As sanctuary shutters, Boris the bear is in need of a new home.
It’s official: On Tuesday, August 31, the board at the Wild Animal Orphanage, a troubled animal sanctuary on the edge of Northwest San Antonio, decided to close its doors. A formal press release will be sent out this coming week.
“Due to our overpopulation, [and the fact that] we don’t have the ability to care for the animals in the manner that we would prefer, we’ve decided to dissolve the orphanage and find new homes [for the animals],” WAO secretary Suzanne Straw told the Current on Saturday. “WAO is cooperating with the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Division in their ongoing investigation of WAO. That’s been going on for many years and we’re partnering with them on how to best handle the situation. They have not put any demand on us. But even for a couple of months before this vote was cast, we were in the process of finding homes for as many of our animals as we could.”
Straw was responding to questions poised by the Current about an alleged offer by the OAG: Relocate the animals in 60 days and close WAO’s doors, or refuse and be forced to shut down immediately. One of the current owners denied the suggestion last week that the sanctuary may be closing.
At one point, the WAO held about 400 animals at its two locations off Talley and Leslie roads. Now, most of the animals have been relocated or are in the process of being relocated. But the process is more complex than just finding a place willing to host the animals.
“[The new homes] have to be USDA-approved facilities and, if they’re not, they have to at least meet or exceed the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act,” Straw said. “We won’t willy-nilly put our animals wherever someone offers to take them. We’ll research diligently and make sure these are the right homes for our precious animals. But now that we have decided to dissolve, we are on a very aggressive timeline trying to get them placed. We’re not going to close our doors until every single animal has been found a new home. [If after 60 days] no homes are found, we’ll keep fundraising and feeding them and caring for the animals that are left.”
Rumors of animals being eliminated in case no homes are found after the 60-day period are unfounded, said Straw. “We have a very strict policy,” Straw said. “We’re not going to euthanize any animals unless a veterinarian determines that to be medically necessary. And that was part of our resolution of August 31.”
Boris, a bear between 17 and 19 years of age, is a particular concern to some animal lovers who have been following the WAO saga. But Straw said the animal’s age is not why Boris hasn’t found a new home yet.
“It’s more about co-habitation,” Straw said. “Just like humans, some bears get along better with others, some prefer solitude. All these things must be taken into consideration. He’s such a sweetheart and a star among our visitors, and we want to find a home for him soon. He’s on a list of sanctuaries that are trying to determine if there’s a home suitable for him. He’s considered by several facilities, but we still don’t have a home for him. We have 23 bears total, and 20 are going next week. Depending on availability, Boris may or may not go with them.”
Legal wrangling continued up to the day before the vote to dissolve, with a settlement offer presented on Monday by the attorney for former owners Ron and Carol Asvestas. The offer suggested they would withdraw a 2009 lawsuit in exchange for being reinstated at their former $100,000 salaries and 11 months of lost wages.
While that opportunity seems to have gone by the wayside, the organization is still accepting donations to feed the animals until they are relocated, Straw said. “As far as donations go, we definitely need donations to keep on feeding the animals. Our goal is to find homes within 60 days. If we need to extend that goal, so be it, until we find homes for every animal. In the meantime, we need food, veterinary care, transport, and gas. ... We’ll continue to fundraise, but ideally we’d like to find a non-profit organization that will receive donations on our behalf and disperse them as needed.”
Northside drivers’ Public Enemy Number One was outed last week across San Antonio’s media spectrum shortly after Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas filed a lawsuit objecting to an application to proceed with the construction of a new interchange at perennially congested U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 without a full environmental study.
AGUA and equally catchy TURF (Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom) have been all over the area's highway-expansion plans for independent but complementary reasons. AGUA wants complete Environmental Impact Statements prepared due to the fact both highways — designated as hazardous cargo routes — cross the porous Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. TURF is fighting the double-taxation of privatized toll roads.
While the Express-News has cast the conflict as motorists-versus-cave bugs (the shy-for-a-reason karst invertebrates living in the Edwards that spur Endangered Species Act concerns, and thus, lend AGUA legal muscle) and all but issued a fatwa on AGUA Board President Enrique Valdivia (running his smirking mug under the editorial, “AGUA’s lawsuit clearly misguided”), don’t load up your truck bed with sacks of ammonium nitrate and set sail for Valdivia’s place just yet.
Try checking in with those who live in the interchange’s shadow. Hollywood Park Mayor Bob Sartor (local GOP precinct chair — no hugger of blind salamanders) said residents there object to the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority and TxDOT suggesting that there would be no negative effects from the interchange as designed. “We adamantly disagree with the Categorical Exclusion’s finding there are no ill health effects associated with this project. I haven’t found any that agree with the ARMA.” Nobody but the E-N’s influential editorial board, that is.
Next, consider that it was TxDOT (prodded on by Governor Perry) that chose back in 2002 to reconfigure the project as a toll project, sparking the original delaying turf war. “Ultimately, TxDOT and the bureaucrats answer to our politicians,” said Terri Hall, founder of TURF. “It really goes back to the governor and his toll-only agenda. That’s what this comes down to. There’s enough politicians, apparently, in Bexar County that are bending to … [Perry’s] will. That are willing to sacrifice all kinds of things in order to try to toll the living daylights out of the Northside.”
AGUA’s agenda, if guilty of a quest for control in demanding members be allowed to choose environmental consultants, is informed by past TxDOT efforts to manipulate data, a discovery that stalled the project again in 2008. “The interchange could have been built — and should have been built — years ago,” said AGUA Board Member Richard Alles. It has been the agency’s continued resistance to performing a comprehensive environmental analysis that is to blame.
More than beetles — more than even the health and safety of the sensitive aquifer all of us depend upon — the overpass lanes as proposed will also cross within 100 meters of St. Thomas Episcopal School, said Alles, a trained engineer who plotted the GIS points himself. “Some of the constituents of exhaust gas are going to be heavier than air,” he said. “A school like this is considered a ‘sensitive receptor.’”
And for the rest of you, this is just a reminder now: the interchange is not the “Super Street” (AKA US 281; AKA the slowest highway in America). It will not move you faster once you’ve been elevated and deposited again. That process is getting the full environmental review, as it should.*
[Calls to TxDOT's local public-information team were not immediately returned.]
Everybody knows stuff that costs more is better. Why buy a $3 jar of Smucker’s when there are $12 rhomboid-shaped jars of artisanal marmalade, chutney and fruit curd on the shelf? Plus it just feels good to treat oneself to luxury.
So who can blame our City Council for scoring San Antonio one hell of a status symbol in City Manager Sheryl Sculley, whose current salary already places her well above the national median for her position, and whose proposed increase would set her pay at a monocle-popping $355,000?
Just think of how envious LA* is going to be. Our City Manager is a rock star, dammit! She runs marathons. She has wisely replaced the high-caloric, sugary drinks in City buildings with delicious, healthful Diet Fanta (mit aspartame!). She's got dreams of getting San Antonio on the move and on the map. San Antonio is big time; we’re ballers.
Earlier this month Sculley presented a proposed balanced budget, which includes a generous 2% cost of living allowance for City employees and retirees, and an incentive-based pay increase for City execs (not to exceed 5% for any individual). The budget contains the typical feel-good language about cost-saving efficiencies, property tax freezes and improvements to infrastructure and emergency services. She's doing a heckuvajob. But $3355,000 a year? What else do we get for all this cheddar?
Not social services. Among the budget recommendations to fund programs like Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), there are also proposed cuts for other volunteer-staffed programs that help poor San Antonians learn ESL and study for their GED. Apparently it's just too costly to keep the buildings open on Saturdays … all of $332,000 costly.
Seems it doesn't really matter how you or I are doing economically. None of us needs to be told that these continue to be difficult times. Texas is overwhelmed with requests for food stamp aid — HHS just requested more than 1,500 new eligibility workers to deal with the onslaught. Locally, the San Antonio Food Bank has seen a significant increase in requests for assistance, many from folks who've never sought such services in their lives. Kinda makes a 12.7% pay bump seem a little excessive, no?
But at the end of the day, this isn't about Sheryl Sculley. We need to evaluate how City Council perceives “value.” While other cities across the country have subjected their city executives to furloughs and pay freezes, and working families are finding it damn near impossible to keep themselves clothed, housed, and fed, maybe it’s time to consider the wisdom of this rather exorbitant payday.
First there was a call for a federal investigation into Waste Control Specialists’ growing nuke waste dump in West Texas. The August 11 press release issued by the reliably anti-nuclear Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and SEED Coalition urged the EPA (or possibly the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) to take over the job of regulating Texas’ nuke trash storage and disposal from an inept Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the same way it had some of the state’s air-permitting activities.
In the release, Texas Public Citizen Director Tom “Smitty” Smith pointed out that the TCEQ Commissioners overruled their staff’s recommendation of license denial before then TCEQ Executive Director Glenn Shankle resigned to go work as a lobbyist for the dump. “How can we rely on a decision made by someone who goes to work for the regulated company six months later?” Smith asked. “Could his decision have anything to do with the fact that he may have been angling for a job with WCS?”
Texas state Representative Lon Burnam warned that state taxpayers could get hooked with the ultimate cleanup costs from the operation, which may sit atop the Ogallala Aquifer, the nation’s largest freshwater aquifer.
The grito was a success. SEED Director Karen Hadden said the coalition’s release ran in papers as far away as India, which may have contributed to the tone of WCS’s PR response of the following day.
Hadden had only recently settled with the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to appoint a treasurer for the No Bonds for Billionaires PAC, an Austin-based outfit used to oppose WCS’ effort to secure a bond from Andrews County voters. The Ethics Commission listed 15 “findings of fact” (PDF) supporting the allegation, and Hadden settled for $1,000.
Not only did WCS celebrate Hadden’s "outing" as a key anti-nuclear conspirator behind the No Bonds for Billionaires website, they took the opportunity to do some smearing of their own. Hadden, the WCS release states, is an “extremist” supporting a variety of "liberal causes." Of those suspect allegiances, the only one listed was Peace Action for Texas, through which Hadden has “actively protested against U.S. troops in Iraq.”
Karen chides the company for trying to turn a debate about public safety into something else. “It was appalling that they would respond to serious concerns about safety of the site with launching a tired and worn personal attack,” she said. “Obviously they’re very worried.”
And there are reasons for concern on the nuke front. In recent weeks, both WCS and an effort to expand the South Texas (nuclear) Project in South Texas have been cited by federal and state regulators.
In Matagorda County, NRC investigators alleged in an August 13 letter that the nuke plant operators had failed to accurately characterize the ability of the proposed Units 3 & 4 to withstand an attack by an aircraft. The Current reported last year about past federal studies that attempted to quantify the loss of life such an attack could mean (See “Risky Business,” September 30, 2009). The federal Notice of Violation states the company “did not use realistic analyses” for elements of it’s Aircraft Impact Assessment and “did not fully identify and incorporate into the design those design features and functional capabilities credited.” The company was given 30 days to respond.
Meanwhile, WCS was cited by the TCEQ for storing some of the most radioactive waste allowable under its permit conditions for more than 365 days. The violation followed the discovery of inch-wide cracks in the asphalt pad on which the radioactive waste is stored.
Austin-based attorney Marisa Perales is handling a Sierra Club legal challenge to the TCEQ Commissioners’ denial of the group’s request for an evidentiary hearing on the license approval. She said the first part of the appeal has been pending for more than a year with 261st District Judge Lora Livingston. But there is no injunction that would wastes from being disposed in the meantime, Perales said.
Earlier this year, the commission overseeing the disposal of Texas and Vermont civilian-generated wastes, a curious bi-state arrangement that grew out of federal efforts in the 1990s to make states to take responsibility for their stockpiling radioactive waste streams, attempted to develop rules that would guide the disposal of wastes from outside the two states, potentially leading to a de-facto national dump for so-called low-level wastes. However, intense public and political pressure forced the commission to hit the pause button.
And while state newspapers have recently taken to running stories about how much money Perry’s appointed regents have funneled to his campaign coffers, few have chosen to dig into the TCEQ dump approval in spite of more than $600,000 kicked to Perry over the past decade by WCS owner and Dallas billionaire (and certified "Evil Genius") Harold Simmons.
So, can expect the EPA to intervene? In a prepared release, a spokesperson for the regional EPA office wrote:
Hundreds of San Antonio residents who sued the U.S. Air Force over toxic contamination impacting their homes will soon be sharing in $1,000 slices of federal settlement gains. Yet, the mystery of elevated cancers and other health complaints around the former military base remains — as do toxics in the community.
A state fishing advisory has been expanded on the Lower Leon Creek, which winds past the base’s western boundary. And recent sampling found the infamous pesticide DDT in the water and sediment at levels expected to cause damage to aquatic life there.
Funded by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a researcher from Texas A&M’s Health Science Center will be sampling soils at 10 homes in the Kelly area this fall for DDT. Associate Professor Thomas McDonald says he is studying an array of issues across South Texas for his report Border Environmental Health and Toxicological Education Research Programs, and plans to complete the Kelly-area work begun by his former boss, K.C. Donnelly, who died of cancer of the esophagus last summer.
Robert Alvarado has long been a fixture at meetings about the toxic contaminants discovered to be spreading under area homes in the 1990s. Today he is waiting for a new kidney and thinking about funeral expenses. While he once thought he could see justice for affected residents in his lifetime, he now hopes that his death will bring clarity to the debate.
“Even if I’m gone, I still want to leave something behind. People can read why I felt [this] about my sickness,” he said. “I think it’s going to continue until somebody really gets sick and winds up in the middle of the creek dying from this contamination.”
The Air Force’s settlement, announced last week, is not for alleged health impacts affecting residents but a violation of the homeowners’ property-rights by the underground plume. About 400 residents will be paid roughly $1,300, depending on their property value.
If (White, Christian) American is sick of anything more than (Brown, possibly Muslim) America, it’s the bait-and-switch reports of the ever-coming economic recovery. Every trend daring to hint at improvement has an economic lens shoved so far up its backside that it offers up whatever conclusions the fund-hungry researcher requires.
Over in Houston, an influx of new residents and increase of homes going on the market are signs of the end (of the recession). Unanswered is how many of these new residents were fleeing BP’s Gulf fires and the oil-industry obliteration of coastal livelihoods? That is: are they really refugees a la Katrina?
Texas Parks & Wildlife is boasting of the renewed popularity of camping workshops among Texas families without letting on how many of the more than 1,000 families trained in the rudiments of setting up camp and bagging perfect perch are the economy-crushed of the vanishing middle class. How many plan to use their new skills to survive hunter-gatherer style in parks across the state.
(One can’t help but wonder how many of the kids lingering on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ waiting list could one day wind up training subsistence-style in one of SA’s city parks. At least the state has a program for them. Priced at $55 per family, it’s a steal.)
Joining the rosy wallpaper club, the Express-News enjoyed a personal sit-down with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano but chose to keep things simple.
They spoke of how the just-passed border security bill will bring more drones and agents to la linea, about the right-left ‘rassle over immigration reform, and mention exactly one dead Texas rancher. But, judging form the story out today, staff failed to pose the most pressing question: is the escalating policy of “prevention through deterrence” responsible for thousands of dead migrants along the border?
Instead of demanding, in spite of resistance from the rampant xenophobes of our New America, Dems have allowed themselves to be pushed into a “militarize-lite” version of what the Right would advocate. And we’re not asking why.
From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:
Last week, Google and Verizon came out with a controversial policy recommendation in an attempt to solve the dispute over net neutrality. Our readers may remember a short blog I wrote in May about a battle over internet regulation between Comcast and the FCC—a battle that Google and Verizon hope to end with this proposal.
The short agreement outlines principles for dealing with the regulation of data flow on the internet. It specifies a limited role for the FCC, which would adjudicate conflicts on a case-by-case basis, based on standards created by what the agreement calls “independent, widely-recognized Internet community government initiatives.” It also sets out basic consumer protections for internet service, barring internet service providers (ISPs) from preventing anyone from using broadband internet in lawful ways.
The agreement also demands transparency from ISPs—insisting they “disclose accurate and relevant information in plain language about the characteristics… of their… services necessary for consumers and others to make informed choices.” It ends with recommendations for the government to support the development of internet in low-income areas.
This sounds like a promising step toward ensuring equitable and universal internet access. However, many internet watchdogs are up in arms over the proposal. “Advocates of net neutrality will look at these documents and charge betrayal,” insists blogger Matthew Lasar. Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lobbying group, claims the agreement includes some “really terrible ideas.”
The crux of the criticism is this: While promising on its face, Google and Verizon’s agreement contains exceptions and ambiguities that could undermine what it claims to protect.
First, let’s talk about these “independent initiatives” the agreement charges with developing rules for acceptable data management. Individuals from within the industry would populate these groups, which is promising; they have the expertise to create good rules, which is more than can be said for Congress (remember when the late Senator Ted Stevens (RIP), at the time in charge of regulating the internet, described it as “a series of tubes”?). And yet these individuals are likely to come from major ’net players and could be beholden to their corporate interests, with little accountability. Say what one will about the FCC, but at the end of the day it answers to us. Independent committees? Maybe not so much.
“Prioritization of internet traffic would be presumed inconsistent with the non-discrimination standard, but the presumption could be rebutted,” says the proposal (italics mine), in the statement that most troubles watchdogs. Those who lobby for net neutrality argue specifically against prioritization of internet traffic, saying that if companies are allowed to prioritize traffic at their discretion, they will use it purely for profit, charging higher for better and specialized internet access. Net neutrality is directly opposed to this “tiered” approach to the internet.
The same section of the agreement suggests a category of “additional or differentiated” services, a term left vague, but one that could essentially be used to create a second tier of internet service. Ironically, as Lasar points out, Google itself has previously argued against this idea: “If a last-mile broadband provider dedicates only a small slice of its broadband capacity to the open Internet while reserving the vast majority of the network’s capacity for proprietary ‘specialized’ services, the public interest would be compromised.”
Finally, the agreement includes a glaring exception for wireless broadband, exempting it from all but the transparency requirements. Wireless internet is fast becoming the go-to way to access the internet. It’s also already the most non-neutral form of internet access, with frequent bandwidth limitations. If any form of network access needs regulation, it’s wireless.
What happens now is uncertain. Google and Verizon have adopted the proposal as statements of their own policy from here on out, and they’re requesting the FCC turn it into law. Whether or not it does, the two companies will likely do everything they can to influence other major internet firms to adopt similar policies and collaborate in Google and Verizon’s version of self-regulation.
And why do Google and Verizon care so much in the first place? Money. The vast majority of Google’s profits come from online advertising revenue, giving them a vested interest in how the internet is accessed. And Verizon is a major ISP, providing internet to more than 92 million people.
Google is famous for its informal corporate motto, “Don’t be evil,” an acknowledgment of the self-serving behavior of many corporations. But with policy suggestions like this, how well they ascribe to their own motto is increasingly coming into question.
Future dropout? Meet City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s proposed City budget for 2011. Y’all can, like, hang out in the garage for a little bit together, but then you’ll have to go.
Future Baby Momma? Yeah, I know the rec center is closing early these days because of the budget cuts. But we’ve got a date with an old coke buddy and don’t want you around. Can’t you find an abandoned loading dock somewhere to hang with your friends?
Wannabe gangster? For the last time, no, Big Brothers doesn’t have a mentor for you. Now shove off. The Street will look after you.
Under the City’s proposed 2011 budget, a thousand at-risk San Antonio children will linger on a growing waiting list for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas mentors even as City leaders lament out sky-high teen pregnancy and dropout rates.
For the second year in a row, BBBS has been zeroed out of the City’s budget, meaning that dozens of kids that otherwise would have been paired with a caring adult volunteer and begun learning key life skills … won’t.
It’s hard for BBBS President & CEO Denise Barkhurst to understand.
“I’ve been here 13 years. We met with every single councilperson including all their staffers during the past year to ask why our budget had been cut for the current budget cycle. No one really knew why,” Barkhurst said. Of course, when the 2010 budget was put together, there was no CEO at BBBS. The group was in the midst of a transition in leadership.
After she was named, Barkhurst started trying to get in to see the director of community initiatives to get the group’s funding restored. It took six months to get the meeting, and then then-director Dennis Campa said he wanted “more information on which kids you’re serving,” Barkhurst recalled.
“I said, ‘I can send you more information about the kids we’re serving … We’re serving kids in poverty, living in homes affected by incarceration of a family member, sometimes both parents.’ I’m not really sure what he was talking about.”
It was troubling, because the City and BBBS had a long-standing relationship. For at least 10 years, the City had committed anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 to the program. It takes about $1,000 per year to serve each child by trainings mentors and managing those relationships.
“We’re a little disappointed because we have been working with the City on its dropout initiative, knowing that kids in our program, statistically, research has proven are more likely to graduate, stay in school, stay out of trouble,” she said.
She’s supported by statistics culled from BBBS literature, such as the following:
Council (and cretinous Council watchers) got an introduction to the City Manager’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year this morning, one which, perhaps unsurprisingly, balances itself on expected revenues from San Antonio’s powerhouse CPS Energy and its magically* inflating natural-gas prices.
The $2.3-billion budget holds property taxes steady at their current rate and keeps the SA employee ranks relatively stable (with a 2-percent, across-the-board cost-of-living adjustment), yet makes it into the black in another economically stilted year on the promise that CPS will make up the difference. Of course, many of you may remember the relatively warm winter** we just went through. A warm winter that would have saved you money on heating had the City-owned utility not artificially* bumped their natural gas charges to make up for Sr. Frost’s case of missing chill.
By keeping property taxes static at 56.569 per $100 property valuation, City Manager Sheryl Scully said she expects a dip in property tax-related revenue of about $5 million, or roughly 2 percent. Sales tax is also expected to return less this year. So, new CPS CEO Doyle Beneby, who got a gracious welcome from individual Council members, the pressure is on to tax the city on the sly again since forecasts suggest another warmer-than-normal winter is on tap for the region. Said Scully: “We’re counting on Doyle and his team to maintain a well-run utility.”
There are still a slew of budget meetings ahead for budget hawks (and doves … see bottom), but Mayor Julián Castro predicted the CM’s handiwork will pass pretty much as is when it comes back for a final vote September 16.
While the total budget is trimmed by a neat $12 mil, Scully is suggesting $5.5 $1.5 million go to Haven for Hope [bringing, if adopted, City's total commitment to date to $5.5 million], while $830,000 worth of other city services are proposed to be axed. There are also some sneaky “fee adjustments” (read, increases) that would be made to medical transport and parks fees.
Other highlights include:
As a good friend announced to her family she was headed to Mexico for some R&R, her sweet abuelita objected. “It’s not safe,” peeped the timorous voice at the head of the table. “I’m not going to the border,” my friend clarified, and the family around the table visibly relaxed.
One would have thought we were talking about Afghanistan in the rainy season.
So, who would have guessed, despite news of dramatic shootouts, beheadings, and mass graves, Mexico’s murder rate is actually down from a decade ago, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. (That's pretty sobering news ... unless you happen to traffic in human rights or journalism, two career paths strongly discouraged by the drug cartels these days.)
And despite Texas Governor Perry’s grandstanding on the issue yesterday, things are even rosier on the U.S. side of La Linea. According to what is being billed as the first ever safety poll of border dwellers, the Border Network for Human Rights reports that more than 86 percent of border residents said they feel safe walking and driving in their neighborhoods. I’d wager that’s as good or better as folks in many parts of San Antonio.
Of the 1,222 residents surveyed from California to Texas, another 70 percent said they felt their neighborhood was probably as safe as any in the U.S. Of course, respondents in El Paso, recently ranked as one of the safest large cities in the United States, would be wrong on that point, but in their own secure point of favor.
So we ask: why do we need the U.S. National Guard and round-the-clock drone surveillance from San Diego to Brownsville?
“Politicians creating border policies need to talk to the people who actually live at the border instead of listening to pundits and opportunistic politicians set to score political points by fanning the perception that the border is out of control,” said Fernando García, director of the Border Network, in a prepared release. “It is time to rethink our border policy by increasing the quality and accountability of border enforcement, not the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border.”
Yeah, we get there are hot spots in Texas. Isolated spots like Fabens come to mind. But these years of fear mongering and macho posturing are getting a little tired.
Watching the regulatory kabuki up in North Texas can’t inspire a lot of confidence in the increasing number of South Texans leasing their land for so-called “non-traditional” natural gas development in the subterranean Eagle Ford shale.
Late last month, the industry’s PR front organization, the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, released a little report that could have been titled, Frack Gas: Good For You Or What?, and branded with big double-thumbs up.
Dutifully reported as a news nugget by the Fort Worth Business Press, the totally underwhelming finding of industry’s contracted environmental engineers? Natural gas drilling put “some contaminants” into the air, but “not at levels that would cause any health concerns,” Titan Engineering wrote.
Even when the readings ran red-hot — such as was the case when formaldehyde was detected at levels that activist/blogger Sharon Wilson charted at nearly three times Houston Ship Channel’s worst — they were rationalized away in the gas company’s favor.
South Texas political blogs
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