[Marxism] Oil and gas industries repudiated
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 6 06:32:41 MST 2014
Chevron Spends Big, And Loses Big, In A City Council Race
November 05, 2014 9:06 PM ET
Tuesday's elections weren't just bad news for Democrats. Oil giant
Chevron Corp. got clobbered in a hot local election in Richmond, Calif.,
that was widely seen as a referendum on the company itself.
The San Francisco Bay Area community of 107,000 people attracted
national attention to its race for city council. Richmond is home to one
of Chevron's two West Coast refineries. The city has long been known as
a company town: Chevron is Richmond's largest employer and taxpayer.
But for the past six years, progressives and their allies have
controlled the city council, often tangling with the Fortune 500 company
over greenhouse gas emissions, especially after a spectacular refinery
fire two years ago.
Chevron had hoped to reverse that dynamic by supporting a slate of
candidates who are sympathetic to the company's plans for modernizing
its refinery. It spent about $3 million to support them, issuing an
avalanche of glossy mailers and buying virtually every billboard in town.
In contrast, the slate of under-funded progressive candidates led by
City Councilman Tom Butt spent only a tiny fraction of that amount on
its massive door-to-door campaign.
Early returns indicated the progressives' grass roots strategy would be
successful. By the end of election night, Butt had captured the mayor's
race with more than 51 percent of the votes cast, and the Chevron-backed
candidate, City Councilman Nat Bates, garnered just over 35 percent.
As a distraught Bates told the Richmond Confidential, "It's a bloodbath,
obviously. I think the citizens will suffer."
Butt, who had accused Chevron of trying to buy the Richmond Council
election, was ecstatic over his David versus Goliath victory.
"To take on a campaign that's funded with $3 million and our modest
campaign budget was about $50,000," he said, "but we had a lot of
grassroots help and we pulled it off."
The progressives also won three full-term city council seats, with
out-going Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, incumbent Jovanka Beckles, and
challenger Eduardo Martinez beating a slate of Chevron-backed
candidates. Another incumbent who often sides with the progressives,
Jael Myrick, also won a two-year seat.
Chevron said it will try to find common ground with the newly-elected
"This city, which we have proudly called home for more than a century,
has far more opportunities than challenges," said a spokesman. "The
council should remain focused on all those opportunities, and Chevron
will remain focused on all those opportunities, and Chevron will
continue to work to create economic opportunities for all residents."
The outcome will likely energize progressives in and around Richmond, a
much-maligned city that recently has made strides in re-casting its
former image as a poor and crime-ridden community. Relatively modest
home prices have attracted a generation of younger residents who are
demanding better schools, safer streets, and cleaner air.
University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook says the
Richmond City Council race proves that money doesn't always win elections.
"You can throw big money on a 'no' campaign. Voters are inclined to vote
no. But Richmonders knew who the candidates were and liked them. It
appears the Chevron money itself became an issue in the race, " he said.
Texas oil town makes history as residents say no to fracking
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Wednesday 5 November 2014 13.31 EST
The Texas town where America’s oil and natural gas boom began has voted
to ban fracking, in a stunning rebuke to the industry.
Denton, a college town on the edge of the Barnett Shale, voted by 59% to
ban fracking inside the city limits, a first for any locality in Texas.
Organisers said they hoped it would give a boost to anti-fracking
activists in other states. More than 15 million Americans now live
within a mile of an oil or gas well.
“It should send a signal to industry that if the people in Texas – where
fracking was invented – can’t live with it, nobody can,” said Sharon
Wilson, the Texas organiser for EarthWorks, who lives in Denton.
An energy group on Wednesday asked for an immediate injunction to keep
the ban from being enforced. Tom Phillips, an attorney for the Texas Oil
and Gas association, told the Associated Press the courts must “give a
prompt and authoritative answer” on whether the ban violates the Texas
Athens in Ohio and San Benito and Mendocino counties in California also
voted to ban fracking on Tuesday. Similar measures were defeated in
Gates Mills, Kent and Youngstown, Ohio, as well as Santa Barbara,
Denton remains a solidly Republican town, and oil companies reportedly
spent $700,000 to defeat the ban, according to the Denton
Record-Chronicle – nearly $6 for every resident.
“It was more like David and Godzilla then David and Goliath,” Wilson
said. But she said residents were fed up with the noise and disruption
of fracking, and the constant traffic and fumes from wells and trucks
operating in residential neighbourhoods.
The town is probably the most heavily fracked in the country.
The industry has drilled wells on church property, school grounds and on
the campus of the University of North Texas, right next to the tennis
courts and across the road from the sports stadium (and a stand of giant
In Texas, as in much of America, property owners do not always own the
“mineral rights” – the rights to underground resources – so typically
have limited say over how they are developed.
It is also often the case that owners of the mineral rights – who profit
directly from fracking – no longer live in the area.
There are already hundreds of wells within Denton city limits, and
nearly a third of the town is permitted for fracking. Wilson and other
local activists from the Denton Drilling Awareness Group had spent years
trying to get local officials to restrict fracking, but those measures
“We did an ordinance but the industry refused to follow it and
threatened law suits at every turn. They said they didn’t have to follow
the ordinance because of the way the permitting was done,” Wilson said.
“There was just no way out of it except to ban it.”
The ban will almost certainly result in a wave of lawsuits from oil
companies as well as mineral rights owners, Wilson said. Republican
officials in Texas said they would try to overturn the ban in the state
“As the senior energy regulator in Texas, I am disappointed that Denton
voters fell prey to scare tactics and mischaracterisations of the truth
in passing the hydraulic fracturing ban,” the railroad commissioner,
David Porter, a Republican, told the Denton Record-Chronicle. “Bans
based on misinformation – instead of science and fact – potentially
threaten this energy renaissance and as a result, the wellbeing of all
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