Tag Archives: fracking

Local control? It's a goner in Texas

My head is spinning.

I remember a time when Democrats were considered the party of “big, intrusive, patronizing government.” The bigger the government entity, the wiser were the decisions that came down, or so it went.

While the Democrats were gathering under the banner of Big Brother, Republicans were the champions of local control. Get “big gub’mint” off the backs of the locals, they said. Let the decisions come from city halls and county courthouses.

So …

What’s just happened in Austin?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed House Bill 40, which bans cities from prohibiting the practice of “fracking,” which is shorthand for “hydraulic fracturing,” the use of water to break loose oil from hard-to-get places underground.


Abbott is a proud Republican. But wait! He and his colleagues in Austin aren’t allowing cities to decide for themselves what’s best for their communities, their residents, their constituents. He wants the state to handle these decisions.

Isn’t that employing the heavy hand of government on us little folks?

HB 40 is in reaction to the city of Denton’s decision to ban fracking inside its city limits. No can do, the Legislature said. Abbott agreed and he signed the bill into law, which takes effect immediately.

“HB 40 does a profound job of helping to protect private property rights here in the state of Texas, ensuring those who own their own property will not have the heavy hand of local regulation deprive them of their rights,” Abbott said in a news release.

The “heavy hand of local regulation”? Hey, the locals know best, don’t they?

Fracking has its critics. They contend it is environmentally dangerous. It destabilizes the bedrock. It consumes a lot of water that — if you’ll remember — is in short supply these days. Yes, it’s also an effective way to extract fossil fuel from the ground.

Back to my original point: The whole notion of our political system’s basic party principles relating to big and small government has been turned on its ear.

I hope my head stops spinning.


'Gas war' takes on new meaning

Do you remember when the term “gas war” referred to competing service stations at intersections dropping their prices to lure customers away from the station across the street?

I read recently something like that happened in Oklahoma City, dropping the price of gasoline to less than $2 per gallon.

Good deal, right?

Well, the term has taken on a more global meaning. The energy price war is causing serious declines in the price of gasoline in the United States. It dropped to $2.15 per gallon today in Amarillo and it’s likely to drop even more. Heck, it might have dropped another penny or two since I got home today a little after noon.


OPEC recently refused to cut production. The supply of crude oil remains quite high, while demand is declining. Add to that the surging U.S. energy production, which is about to make the United States the world’s largest producer of petroleum in the world, surpassing Saudi Arabia as No. 1.

We can thank (or blame) the fracking that’s going on in West Texas and in North Dakota and Montana, which are seeing a huge boom in the production of shale oil.

Although I am acutely aware that the decline in oil makes it more difficult for producers to keep pumping it out of the ground, I also am grateful to be paying a dollar or more less for gasoline than I was paying a year ago. It’s freeing up some disposable income in our house.

Someone will have to tell more once again why this oil price decline somehow is bad news.

Well? Anyone?


Oklahoma becomes quake prone

Imagine it. California and Oklahoma — for crying out loud — have something in common.

No, it’s not their politics. Nor the collective lifestyles of residents of both states.

It’s about earthquakes. It seems that Oklahoma has become prone to tremors at a level that is rivaling our neighbors way out west.


The Sooner State averaged 1.5 earthquakes daily for the past 30 years, according to seismologists. However, since Jan. 1, the daily rate of quakes with a 3.0 Richter Scale rating or greater has zoomed to much greater frequency, those scientists suggest.

The cause has them scratching their heads.

Some of us non-experts — such as yours truly — wonder whether it’s the extensive drilling for fossil fuel that is causing these seismic shifts.

I cannot pretend to be an expert on these matters, but consider this:

I’ll leave the issue of fracking out of this. The effect of hydraulic fracturing — pumping water to break loose shale oil — has been a topic of considerable debate.

They’ve been drilling for a lot of years for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma. Have the drillers made the planet less stable?

Well, have they?