By Manifesto Joe
They've already seen a lot of this in rural areas -- the dumping of industrial waste, the fouling of well water, the loss of bucolic hills and trees. But it's not something that just happens in sparsely populated rural areas anymore. It's come to the city.
"Fracking" -- the hydraulic fracturing technique of drilling for fossil fuels -- is now an urban phenomenon. My wife and I live in a large city, and we've got fracking wells less than half a mile from where we live, and in two different directions.
There's still much debate going on about the side effects of this technique, with the Environmental Protection Agency right in the middle. Where we live, what they're exploring for is mainly natural gas, and the gas industry denies any effect on drinking water, and any significant pollution in general.
I've noticed very strong petroleum-like odors in our neighborhood when drilling activity is hot. Also, we've got a large holding pond next to a gas field that's not too far from our house. I haven't noticed any of the neighborhood children trying to go skinny-dipping in that thing.
I suspect that the people who live next to that holding pond have seen their property values plummet, probably far more than any perks they got from selling their subsurface mineral rights. ... Which brings me to another topic.
My wife and I were among the last "holdouts" in our neighborhood. We ignored the landmen for a couple of years, and were getting all sorts of offers in the mail. There's a certain economic logic to this, because we ended up getting about twice as much for our mineral rights as did the schmucks who took the first offer they got.
I wasn't happy about the idea of having gas drilling this close to where I live, anyway. But in Texas, the way I understand the laws governing mineral rights, if you are the last SOB standing in the way of a company's extraction of fossil fuels -- well, in essence, they can just TAKE it from you. If all your neighbors have signed on -- and I know that ours did -- the company has the law on its side to just run right over you.
So, after a long holdout, we signed a lease. Now I almost wish I hadn't done it, since some unpleasant facts about the side effects of "fracking" are coming out.
I don't know very much about the technical end of this, but some areas of America are seeing some very ugly sides of the "fracking" bonanza. Truthout has been doing a lot of good reporting on the subject. Here's a link to one of their most recent posts on this.
A few years into the boom, we're finally seeing city councils and neighborhood associations getting concerned and involved, but in many ways it's far too late. The Trojan Horse, so to speak, is already in the city. I can't understand where a lot of these whiners were when the gas company landmen were tossing all that money around.
There have been serious, lethal explosions result from gas drilling. We're having earthquakes happen all over Texas now, in places that never had them before. People are reporting well water that they can set on fire with a lit match. But to hear the companies tell it, this is all nonsense.
You see, it's common knowledge that rural Texas is rife with rabble-rousing Marxists who live to destroy the lush fruits of unbridled capitalism. They are all making this stuff up, just because they hate to see anybody making a profit.
Well, it's not just in the country anymore. City slickers have gas wells nearby, too. I look at a couple of sites every time I drive to work.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.