Monday, June 6, 2016

Times Exposé Needs Our Attention

I hope that you have been reading the El Paso Times stories, especially yesterday's, about oil spills/runoff from oil industry platforms during the recent, devastating flooding in central Texas. It's not just oil but the fracking fluids which is probably worse. The Times followed up with an editorial to their first story. Times reporter, Marty Schladen, has done some great investigative journalism. It has been recognized nationally in pieces such as this one in Esquire.

It is egregious enough to have oil platforms spill toxic oil and fracking fluids into Texas rivers. What is even more appalling is that the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the pictures of the spills to be taken off of the University of Texas web site once Schladen and the Times exposed what was happening. The TDPS said that the pictures had not been vetted for privacy. Yeah, sure. Don't expect the mis-named Texas Railroad Commission which regulates the oil industry to come to the rescue. 

Schladen reported what Lon Burnham, who ran unsuccessfully to become a member of the TRC, said about what's behind the censorship:

"He said that since the members of the Railroad Commission receive most of their campaign contributions from energy producers, they have little incentive to punish polluters — or even find that they’re polluting.

“'They don’t enforce,'” Burnham said. “'They don’t fine. But they do whine about needing more money from the Legislature.'”

I hope that the Times will do a follow-up about the Torchlight Energy Resources fracking platforms just across the city limits of El Paso in Hudspeth County during our monsoon season. No, the run-off of fracking fluids won't run into any rivers. However, they will spread a destructive sheen across the biocrust of the Otero Mesa/Diablo Plateau and seep into the ground. I say this especially noting that drilling there has been encouraging.

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