The tranquility at ChaosFarm has been interrupted once again. This time it is by the mess being generated by extensive fracking in Ohio and surrounding states. However, there are some dots in this problem that connect in an unlikely way.
A constitutional provision that applies to Ham radio antennas also applies to fracking, believe it or not! The U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause has been misapplied to a growing number of situations over the years. It has sometimes been expanded by clever legal manipulation, but no such word twisting is needed in this case. This clause denies the states the power to regulate any commerce that crosses state lines unless the federal government allows a state to regulate the matter.
The city, county, or state cannot stop me from installing a transmitting antenna for my federally licensed radio station. The federal government exclusively regulates radio matters because radio waves cross state lines and are therefore in the federal government’s domain. The city or state can, however, establish reasonable safety and appearance requirements for the antenna. Similarly, state or local fracking laws cannot usurp the regulatory rights of the federal government.
Ignoring basic legal principles when trying to bring order to the fracking world is guaranteed disaster. Applying good law is the best way to achieve the desired goals. The system, if followed, ensures that safe and responsible fracking, which in fact may be very little, can occur. The system also guarantees that environmentally destructive fracking can be stopped, provided the advocates for eliminating the lousy fracking do not relentlessly hand ammunition to the fracking interests.
Military surveillance is also something that transcends state control because it is essential to the entire nation. Our military surveillance satellites are good enough to read the license plates of cars on the ground, so there is little in a fracking operation that can escape their observation. Surveillance satellites are potent tools for seeing what is hard to see when standing on the ground.
There is no apparent reason why the federal government could not make high-quality military satellite photos available for areas where there is active fracking. It should only require congressional pressure to get limited, full-resolution images released. This is a far preferable method to see what is going on than depending on surveillance aircraft and drones — and it is free or available for its reproduction costs.
It is clear that understanding the principle of interstate commerce and using currently available military surveillance tools can be a game-changer in controlling out-of-control fracking. There will always be a lawyer somewhere who can craft an argument and justification for essentially anything. Informed and dedicated people gathering the facts needed to make their case should be enough to achieve the goal.
The federal government has the power to determine standards for operations producing products sold in interstate and international commerce. In most cases, this would include disclosing and/or banning the use of dangerous chemicals in fracking wells.
Using Military Surveillance
An argument that military security would be compromised by releasing surveillance photos limited to fracking areas is a bogus argument. Go for it. Valuable, high-quality surveillance images are available with sufficient pressure on the powers that be.
Although everything is radioactive, the radiation from most things is small enough to be of no consequence. Nevertheless, policymakers must give thought to what level of radiation matters.
The ignorant opinion of some people who want to ban anything radioactive ignores the fact that everything is radioactive. Banning anything radioactive would ban everything. Moreover, everything radioactive has a half-life which is of concern only when the half-life is long. Half-lives can vary from a fraction of a second to centuries.
Ban all fracking
This idea is not realistic because when demanding everything, the bargainer usually gets nothing. An interesting aside from the damage caused by fracking is the Siberian wildfires that dwarf all others on Earth combined. It is also interesting that this huge CO2-generating disaster appears to have received NO coverage in the news media.
/s/ JD Nobody (ho, hum), OC ’61.