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Robbing power from the people

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In case some Flower Mound residents haven’t been paying attention (an unlikely situation), there’s a move by the Texas Legislature to take away local control regarding gas drilling in our communities.

Evidently, towns like ours have been very adept at organizing residents to protest against the polluting chemicals used in the fracking process and actively involved in electing reps who defend that position. Hence, some of the political powers that loom menacingly above the rest of us, like vultures circling a potential meal, have determined that we don’t know what’s good for us, so they will decide our fate.

Undoubtedly, the “meal” these vultures are waiting for is called campaign contributions from those companies that have had little success with, shall I say, influencing elected officials on the local level. Ah, but evil minds, with greed as their only motivation, will search until they find someone to do their bidding.

In this case, they found Collin County State Rep. Van Taylor who filed House Bill #1496, the intended purpose of which is to keep local authorities from zoning and regulating gas drilling activity in their jurisdictions. 

Isn’t this what we’re facing all over the country as the long and rapacious arm of the government continues to steal our freedoms and arrogate to itself the power to run every facet of our lives?

Taking away local control means that we would be impotent to stop any addition to our communities, no matter how vulgar or dangerous it may be.

Five years or more from now, if our children and/or grandchildren were to develop leukemia, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders, or a number of other potential maladies caused by those fracking chemicals leaching into our aquifers, where would those gas companies be? They’d be in another city or town, planting sickness for other generations to endure, while they counted their profits.

That’s because they’re in business to make profit, not to safeguard the health and safety of the areas in which they ply their trade.  That’s precisely why they need to be regulated by those who will be most affected by the poisonous potions they inject into our water and air.

We hear a lot about property rights from these lecherous merchants of greed, but we hear very little about the damage they cause to humans, livestock and vegetation. In fact, they have been anything but forthcoming about revealing what chemicals they use in the process of extracting the gas.

Moreover, they’ve learned that political muscle is much more effective if used at higher levels of legislative authority. The plain truth is; if money wasn’t such a compelling magnet we wouldn’t even be discussing this. Yet, if we’ve learned anything about the government, it’s their propensity to be influenced by their largest monetary contributors. Couple that with an overwhelming urge to wrest power from the people and concentrate it in the corridors of the state and you have a scenario in which residents will have little or no say in how their municipalities operate.

I don’t know how far Mr. Taylor’s bill will get, but just to be on the safe side we should contact our local reps and urge them to speak out and vote against this outrageous usurpation of our rights.

Make no mistake about it; Flower Mound is in the crosshairs because we have gained national attention for our strict ordinance on gas drilling. If the well-heeled powers that be can grease the palms of venal politicians, they will make an example of us to scare other towns from ever defying them.

The good news is that we have ethical reps in Denton County (I’ve said that long before this bill was introduced) that have consistently stood up for the rights of their constituents.

State Rep Tan Parker R-Flower Mound, has supported smaller government and introduced bills to require more vigorous inspections to natural gas production facilities in the Barnett Shale. Saying “There’s no higher priority than the health and safety of our people,” Mr. Parker’s bills would double the fines when violations occur.

As for State Senator Jane Nelson, she needs no introduction when it comes to protecting the health and safety of all Texans. 

Additionally, we have other principle-oriented reps like County Commissioners Andy Eads and Bobbie Mitchell, both of whom are very active in the community and responsive to their constituents.

Furthermore, we have a Mayor and Town Council and their predecessors, that have steadfastly supported the Oil and Gas Drilling Ordinance, which addresses safety, noise levels, setbacks and environmental impacts.

Needless to say, we have reason to feel secure with all the surrounding leadership, but, we shouldn’t get over-confident. Be proactive; contact your reps. 

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.

 

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