Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fracking Speak In Laredo

Commissioner Jaime Canales was on t.v. last night praising the effects of the Eagle Ford Shale, namely the tax revenue generated.  The drilling activity has been a godsend for local taxing entities as they've seen an uptick in revenues due to land leases, and money being spent by employees from the various oil and gas patches.  But it all sounds too good to be true. 

Yes the shale play has brought in a lot of money into Laredo and surrounding communities, but we can't sit by and believe that consequences don't exist.

Here's a snippet from a study done by the University of Texas which found no link between drilling and contaminated water wells.
The study also found regular reports of problems with surface casing — the steel pipe installed at the top of a well to keep the flow of hydrocarbons isolated from aquifers — and with cement jobs that hold the casing in place, Groat said.
It's funny.  The report says that there's no link between drilling for oil and gas, and alleged contaminated water sources.  But aquifers may be at risk, because steel pipes near the top may be compromised.  I'm getting mixed messages here. 

One point that I didn't see addressed in the story is the matter of air quality.  I've heard that one can immediately get a whiff of noxious fumes near fuel capturing stations.  Putting aside the chance that water and air are not affected, the UT study does note that sludge spills occur, as well as "other rule violations."  But those events are treated as mere inconveniences, if at all, by our local leaders.

The picture above is of a recent sludge spill on South Hwy 83, near the Sierra Vista intersection.  You can see a dark material in the middle of the road, and the white, sandy substance used to contain the debris. 

It's unfortunate that these instances aren't included, or brought up, when our leaders have to comment on the impact of the Eagle Ford Shale.  I mean, just think about these blatant acts of contamination.  If this is happening right in front of us, imagine what is going on behind the scenes. 

But let me get back to Jaime Canales' appreciation of Eagle Ford revenues, and try to put it in a different context.  Think about sugary snacks and drinks sold at schools.
Even more problematic, some districts contract with private companies to sell competitive foods such as fast food in cafeterias and snack vending machines. “Pouring rights” – contracts with companies to sell soda in schools – are also popular. As a result, kids consume a huge amount of unhealthy food and drink items during the school day, and schools have no incentive to change because they benefit financially from the competitive food contracts.
Sodas, full of sugar and empty calories, are detrimental to a child's overall health.  But administrators laud their presence because of the money the contracts bring in.  They're thankful for the money they see, but it comes at a price.  Yes it makes life easier for those who have to worry about the books, but in the end somebody's health suffers. 

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