Tuesday revealed a lot of very good fracking election news, despite some high-profile losses. The war is over and we’re seeing the last skirmishes.
The political advertisements, after barraging us with increasing intensity leading up to Tuesday have now mercifully ended, giving us a respite until maneuvering for the next elections resumes after the holidays. There’s a lot of crowing going on among our fractivist friends about a couple of results, but, overall, the fractivist cause made little progress.
The Bad Fracking Election News
Here’s the bad news from the election, which isn’t that bad at all, really, when one examines things closely:
- A fracking ban was enacted by referendum in Denton, Texas. It was a highly unusual situation and a lot of outside influence was brought to bear by fractivists groups such as Earthworks, which is funded by all the usual suspects including the Park Foundation, Google’s Eric Schmidt and the Energy Foundation. As usual, the battle was falsely portrayed as David (fractivists) versus Goliath (industry) as the former mostly operated under the cover of their non-profit status to mask their efforts, but they won and that must be acknowledged. These kinds of battles have to be fought at the grassroots level and not from 30,000 feet, which is admittedly difficult in an urbanized area where land ownership and mineral rights are often held separately. NIMBYism cannot be defeated politically from afar. That’s the lesson. Nonetheless, the fractivist victory has been very short-lived as the ban is already under legal challenge. It’s unlikely to survive legally and was pursued for PR purposes.
- Tom Wolf was elected governor in Pennsylvania, going against the tide nationally. He is a proponent of a severance tax on natural gas in the Commonwealth and, far worse, is an opponent of natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) region. He has already thrown Wayne County, where I reside, to the dogs, as it is the one area of Pennsylvania with gas that can’t develop it. He apparently likes trendy New Yorkers better than Pennsylvanians from our neck of the woods. Notwithstanding this, the Pennsylvania General Assembly will not only stay Republican but be more so and it will have more opponents of a severance tax in January than now, so his signature piece of demagoguery during the election will face tough odds. His DRBC position is also likely to change with a lawsuit and its coming.
- Andrew Cuomo was re-elected in New York despite the high hopes of Southern Tier folks frustrated with his nonfeasance with respect to fracking regulations. Interestingly, however, he only won by 54%, indicating his mode of operation is not as popular as he’d like to think. Moreover, the New York State Senate stayed in Republican hands and their majority expanded, which ensures there won’t be a fracking ban in New York and lots of reasons for Cuomo to want to work with them in finally acting upon stalled fracking regulations.
The Good Fracking Election News
There’s a whole lot more good fracking elections news, however:
- The super-freaky radical group know as the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) lost for the fourth time in a row (and by the biggest margin ever) trying to get a fracking ban adopted in the City of Youngstown, Ohio, which doesn’t take its fracking success for granted (like Denton?). This story is worth quoting:
“Meanwhile, city voters again rejected the anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment — the fourth time since May 2013. Supporters of the proposal said they’ll have it back on the ballot until it passes.
This was the largest margin of defeat — 15.7 percentage points — for the measure first put on the May 2013 ballot by the Community Bill of Rights Committee.
“That is a very loud and clear message,” said Mike Chadsey, spokesman for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “People are not buying the bait and switch, the fear tactics, the scare tactics. Any credibility [the Bill of Rights Committee] had is gone. It’s embarrassing for them…”
“This is a great margin of victory, and after the fourth time the message should be clear,” said Butch Taylor, business manager for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, which opposed the proposal. “Hopefully we can move on and work together for the positive things — safety, a clean environment and the opportunities for job creation.”
- There was also news of sanity in New England, where some fractivists would rather they and their neighbors sit in the dark and freeze than have a pipeline built to supply them with needed gas. Tuesday, however, Paul LePage, a proponent of more pipelines, was re-elected in Maine. Massachusetts also flipped to a Republican governor making it less likely opponents will be successful in delaying building of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline across their state. This should help alleviate gas supply bottlenecks in New England that drive the prices up in winter.
- Then, there was Jesse White, whose name needs no explanation to readers. The fractivists loved the guy and went to the wall for him but he lost big. May his name now be forgotten as the embarrassment he was to Pennsylvania. The success of the street fighter is always short-lived and even more quickly dispensed with once he reveals who he really is.
- There was also State Representative Rick Mirabito from the Williamsport area, a guy who tried to say he was pro-gas at times, for obvious reasons, but repeatedly played ball with fractivists on issues such as the Marc-1 Pipeline and supported a severance tax in an area benefitted tremendously by natural gas development. He was defeated by very pro-gas Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland.
- The CELDF also lost another battle in Gates Mills, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, by a huge margin (68% opposed).
- Maryland elected a very pro-gas governor in Larry Hogan. The current Democrat governor O’Malley had let it move slowly forward, but Hogan is a clear advocate.
There is other news, but the reader will get the drift. Fractivists only win in the short-term and by means of outrageous demagoguery when they do win. Moreover, their victories tend to be short-lived in the face of economic realities, a point made yesterday with regard to New Brunswick, Canada, politics as well. The war is really over, given how much of our natural gas and oil supply is now attributable to fracking. More than half of our oil and gas supply will, before too long, come from fracking. What we are seeing are the last skirmishes being fought here and there.
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