From Jerry Lobdill,
Author of Statistical Analysis of “Significant Incident” Data for Barnett Shale Gas Wells
This problem is exacerbated by a culture of entitlement in the O&G industry that goes back almost 100 years. It is also exacerbated by our apparently inexorable movement toward fascism–another artifact of corporate hegemony.
This is a “problem” because there is cognitive dissonance between the American idea that your house is your home and home is your castle, and the ideas that your power should depend on your wealth and that economic analysis should always rule what is to be done.
This slide into fascism began in 1886 with the corporate assault on the 14th amendment (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company) The ruling in that supreme court case has been twisted through stare decisis (precedent law) to grant all rights in the Bill of Rights to corporations. (The 14th Amendment was written to apply to former slaves, not corporations, and the case was not about 14th Amendment rights.) Then in Kelo v. New London the 5th amendment received its own diabolical twist when the right of eminent domain was expanded to permit the taking of property for any economic reason whatever by government.
In Texas that right has been tweaked a little further in the fascist direction to permit governments to delegate their eminent domain power to corporations, which have only a requirement to file an application with the Texas Railroad Commission to be considered officially a “public utility” even though they are a wholly owned subsidiary of a gas drilling company and their only customer is their parent corporation.
Eminent domain had already been twisted so that mineral rights trump surface rights and drilling companies, with their history of belief in their entitlement to do whatever they want on the surface because they’re top dog, have ruined untold thousands of acres of ranch and farm land (See for example Rancho Los Malulos ) in Texas since the beginning of the oil boom in the first decade of the 20th century.
If we’re ever to return to the kind of government the Founders intended, surface rights owners will have to force the issue through class action lawsuits.
Why would any sane person assume that the drilling and pipeline industry has clean hands and gives a damn about the surface owner?
Not only is the “system out of whack,” Big Oil’s mantra that WE the People (never the industry) must sacrifice for the sake of “energy independence,” seems manipulative considering that we are still exporting gas.
Shale-gas exploration success in North America is creating a new gas-export industry, writes Thom Dawson, vice-president, Kitimat LNG
Now the global LNG industry is contending with a third shift. The rise of North American shale-gas production will change …
From the Marcellus Shale:
Eminent Domain Can Trump Property Rights
(MYFOX NATIONAL) – Lynda Farrell and her husband bought their 200-year-old stone farmhouse in Chester County, Penn., because they liked the heavily wooded area surrounding it. “We wanted the peace and the quiet and the privacy,” Lynda Farrell said. Instead, they ended up with a legal battle over land rights.
The problem is, when the Farrells bought their home back in 1992, a natural gas company controlled a 75-foot swath of land for a buried pipeline. Now the company wants to expand the size of the pipeline and needs at least another 20 feet of that wooded area.
The Farrells have rejected a $13,000 offer, and now the company says its last resort is eminent domain, which permits the government to take property if it benefits the public.
“It seems to me that the system is out of whack when the landowner does not have the right to protect their quality of life,” said Lynda Farrell.
The Williams Company, which owns the pipeline, says the law of eminent domain in this case guarantees the public will have energy when it needs it. “No one wants to be told that their property has to be, has to be used for a pipeline to come through so somebody else can benefit from that,” said Mario DiCocco, The Williams Company’s Director of Field Operations. “But we all benefit as a nation by using our own resources and not relying on resources coming from other countries overseas.”
One thing on which both sides agree is that with domestic energy demand increasing, more homeowners like Lynda Farrell will be facing the threat of eminent domain.