committee and testifies that France needs to explore for shale gas and proposes a public entity to do it. For once, I'm with Arnaud. Note that it was announced yesterday that French electricity prices will rise, making the development of new energy sources even more urgent.

Oh, and in case you had any doubts about Montebourg's ambitions, see the egregious column by the unspeakable Maureen Dowd, who is milking her vacation in France for a couple of columns, each as uninformed as the next. Here she profiles Montebourg and predictably swoons for his good looks:
I am sitting across from Arnaud Montebourg, a free-market villain and romantic hero, the pol selected by Frenchwomen in a new French Elle magazine poll as a top candidate for having “a vacation love affair.”
Right. Count on MoDo to flirt with her profilees.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can I ask why you are in favor of fracking? I assume it's not that you just don't care about the future health of French rivers and streams...

Art Goldhammer said...

I'm quite fond of French rivers and streams, and I don't believe that fracking will harm them. I also favor nuclear energy. So I guess I'm not a Green.

bernard said...

I don't know whether i am in favour of fracking or not, not fully understanding the science (please the typically British understatement). I do not that if the technology evolves and France has not researched it, we'll be left behind and not be able to do anything about it. So researching actively the technology is the thing to do and I guess that would involve some experimental drilling.

In other news, how good looking is Maureen, exactly? Is she worth a single night or does she just have those cobra eyes?

bernard said...

Sorry, post corrected

I don't know whether I am in favour of fracking or not, not fully understanding the science (please note the typically British understatement). I do know that if the technology evolves and France has not researched it, we'll be left behind and not be able to do anything about it. So researching actively the technology is the thing to do and I guess that would involve some experimental drilling.

In other news, how good looking is Maureen, exactly? Is she worth a single night or does she just have those cobra eyes?

Richard said...

Agreed that Dowd is "unspeakable," especially regarding her annual summertime columns from France. Of course she has competition at the Times from Elaine Sciolino's pathetic articles about all things French.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Goldhammer,
Can I ask what precisely you've read or heard that leads you to think fracking won't harm the environment? (I'm asking, in earnest, not sarcastically.) Everything I've read has lead me to the opposite conclusion, with most of the pro-fracking arguments seeming to come from obviously biased sources. (Which is also not to say that anti-fracking arguments are unbiased.)

Art Goldhammer said...

Here's one fairly balanced article:
http://environment.yale.edu/envy/stories/fracking-outpaces-science-on-its-impact
Not a clear acquittal, but certainly not a blanket condemnation: "There have been problems, but Jackson says it’s also important to remember that numerous wells have been drilled and used without causing any known problems. “The question isn’t ‘can hydraulic fracturing be done safely?’ It’s ‘will it be done safely?’.”

Steven Rendall said...

Thanks for the very interesting and helpful link.

Mitch Guthman said...

Art,

I’m not as sanguine about these new technologies because the benefits are minimal while the potential downside if all these “experts” guess wrong is potentially devastating. The real question is where the burden of proof should lie in whether we approve such technologies. I think that if there isn’t a “clear acquittal,” then it’s foolish to risk polluting so much of France’s (and our) environment and we need to be especially careful about our water.

Moreover, as we’ve seen time and time again, the polluters quickly take their profits but are never to be found if there’s a mess to be cleaned up. The money is drained from the corporation at fault so it can’t be recouped by the government. The rich executives and academic experts all live someplace else and don’t suffer the effects of the pollution.

My question to the people who either propose to engage in fracking or who say the risks are “acceptable” is whether they’re willing to back-up what they say with their own money and lives. Experts advocating fracking should be prepared to put up their own personal assets as guarantors of their opinions. If, contrary to their predictions, there is a problem with toxic pollution then the executives and experts should be forced to live in the polluted until it is cleaned up.

Similarly, the government should require that fracking be done only by syndicates of individuals like Lloyd's of London. That means a person running a fracking business pledges all he has or ever will have as surety. This will insure that the ones who make the profits will pay if something goes wrong.

I would be very much surprised if any rich people or experts were willing put themselves on the line even though we are constantly assured by them that nothing can go wrong. Personally, I would have rounded up the designers of the Fukushima nuclear reactor, along with the top ten executives and directors of TEPCO and made them fix the problem and then live for the next ten years next to the plant.