Alternet

Fri, 2012-07-27 03:30Steve Horn
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Exposed: Pennsylvania Act 13 Overturned by Commonwealth Court, Originally an ALEC Model Bill

On July 26, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court** ruled PA Act 13 unconstitutional.*** The bill would have stripped away local zoning laws, eliminated the legal concept of a Home Rule Charter, limited private property rights, and in the process, completely disempowered town, city, municipal and county governments, particularly when it comes to shale gas development.

The Court ruled that Act 13 “…violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications – irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise.”

Act 13 – pejoratively referred to as “the Nation's Worst Corporate Giveaway“ by AlterNet reporter Steven Rosenfeld – would have ended local democracy as we know it in Pennsylvania.

“It’s absolutely crushing of local self-government,” Ben Price, project director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), told Rosenfeld. “It’s a complete capitulation of the rights of the people and their right to self-government. They are handing it over to the industry to let them govern us. It is the corporate state. That is how we look at it.”

Where could the idea for such a bill come from in the first place? Rosenfeld pointed to the oil and gas industry in his piece.

That's half of the answer. Pennsylvania is the epicenter of the ongoing fracking boom in the United States, and by and large, is a state seemingly bought off by the oil and gas industry.

The other half of the question left unanswered, though, is who do oil and gas industry lobbyists feed anti-democratic, state-level legislation to?

The answer, in a word: ALEC.

Fri, 2012-06-29 10:45Steve Horn
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New Documentary "Rational Middle": Oil and Gas Advertising in Disguise

The “Rational Middle Energy Series,” directed and produced by Gregory Kallenberg, is hot off the film rolls and has already been screened at an influential venue: the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival.

Kallenberg also directed and produced the documentary film “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for An Energy Future,” a film about the ongoing shale gas boom in the United States and a counterpart, of sorts, to Josh Fox’s Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland.”

Kallenberg, in a press release announcing the film series’ launch, stated,

Through our travels with 'Haynesville,' no matter where we were in the world, we saw a striking commonality from community to community: the need and desire for a balanced discussion about today's energy issues. We realized that more often than not, people wanted to leave behind the noise and extremes to build an energy future that is environmentally sound, economically viable and ensures energy security. The 'Rational Middle' is the starting point for a movement welcoming open discussion where everyone is invited to the table to find solutions to the most important energy challenges.

Taken at face value, the movie’s description sounds fairly innocent.

Yet, the questions to be asked as the film makes the rounds: Who is Gregory Kallenberg? Who is his family? And in general, who are the real characters behind the curtain here?

The answers to these questions say much more about the film than does the description offered in promotional pitches. As it turns out, the public relations firm tasked to do promotional pitches also speaks volumes about the filmmaker's agenda.

Mon, 2011-09-26 11:33Steve Horn
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"Haynesville" Shale Gas Industry Documentary Exposed on AlterNet

This weekend, AlterNet published a long investigative piece that I wrote on a documentary that has made the rounds at film festivals and conferences around the country.

Titled, “Haynesville: A Nation's Hunt for an Energy Future,” the movie has pegged itself as the host of the “middle ground” conversation on domestic natural gas drilling, using the Haynesville Shale, located predominantly in northwest Louisiana, as a case study.

What goes unsaid each time the film director, Gregory Kallenberg, goes on tour, is that Kallenberg is an oil and gas man, with familial industry ties in the Shreveport area dating back 80+ years. Prior to the release of this article, his gas ties have flown under the radar since the film's release in late-2009.

An excerpt from my AlterNet article explains some of this in more depth: 

Thu, 2006-06-29 19:21Sarah Pullman
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Alternet Gets It

There's an interesting piece over at Alternet this week. It's about the EPA lawsuit taking place right now over whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases should be counted as “pollutants” under the Clean Air Act. I just wanted to highlight Alternet's succinct summation of our whole raison d'etre here at the DeSmogBlog:
There is a debate over whether [climate change is] manmade or naturally caused,” Bush said yesterday. Yet among scientists, the debate has long been over. Rather than argue the science, the right has resorted to manufacturing scientific doubt where there is none. … The right wants the public to ignore scientific research that finds “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming,” and instead believe that we should wait for more research before we take action.
Read more: Alternet Gets It
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