Monday, June 06, 2016

Fracking Up The Lone Star State


A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the narrow path to victory Texas Berniecrat Tom Wakely has if he's going to win the TX-21 House seat currently occupied by science-denying House Science Committee chair Lamar Smith, a Trump supporter. With the DCCC having no interest in party unity and just studiously ignoring Tom's campaign, the path is tough-- but not impossible. In fact, if you'd like to help dislodge a reactionary and destructive Republican in the heart of Austin (and San Antonio, San Marcos, New Braunfels and the Texas Hill Country), help Wakely replace him in Congress by contributing to his grassroots campaign here. We asked Tom to explain why Texas voters are becoming progressively more concerned about the state's fracking-- and water-- policies.

Fractured Logic
-by Tom Wakely,
Democratic nominee (TX-21)

We’ve got a problem here in Texas. The vast majority of our elected officials have turned a blind eye to the dangers of fracking. My own opponent, Lamar Smith, wrote of an April 2013 hearing-- "A Review of Federal Hydraulic Fracturing Research Activities":

“It is difficult to overstate the incredible benefits of the fracking energy revolution that is underway across America.”

Difficult to overstate? I don't think so. It's difficult to state, period. The problem is the House Republicans tell the public that water is not a precious commodity. They act like we'll always have it. Texas Republicans will undoubtedly use the slew of storms we've received as evidence of blessings bestowed to dissuade their constituents from understanding our true dilemma.

My district receives the majority of its drinking water from the Edwards Aquifer system, which provides clean water to over two million Texan residents. Legislators that support fracking are unaware of the fact that aquifer systems and ground water resources are essentially intertwined throughout the state. If you're fracking in one part of Texas, you're messing with the majority of the groundwater resources of the state. That might seem like a bold claim, but take a look for yourself:

While we've seen faucets lit ablaze in other parts of the country, fracking poses an additional, unique threat to drought-stricken areas like my district. Fracking can actually intensify those droughts. The immense amount of water necessary to conduct fracking operations is leaving some of our Texan communities bone dry.

In a 2013 article published by The Guardian entitled “A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water,” the details of what fracking can do to communities already prone to droughts are sickening. With virtually no water, ranchers that once ran 8,000 goats were reduced to a few hundred. Cotton farmers lost half their crops. The article states that in some areas like Crockett County, fracking accounted for 25% of total water use. This article was published just four months after Lamar Smith found it too difficult to overstate the benefits of such a wasteful practice. What a sick joke.

When millions of gallons of water are required to be pumped for these operations and only 20% or so is recovered appropriately, why the heck would anyone think Texas is a prime place to practice fracking? With that sort of inefficiency in handling one of our most precious resources, why in the hell would anyone think fracking was a decent practice at all?

Look, I'm not a petroleum engineer. I'm certainly not a fracking expert, but it doesn't take a scientist to come to the conclusion that we don't want another Dust Bowl scenario. It doesn't take much research on the topic to understand how serious a problem it is to communities which are already drought-stricken.

So as far as I'm concerned? It's difficult to overstate the detriments of fracking, but it must be really easy to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas lobby.

Ultimately, for all of us, it should be difficult to overstate the benefits of unseating Lamar Smith this November. Together, I think we just might.

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