HB 40 Senate Hearing Thursday

Email/Call All Senators

HB 40 Senate Public Hearing This Thursday

Vote likely Soon!

After you contact the members of the Natural Resources Committee, begin contacting ALL senators and insisting they vote against HB 40 unless it contains the following changes. To email a senator, simply click on his/her email address.HB 40 is sitting with the Senate Natural Resources Committee, so we have more time to seek revisions. Please contact the members listed at the end of this email and ask them to make the following changes to HB 40.

1. Remove the stipulation that gas ordinance regulations be “commercially reasonable.”  This phrase is vague and places gas industry’s wishes above the health, safety, and well being of residents. It would annihilate most truly protective regulations.

2. Allow city gas ordinances passed in the last year to be effective. Important due to ever increasing knowledge about impacts of fracking on health and safety and the environment as well as rapidly changing technology.

3. Permit cities to reject/ regulate injection wells. Mention this week’s report that Azele Earthquakes are being caused by injection wells makes this right critical.

4. Permit cities to require vapor recovery units. Recent worker deaths from inhaling hydro-carbons makes this right essential.

Vice-Chair

Members:

Texas Senate Contact Information

Senator Paul Bettencourt paul.bettencourt@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0107
Senator Brian Birdwell brain.birdwell@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0122
Senator Konni Burton konni.burton@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0110
Senator Donna Campbell donna.campbell@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0125
Senator Brandon Creighton brandon.creighton@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0104
Senator Rodney Ellis rodney.ellis@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0113
Senator Kevin Eltife kevin.eltife@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0101
Senator Craig Estes craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0130
Senator Troy Fraser troy.fraser@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0124
Senator Sylvia Garcia sylvia.garcia@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0106
Senator Bob Hall bob.hall@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0102
Senator Kelly Hancock kelly.hancock@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0109
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0120
Senator Don Huffines don.huffines@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0116
Senator Joan Huffman joan.huffman@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0117
Senator Lois Kolkhorst lois.kolkhorst@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0118
Senator Eddie Lucio eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0127
Senator Jose Menendez jose.menedez@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0126
Senator Jane Nelson jane.nelson@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0112
Senator Robert Nichols robert.nichols@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0103
Senator Charles Perry charles.perry@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0128
Senator José Rodríguez jose.rodriguez@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0129
Senator Charles Schwertner charles.schwertner@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0105
Senator Kel Seliger kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0131
Senator Larry Taylor larry.taylor@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0111
Senator Van Taylor van.taylor@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0108
Senator Carlos Uresti carlos.uresti@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0119
Senator Kirk Watson kirk.watson@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0114
Senator Royce West royce.west@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0123
Senator John Whitmire john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0115
Senator Judith Zaffirini judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0121

You can still make a difference!

HB 40 has passed the House but all hope is not lost. It still has to be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill. So, it is time to apply pressure on the Senate. It’s probably best not to ask them to oppose the bill at this point (unless you know that they already oppose the bill), but to add amendments to it that further protect local control for health and safety reasons.

A key talking point here in the wake of the recent studies definitively linking injection/disposal wells to earthquakes: Request that the bill explicitly grant local governments the right to control injection wells. Local communities are the ones exposed to the risks of earthquakes and so should be the ones empowered to decide whether those risks are acceptable or not.

Here is a list of the TX Senators. Contact them all, but if you only have time to contact a few, make it Jane Nelson (Senator for areas impacted by earthquakes), Craig Estes (Senator for much of the Denton area), and Troy Fraser (Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development where the bill is now being considered). Here is all the contact info:

 

Senator Paul Bettencourt paul.bettencourt@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0107
Senator Brian Birdwell brain.birdwell@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0122
Senator Konni Burton konni.burton@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0110
Senator Donna Campbell donna.campbell@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0125
Senator Brandon Creighton brandon.creighton@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0104
Senator Rodney Ellis rodney.ellis@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0113
Senator Kevin Eltife kevin.eltife@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0101
Senator Craig Estes craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0130
Senator Troy Fraser troy.fraser@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0124
Senator Sylvia Garcia sylvia.garcia@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0106
Senator Bob Hall bob.hall@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0102
Senator Kelly Hancock kelly.hancock@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0109
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0120
Senator Don Huffines don.huffines@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0116
Senator Joan Huffman joan.huffman@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0117
Senator Lois Kolkhorst lois.kolkhorst@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0118
Senator Eddie Lucio eddie.lucio@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0127
Senator Jose Menendez jose.menedez@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0126
Senator Jane Nelson jane.nelson@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0112
Senator Robert Nichols robert.nichols@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0103
Senator Charles Perry charles.perry@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0128
Senator José Rodríguez jose.rodriguez@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0129
Senator Charles Schwertner charles.schwertner@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0105
Senator Kel Seliger kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0131
Senator Larry Taylor larry.taylor@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0111
Senator Van Taylor van.taylor@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0108
Senator Carlos Uresti carlos.uresti@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0119
Senator Kirk Watson kirk.watson@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0114
Senator Royce West royce.west@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0123
Senator John Whitmire john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0115
Senator Judith Zaffirini judith.zaffirini@senate.state.tx.us 512-463-0121

 

Doublespeak on Frack Quakes and Local Control

The real reason for the state preemption of local control over oil and gas development is, of course, money. The influence of the industry over Austin is no secret (for example, over $1.5 million in campaign contributions just to the three Railroad Commissioners supposedly regulating the industry).

In short, it’s pure politics – the brute power of special interests. Yet despite this obvious reality, our state legislators are trying to pass this off as sound policy in service of the common good.

The most recent example comes today from state Rep. Phil King. In the wake of a new scientific report linking disposal wells to earthquakes, King (who represents the quake-shaken Azle area) said, “This adds even more support to the fact that a state agency with the scientific expertise is the entity that needs to be regulating those type of wells.”

Yeah, that’s the reason for HB 40…to protect us from frackquakes! This tortured and anemic logic is the depressing doublespeak of an oligarchy pretending to be a democracy.

Sure, it would be nice if the state could conduct seismic tests about disposal wells. That could provide important data about risks. But it in no way answers the question of who ought to decide whether those risks are acceptable. THAT ought to be right of the people exposed to the risks – that’s the reason for local control. King conflates the epistemic capacity to characterize risks with the political jurisdiction over risk management. His argument is a non-sequitur: The state has more money and experts, therefore it should decide.

How would the state act in light of evidence of risks? The Railroad Commission’s staff seismologist (the person who will advise state legislators about how to act in the face of new studies) gives us a clue. He said of the report linking disposal wells to earthquakes, “the study raises many questions with regard to its methodology, the information used and conclusions it reaches.”

So, that’s how they’d act: like merchants of doubt, dragging their feet while newly-defanged communities suffer.

HB 40 Will Not Silence the Voice of the People

On Friday, the Texas House of Representatives approved HB 40, a bill that will “expressly preempt” local control of oil and gas operations. If HB 40 becomes law, whenever the industry thinks a municipal ordinance is not “commercially reasonable,” they won’t have to follow it – regardless of how reasonable it may be in terms of protecting health, safety, and welfare.

The approval of HB 40 is disappointing but predictable. After all, this is just another version of a story that is repeated far too often: Big money special interest groups using state power to override local democracy.

The oil and gas industry spent $21.8 million dollars this past election cycle to buy Texas candidates and committees. That’s 286 times the amount of money we spent on a successful grassroots campaign last year to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city limits of Denton. After years of being stonewalled in our efforts to negotiate with the industry (which would like to frack another 500 gas wells in Denton), the ban was our last resort.

Having been roundly shamed for being such bad neighbors, the industry chose to muscle up rather than amend their ways. It is an impressive show of force, but it cannot extinguish the candle of democracy that has been lit in Denton and in cities and towns across the state. It will not silence the voice of the people.

In true Texas fashion, we will defend our ban and our rights to local control against all odds.

Follow the Money

To understand the importance of local control, just follow the money. Ask yourself: Might these elected officials be a teensy bit biased? They don’t represent communities; they represent the industry that bought their tickets to Austin.

#ProtectLocalControl #StopHB40.

Oil and gas donations across the political career of the candidate:money

Greg Abbott, Governor: $9,050,007

Christi Craddick, Railroad Commissioner: $804,828

Tom Craddick, Energy Resources Committee: $767,084

Ryan Sitton, Railroad Commissioner: $486,626

Craig Estes, Denton’s Senator: $425,036

Jim Keffer, Energy Resources Committee: $322,183

Konni Burton, State Senator: $213,500

Myra Crownover, Denton’s Representative: $152,768

Drew Darby, Chair of House Energy Resources Committee: $141,865

Phil King, Energy Resources Committee: $113,000