Target: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy
Goal: Don’t block citizens’ right to ban fracking in favor of giant, monied energy interests.
Texas has a new law that blocks municipalities from banning fracking. Despite being great defenders of local control for their entire history, Texas now requires any town opposed to energy development prove their proposed rule change would still be “commercially reasonable.” In other words, the marketplace is now the only standard for environmental decisions in Texas. It’s no surprise the original bill was written by the oil and gas industry. The purpose is to thwart the people’s will and to protect the energy industry from fracking bans successfully passed by municipalities.
The people of Denton, Texas voted to ban fracking 59-41 percent in November 2014 and 70 percent of those who voted for the ban were people who considered themselves conservative Republicans. The fracking ban came about after five years of fruitlessly pleading with oil and gas companies about the threat they posed to the health and safety of families as well as damage to private property, hospitals and schools. In response, the will of the people was completely denied. In 2015, legislation written by a lawyer for ExxonMobil was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor. The law was specifically written to prevent municipalities from interfering with energy companies.
The law bars all municipalities in Texas from exercising any local control over environmental threats or setting any limits on oil and gas development, however reasonable they might be. A ban on the right of citizens to use local ordinances to oppose environmental threats, is completely undemocratic and un-American. It suspends democracy in favor of energy giants and it should be over turned.
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
The environmental movement in the United States has a long history of using local ordinances to fight pollution. Many times, local campaigns have succeeded in stopping a proposal before it’s implemented. This has happened with a wide range of polluting industries like coal, oil, gas, biofuel, landfills, biomass, nuclear power, waste incinerators, etc. It also includes hundreds of communities across the country that have banned fracking out of concern for health and safety.
However, that proud democratic history was brought to an abrupt halt in Texas when the state barred municipalities from opposing fracking which is already seen as generating ongoing earth tremors in addition to polluting ground water. Despite a long tradition of supporting local control in its courts, democracy has been officially squashed in Texas. Powerful monied interests are considered more important than the lives of American families; their homes, schools, hospitals.
This is unacceptable. The modern environmental movement, launched with Earth Day in 1970, must not be stopped with undemocratic legislation that denies people the right to protect their lives. People have a right to clean water and they have the right to protect their water supply from pollution. These are fundamental rights that need to be enforced.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom