This is going to be an interesting week. We’ll find out this week who controls the Senate. We’ll also find out whether communities like Denton, Texas and Santa Barbara County California vote to ban oil and gas development.
Moth Measure P in California and the Special Election issue in Denton would in effect shut down current and future development of oil and gas in both communities. In California, because the only way to economically produce oil from formations in Santa Barbara county is through the use of high-pressure steam injection, which falls under the Measure’s restrictions. In Denton, the use of hydraulic fracture stimulation, aka “fracking”, is the only way to extract natural gas from the Barnett shale formation, which runs right through the city limits.
In California, such a ban shouldn’t be as much of a surprise, although it would have a detrimental economic effect, particularly for those land owners whose mineral rights would effectively be taken away from them. In Denton, however, that’s Denton, TEXAS, the impact of a ban passing will be monumental.
In both cases, and particularly in Texas, lawsuits are sure to follow. Denton residents are really more voting whether to plunge the city into a myriad of expensive litigation, draining city coffers of much-needed revenue that could better be used filling potholes or lining libraries with books rather than lining attorney’s pockets with the resident’s cash.
And in both places, emotions are running at a fevered pitch. The Dallas Morning News pointed out last week that both sides were camped out at the city’s main early voting location, handing out material and even approaching voters who were sporting pro-fracking paraphernalia on their clothing.
What this all boils down to is quite simple: NIBMY. Not-In-My-Back-Yard. Nobody is Denton or Santa Barbara County is surrendering their airline tickets, turning in the keys to their automobiles, cooking over an open fire or converting their homes to non-petroleum heating and lighting. They demand all the conveniences, but are completely refusing to allow the development of those resources near their communities.
Regardless how this vote turns out tomorrow, what is most likely is that judges, not voters, will ultimately decide the issues.