Liberal film propagandist Michael Moore pulled one of his trademark stunts today, posting a photo of a truck he called a “fracker,” claiming that he was going to be drilling off the coast of Mar-A-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida home.
The entire idea was utter garbage, but the media happily played Moore’s game without bothering to do some very basic fact-checking.
Here’s Moore’s tweet that kicked off the story:
Here’s our fracker! We’ll be drilling right off the coast of Mar-a-Lago. God Bless You Donald Trump for making this possible! The oil we drill just off your beach will pay 4 our entire show! And any spills – we’re going to let the ppl of Florida keep whatever they collect 4 free! pic.twitter.com/iGq2f1Gi33
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 6, 2018
The liberal wing of Twitter rejoiced at Moore’s plan, expecting to see a new Moore film about his escapades on the Atlantic waters debut later this year. We expect that sort of mindless cheerleading but more egregious were the media outlets, including The Hill, that reported on Moore’s fracking threat without an ounce of skepticism, never once mentioning the long list of reasons this whole idea is a steaming mountain of bovine excrement.
If I were to tweet a photo of Air Force One and announce that I am going to pilot the plane, I have a greater chance of making that happen than Moore’s chances of drilling for anything with that shiny red truck off the coast of anywhere on Earth.
Some background is helpful: earlier this week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released the “Draft 2019-2024 Offshore Oil & Gas Leasing Program,” a proposal to open up “nearly the entire U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for potential oil and gas lease sales.” The procedure for this includes a series of public meetings and a 60-day public comment period.
— US Department of the Interior (@Interior) January 4, 2018
The Interior Department’s plan calls for considering new leases in four areas: Alaska, along the Pacific coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and along the Atlantic coast.
Reading just the introductory statement makes it clear that this is the investigatory and drafting period for a plan that would not begin to be implemented until 2019 at the earliest. Most of the areas being considered along Florida’s coastline, including the waters around Palm Beach County, would not be opened up until 2023.
At this point, the proposal is the framework the agency will use to get the conversation started, and its fate is far from certain — especially regarding any drilling off the Florida coastline.
Florida’s top political leaders all quickly voiced their opposition to allowing drilling, citing the environmental damage and economic impact to the tourism industry caused during the 2010 spill on the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” said Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), a strong Trump supporter since the presidential election. “My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement noting that he supported the current moratorium on drilling, which will not expire until 2022, and had introduced legislation to extend that until 2027.
Rubio’s Democratic colleague, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was even more vociferous in his opposition to drilling. “This plan is an assault on Florida’s economy, our national security, the will of the public and the environment. This proposal defies all common sense and I will do everything I can to defeat it,” said Nelson in a statement.
Scott, Rubio, and Nelson were joined by nearly the entire Florida Congressional delegation, including another staunch Trump ally, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Bottom line: No one, including Michael Moore, can legally drill for oil off the coast of Mar-A-Lago right now. The earliest that might change — assuming the Trump administration is not only willing to fight several dozen fired-up Florida politicos, but is successful at it — is 2023.
But even if Moore could somehow legally drill in the Atlantic waters, that fancy “fracking” truck he posted on Twitter is going to be as useful as gloves for a snake.
The hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” process involves drilling a wellbore deep into the ground, followed by the injection of a liquid (usually water), sand, and other ingredients into the wellbore at tremendously high pressures. This creates cracks in the deep-rock formations where natural gas and petroleum can be found. Modernizations in fracking techniques and equipment over the years has made it an increasingly economical method of energy exploration, and is a large part of the oil and gas industry here in Texas.
Environmentalists don’t like fracking, claiming that it causes earthquakes and water pollution, among other issues. The oil and gas industry disputes these claims. I won’t get into the weeds on the debate here, but suffice it to say, this has been a pet cause for liberal environmentalists for years, including in Hollywood.
The media should have a basic understanding of what fracking is. I’m far from an expert on these issues but my hunch that that truck would be useless proved correct with a few minutes of online research and a call to a friend in the oil and gas industry. (He asked to speak off the record due to his job, but the information he provided is very general and easily confirmed elsewhere.)
I sent my friend Moore’s tweet. He confirmed to me that Moore’s truck was a “pump truck that has nothing to do with drilling.” This kind of truck is one of many modern vehicles that are used to frack wells.
Furthermore, the pump truck can’t actually drill the hole for the fracking well. You need a drilling rig for that, which is an entirely different machine.
Drilling offshore is an extremely complicated and expensive endeavor, requiring an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars. Moore’s shiny red truck makes a cool photo, but it has nothing to do with offshore drilling. His tweet was the equivalent of holding up a banana and threatening to shoot someone with it. Funny, but completely ineffective.
So, to recap:
- Fracking isn’t what the Trump administration is proposing doing in the Atlantic Ocean;
- Under the proposal, no new drilling along the Southeast Florida coastline could be done until 2023 at the earliest;
- Florida’s political leaders adamantly oppose allowing drilling off the Florida coastline, making it less likely to ever happen;
- Moore’s truck is the type that is used for fracking on land, not drilling offshore under water;
- That truck can’t even drill and is useless until you first bring in an actual drilling rig to make the hole in the ground; and
- Drilling offshore requires a lot more equipment and a lot more money than just one truck (which, again, is not a drill).
But, hey, other than those teeny little details, sure, Moore is totally gonna be drilling off the beaches at Mar-A-Lago.
“Here’s our fracker!” Moore merrily tweeted.
Every word after that was a pretty much a lie, but the media didn’t bother to question it. Gotta protect that narrative.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.