Blowout Book Summary By Rachel Maddow

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Blowout, Rachel Maddow's 2019 book, takes readers into the dark depths of the global oil and gas industry.

It exposes the corruption behind it and makes a clear case for why these big companies need to be held responsible for their actions.

Examining troubling evidence from the US."Along with devious agreements made in Russia and Equatorial Guinea, Maddow offers an urgent call to action – one that is necessary before this problem spirals out of control.

Blowout is a must-read to understand the magnitude of the issue at hand, and to learn what we can do about it before it's too late.

Blowout Book

Book Name: Blowout (Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth)

Author(s): Rachel Maddow

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: Economics

Author Bio

Rachel Maddow is certainly a leader in the political commentary space.

She is the host of the long-running and award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, having obtained her doctorate in political science from Oxford University.

Not only that, but Rachel is also a renowned author, with her latest book being Blowout: Oil and Gas Boomtowns and the Fracking of American Politics (2020).

Her previous works include Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (2012), which was also a best-selling book.

With such an extensive background, it's no surprise that Maddow continues to provide intelligent, thought-provoking analysis as one of today's leading voices in politics.

Exploring The Corrupting Influence Of Oil & Gas: Nuclear Weapons, Michael Jackson Memorabilia, And 2016 Election Meddling

Nuclear Weapons,

The oil and gas industry is often cited as the world’s most destructive.

From the iconic Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 to Deepwater Horizon in 2010 and the ongoing leak off Louisiana’s coast since 2004, it’s clear that this industry harms not just the environment but also encourages corruption and an imbalance of wealth and power around the globe.

Russia is particularly reliant on oil and gas for economic success, banking all of its chips on these resources.

But when it comes to generating billions of dollars, what are some other detrimental sources? Blowout by Anna-Lousie Strong dives into just how much nuclear weapons have been repurposed for the industry, the massive amounts spent by a single corrupt politician on Michael Jackson memorabilia, and why Russian meddling in 2016 was more about oil than Hillary Clinton.

Discover just how toxic the oil and gas industry is as you read through Blowout – an eye-opening account of a global issue plaguing us all.

From A Small Farm In Pennsylvania To A Global Empire, How John D

It all began in the late 1800s on a farm in Pennsylvania with two men, Edwin Laurentine Drake and his hired assistant “Uncle Billy” Smith.

Through their efforts, they managed to drill several feet into the ground and obtained what they called “rock oil.” This started the development of an industry that would shape itself as one of the most influential powers in the world.

John D.

Rockefeller is often credited as ‘the’ man behind this powerful industry.

While there were many people involved in building up monopolies for different industries such as steel and meat, none proved to be more profitable than oil.

With ruthless success, Rockefeller bought out each competitor he came across until he controlled nearly every major oil refinery in America by 1875.

Thanks to his genius business tactics and profits, Rockefeller amassed his fortune and became worth billions of dollars according to 2006 estimates.

Eventually an antitrust lawsuit led to Standard Oil being broken apart into several smaller companies – almost all still owned by Rockefeller himself!

This then resulted in him becoming even richer than before which was possible due to not only his drive but also a habit of managing and counting every piece of inventory bought or made so that nothing went unused or unaccounted for.

The Us Government’S Pursuit Of Nuclear Fracking: A Short-Lived Dream For Cheap Energy

Nuclear Fracking

US oil supplies were becoming increasingly scarce in the late 1960s, leading to rising prices.

The energy industry then looked for a new resource: natural gas, which was trapped under layers of solid rock beneath the Rocky Mountains.

In an effort to liberate this potentially huge source of energy, the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) got involved and attempted to extract it with a series of nuclear bombs.

The first bomb, known as Project Rulison, was detonated 8,426 feet below ground and created a large cavern 300 feet high by 152 feet wide – although releasing some radioactive material in the process.

Two more tests using even more powerful bombs followed, but fortunately none had commercial success due to their messiness and expense.

Nuclear fracking also didn’t capture enough gas so it proved not viable.

Eventually George Mitchell cracked the nut in the late 1990s when he developed a commercially viable method of extraction which proved successful in obtaining natural gas from deep beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains.

Oil & Gas Industry May Bring Profits, But At What Cost To People And The Environment?

In the late 1990s, fracking became an economical activity.

Companies such as Mitchell Energy & Development Corp.

– which eventually became part of Devon Energy – developed a kind of “fracking fluid” known as slickwater, and this was injected into fractures to keep them open, in a process that would become generally known as hydraulic fracking.

This revolutionized the industry by making it more economical.

Unfortunately, health concerns have arisen from the practice of fracking due to possible contamination of drinking water supplies with toxic fluids.

For example, when releases 1.2 million gallons of slickwater at a time, much of it reemerges from the ground and may contain radioactive or poisonous elements that can enter into liquid sources nearby and cause arsenic poisoning if ingested.

Tests in areas surrounding fracking sites have revealed chemicals such as ethanol, butanol and propanol – all additives used in slickwater– thus raising more questions about its safety.

Thus far oil and gas companies haven’t done well in addressing these issues and cleaning up after themselves to protect human health.

Exxonmobil’S Mismanagement Of The Deepwater Horizon Disaster Heightens Need For Better Emergency Response Plans

Emergency Response Plans

The oil industry is notorious for failing to prevent accidents and clean up the environmental messes it has made.

The Deepwater Horizon accident in April 2010 was yet another example that showed the world that the oil industry just doesn’t know how to handle its own messes.

It wasn’t long after this event that an ExxonMobil pipeline off the coast of Nigeria released 25,000 barrels of oil into the Niger delta – yet another spill caused by this same industry.

A 2006 report even showed 546 million gallons of oil had been leaked into that same delta over 50 years, an average of 11 million gallons yearly!

We can also look back to 1989 when ExxonMobil’s own tanker Valdez ran ashore off the coast of Alaska, with nearly 11 million gallons leaking then too.

But despite all this experience, ExxonMobil hadn’t developed a useful emergency plan to help mitigate these disasters.

What exacerbated matters was that despite failed containment strategies such as domes and hundreds of thousands of chemical dispersants put into oceans for cleanup, no one knew what these chemicals were or what their effects would be on workers who used them.

Overall, both time and money spent trying to save on cost had resulted in ignoring safety standards which subsequently led to the disaster in Deepwater Horizon being preventable in the first place!

It’s clear that if more caution and care had been taken, these unfortunate events wouldn’t have happened at all.

Oklahoma Oil And Gas Industry Show How Money Is Put Before People’S Safety And Well-Being

Oklahoma offers a vivid example of just how much the oil and gas industry values money over people.

While wealthy tycoons like Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon and Harold Hamm made billions as part of the fracking boom, the state itself ended up in an economic and public health crisis.

State revenue from taxes related to oil and gas production decreased by more than half, while teachers in Oklahoma became some of the worst-paid in the country and many public school districts moved to four-day weeks due to lack of funds.

Infrastructure began to backslide badly, with new schools unable to protect students from tornadoes.

Yet even in the face of all this, oil and gas lobbyists were still fighting for lower tax rates from 1-2% instead of 10 or 12%.

Scientists also revealed that dangerous earthquakes were being caused by fracking, yet this news was being suppressed or denied by the industry.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma residents were left paying for not just their own homes damaged by these earthquakes, but for this avarice on behalf of powerful business leaders as well.

It’s a stark demonstration of how exploitative and money-hungry corporations can have damaging consequences far beyond just their balance sheets that affects generations.

Exxonmobil’S Business Deals With Corrupt Leaders Set A Dangerous Precedent

The ExxonMobil Corporation has a history of partnering with nations that have troubled governments.

Take Equatorial Guinea, for example.

This nation has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world due to its deals with ExxonMobil, yet more than seventy-seven percent of the population continue to live in poverty.

At the same time, infant mortality rates have increased and access to clean water has remained scarce.

Meanwhile, Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Equatorial Guinea’s President for Life Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been living lavishly on his reported $60,000 annual income as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

On multiple occasions he used money from US-based banks to purchase expensive items including an estate in Malibu and a private jet worth millions as well as Michael Jackson memorabilia worth over a million dollars.

Investigations into President Obiang’s government have been going on for some time now.

Even so, ExxonMobil continues to do business with them without ever questioning how the money is being used or why so many people are struggling despite their wealth in oil revenue.

In fact, they’ve even gone on record saying that it isn’t their role “to tell governments how to spend their money.” Considering their relationship goes beyond just business—Equatorial Guinea represents ten percent of Exxon’s global oil supply—it appears they’re not likely to rock the boat anytime soon.

Putin’S Aggressive Play In Oil And Gas Industry Relies On Corrupt Enterprises, Foreign Investment

Foreign Investment

When it comes to control of its oil resources, the Russian government has been ruthless.

After the fall of the USSR, while some entrepreneurs succeeded in setting up their own oil businesses, they ultimately ended up selling to companies controlled by the Kremlin.

These companies, namely Gazprom and Rosneft are responsible for controlling Russia’s vast amount of oil supplies.

They are incredibly corrupt and inefficient; some studies suggest that Gazprom is losing an estimated $40 billion a year due to corruption and waste.

And then there’s Putin.

While the US State Department describes the company as “inefficient, politically driven and corrupt” he continues to use this grip on Russia’s resources as political force in his relations with other countries like Ukraine who have started look towards entering the European Union.

As a result of this stranglehold, modern investments in research and development for new technologies or alternative energies have been neglected as Putin needs outside help for any major projects such as drilling in the Arctic – where ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has come gladly on board and asking few questions

Russia’s reliance on oil resources for its status as a world power has had far-reaching consequences.

In 2013 and 2014, ExxonMobil and the Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft embarked on a partnership that saw them drilling in the Arctic, hoped to be worth billions of dollars to both parties.

Despite protests from the Obama administration that doing so would undermine the fragile coalition between Iraq’s Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish populations, Rex Tillerson forged ahead with the deal in order to benefit himself and his partners at ExxonMobil.

Likewise, Tillerson received Russia’s Order of Friendship in exchange for his part in drilling in their borders.

But such a partnership was made illegal when US sanctions were issued against Russia after their annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Despite this decree from the US government, Tillerson delayed shutting down operations until two weeks later than he should have – just in time for Rosneft to announce they’d struck oil 7,000 feet beneath the Kara Sea.

Oil And Gas Industry Must Be Held Accountable For Its Profits And Pollution

The bipartisan efforts in the United States to keep Russian sanctions in place is a sign of hope.

It exemplifies how democracy can work, resulting in swift action when 98 senators and 419 representatives agree that sanctions are necessary.

Despite this success story, more steps need to be taken to ensure that the oil and gas industry is held accountable for their actions which lead to corruption and geopolitical imbalance, as well as damaging the planet through extraction and production.

To initiate steps towards better corporate responsibility, US politicians were willing to join an international effort called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), but Trump pulled out of it shortly after taking office.

It’s time that this profitable industry pay for their destruction of lands and people’s lives – only then can there truly be justice for those who’ve been robbed of life or livelihood by corporations in pursuit of profits at any cost.

Wrap Up

The Blowout book provides a timely, critical summary of the dangers the oil and gas industry pose to our environment and world politics.

Throughout the text, we learn how negligence towards toxic oil spills, as well as deals with corrupt governments like Russia and Equatorial Guinea fuel geopolitical imbalance in order to gain more money and greater supplies.

The underlying message is that this sector has consistently prioritized its own quick profits ahead of environmental and human costs.

The concluding takeaway is that sustainable practices must be utilized in order to protect our planet from further destruction at the hands of careless industry.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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