A San Benito County Fracking Ban Initiative ballot question was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in San Benito County, California. It was approved.
This measure was designed to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities, as well as other “high-intensity petroleum operations,” including acid well stimulation and cyclic steam injection. It also banned any new gas or oil drilling activity – even conventional, low-intensity activity – in areas of the county zoned for residential or rural land use.
This initiative was started by the group called San Benito Rising, which needed to collect 1,642 valid signatures to get its initiative on the ballot. On April 22, 2014, San Benito Rising turned in over 4,000 signatures to the county elections office for certification. On May 6, 2014, the city council voted to put the proposed measure on the November ballot.
In June of 2014, San Benito Rising was joined by a number of community endorsers to form the new Coalition to Protect San Benito to campaign in favor of the initiative. Andrew Hsia-Coron, an organizer with the Coalition to Protect San Benito, said, “We’re sitting here on this giant deposit of Monterey Shale, so we’re trying to stop it before oil companies even get started and invest in infrastructure.”
Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus, Town of DISH, TX wrote this note after a major win in Texas against the gas industry. I felt his words deserved to be heard beyond my and others in his networks in box. Thank you Mayor Tillman for your dedication to the people you served.
On November 4, 2014, there was a historical vote in Denton, TX, which of course was when the residents voted to ban hydraulic fracturing within the corporate limits of the city. This is a bit shocking considering the political make up of this area and the amount of funding that the industry sunk into defeating this measure. Another interesting thing is the margin of victory for this measure, for all the money that was sunk into this election by the industry, they were not even close to victory. What is also shocking is that candidate races in the area still went heavily to republicans. In the Texas State Representative race for House District 64 which encompasses Denton, the republican Myra Crownover easily won with 64 percent of the vote. So is clear that a large number of republicans supported this ban.
Many years ago, during a meeting with the industry, I voiced my displeasure with the manner in which they did business and told them that if they continued down this path, that no one would want this industry doing business near them. I hate to so I told you so, but I did. Now the question is will they ever learn, and the initial response is “no”, they will never learn. After getting their tails kicked pretty badly in an election where they had all of the advantages, they chose not to change their business practices, and truly try to be the good neighbors they say they are on TV, but they filed a lawsuit. This makes it clear that they’re never going to try and be a good neighbor. Instead of running to make amends for their wrong doings, they try force their way into the neighborhoods, continuing to be bad actors.
At least in places like Denton, this probably could have all been avoided if this industry had one ounce of compassion for the communities they do business in. However, they chose to violate the wishes of the community, resulting in the ban on a technique that was developed a few miles up the road from here. Denton is also a town that has a large industry presence, with several of these companies having offices and other facilities there. However, when you trample all over people private property rights, kill their property values, and destroy their quality of life, you should expect something like this.
Instead of trying to work with the communities that they were pissing all over, the industry runs to Austin for help. To which the Texas Railroad Commissioners came running with bells on. Unfortunately, the trio better known as the three stooges here in Texas, did nothing more than what the industry did, which was like pouring “gas” on a flame, and made the situation much worse. Did anybody ever give those who were working on the ban any respect for their complaints? No, they all just insulted them even more, accusing them being buddies with Putin, and other false and misleading statements, which of course didn’t work, but again fanned the flames.
I was taught something at young age which was; when you find yourself in a hole…stop digging. However, the oil and gas industry and their supporters must have missed that little piece of common sense. The results are that they gave a couple goofballs $800,000.00, which turned out to be a big waste of money. I know this may be a shock to those in the industry, but after years of misleading and lying to people, nobody trusts you. Therefore, when you give money to someone that lies on your behalf, that makes them paid liars, and even a fool can spot a paid liar.
What is even more damning for the industry is that the paid liars are losing the battle in other areas as well. A total of 4 bans on hydraulic fracturing were passed around the country. And these bans were not implement with millions of dollars from Russian backed environmental groups, but rather by a small group of local citizens. Normal people who have regular jobs, but are tired of seeing their property rights trampled all over by an industry who couldn’t care less. One of my most trusted advisers says “there is a billion dollars beneath our feet and they don’t care who they trample on to get it”. This is truly a case of Goliath being taken down with a slingshot and smooth stone.
Of course, the Texas Railroad Commission is not the only one running to the industry’s aid, the other prostitutes will come running with their aid as well. The Texas Land Office has joined the industry filing a lawsuit. The Texas Land Office mission states: “The Texas General Land Office serves the schoolchildren, veterans, and all people of Texas by preserving their history, protecting their environment, expanding economic opportunity, and maximizing state revenue through innovative administration and prudent stewardship of state lands and resources.” Not sure what makes them think they have dog in this fight, other than the fact that most of the Texas elected officials at the state level fight over the opportunity to pimp themselves out to this industry.
State Representative Phil King, of Texas House District 61, who serves on the Energy Resources Committee, has already committed to introducing legislation that removes a Texas municipality’s right to ban hydraulic fracturing. Of course Representative King, is another who will fight for the opportunity to pimp himself out to the industry, and never look his citizens in the eye while doing it. Texas House District 61 encompasses the Azle, TX area where they have had the rash of earthquakes caused by the fracking waste injection wells. However, Representative King did not show up at the meetings held by the state, and has thus far refused to talk with his citizens about these earthquakes. It must be noted that Representative King has multiple ethics violations and is therefore technically a “crook”. He also refuses to look me in the eye when I testify before the Energy Resources committee; therefore, I take him as a coward. He also refuses to take a stand to protect the property rights of hard working Texans.
It is strange that Representative King would choose to remove local control when on his website he states that “Local control and limited government must be the first resort not the last”. However, it is clear that those positions go out the window when we are talking about the Oil and Gas industry. When it comes to this subject, it appears that the Austin cronies are good with an overbearing state government, which takes away local control from municipalities. It is also clear that the Austin Cronies like Representative King, are more than willing to ignore a valid election, and overturn the will of the people. I guess when you are a prostitute for the oil and gas industry, things like local control and limited government, are just buzzwords.
One thing that is missed in all of this by the industry and their prostitutes is that the people who are affected by all of this have property rights also. Our private property rights start where our property line begins, so why doesn’t the industry consider keeping their noise, odors, bright lights, and hazardous chemicals on their side of the fence? They trespass their crap on our property and expect us to take it. The hardworking, honest Texans who voted for this ban don’t want a noisy, smelly industrial site, 200 feet from the backdoor, and those other than the industry and their cronies understand that fact.
The people of Denton passed an ordinance that would have helped protect people’s private property rights, and the industry ignored their wishes. What exactly did the industry expect? Don’t blame the people of Denton for this ban, blame the industry and the prostitutes who support them. Common sense tells you that you cannot keep ramming this stuff down the throats of the people without consequences. So if you’re in the oil and gas industry or are one of their elected prostitutes, it was you who got yourself into this, not environmental groups funded by Russia, but you. The blame is yours, so take the whipping that you deserve.
Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus, Town of DISH, TX
Last July 13th, thousands of us marched on Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC) to demand they get out of the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. The next day 24 activists blockaded the doors to FERC and were arrested. Today, Hundreds of us are back and blocking the doors to the building. We need your support!
Can you call the Chairman of FERC, Cheryl A LaFleur, at 888-328-2271 and demand they recall and reject the Cove Point gas export facility and all future facilities?
We call on FERC to stop playing a part in climate destruction!. Rubber stamping industry pipelines, compressor stations and export facilities contaminates the air, water, land and climate that support all life on Earth. We demand that FERC recall and reject the proposal to build a dangerous gas export facility at Cove Point and to place a moratorium on approvals of other export facilities.
Please let FERC know that the folks outside are supported by 1,000s more around the country. Call chairman LaFleur at 888-328-2271 right now!
The oil and gas industry has more deaths from fires and explosions than any other private industry, according to an EnergyWire review of federal labor statistics. It employs less than 1 percent of the U.S. workforce, but in the past five years it has had more than 10 percent of all workplace fatalities from fires and explosions.
I dreamed that just as I entered a Halloween haunted house the first monster I ran into was Frackenstine. Just like the book Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley about a creature produced by an unorthodox scientific experiment, I noticed that the Frackenstine that stood before me was also made up by combining many parts. Frackenstines legs turned out to be the Ohio legislature that gave the monster his legs to make his way around Ohio, his torso was made of the Ohio oil and gas industry, his arms were the different state agencies that gave the monster the strength to strong-arm Ohio communities by not allowing citizens or local government to have any say into whether or not they wanted this massive industrial process to destroy their community. The Frackenstine monster was so big I was having a hard time seeing who or what made up the head but as I moved farther away from the monster I could see that the monsters head was Ohio’s own governor, Governor John Kasich who has become the mouthpiece and cheerleader for industry.
Down a long dark hallway I came to a closed door, as I opened the door I saw a room full of bubbling cauldrons. As I looked around the room I saw thousands of Material Safety Data Sheets with all of the toxic chemicals blacked out. There was also a flashing sign that warned of radiation. While trying to read all of the signs I was suddenly approached by someone dressing in a hazardous materials moonsuit telling me that bubbling brew was safe and not to worry. Even though he was dressed in protective garb he informed me that I was not allowed to know what was in the bubbling toxic brew and the door was quickly closed in my face. As the door closed I could hear the sinister laugh of a crazy person who had spent too much time inhaling the toxic vapors of the bubbling cauldrons full of fracking fluid.
As I continued down the dark hallway I turned a corner and was face to face with a Vampire with blood dripping from his fangs. NO wait, it wasn’t blood dripping, I realized his fangs are drilling rigs that were dripping oil and he is hungry for more and more. He can’t get enough; he is sinking his rigs into hundreds of thousands of acres of Mother Earth just to see if he can find more oil or gas to feed his needs. I thought if I can just hold out until dawn the sun will destroy this vampire, but I was so wrong.
As I was about to exit the haunted house I heard the screams of the banshee foretelling the death of life as we know it. No longer will we have local communities where we can cross the street without worrying about being hit by one of the thousands of trucks or being harassed by out of state workers that have no since of pride for the community. We face industrial facilities in places where they have no business being in.
But wait, I suddenly realized I was not asleep, I was not having a nightmare. What I had thought was a horrible nightmare was indeed reality for many communities in Ohio and across the nation that are faced with the nightmare known as fracking.
Sign a petition or write a letter? It is true that many signatures on a petition is meaningful but such petitions also has its limits. Legislators look at the petition signatures and note the number but essentially ignore what activists see as their “powerful voice” they intended the petition to represent.
It’s a case of “the easiest way is also not the most effective.” Clicking on to a form letter ends up to be not only a very soft message to the targeted audience. Moreover, the person signing thinks that they have done their good deed of the day and takes no further action. For example, last year, almost 4,000 comments were submitted to a legislator in Pennsylvania and 95% of them were rejected as “form letters.” That doesn’t mean they didn’t represent some level of people’s voices but were not as meaningful.
When you look at what citizens did in NC around fracking regulations, where they worked to get specific comments from people who may have use a model predefined set of issues, but many comments were personalized, you get a very different story. According to an article in the NC paper News Observer the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission is plowing through a mountain of public comments on its proposed fracking standards with less than a month left to fine-tune the safety rules for shale gas drilling. State officials estimate that more than 100,000 comments flooded in by the Sept. 30 deadline and the finally tally could approach 200,000.
The number of submission was so large that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials are not sure they have sufficient memory space on the agency’s hard drives to post the comments online for public view. DENR have assigned at least eight extra staffers, including from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office, to sort through public remarks and enter them into a database.
That action made a difference at a very high level. However the people power could have been even stronger if everyone said a little more than “don’t frack.” According to the commissioner, “about half of the comments are repetitive ‘don’t frack’ and they don’t really count, if you know what I mean.”
This was successful with the chairman of the commission saying, there is no question that we will recommend some adjustment to the rules, how much is not clear. It was the volume and the individual comments not just signing on to a model set of comments that made the difference and has moved the needle. So think about giving people talking points to actually submit individual comments that are not all exactly the same and you may see the difference, next time you want to move a person with authority or regulations. Some people will only act with a sign-on but encouraging one more step, making that step as easy as possible could increase your power. No one ever said that activism was easy, but it’s not all that hard either.
Another rare case of fracking-caused earthquakes has jolted Ohio.
A new study connects some 400 micro-earthquakes in Harrison County, near the town of Canton, to hydraulic fracturing wells. The three wells operated from September through October 2013 in the Utica Shale. Ten of the quakes registered between magnitude 1.7 and magnitude 2.2, but the tremors were too deep to cause damage or to be easily felt by people, according to the study, published today (Oct. 14) in the journal Seismological Research Letters.
The new study is the second report this year of fracking-linked earthquakes from drilling in the Utica Shale. The shale is a rock formation that is deeper and closer than the Marcellus Shale to the crystalline basement rocks where faults are more common. In March, scientists with Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) shut down drilling at seven Utica Shale gas wells in Poland Township after fracking triggered two small earthquakes. The ODNR now requires monitoring of seismic activity at fracking sites near known fault lines, and reducing the flow of water if earthquakes begin to occur.
The Harrison case is one of the few scientifically documented incidents of hydraulic fracturing causing earthquakes on a fault, said lead study author Paul Friberg, a seismologist and owner of Instrumental Software Technologies Inc. (ISTI). Harrison County is the fifth documented case in the world, Friberg said. Other locations of earthquakes caused by fracking include Oklahoma; the United Kingdom; British Columbia, Canada; and Ohio’s Poland Township. [7 Ways the Earth Changes in the Blink of an Eye]
Fracking involves pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into underground shale or other rocks, such as coal. The pressure forces open the rocks, allowing trapped oil and gas to escape.
Within the oil and gas industry, hydraulic fracturing is known to cause earthquakes, but the tremors are usually so small that seismometers barely wiggle in response. The micro-earthquakes from fracturing rocks often register as negative magnitude 1 to negative magnitude 3. (Themagnitude scale is logarithmic. On a seismogram, a wiggle of 20 millimeters, or 0.8 inches, corresponds to a magnitude 2 earthquake, and a wiggle of 0.02 millimeters is magnitude minus 1.)
“Fracking earthquakes pose no real hazard, because they are so small in the majority of cases,” Friberg told Live Science in an email interview.
The Harrison County quakes struck less than 1 mile (1.4 kilometers) below the horizontal wells. Shaking started just 26 hours after fracking began on Sept. 29, 2013. Nearly 190 earthquakes hit during a 39-hour period on Oct. 1 and 2.
The quakes tapered off after the fracking was completed on the wells, the study reports.
Because the earthquakes line up in an east-west direction in ancient crystalline rocks beneath the Utica Shale, Friberg and his co-authors think the fracking activated a small, unknown fault. The fracking water could have “greased” the fault, unclamping the fracture and allowing it to slip.
Since 2008, shale gas drilling has been linked to earthquakes from Oklahoma to Ohio, but in almost all cases, the quakes are tied to wastewater disposal wells. Fracking produces millions of gallons of wastewater, which is pumped back underground and stored in deep wells to protect groundwater.
Though Ohio is one of the few states to monitor wells for earthquake activity, many of the small faults triggered by injection wells or fracking have never been previously identified by scientists.
“Ohio has been very proactive in installing seismometers throughout eastern Ohio to better analyze seismic data as it relates to oil and gas activity. If the data conclusively shows a probable correlation to a felt event, ODNR has and will continue to take the appropriate steps necessary to ensure public health and safety is protected,” said Bethany McCorkle, ODNR spokeswoman.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that Paul Friberg said that this was a rare case of hydraulic fracturing causing earthquakes on a fault, not of felt earthquakes.