Stop Fracking Out

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S1: The following program may contain explicit language and.

S2: It’s Wednesday, September 16th, twenty twenty from Slate, it’s the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. President Trump did a supposed town hall event where supposed undecided voters asked him questions. This venue gave him the space and leeway to look something like a functioning human. For instance, he didn’t upbraid a questioner who couldn’t collect herself when relaying the story of her dead mother.

S1: So that’s good. Big win for Trump. The president also said this to another woman who explained that if she didn’t get necessary medicine, she will die within 36 to 72 hours.

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S3: What we’re doing is we’re going to be doing a health care plan, preexisting protecting people with preexisting conditions. As an example yourself, it sounds like that’s exactly perfect. That’s exactly what we’re talking about. We’re going to be doing a health care plan very strongly.

S1: Now, at that point, moderator George Stephanopoulos broke in and said, well, you’ve been saying that for three and a half years. Where is this health care? You told me in June it would be released in a couple of weeks. You told Chris Wallace it’ll be three weeks, but it’s not here. And Trump’s answer was, oh, it will be. But on so many other points, Trump just rambled on. Unchecked, there were opportunities for corrections. The Washington Post ran a piece that listed 24 separate statements that Trump made that were untruthful. CNN counted 22, but most of his statements, even in those pieces, slid by unremarked upon. The post didn’t even touch on statements like this.

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S3: Look at North Korea, how that’s worked out. We haven’t put the sanctions on. Everything’s the same. We haven’t spent anything. We’re getting along with him. I get along with Kim Jong un that was supposed to be at war. If President Obama were president, if Hillary Clinton ever got in, that would be what we would have, a war, probably a nuclear war with North Korea.

S4: He just said if President Obama were president, we would have a war with North Korea. I guess if Abraham Lincoln were president, he would have let the South secede. I understand that if Stephanopoulos were to get in there and attempt to correct every misstatement, then that would be the entire program.

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S5: Plus, the unbelievable things Trump says aren’t always unbelievable from the perspective of veracity often there. Unbelievable, judging by his linguistic incapacity.

S3: Well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually in many ways, I played it in terms of action.

S4: And sometimes a viewer just mutters. I can’t believe he said that based on style or tone.

S3: You know, I go to Dover and I greet oftentimes soldiers coming in and they’re dead.

S4: That was not out of context, by the way. I do want, however, more actively adhering to the facts. If the president won’t give it, you have to force it out of him. And what total adherence? Just more. The moderator should get in there and try to fact check whenever he can. Or we could let the president prevaricate in real time knowing that the fact checkers in print media will dole out those oh so important Pinocchio’s the next morning we could comfort ourselves with how things actually are going. It’s like that line in The Simpsons episode where Homer steals cable. Carl and Lenny are strategizing how they will consume that night’s prize fight.

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S6: A big fight coming up. Yeah, you want come over to my house and listen to round by round updates on the radio? Yeah, OK. Oh, and after the fight, we can watch the still photos on the eleven o’clock news.

S4: Not too shabby delaying information. And yes, accuracy was in fact shabby to the cartoon characters of nineteen Springfield. And it is a shabby state for presidential communication in 2020 America. On the show today, the official Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Delaware, a Trump and Kuhnen supporting 32 year old, was arrested for heroin and meth use three years ago and now says the police need more guns. But first, Daniel Yergin. The prize wasn’t about the Pulitzers, but it was awarded one. Yergin explained the history of oil and how it shaped the 20th century. His new book talks about the new realities of energy, which are radically different.

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S2: In a way, I think that is underappreciated. The name of the book is The New Map Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. Daniel Yergin joins me next.

S7: In August 1946, exactly one year after the end of World War Two, a tanker sailed into the Port of Philadelphia, laden with one hundred fifteen barrels of oil for delivery to a local refinery. The cargo, loaded a month earlier in Kuwait, was described at the time as the first significant shipment of Middle East oil to the United States two years later. Saudi oil was imported for the first time to the US, meeting the demand for petroleum products in the United States. That reality the Middle East. Supplying oil to the United States was a reality for almost 50 years. But the reality has changed. It is all documented in the new book, The New Map Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. The author is Daniel Yergin, who you know from his Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Prize The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. Also a great PBS series made about that. And you should also know that Mr. Yergin is a constant adviser to the Energy Advisory Board. He has done so under the last four presidential administrations.

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S1: Welcome to The Gist. Thanks for coming on. Thank you. And very glad to join you today. By the way, the last four presidential administrations. Does that include the current one?

S8: Yeah, that’s obviously the language is a little money there. Yes. It’s everyone from Clinton to Trump. So it’s it’s varied.

S5: So if you could put into perspective how revolutionary we say the shale revolution. So how revolutionary has it been?

S8: Shale has been a big revolution and I think more of a revolution than people really recognize. You started off citing the barrels of oil being imported from the Middle East. Basically, the U.S. was headed on a track and it became the world’s largest importer of oil, 60 percent of our oil. And now the United States is the largest producer of oil. We actually export oil to other countries, but its impact has also been felt in terms of jobs, in terms of manufacturing, Midwest manufacturing, balance of payments, government revenue, and also in terms of U.S. foreign policy.

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S5: Yes, and I want to get to that. But also, let’s just lay some foundation. Along with shale comes LNG, liquefied natural gas. How for for the layman who maybe hasn’t fracked in his life, how are those two related and how important is natural gas to this picture?

S8: Well, I guess we should first say, I mean, what fracking is, is a technique for opening up the flow of oil and natural gas from very dense rocks, which all the kind of hatred that drove me an engineering textbooks, that was impossible. It was a basically a disruptive technology. And so what that meant is that the US oil production increased and the US, which seemed destined a decade and a half ago to become the world’s largest importer of natural gas in a form called LNG. Liquefied natural gas is now on track to be one of the three largest exporters of natural gas to the rest of the world and changing the global market and changing our relations with a number of countries like India.

S5: Yes. So when you wrote the prize, I think people responded to it because it was a cogent explanation for a world that comported with how they experience things. In other words, the United States was dependent on oil. The Middle East did have the oil. This shaped geopolitics in a way that was in keeping with how the united how the average person saw things, that there was constant turmoil in the Middle East. It was necessary for the United States to navigate that turmoil and make alliances and perhaps make compromises. Well, now things have totally changed in the United States hasn’t just thrown off the shackles of OPEC to some degree. They’ve become the new OPEC or the version with shale and LNG. But it doesn’t seem like that reality is affecting the average American or comports with the average American’s view of the world, that now we hold the cards and we own the prize. Why is that?

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S8: You know, I think that images stay stuck in people’s minds about dependence and this is such a big change. And to get the whole picture of it, you have to stop and think about it. For instance, you know, the Obama administration negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran. Trump abandoned it. Biden would probably bring it, bring it back in some form, which whichever of those guys is involved with it, it wouldn’t have happened without this change in the oil fortunes of the United States because Iran thought we can’t put a sanctions on their oil in order to get them to the negotiating table. Because the world is that their oil, it turned out the world didn’t need their oil because of the US oil, but I think for the public, the main thing that you would kind of see in terms of this change in the oil position, United States is lower prices at the gasoline pump.

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S5: Right. And that and that is true. They do see that. I don’t know if that makes it as big an impact as those sky high prices and gas lines and oil embargoes.

S8: But I’m thinking, in fact, let me jump in there. I think you’re you’re right. People really only notice oil prices or gasoline prices when they’re high or, as you put it, sky high when they’re low, they kind of just take it into consideration and at least in normal times, just drive more.

S5: Yeah, yeah. They it says something about human nature, maybe something about the expectations of the American consumer. But let’s just talk about geopolitics. And so much of the book is based on it. You know, for years and years and years, just take one country, Saudi Arabia, they had a horrible record on human rights and perhaps in one way or another exported chaos. Let’s be kind into the world. And now they don’t hold the cards. They don’t hold that powerful position anymore. And NBC is certainly trying to rejigger his economy. But we do not see and maybe this is just a function of the current administration or there’s something else. I have not seen the United States essentially saying, well, no more you we are now not going to kowtow to you. We shall not be playing to your whims. We hold the cards. You’re going to have to come in line with at least our expectations of a ethically acting country. But it doesn’t seem like we flexed our muscles, the muscles that should be given to us given our energy independence.

S8: I think that it’s you might be hoping for too much because we do hold high cards. But really, the world oil market is dominated by the big three. That is the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia. You know, we used to think OPEC, not OPEC, but that’s the kind of history now. So there’s a different balance there. And I think the US policy will see if it’s different under a different administration sees Saudi Arabia as an important regional power. It’s still an important force in the world economy, but it’s not kind of holding those cards exclusively, as it seemed to have in the past. And I think there are other issues there which have to do with Iran, which looms very large in foreign policy considerations, dealing with ISIS and so forth. But I think you mentioned the efforts of Saudi Arabia to reform its economy. Turns out when you have an economy that’s heavily dependent on oil, it’s pretty hard to stop being heavily dependent on oil.

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S7: Yes. And when your other huge natural resources sand, it’s not as easy.

S8: I mean, of course, with sand you can make silicon and you can make solar collectors and so forth. And that’s a big difference between if you think between, let’s say, the the big three, Russia and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States. Russia is also dependent upon oil. Saudi Arabia got 70 percent of its budget from oil, Russia about 50 percent from oil and gas. But Russia has a more diversified economy. Most people don’t know this. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, so it has somewhat more flexibility. But if you’re a petro state and you’re looking at the changing world, you really do think about how do you diversify your economy? And then you discover it’s also pretty hard to diversify your economy.

S7: So let’s talk about the environmental impact of the shale revolution, because you do researchers from Carnegie Mellon, Princeton and Stanford did a big comprehensive study a year ago about the Appalachian Basin. So this isn’t everything. This is one area. But they looked at premature deaths caused by air pollution and the long term impact on regional climate, but also new jobs. And they paint a pretty dire picture that there is so much particulate matter in the air and the overall environmental impact is really quite negative. You wouldn’t read that study and say that shale gas is worth it. I read your book and come to an entirely different conclusion. So can you lay out your case for of course there are tradeoffs, but why it’s worth it.

S8: Sure, I’m not. You know, I have to tell you, Mike, I’m not familiar with that study. Obviously, there have been lots of different studies on this. And this is a large industrial activity and it needs to be regulated properly. When President Obama was in, this issue came up and a task force was set up in the administration, which I was part of, but with a lot of scientists and people look at health things and looked at the environmental impacts around shale and concluded that if it’s properly regulated, then it’s the positive as well outweigh the negatives. Obviously, there are studies that continue to come out health. I look at that study, but I know that the committee that we went through to look at it looked pretty hard at the environmental and the health issues. There is one issue that does stand out on shale and on oil, all the oil and gas production and that’s dealing with methane emissions and controlling methane emissions is an important element in addressing climate change issues.

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S7: There’s a lot of concern about earthquakes also, but you write that different, better methods counteract the tendency to create earthquakes.

S8: I forgot what the term is know not a wave, but there were a series of earthquakes swarms. That’s a term they use swarms of earthquakes in Oklahoma, which is very concerning. And it turned out that it’s not it wasn’t the the fracking itself, but rather what people did with the wastewater. And they they put the wastewater into into the ground in areas that was geographically, geologically not suited and that caused the earthquakes. And that’s an example of an activity that needs to be properly regulated and properly assessed. So I think the earthquake issue tended to be in a particular region, the main one in Oklahoma.

S5: Right. Fracking, in my opinion, though, has a bad name. And it’s something, for instance, that Democratic politicians try to outdo each other on about how opposed to fracking they are. Maybe not in Oklahoma, but you know, how many Democratic politicians really have great success in Oklahoma. So it’s bad in New York. And President Obama was for the Keystone pipeline, but then when members of his party came out against it, he went against it. Is this a problem? Is this a long term problem for fracking in the United States that at least one and maybe the ascendant political party seems to hate it?

S8: Well, I think it is. I mean, I often wonder, you know, when they say they ban fracking, I kind of have the question why. Let’s assess what the reasons are. I mean, if you do have a ban fracking policy, it goes back to where we started this. The biggest beneficiary of banning fracking, the United States will be Saudi Arabia and Russia because they will fill the gap in the market that is now by the US and the US will become once again a large importer of oil. We have two hundred and eighty million cars in the United States. Two hundred seventy nine million of them run on gasoline. So we’re going to be using oil. And so the question is, do we produce it here with the economic benefits, stay in the United States or do we want to import it from from the Middle East? But the question about, you know, it’s very interesting because just a few days ago, Joe Biden made his first campaign appearance after the Democratic convention. He chose Pennsylvania, which is a swing state, which is a state which is economically benefited a great deal from this shale revolution. And he said, I’m not banning fracking. Let me say it again. I’m not banning fracking. So I think he’s looking at it and sees, by the way, there are twelve point three million jobs in the United States in the oil and gas industry. Pennsylvania is a swing state. It’s also not clear that a national administration has the power to, quote, ban fracking because, in fact, a lot of the regulation is actually at the state level. But I think you’ve pointed to a division in the Democratic Party and certainly there are a lot of people to the left of him who do say they want to ban fracking. And, you know, I can’t help but notice, you know, people who say they want to ban fracking, but then they go into the hospital to have a stent put in their heart. And the tools that put into their heart are made from plastics, from oil and natural gas. Otherwise, that stent wouldn’t be in that person’s heart. So I think that kind of look at a larger picture of this.

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S1: And tomorrow we will continue talking with Daniel Yergin, author of The New Map, Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. We will get into the Cold War, China and the future of energy like renewables, which are a great idea. But Yergin says they’re still mostly just that an idea.

S4: And now the spiel, the Republican primary for Senate has been won by a candidate named Lauren Wisky, not much is known about the political upstart. She herself says she was affiliated with the Trump 2016 campaign as a Trump victory field director. She says she was in pharmaceutical sales, became addicted to drugs, and she claims she went to work for a Mexican drug cartel. What she learned is this, quote, Mexican cartels who trafficked young women, raped little children. They recycle children. They steal American children. They rape American women. Her firsthand knowledge brought her to this policy stance and extremely strict anti-immigration agenda.

S9: When I was in my addiction, I worked for cartels.

S4: Whiskey has been photographed sporting Kuhnen apparel. She uses Kuhnen hashtags. She has organized public events using the Save Our Children hashtag, which has been appropriated by Kuhnen. Her rhetoric frames classic right wing talking points in a kuhnen vernacular, and millions of unborn babies are being slaughtered by satanic abortionists every year.

S1: Aside from her Kuhnen support, very little is known about wisky. It’s fairly shocking. It’s hard to even find her age in official campaign documents. I believe it to be 32. I have searched every reference to Learn Watsky on LexisNexis. She pops up as a full fledged candidate for the Republican nomination about a year ago. But before then, there were three distinct sets of references. One set concerns Lauren Witkowsky, who I believe is the person we’re talking about, and her high school softball success. This was covered by the Wilmington News Journal in around 2007. Then in around 2008, there’s a Lauren Whiskey in Texas and turns out she’s successful in high school softball, as well as chronicled in outlets like The Dallas Morning News. I believe these are two different Lauren Whisky’s, although both are very good at softball, played softball in college, look a little bit alike. But the candidate who we’re talking about is five foot six and the other, Lauren Watsky, is six feet tall. So what happens is there is no mention of a Lauren Whiskey anywhere that I could find in the media between the years 2014 and 2020, except for two brief items in a small Tennessee newspaper under the jail docket column from the summer of 2017. Lauren Wisky, 29, arrested by the Bradley County, Tennessee’s sheriff’s office for DUI, resisting arrest, introduction of contraband into a penal facility scheduled for drug violations, heroin schedule to drug violations, meth. I also found a mug shot featuring a haggard young woman who looks like a weathered version of that bright young softball player from Delaware, the mug shot matches up with the timing of the report of the arrest that I just read to you.

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S4: Like I said, Whiskey has talked about her past in general terms, but has not in all the material that I’ve reviewed, mentioned her arrest for resisting arrest and sneaking in drugs to a penal facility. She has said that Trump’s victory, which again, she worked as an organizer on, inspired her to quit drugs, his 2016 victory. Let me once again remind you of the date of her DUI, heroin and meth arrests, July and August of 2017.

S10: Still, Wisky campaigns on a law and order message, the only changes I would make to the police force is more funding or more equipment, more guns and more police officers, especially now we have to back the blue because they have been keeping us safe. And if we don’t support them and we move to defund them, to replace them with therapists, there will be anarchy, complete anarchy in our streets.

S4: In this regard, she is consistent, consistently echoing and amplifying the Trump message. Here she was a few months ago, talking about the coronavirus during a Facebook event.

S9: Some treatments available there is hydrochloric queen and as Zithromax as the combination is euphemism myson. Yes. OK, so the good news is President Trump is fast tracking, fast tracking the potential coronavirus streetdance these two treatments with the FDA. So yet again, another President Trump moving quickly, wasting no time to help the American people and, you know, really get this pandemic under control and get us healthy again. Get us whole again.

S4: Here she is doing a phone interview on Sirius XM Patriot Network.

S11: And right now, we have Black Lives Matter, which is a terrorist organization and should be labeled as such that is trying to overthrow our nation.

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S4: Couldn’t hear called blame a terrorist organization. Will Summer, who covers the far right for The Daily Beast, also reports that she has called herself a flat earth on podcast’s. Though I didn’t hear that podcast, maybe she was joking and she is affiliated with the grippers, which is a kind of white national troll army. I’m sorry if you now have to worry about the grippers you probably just learned about. Kuhnen are trying to get your head around the boogaloo boys. And now, boy, with the grippers beyond the fringe conspiracies and the troubling dalliances and the dark past and the lack of qualifications and the Trump parroting, there is also what seems to be a total ignorance of the way the world actually works. When asked on Facebook what the U.S. should do to punish China for the coronavirus, which said, quote, Everything they make for us, they should make here and added, let’s deduct all the debt that we owe China.

S9: Let’s deduct that debt that we owe China in return for their lack of transparency and all the money that it’s going to cost the United States for us and lives as well.

S4: Let’s deduct the debt we owe China. I don’t even know why I am highlighting this. She has reportedly supported pizza gate. Maybe it’s just because deducting the debt is a free floating, weird, terrible, nonsensical idea that is untethered to an ideology as opposed to a crazy idea that comes wrapped in a package that a cynic can exploit to gain elected office.

S1: And that’s the truly disturbing thing. Kuhnen conspiracists have gained the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware and Oregon now and for House seats in Colorado, Georgia and Illinois. The Georgia seat will be won by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Kuhnen supporter. The Colorado one is now listed as likely Republican. They have been successful in capturing the votes of the small group of most fervent voters who show up to vote in primaries in districts that are very conservative and mostly rural, but also in a district that represents the Chicago suburbs. A couple of California Kuhnen adherents, or at least non rebukes, will appear on the ballot there. To Media Matters, the left wing watchdog has a full list of everyone they consider a Kuhnen supporter running for office. I think their definition is overly broad. Some of those people have advanced Q hashtags online, but they now say they reject the ideology. Some are pretty coy about it. However, I think it’s clear that new believers are a bonafide and quite potent constituency now within the Republican Party. And I also am realizing that Nonbeliever’s or, you know, nonfactual dyed in the wool Q conspiracists know that they have to play the game of placating and nodding to the Q people, as Republicans used to have to do with, say, the Chamber of Commerce or the LCS years ago. The official Republican candidate for the Senate in Delaware, Lauren Watsky, will not win. There just isn’t one factor that would argue for anything close to an upset. Chris Coons, the incumbent, is strong. Delaware is blue, whiskey is untested. And also, I would think, strikes most people as a little crazy, at least a little crazy. But that’s not the point, because much of the Republican Party has now demonstrated that it can be taken over by the craziest, least serious, most dangerous fringe elements working in politics today. These aren’t people you disagree with. These are people you need to get away from. But the Republican Party can do nothing to stop them. Well, except for the moments when the Republicans actively encouraged them.

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S2: And that’s it for today’s show, Margaret Kelly produces the gist when she heard that the president played the virus, she hoped she would be able to down chuck her lunch. Daniel Shrader, just producer, has never been to the land down under Australia. He prefers the land up over Toronto. Alicia Montgomery, executive producer of Slate podcast, just wishes all these Kuhnen folk in the public square will become a little more on the gist. Apologies if you feel that I upbraided the president. Maybe I should have downgraded him. I believe my mixed up childhood down bringing the pillows in my bed were filled with up and all the furniture needed to be down. Pollster who proved that? Peruggia Perot. And thanks for listening.