The Petroleum Industry spends millions of dollars on advertisements attempting to convince the American public that they deserve canonization. They claim that they deeply care about the environment, create thousands of jobs, and are above the curve in creating new technology to ensure safety during the drilling process. Informed individuals are very aware that all these claims are either lies or half-truths. And although many regulations exist, it is highly questionable that enforcing them is designed for the safety of our nation’s people and the environment. Agencies whose sole purpose is to protect the American public, tend to favor the needs of the Petroleum Industry.
Why does the industry spend money on advertising? It does not want the American people to know the truth, and lobby for more controls over their dangerous practices. Their profits increase yearly, and our government continues to give the industry tax incentives.
The economy of the state of Texas is heavily reliant on the production of petroleum products. It is so dependent that if the black sludge ever ‘dries up,’ the state will likely cease to exist. If an individual seeks public office, they cannot win without the support of the oil and gas industry.
In 2013 two men, Fred Wright, and Morris Kocurek, were relieved of their positions as inspectors for the Texas Railroad Commission. Their purpose was to ensure that the oil and gas industry fully complied with the state’s regulations. They performed their jobs very well. Working in different districts, both men received praise from their supervisors resulting in merit raises and promotions. The problem is that they were too good at their jobs.
The Railroad Commission, and its sister agency the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, were investigated. The result was disheartening, but not unexpected. The regulatory agencies were attacked with claims that they are more concerned with protecting the Petroleum Industry than the safety of the public and the environment.
The Railroad Commission is controlled by three commissioners. Between 2012 and 2014, the commissioners received a total of $3 million for their election campaigns. The Governor himself, Rick Perry, received just under $11.5 million in campaign funds since 2000. The newly elected Governor, Greg Abbott, was given in excess of $6.8 million.
Of great concern to both environmentalists and the average citizen is the process of fracking. This hydraulic and dangerous method of obtaining natural gas from pockets deep in the shale under the surface has multiple dangers to the public. The process uses thousands of gallons of water and more than 60 chemicals, many of which are carcinogens.
Detractors of the process claim that it causes increased earthquakes, and damages the underground rivers and streams by contaminating drinking water. Fracking wells are often located near schools and housing developments in communities. Increased big rig traffic and air pollution are real concerns.
Fracking has been approved by our federal government, despite claims and fears by several environmentalist groups.
While our government protects the oil and gas industry and claims new safety programs are in place, proof exists that it cannot be guaranteed 100 percent safe. It is serious enough that the Canadian Province of Quebec is considering banning the drilling method entirely.
Protection of the Petroleum Industry by state and federal governments is another example of how corporations own our government. Through the influence of lobbyists, the wishes of the few have taken precedence of the fears of the many.
By James Turnage