Wringing Texas Dry: How Oil, Gas Fracking Steals Water From Citizens

The Guardian article that follows below is much more tactful in it’s presentation, but I have no such mandate on The Left Call. — There’s a great heist going on in Texas. Oil and gas companies are literally stealing water out from under the citizens of Texas.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers.

So yes, Texas is in the middle of a multi-year drought, and that means fracking is not the sole reason water reservoirs are running dry. However, while citizens are prohibited from watering their lawns and other non-essential water uses, oil and gas companies are allowed to use all the water they need to pad the pockets of executives and shareholders.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In [Berverly] Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

And before you think these residents had it coming because they allowed fracking on their land, you should keep this in mind. In Texas, a very conservative state, land use rights go to the highest bidder. Oil and gas companies can come in with their fracking dollars and purchase land use rights away from land owners. This seems unthinkable in the Lone Star state, but in Texas, if you have enough money, you can buy the state, one piece of land at a time, former and surrounding land owners be damned. There are profits to be made, and rich executives to be paid. After acquiring the land use rights (legally), of course.

The Texas Observer — [P]rivate property rights are chucked aside all the time in the service of big business. Consider, for example, the emerging conflict between landowners and pipeline companies in North Texas’ frack-happy Barnett Shale and South Texas’ booming Eagle Ford Shale.

State law basically allows operators to condemn property and build pipelines wherever they want — next to homes, businesses, schools, churches, etc — with very few exceptions. Eminent domain is generally thought to be an instrument of government but where gas pipelines are concerned, for-profit entities can wield the power to take property all on their own.

Don’t mess with Texas? — Someone forgot to tell corporations.

 


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