Frackwater and Greenpeace Updated

Haven’t seen a lot of notice for a recent study of water pollution from natural gas fracking in Pennsylvania, produced by Resources for the Future and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  So far it seems only Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations has shown it much love:

The team’s conclusions are fairly straightforward. They find enhanced chlorine concentrations downstream of waste water treatment facilities but not downstream of drilling sites. Chlorine is a good marker of contamination from well flowback. What the RFF analysis suggests is that leaks or spills aren’t statistically detectable, at least at the watershed level, but that impacts of poorly processed wastewater are.

Let this sink in for a moment, because it means that there’s very little evidence of water pollution at drilling sites; meanwhile, who’s responsible for wastewater treatment?  The government, in most cases.  Maybe we should put the gas drilling industry in charge of that, too.

Meanwhile, I mentioned here last weekend how I thought Greenpeace deserves to be regarded as the John Birch Society of the environmental movement.  Writing about Greenpeace over at the Breakthrough Institute’s website, Matthew Nisbet points out, among other things, that Greenpeace is bigger than either the American Petroleum Institute, or the U.C. Chamber of Commerce.  In fact, Greenpeace enjoys higher revenues than many major league sports franchises:

Greenpeace brought in global revenues of €241 million (US$336 million) and spent approximately €159 million on program activities (US$221 million) and €77 million on fundraising (US$107 million) across countries.

To put Greenpeace’s global fundraising prowess in context: the organization’s annual revenue is equivalent to or greater than some of the world’s richest sport franchises including the Arsenal soccer club (US$336 million)Boston Red Sox (US$272 million), and L.A. Lakers (US$212 million).

Greenpeace global revenue also compares well to that of major U.S. industry associations which we commonly think of as having inconceivably large budgets. Consider that in 2009, the American Petroleum Institute generated $203 million in  revenue and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $214 million in revenue from its industry members.

At the global level, Greenpeace employs nearly 2,200 staff, with 1,039 based in Europe and 314 in the U.S and Canada.

So forget the John Birch Society comparison.  Maybe we should say Greenpeace is the New York Yankees of environmentalism.  Because everybody hates the Yankees.

JOHN adds: For what it’s worth, I think the John Birch Society comparison is unfair to the Birchers. The Birch Society was never a criminal enterprise; in fact, I am not aware of the society, or even any of its prominent members, committing any crimes at all.


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