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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Inspectors With Guns

Our last blog post, 158 Inspectors, brought to light that our State has failed us in the area of Oil & Gas regulatory oversight.  

And now here's where things get really crazy.  It just might be hard to tell the difference between a gas well inspector and a border patrol agent if you are down in the Eagle Ford Shale.  The reason ~  it appears that David Porter, Railroad Commission Chairman, thinks that the Federal government is not doing a good job of protecting our border.  Sergio Chapa, journalist with the San Antonio Biz Journal, writes:
"Calling the federal government "ineffective" on preventing the smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants along the border, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter implemented several policy changes to keep inspectors safe in pipeline areas in deep South Texas where armed smugglers may potentially come into contact with energy company employees, regulators and landowners."
Apparently, the need to clear land and build dirt roads to accommodate pipelines has created another type of conduit ~ an easy pathway to the United States for drug smugglers and illegal immigrants.  The list of negative impacts from oil & gas extraction keeps growing. 

The Railroad Commission needs a name change!  

It is puzzling to understand what they do as a regulatory body, and we have concerns about their commissioners and spokespeople. 

It would seem more plausible that the Railroad Commission is becoming increasingly fearful of angry citizens who have been screwed by Oil & Gas and let down by their own government's willingness to protect them than they are of illegal immigrants or drug cartels.  Using the border issue as an excuse to arm inspectors with deadly weapons helps with their agenda.  It certainly appears to further empower our government that keeps getting bigger and bigger.  Property owners who have been harmed by oil and gas or activists trying to make this State a better place to live may  perceive this new rule as intimidating.  It's all very scary.  And bizarre.   

There seems to be no end to the downside of fossil fuels. God help us.  And God help Texas.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

158 Inspectors

Gaye McElwain,  spokesperson for the Railroad Commission of Texas, told us last Saturday that the State of Texas has a total of 158 oil and gas well inspectors.  Her statement is on the video from Saturday's Gas Drilling Educational Forum.  (Scroll ahead to approximately 2:25:35.)  She did not tell us how many oil and gas wells there are, so we looked it up ourselves.  

The Railroad Commission's records show that  the State ofTexas has 133,856 gas wells and 291,996 oil wells as of February 2015.  Click Here to view the full report of oil and gas wells in Texas. 

Now that we know how many wells there are in Texas, we can assess whether or not we have enough regulatory oversight to protect our communities.  

133,856 + 291,996 = 425,852 (total oil & gas wells.)  
Divide 425,852 by 158 (number of inspectors) = 2,695 wells per inspector  
Now if each inspector worked 240 days/year assuming a five/day work week including holidays and vacation, he/she would have to inspect 11.23 wells per day to ensure that each well gets inspected once per year. 

One part of the Mission Statement of the Railroad Commission of Texas, our regulatory body over Oil and Gas, states their concern over personal and community safety.  These figures reveal that their mission falls woefully short.  We clearly need more inspectors and oversight.  Our regulatory agencies need to do in the field what they say they do on paper.  Amen.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Texas Road Base

If you have ever thought about moving off the shale because of the dangers of fracking, think again.  There may not be any safe havens left.  An amended Railroad Commission rule about recycling may explain why.  According to Gaye McElwain of the Railroad Commission of Texas, drilling muds and fluids are being used as a road base in some areas of the State.  This is how industry greenwashes fracking.  They are not really recycling their waste.  They are just finding more creative ways in which to dispose of it.  Have you ever wondered why there is so much road construction happening all around North Texas?   

Here's the clip from the Gas Drilling Forum held at the Arlington, TX Convention Center on August 1, 2015: 

(In the case of a technical glitch, scroll over to 2:22:20 in this video.)

Click on this link for information about this recycling rule. 

The Public Forum

What DO you do after the fracking fallout?  

After your community has been transformed from the suburbs into a heavy industrial mining zone due to predatory landmen scamming uninformed neighbors into signing mineral leases... 

After the State passes legislation (HB40) that strips away municipal control to regulate and protect the health and safety of its citizens because Oil and Gas must continue to make big profits...

After the water and air shed has been contaminated because that's just what industrialization does to the environment...

After your home gets damaged from earthquakes because injection AND extraction does cause induced seismicity...

And after your City tells you ~ that as a citizen ~ you are NOT allowed to speak at a gas drilling PUBLIC MEETING to address your concerns...

You Stage a Protest: 

Photo attribution: Codepink Dallas

Photo Attribution:  Fish Creek Monitor and Westchester Gasette
 The room was fairly empty until the protesters filed in and filled some chairs.

It was clear that the citizens had more knowledge than the panelists.  They asked thoughtful, educated questions which the regulatory bodies could not answer. 

In case you hit the snooze button on the alarm clock and missed this early morning meeting ~ which most folks did ~ it is recorded for your leisurely viewing and analysis.  They should have cleared away the empty chairs in the center of the room to make space for a big dance floor because there was a lot of tap dancing going on.   

It was unfortunate that the Arlington City Council members left early because they missed a very important detail about a new Railroad Commission rule, but more about that later...