State Senator Craig Estes was in Decatur, Texas tonight for a Town Hall Meeting. He urged us to tell him what was on our minds. So, I channeled David Van Os, who is one of my heroes, and with righteous indignation I delivered something like the following comments to a room full of Republicans:
Not many people here would agree with much of what I have to say but I would bet that most of the people here are as deeply concerned about Clean Air and Safe Water as I am. (nods and expressions of agreement)
With water, Wise County has two main issues: depletion and pollution.
The Texas Water Development Board claims that Barnett Shale drilling uses 9% of Wise County’s water.
Prove it! Prove those numbers!
You can’t because oil and gas is exempt so we are forced to take the word of an industry we have caught in many lies. If the GCD passes in November we will, at least, get to sort of measure the usage.
At this point Sen. Estes asked if he could interrupt me.
“No!” I replied. “I didn’t interrupt you when you were speaking.”
He insisted on interrupting me so I let him speak. He pointed out that he sponsored SB-714.
“Yes, you did.” I said. “And, you’re also the one who took the teeth out of the bill by replacing the word ‘Shall‘ with ‘May.'” (Big difference there, Senator.)
He promised not to interrupt me again =) so I continued:
If we accept the number they admit to, that’s hundreds of BILLIONS of gallons of water (it’s actually a lot more). Even more frightening is that, after polluting the water beyond use, it is pumped down injection wells 1.5 miles deep where it will be permanently removed from our water cycle unless the injection well fails ,in which case it will cause serious environmental damage. Thus oil and gas is permanently removing water from our water cycle at a time when, due to our exploding population, our water needs are increasing dramatically.
Last week we learned that Texas waterways are the 4th worst in the nation and more than half of our waterways are unsafe for fishing and swimming. Polluters in Texas often egregiously exceeded their permits with little or no punishment. Our aquifers are recharged from this polluted surface water.
This week we also learned that our air quality in Texas is among the worst in the nation. Wise County, with a population of only 79,000 is the 33rd most polluted county out of 254 counties. Most of this pollution comes from cancer causing diesel emissions.
Now my neighbors would have me believe that Clean Air and Safe Water are bipartisan issues and that’s the way it should be but it’s not and I can prove it.
Looking at the 2007 legislative scorecard based solely on how our representatives voted on environmental issues we see that:
57 Republican Legislators received Fs, on their environmental scores
20 received Ds, 1 C, 1 B, and no As.
No Democratic Legislator received a score of F, 3 received Ds—shame on them! 8 Cs, 8 Bs and 50 Democrats had As or A+ on the environment.
Wise County has 27 injection wells and 3 more are permitted. That’s more than any other Texas county. Yet last week in Jack County you said you don’t know much about injection wells. That you are uninformed about an issue so critical to the health and safety of a vast number of your constituents is dereliction of duty! (Applause and woots.)
In environmental issues you received a score of 57. When I was in school, a 57 was a failure!
At this time there is nothing you can say to redeem yourself with me.
It’s time for Texas to have a different direction from its leadership. Texans need to get off that same path that leads to falling in the same hole! Texans need to elect leaders who will make better decisions for our futures.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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