The Party that has exploited the term “government overreach” to attack the Obama administration now uses it against its own citizens
Too close for comfort. Another gas well goes up near homes in Denton
In my hometown of Denton, Texas there is a battle raging that may finally separate the Tea Party libertarians from the GOP party lest it exposes them as frauds to their ideological premise of personal liberties.
Denton voters will be challenged this November to ban the use of fracking for gas and oil drilling within the city limits. Currently there appears to be popular support for this ban and this has the gas and oil well drillers along with their supporters in the Texas legislature fighting back with all the hyperbole and misinformation they can devise.
The industry has sent out mailers like the one below that makes specious claims and at least one statement that borders on absurdity. The notion that somehow preventing a few more wells from being drilled within Denton City limits will put “American security interests … at risk” stretches reality beyond conceivable limits. Denton citizens had no idea they wielded such great power over the fate of the entire nation.
Apparently these desperate actions however don’t seem sufficient for those who support the industry and a handful of mineral rights owners, some who don’t even live in the same region where they have bought property.
Denton GOP Chairwoman Dianne Edmondson, in a recent letter to the editor, referred to citizens voting to ban fracking near their homes, schools and parks as “government over-reach.” I had to laugh at someone who caters to the whims of libertarians that she would call acts that seek to sustain individual rights over corporate interests as something related to the evil of big government.
Then to add irony to this twisted concept, in steps another Texas GOP member apparently friendly to the oil and gas industry to demonstrate what real government overreach looks like. State representative Phil King, R-Weatherford has threatened to take legislative action that would essentially ban local citizens from asserting their rights over a small, for-profit minority.
“If [the fracking ban] passes in Denton, I feel very confident that there will be legislation — in fact, I’ll probably file it myself — to prohibit cities from total bans on fracking,” King said.
It really shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone that attitudes of GOP operatives like Chairwoman Edmondson and Rep. King are what they are. Back in 2012 Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote in their book “It’s Even Worse Than it Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism”, that:
“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
“When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.”
Follow this up by a new study being published in Perspectives on Politics by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who found the following
[T]hat when controlling for the power of economic elites and organized interest groups, the influence of ordinary Americans registers at a “non-significant, near-zero level.” The analysts further discovered that rich individuals and business-dominated interest groups dominate the policymaking process. The mass-based interest groups had minimal influence compared to the business-based interest groups.
The study also debunks the notion that the policy preferences of business and the rich reflect the views of common citizens. They found to the contrary that such preferences often sharply diverge and when they do, the economic elites and business interests almost always win and the ordinary Americans loses.
The authors also say that given limitations to tapping into the full power elite in America and their policy preferences, “the real world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater” than their findings indicate. SOURCE
To put it succinctly, the GOP reflects the values of extremists and wealthy elites in nearly everything they do. Thus the over-the-top objections by Edmondson and King to the views of ordinary Denton citizens who would like to raise their kids in safe and healthy environments
Currently state legislation supports mineral rights over other property rights. This likely originated during a time when oil was king in Texas and regions in wide open spaces where oil was drilled for didn’t threaten densely populated areas. But the explosion of gas well drilling in the Barnett Shale, which Denton sits on top of, soon made royalty rights over neighborhood rights a fight apparently no one saw coming. If they did they simply ignored it. And despite the fact that this conflict has been escalating over the last few years, the Dallas Morning News reports that state legislators “are not considering any laws now that would establish a minimum buffer zone between drilling operations and homes.”
This failure to act reflects one of two things. Incompetence on the part of our representatives OR, the more likely scenario, their unwillingness to inhibit the industry from gobbling up all land, anywhere they can, to sustain sufficient earnings that will keep them from digging themselves into deeper debt.
Canadian geologist David Hughes found that the production rates at US shale oil and natural gas wells decline, on average, 85 percent over three years.
In just one oil field alone, the Bakken field in North Dakota, Hughes calculates that 1400 new wells are needed per year to offset current production decline, which right now is 45 percent of current production rates of about a million barrels per day, or 450,000 barrels per day each year.
“You need 1400 $8 million wells to keep production flat, and they’re drilling more than that — they’re drilling 2,000 wells per year,” he explained. “So production in the Bakken will continue to go up. But it’s because at the moment they’re continuing to drill the sweet spots.”
In order to maintain current levels of shale gas production, Hughes estimates that the high rates of deterioration of such wells across the country will require the drilling of 7,000 new wells a year at a cost of $42 billion annually. For maintenance of the overall production of shale oil, some 6,000 new wells would need to be drilled every year, an endeavor that would cost $35 billion. SOURCE
I would surmise that if the Texas GOP thinks citizen action to protect their homes and schools from the noise and air pollution that comes from extracting shale oil from its hard to reach locations then we need to take a second look at all those Tea Party protestors who marched on Washington and shouted down their representatives in town hall meetings demanding that government stay out of their lives. Clearly they were all a bunch of socialist agitators who are trying to destroy the Constitution.