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They frack because clear air and water aren’t profitable
Newly developed fracking techniques represent an intensification, yet a special law known as the “Halliburton loophole” exempts fracking from federal regulations.
The true costs of resource extraction are never borne by energy and mining companies because they can dump the costs onto society. Those engaged in fracking are not going to act any differently, and can’t be expected to act any differently.
Having government in their pockets means they do it because they can, but the reasons go well beyond that. Pleading for them to act responsibility is of no use as capitalism requires them to act in socially irresponsible ways. Companies with stock traded on exchanges are legally required to earn the biggest possible profit on behalf of their shareholders, regardless of any other considerations. The rigors of competition also mandate this: If a company doesn’t grow, its competitors will and put it out of business.
One route to increasing profits is to shed as much cost and liability as possible. Indeed, a company would be shirking its legally mandated fiduciary responsibility were it to accept its responsibilities. For an energy company, these are considerable. Massive oil spills, contamination of water, degradation of soil, destruction of forests, mountaintop removal (with the debris dumped into valley streams), greenhouse-gas emissions — the list is long. But although the profits from these problems accrue to the corporations responsible, the costs aren’t charged to their bottom lines. Citizens pay for this, in many ways.
Hydraulic fracturing — the natural gas extraction process commonly known as “fracking” — promises more of the same.
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