So much for all that slavish devotion to small government and local control conservatives love to yammer about. In yesterdays, The Oklahoman, writer Rick M. Green reports the Oklahoma House passed a bill which will prohibit city and county governments from banning oil and gas drilling within their jurisdictions. The bill will now go to the Oklahoma Senate for final approval, which apparently is a done deal and then head to the governor's desk for signing.
Yes, sometimes one has to sacrifice his, or her alleged ideals for the greater good. Especially if the greater good turns out to be big ass oil and gas companies. You know, the ones who pay for your political campaigns, not to mention junkets to places like Las Vegas so you can attend conferences on how to best perform fellatio in the board room of Devon Energy.
The Oilies started to get the shakes when voters in Denton, TX approved a ban on fracking last year. The whole thing came to a head in Oklahoma when people living in Stillwater and Norman began making the same sort of noises. Both town's economies depend on the state's two largest universities. Neither need the dubious benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or waste water wells, which are a bi-product of fracking.
Green writes the State Chamber of Commerce backed the bill, which should come as no surprise. He quotes a chamber spokesperson as saying, "We understand concerns about public safety and this bill provides protections at the local level while also ensuring that one of the state's key economic pillars can continue to use the modern techniques that have kept Oklahoma moving forward."
The safety protections in the bill, Arnella Karges was talking about allows local governments to pass reasonable regulations when it comes to road use, traffic noise, odors, and fencing. Unfortunately the bill is a bit vague about what reasonable is. But, hey, even if it wasn't fuzzy on the definition of reasonable, when the discussion is about fracking and waste water wells none of those things are the first issue everyone thinks about.
That's right--the elephant in the living room, Ms. Karges so deftly ignored would be the fucking earthquakes. Over the past few years Oklahoma has experienced more 3.0 tremors than California, the most seismically active place in the contiguous 48 states. In 2011 a 5.6 quake near Prague destroyed 14 homes, injured two, and brought down one of the spires at St. Gregory's University in Shawnee. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, "its very unlikely," the flurry of activity is a natural phenomenon. The U.S. Geological Survey says waste water injected deep into the ground under high pressure causes fault lines which have been dormant for hundreds of thousands of years to become active. In other words, despite the rabid denials of Senator James Mountain Inhofe, humans really are making a difference in the environment and it isn't a good thing.
The two immediate results of this roller coaster ride have been a rush by homeowners to buy earthquake insurance and some good old fashioned price gouging by the people who sell it. In recent years the cost of earthquake coverage in Oklahoma has risen over 500%.
If you've ever been to a football game in either Norman, or Stillwater you know the residents of both towns can put up with some occasional jammed roads, traffic noise, and even odors. What they're really worried about when it comes to fracking is the foundations and walls of their homes ending up resembling a bunch of fine china which has been dropped onto concrete.
Now, thanks to those big government thugs known as the Oklahoma Republican Party, no one in either burg will be able to protect their property from the greed heads running Chesapeake Energy, Devon, or anyone else who owns a drilling rig.
It is what the right wing toadies down at NE 23rd and Lincoln call free enterprise.