In July 2012, Ponta assigned U.S. General Wesley Clark (retired) as “special adviser on security and economic strategy matters”. According to statements by the Prime Minister, he and Clark were introduced in Vienna by a common friend and Clark volunteered to become a “non-paid consultant”.
Another bit of news you won’t find in the NZ MSM: Anti-Fracking riots in Romania (in fact if it wasn’t for a friend of mine who knows about it because she has friends who are trying to fight this even I would have missed this) and who is the strategist for BNK Petroleum? Well it seems you can’t keep a good man down and Wesley Clark as an ex-General must be invaluable to a company such as BNK Petroleum. He volunteers as a “non-paid consultant” for the Prime Minister and bingo!
Fracking—The U.S.- Romania Connection
By Vlad Ursulean
Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism
The ‘shale gas revolution’ has been a blessing for the U.S. Industry, but when this energy miracle is exported to other countries it could end up being a curse for their people.
The McIntyres felt like they had discovered gold 20 years ago, when they moved into an area far from the city and drilled a well that yielded crystal clear and freezing cold water. Their previous home had no running water, so the remote plot of land in Woodlands, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, nestled amidst lush trees and verdant bushes, felt like paradise.
But this turned into a nightmare in January 2011, when the family suddenly became sick. “Headaches, uncontrollable diarrhea, even my adult children were experiencing the same symptoms that we were having”, says Janet McIntyre. “My husband turned on our kitchen faucet to find that our water was foaming, spitting, and purple.”
The McIntyres suspected the recently drilled nearby gas wells, the only industry thriving in the area, for the contamination. Since then, together with a dozen other families in the Woodlands community, the McIntyre family has depended on donations of bottled water to survive, while they try to gather money for a legal battle.
More than a thousand similar cases have popped up across the country, according to media reports. But even more landowners got rich from the hefty royalties, new jobs were created and carbon emissions decreased as natural gas replaced coal.
Meanwhile in the poorest corner of the European Union, a Romanian villager shows off his most prized possession, a water fountain with a stone cross and a portrait of Jesus.
Last spring, Dumitru Fânaru, a former councilor from the community of Vadurile, received an unexpected visit from “some Americans” who photographed his water well and gave him $40 to dig in his backyard.
“They had huge trucks which drove through all the villages around here all day, I thought we were getting occupied,” he said. “It felt like the Vietnam War.”
The U.S. company Chevron was prospecting for shale gas and if the tests are positive Fânaru could find himself with a drilling rig near his house, like the McIntyres. But, unlike in the U.S., few of the benefits will reach his community or even his country.
The U.S. is becoming the largest natural gas producer in the world. It started a decade ago, when an American company invented a method to profitably extract gas trapped in rocks deep underground, by injecting a water and chemical mix.
Despite incidents of water contamination, the U.S. has embraced the hunt for this new resource as it strives to boost its economy with cheap and domestic energy.
The U.S. Government has since encouraged countries worldwide to open up their potential shale gas reserves to U.S. companies now expert in the delicate art of fracking. But the gas rush could have a dramatic impact on those countries.
A transnational investigation—conducted by the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting in the U.S.—has found that U.S. and Romanian officials, with ties to energy companies, tried to convince the Romanian Government to pursue deals that would expose Romanians to the hazards of fracking experienced in the U.S., but which would result in few benefits reaching the communities impacted by this controversial process.
“Romania has become a colony of Western interests”, said Ilie Șerbănescu, former Minister of Reform and one of the most vocal opponents of the contracts with Chevron. “Even if we won’t have environmental problems, we’ll earn nearly nothing from the gas under our lands.”
His point of view, often expressed on live television, is popular among Romanians.
The Romanian public is, in addition to the people of France, one of the most hostile to fracking in Europe, according to the results of a recent public consultation made by the European Commission. Fracking has sparked some of the largest protests in Romania’s recent history.
Despite this, the Romanian Government is one of the most eager to open up the country’s reserves. All the major political parties support it.
“Between certain risks and energy independence, I say yes to shale gas, without knowing much about the risks”, said Traian Băsescu, President of Romania, in a recent meeting with his Facebook fans.