A favorite movie of millions is The Wizard of Oz. The magic dissipated when Frank Morgan’s character the Wizard was revealed to be a fraud, exposed by Dorothy’s dog Toto, who pulled back the curtain of his throne room to reveal the theatrical illusions used to impress the locals. Where is Toto when we really need him?
I speak of Measure G, an upcoming November ballot measure that would ban all new oil production along with fracking in SLO County. We need Toto to pull back the curtain on this fraudulent measure that will do significant harm to county, city, and school district budgets, not to mention taking some $60-plus million out of the local economy.
This initiative is being promoted as a purely local affair, generated by local concerns about oil spills, air pollution, and the desire to jettison all fossil fuels and adopt 100 percent renewables (solar and wind). We are told that the science that generates the global warming/climate change crisis requiring such drastic action is settled, and all dissenters have the moral credibility of those who deny that the Holocaust occurred. This worldview has been adopted and incorporated into official state policies to be enforced by various edicts handed down by unaccountable regulatory agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board. The Legislature adopted AB 32 mandating reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to levels not seen since the early 1990s; economic impacts were deemed irrelevant or dismissed. Accordingly, the cost of energy in California continues to climb even as the rest of the nation sees declining energy prices and expanding economic opportunities. Silicon Valley is seeing growth, and the state has strong economic prospects in the Bay Area and greater LA, but large sectors of the state are experiencing stagnant growth or even Depression-like conditions. The middle class is squeezed and the working poor hammered as their cost of living escalates even as their buying power diminishes. In Sacramento, legislators and Bay Area elites yawn, some even suggesting the state would do better without middle-class burdens on the economy.
On a national scale we’ve been inundated with breathless stories about collusion of the Trump campaign with the Russians: still no evidence produced that any collusion occurred but the feds are still looking. Surely there must be a crime somewhere out there, and they will find it even if they have to create it. If they only looked behind the green door, the environmental door that is. Apparently, the Sierra Club Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council have been caught with their fingers in the Russian cookie jar, (wittingly or not) taking $10 million from the Sea Change Foundation, a Bermuda company congressional investigators have linked to Russian front groups whose mission was to sabotage American energy production.
A Congressional Report from the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, “Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media,” dated March 1, 2018, documents Russian efforts to sabotage U.S. energy markets. Didn’t hear about this? No headlines in the local paper or lead stories on the local TV station? Don’t hold your breath, you won’t.
According to the report, “Russian-sponsored agents funneled money to U.S. environmental organizations in an attempt to portray energy companies in a negative way and disrupt domestic energy markets. … Documents … confirmed that Russian agents were exploiting American social media platforms in an effort to … suppress research and development of fossil-fuels, and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas.”
The congressional report found that between 2015 and 2017, the Russian front company Internet Research Agency, (a Russian company based in St. Petersburg) made more than 9,000 posts to social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) disparaging fossil fuels, pipelines, and heavily targeted fracking of shale deposits used to increase natural gas production, and hyped alarmist views on climate change to disrupt U.S. energy production. Could it be that Measure G is partly a result of this subversive effort?
The Russian effort to suppress U.S. natural gas production is critical from their perspective because the Kremlin’s national security and their geopolitical agenda is jeopardized by expanded U.S. natural gas production. Their ability to modernize and expand their strategic nuclear forces is dependent upon keeping international fossil fuel prices high since their economy is supported by large fossil fuel exports. Expanded American natural gas exports undermines their global influence and especially their hold on European countries dependent upon Russian natural gas exports to power their economies. America stands on the brink of becoming the leading exporter of oil and natural gas, driving down international fossil fuel prices, thereby undermining Russian military expansion without firing a shot. Accordingly, the Russians consider it vital to sabotage any American expansion of domestic oil and gas production.
For proof of these charges, the congressional report states, “In January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report that contained ‘clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States.’”
The hype will continue, facts will be lost in the frenzy of a political campaign. Hopefully, voters will see through the fog, pull back the curtain, and expose the fraud before further economic damage is inflicted upon the county. ∆
Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.