Good thing we're cutting all the funding out DEP. God knows they don't need it.

The Scripps News Service has a story out published in Ohio's The Republic on the poor oversight of natural gas drillers.

Data supplied by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show that well operators in that state have received 14,409 notices of violation since 2000.

Many of the violations reflect paperwork oversights, but many others are for environmental harm. The Ohio data, analyzed by Scripps, show 1,972 violations alone for pollution and contamination. Nearly 2,000 violations have no electronic record of when -- or if -- they've been fixed.

Pennsylvania officials say their records are in similar shape. The state has issued 8,309 violations since 2007, but officials there caution that their files - which include thousands of violations that have no date of being fixed - cannot be trusted as accurate. Instead of keeping their books up-to-date, inspectors are devoting their limited manpower in the field rather than completing paperwork.

"There's so many more violations that we're trying to keep on top of," said Jamie Legenos, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "We want to make sure they are being addressed. When it comes to putting in the resolution date, it's just catching up with the paperwork."

In the last ten years, the DEP budget has consistently been cut. At the same time, natural gas drillers were laying their plans, now coming to fruition, to come into this state big. Under a weak regulatory structure created for a much more modest industry, with few regulators, no tax on extraction and an income tax system that makes it easy for them to evade Federal taxes as well.

The Nature Conservancy recently released a map projecting just how much ground drillers are likely to cover in our state by 2030. FrackTracker has a similar map that focuses exclusively on violations. This is never going to look better than it does today.

Corbett gotchu!

Don't worry, Brady! Governor-elect Tom Corbett gotchu! His people are certain to keep an eye out for problems with natural gas drillers or corporate felons...since they have such an intimate knowledge of both groups:

Co-chair of the Corbett transition team -- one of the three people in charge of assembling Corbett's staff -- is Christine Toretti, CEO of S.W. Jack Drilling, a 92 year old natural gas drilling company which recently liquidated its operating assets, so Toretti could "focus on Republican politics."

Co-chair of Corbett's inauguration committee is local candy magnate Bob Asher, who "was convicted in 1987 on charges of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery in connection to state contracts awarded to political favored individuals while he was chairman of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania." Good pick by the Attorney General!

They must believe in Corbett. Toretti gave his campaign $117,000 last year, and Asher gave Corbett $190,000. That's a lot of confidence!

These good folks certainly will make sure natural gas drillers and corporate felons are dealt with properly by state government.

So who needs a Department of Environmental Protection?

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
--Abraham Lincoln

On the bright side, it's

On the bright side, it's going to be one hell of an "I told you so"... *sigh*

But how do we get people to vote their self-interest?

Everyone who was even slightly conscious was aware that Corbett was in bed with the drillers and with every other corporation that had money to give him. They voted for him anyhow, and he won every county but three. How do we wake people up?

That's a big question, isn't it?

A lot of people are trying to answer it. I'll let you know if I figure out the answer.

Keep your chin up and keep working (as others have in the past)

Consider the long view as it's represented in Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal, for instance. Some readers forget the long history parts in the beginning, but Krugman pointedly notes that the U.S has experienced another very similar, very long period of bad government, rampant and cruel inequality, and corporate greed (and how!) during what he calls the Extended Gilded Age, from about the death of Lincoln in 1865 until the election of FDR in 1932.

Sure, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson provided some bumps in the right direction, and no one should discount the revolution of the 19th Amendment..but, in general, for about 70 years Americans voted against their economic self-interests.

And then, for a long time, they didn't, people generally voted in their best economic interests for a few decades, and the Democrats grew a better government between 1932 and 1980. Reagan happened, folks started voting for tax cuts and reactionary social politics, and here we are, trying to bring the current long national nightmare to an end. Looked good 08-09, less so now, but certainly not hopeless with Dems still in control of the White House and Senate.

We keep fighting as have other progressives, and you hope to make progress. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. Being smart and compelling always helps

Pennsylvania's particular nightmare is longer and bleaker, although the election of Corbett was always more likely this year, given electoral trends. You're probably aware that Pennsylvania has been switching parties in the governor's mansion every eight years since the 1930s, with one blip -- of course Republican -- in the 1950s.

I've come to conclude that the game has been fixed in PA by its history of strong anti-tax movements. We only (barely) got an income tax in 1971, and since the state Constitution disallows its being graduated, we're always stuck with inadequate revenue to run a decent government. And since Harrisburg is not a particularly attractive place, not particularly close to the state's more attractive places, and since the legislature has a long history of being a quagmire and provides little hope for spoils, it rarely attracts the best and brightest to run for the legislature.

Harriburg is dysfunctional. Republicans use Harrisburg's dysfunctional state to argue for punishing it with even fewer revenues. The lack of revenues keeps Harrisburg dysfunctional, and the cycle goes on. The reason Democrats usually recover the governor's mansion every eight years is because Harrisburg is SO dysfunctional as to engender a "throw the bums out" feeling every so often.

Rarely is it pointed out that Pennsylvania borders six states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland) and that they all have higher income taxes, and they all have progressive tax rates, yet we never have seen a flight of New York or Baltimore millionaires over our borders (from cities to towns maybe; from state to state not), tax haven though they'd find here with our pathetic and inadequate 3.04%.

But that particular problem has been very very hard to fix. Taxing has been anathema to successful politics here. Our best governor of modern history, I think, was Milton Shapp and he only made a little headway.

Pennsylvania is a tough nut to crack. Perhaps when voters find out more about natural gas drilling, it will become a more compelling issue.

This year the usual Harrisburg mess was the biggest issue, Rendell was the easiest target to blame, so voters were most likely to vote for the Republican.

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
--Abraham Lincoln

Which interest?

Unfortunately, people seem to be looking at the short term on this one. Either they are getting nice checks for their land or if they don't have land then they are seeing money come in other ways. The diners are full. The hotels are full.

Some of them are making so much money that they have no reason to care if their land is wrecked. They can afford to peace out now, if that's what they need to do.

It would be nice if the folks with little or no land and no business in town and who aren't seeing any of the gas bling directly would get with us, but people are a trusting lot. The companies are telling them everything will be fine. By the time it isn't fine, the industry will have already made its money, so what will it care?

This Too Will Pass, for the guts in your cerebrum.

We'll be arguing natural gas drilling in 2012 and 2014

Unfortunately, the state's going to have to withstand years of an underfunded DEP trying to keep up with a superempowered natural gas industry -- one that's literally choosing the staff it will deal with in the Corbett administration. Hell, let's face it: as with Corbett's transition team, anyone in the Corbett administration dealing with the natural gas industry will be someone from the natural gas industry.

So, yes, it seems likely a lot of Pennsylvania land is going to be wrecked by natural gas drillers, and, for sure, a whole hell of a lot of natural gas money is going to escape PA tax free. I don't think it's elitist to say I don't think most Corbett voters were focusing on those eventualities when they cast their vote.

I didn't see exit polls. I don't put a lot of stock in them anyway (see this Louis Menand article on the 2004 elections). But I'm guessing most PA voters weren't thinking much about natural gas drilling when they voted for governor, as much as they were thinking about how mad they were at Rendell, the traditional issue of dysfunctional Harrisburg, and probably jobs. You know, Corbett told them they'd scare away jobs if they tax natural gas, and whether voters believed that or not, his saying it probably blurred the natural gas issue enough, so that it wasn't enough of a factor to make them choose another Democrat over Corbett.

They'll probably find out more about natural gas drilling that they won't like in the near future.

Krugman said it today on another matter, there will be blood.

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
--Abraham Lincoln

In that case,

NOW is the time to build a citizens' movement against natural gas drilling, and we've already seen the beginnings of one. The more citizen action against drilling, the more pressure there will be on the state to act, and the easier it will be for municipalities like Pittsburgh to act in place of the state, or take it in a better direction than the state ever would.

"americans voted against their own economic self interest"

is a really , really condesending statement to make as your trying to say if i make 50k a year and vote repub then you know more than me what my economic self interest is. no disrespect to you but how the hell the would you know more about my economic self interest than me?i don't know what your economic self interest is so why would you know mine? thats what absolutely infuriates people about progressives, the notion that progressives know whats best for everybody. the working poor do vote their economic self interest already by voting dem, upwardly mobile workers like tech workers vote their self interest by voting repub ( in highly regulated france not one company in their top 50 sized companies was started after 1950, not one, so because of the highly regulated nature of their economy companies with highly paid workers like apple ,google and facebook can not, have not, and will not, ever be started in a country like france so many people with the ability to work at places like that will vote repub so america can still be a good place for start up companies.)
middle class workers making say 50-75 k a year then have a choice not between for their economic self int or against their economic self int but between lower taxes ( and hence more spending money for themselves ), less job security and less free stuff from the govt and less vacation time (america) and higher taxes and hence less money in the hand and more free stuff and more vacation time and more job security (europe). personally if i was a clerk in an office i might like to work in france more than america , knowing that i'll probably never be fired , but thats just my personal opinion, others who favor having more money to spend for themselves and less free stuff and less job security etc are not voting against their econ self interst, they are simply favoring a different , rather than inferior sysytem. if progressives had more respect for middle class voters who vote repub instead of thinking they have been duped into voting repub they would have more chance of gettin g them to change their vote. people will never vote for a group who are basically saying they have been fooled for years.
incidently the first 8 years of fdr were no great shakes for this country as the nra and aaa and the highest ever tariff passed were a disaster for the country.

History lesson

re: FDR's first 8 years, you may recall that there was something called the Great Depression at the time. The New Deal, while not immediately solving the problems, certainly alleviated some of the pain of unemployment via direct government hiring through things like the CCC. In addition, the infrastructure projects undertaken under the New Deal have continued to serve the country for the past 80 years. Indeed, much of the infrastructure which is currently crumbling due to lack of government spending on maintenance dates from the 1930s + the Roosevelt administration.

The tariff to which you refer, Smoot-Hawley, was passed in 1930, under the Hoover administration and, yes, it was a disaster, as were all of the Hoover administration's attempts to deal w/the Depression. Herbert Hoover was a very good man who was utterly unprepared for the Great Depression and whose economic philosophy did not allow the kind of Keynesian spending which ended it.

As for the comments that it was WWII, rather than government spending, that ended the Great Depression, I would ask what, exactly, it was about WWII which ended the Depression? It was government spending on the war- the ramping up of the great Arsenal of Democracy, building weapons, boats, and airplanes in bulk. But, as far as economic stimulus went, the spending would have been just stimulative had every single bit of weaponry been simply dumped at sea; stupid, but just as stimulative. It wasn't the purpose of the spending that ended the Great Depression, it was the spending itself and the economic activity resulting from it.

People tend to forget how many things that government does for them, both directly and indirectly. Who builds the roads? Government. Who maintains the water system + provides clean water? Government. Who guarantees that private interests don't trash the environment in the pursuit of private profit? Government. Starving the government for resources doesn't provide more jobs, freedom, etc.; it primarily reduces the government's ability to provide those services which private industry chooses not to provide, largely b/c they're not profitable enough.

It's worth remembering that, at the time when the US economy was quite likely the most prosperous of any economy in human history the top marginal tax rate was over 90%. And if you don't know what a marginal tax rate is, might I suggest that you stop debating economic issues?


Reagan's big tax cuts weren't really aimed at the middle class

If you made the equivalent of today's $50,000 when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, you made about $20,900 (see here).

According the Tax Foundation, in 1981 a single wage earner making $20,900 paid a top marginal tax rate of 28%.

According to the same source, when Reagan left office two terms later, in 1989, your top marginal tax rate would have been...28%.

That's right, under Reagan, the top tax rate for middle class people, making the equivalent of today's $50,000, didn't change.

It wouldn't even have mattered if your income had been adjusted for inflation up to $28,490. By the time Reagan left office, the top marginal tax rate was 28%...whether you made $19,000 (roughly $33,000 today) or $190,000 or $190 million.

That's because Reagan's big tax cuts were not aimed at the middle class.

Now, if you made the equivalent of today's $500,000, Reagan really did cut your taxes, and how.

When Reagan took office in 1981, the equivalent of today's half million was $209,000. That would have qualified you, in 1981, for a top tax rate of 68%, just $6400 shy of the top overall rate of 70%. (That's right, kids: back in the day, the tax code went all the way up, past what would be a half million dollars today; so, in today's dollars, if your earnings went from $350K to $500K or $600K, your taxes went up. Think about that: how much more would we collect today, if we extended our tax code so that rising levels of rich paid rising levels of taxes?).

So what kind of tax cut did Reagan give people making the equivalent of today's half million dollars?

That's right, 40%. Your top tax rate went from 68% in 1981 to 28% in 1989. Forty cents on the dollar savings, accomplished in eight years.

Ever wonder why cocaine became so popular in the 1980s?

Rich people had a lot to celebrate, and a lot more to celebrate with.

Reagan's big military spending didn't really contribute to end of the Cold War either, Ian, if you care to get into that one.

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.
--Abraham Lincoln

revisionist history

So now Ian, your trying to blame the Great Depression on FDR?
I welcome diverse opinions that challenge me and make me think. Reading fiction is what I do for pleasure, and as far as comedy goes, its usually saved for Stewart or Colbert.
Fact is, over the 100 year history known as the 29th century the market did better under Democrat Presidents than under Republicans. The 21st Century thus far is history repeating itself. History repeating itself, no surprise there.

you can't seriously argue that the

nra and aaa were good for the country. obviously the depression started years before those programs but the nra and aaa were the main reasons ( as well as not getting rid of the smoot hawley tariff) the country stayed in serious economic trouble for the whole decade. i have the benefit of the knowledge gained of having grown up in australia where we had until the mid 80's a watered down version of the nra and our unemployment rate durin g boom times was 8 to9 % and during recessions 12% . when the extreme left wing labor govt decided that the unemployed were the main group they wanted to help they got rid of our version of the nra and and surprise surprise unemployment during boom times fell to around 4-5 % and during recessions about 8-9%.

Yes, FDR stunk and Herbie Hoover was the best Pres ever

Here are a few things that Republican working class voters may have forgotten:

unemployment insurance
national labor relations act
workman's compensation
occupational safety laws
civil rights laws
age, gender and sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws
public works of all kinds
children's health insurance
air and water protection
family leave legislation
oh, and these little ones:
medicaid, medicare, social security, and in 2014, universal -- tho not free -- healthcare.

Some of these had slight Republican support, especially from Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower, both of whom would be drummed out of the Party now for being far-out despicable, socialist RINOs. The current Republican Party, now running the House of Representatives and many state governments, will do the best it can to defund or outright repeal most if not all of these measures that made the middle class what it was, the richest in the world until Reagan decided the rich weren't rich enough. So yes, if working class voters want to see all this turned back, you could say they do vote for Republicans in their self interest, but it is deluded.

Their delusion would be the one you put forward, the notion that with taxes lower due to smaller government, they could buy a better life in the private market. But here's the rub: first of all, they would never see more than trivial amounts of extra money because most of the savings from cutting this stuff would be given away by the Grand Old Thievery Party (GOTP) to the rich in the form of further tax cuts. And second . . . please, be serious. Replace this stuff in the private market? People won't miss this stuff because they can afford to buy a better microwave? Please.

Of course, some working class people don't want things designed specifically to protect them because they've been taught things like: Obamacare = "death panels". More delusion.

On FDR, I would point out that it took him awhile to get us out of the worst depression in our history but he did it, through spending. Your Republican answer to the worst depression since that one: cut spending, cut taxes, make the rich richer. Just crazy, and more death to what's left of the middle class. But yes, some middle class people have been taught, and believe against all evidence, that that is just what we need. They vote against their self-interest for those policies, just as surely as Ireland, which gave itself fully to the rich adhering to Republican Friedmanesque policies, is headed into the toilet.

Now I'll give you one thing. Democrats have so diluted their message, so badly communicated the benefits of what they've done for working people over the last 80 years that they have no one to blame but themselves for the right having emerged in the minds of millions of lost people as their saviors. It's the job of progressives to get the Dems back on message, and to get them to be fierce defenders of what they've actually accomplished. In the absence of that, Fox News and people like you, ian, will successfully demonize, and undo, all their good work.

I can absolutely argue that

I can absolutely argue that the NRA + AAA were good for the country, especially seen as they were both parts of the larger New Deal package. I suggest that you study the economic history of the US and the world as a whole during the Great Depression before coming up w/sweeping statements such as you make above.


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