Conservation farm sold to miner

Discussion in 'News from around the damp planet' started by matto, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    This is legal???!!!
     
  2. altamira55

    altamira55 Junior Member

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    No, it's not strictly legal, but my only peaceful recourse is to file a lawsuit against the TRC and the oil well operator. I would have to sue both parties, because my only evidence that the TRC told the operator to till in the oil would be the testimony of the operator. He would not be wililng to testify unless it was to save himself. However, he would not want to get on the wrong side of the TRC. I might win against the operator, and he might have to dig out all the contaiminated soil and replace it with clean soil; but this would lead to the operator doing other things to harm me, such as running noisy pumps (not regulated at all) and venting H2S into the air, which is not regulated to any meaningful extent. Also, the well is already releasing H2S and probably also benzene and other harmful chemicals into the underground water. The EPA and TRC are butting heads about this. The EPA provided what looks to me like irrefutable evidence that an oil well was polluting ground water. The TRC disputed this and further more, claimed that the EPA has no right to interfere with oil wells in the State of Texas. The current federal administration is going soft on the oil industry anyhow, for various reasons. I can understand and sympathize with their reasons: when we run out of cheap oil, the culture will have to change drastically, and, aside from the people on the very bottom of the socio-economic heap, few people want drastic change.

    When you have industry and government teamed up against small landholders, it's pretty much pre-ordained that the small landholders will be screwed. The US courts have always based their decisions on "the common good" or "in the best interest of the public." In the 1800's, taking farm land and giving it to railroad companies was in the "best interest of the public." Now, destroying water, air, and soil biota is "in the best interest of the public." What the "common good" and "in the best interest of the public" really mean in this context is "in the best interest of the ruling elite."

    It's all very disheartening. If "the public" actually realized what was in their best longterm interest, this kind of thing wouldn't happen, but people don't tend to think beyond the moment, and they also have a strong, seemingly hard-wired tendency to believe that things will always be the way they are. Right now, people in the city turn on the tap, and potable water comes out; and if it doesn't, someone will fix it within a few days or hours. It's very, very difficult for them to imagine anything else.

    One small example of how short-sighted people are: I have to use flush toilets at my office, not only because the city would shut me down if I didn't, but also because my staff and clients would be absolutely horrified at the thought of using a composting toilet. So I'm forced to flush hundreds of gallons of potable water down the toilet each month. People's attachment to flush toilets is almost religious in its fervor.
     
  3. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    Wow...struggling to understand how things work there. Here you would report it to the EPA and they would pursue it. The site would have to be cleaned up and remediated. In our town the site of an old petrol station which had some soil contaminated with car oil is now a fenced off area almost unsaleable because of the costs of the requirement to deal with the contamination by any potential developer. Incredible that you don't have systems to deal with environmental pollution that actually work for the environment. :(
     
  4. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    it's funny in an ironic way, certainly not in the overall effect, a friend of mine owned an old gas station but had stopped selling gas and just did repair work--the epa came by and found minute traces of gas in the soil around the old tanks and they took out dumploads of soil to be remediated --cost him thousands, and he claimed the pollution was actually from a couple tanks a few hundred feet uphill on a different property that they did nothing to--My bet is the oil companies wanted that spot actively distributing their product and pulled strings to put pressure on him

    a big corporation would have regulators turning blind eyes toward their infractions

    almost seems like the merchant of venice, and they should be forced to try and take their pound of flesh without spilling/ contaminating a drop of blood, or damaging any other system

    and as bad as oil is, west virginia is an ongoing war zone,, i forget the tonnage of explosives going off every day in the coal mining operations, underground coal fires through pennsylvania

    and the kicker is we could remediate these sites with permaculture fairly easily at this point. If it turns out you have to take care of that site, paul stamets would be the one to contact

    you could probably turn that into a field of oyster mushrooms that could easily be eaten (assuming no heavy metal contamination)

    I really think they have ignored possible solutions to the problems they create just because it proves to them they are on the wrong path
     
  5. altamira55

    altamira55 Junior Member

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    Same thing as with the petrol station would happen here with a small business. But the oil producers can do no wrong.
     
  6. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    from some of the stuff i've been reading, there are some interesting "in situ" bioremediations that are available and comparably less expensive then the traditional treatments--i believe my friend said they had to put the mountain of soil they dug up from his place through an oven of some kind to remove the hydrocarbons--is this a case of epa regulations around remediation not keeping pace with the technology?
     
  7. altamira55

    altamira55 Junior Member

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    I very much like the idea of bioremediation. I had never heard of Paul Stamets before. Am watching a video interview now. Very intersting stuff! And makes me feel more optimistic than I have been in a while.
     
  8. poorboy

    poorboy Junior Member

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    Money, economy. What a concept. Until things get bad enough so that money has no worth, I don't see things changing much. Get them to stop one bad thing and find out they've already got 3 bad replacements in the works.

    Money is the mycelium that binds a network of evil.

    Keep on practicing what you preech and preechin what you practice.
     
  9. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    hope this makes you feel a little better helenlee, Stuart Wilde mentioned in an interview that Greenpeace told him that emissions have dropped 50% since the 2008 recession due to, well, less money to make crap we really don't need!
    so what Mother Earth really needs is a destroyed economy, it may sound ''anarchistic'' to some but I care more for nature and earth than a materialistic human world
     
  10. altamira55

    altamira55 Junior Member

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    Although I am not happy with the current state of the economy, I would not want to live in a pure barter economy. Money as a medium exchange is an extremely useful concept. The dominant cultural values are at the root of the problem, not money per se.

    It's not ALL bad. I attended a continuing legal education seminar today on the topic of surface agreements with oil well operators (one of the ways I spend time is providing legal services for small businesses). One of the speakers was with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center. I knew that the region where I live is a very special place, being at the intersection of three distinct ecological regions: the Great Plains, the humid Gulf Coast, and the Mexican subtropics, but I hadn't been aware of the numbers -- 650 species of vertebrates, 2200 species of plants, and more insect species than have been counted. I am always amazed at how many kinds of insect I see that I've never seen before. We're the second most biologically diverse region in the U.S. which makes it especially important to control what the oil operators do to the land and water in this area. It's great to know how many people see the value of preserving the wildlife diversity, and that help is there for people who want to restore their land after it's been damaged. The Kleberg Center certifies seed for use in the region. This is necessary, because in addition to being the correct species of plant to provide habitat for the native wildlife, you have to use seeds from plants that have adapted to our climate. For example, if you use seed from Little Bluestem that was collected in Kansas or in north Texas, it won't thrive in south Texas, even though it's the same species as our native Little Bluestem. The speaker had a great illustration that showed a field of Old Country Bluestem (a European strain) and a parking lot. He said that from a wild quail's POV, both plots of ground would be about the same. Using seeds of native plants adapted to our region, you can restore sites to the point where the biological diversity returns to the pre-oil well status within a few years.

    The same could be said for land that's been damaged in the way my neighbor has damaged his land by scraping all all the native plants and planting grass that is not well-adapted to the type of soil (nor is it useful for most of the wild animals). As, I think, songbird commented, my land that's been left undamaged could be a source of perfectly adapted plants for my neighbor's land, should he wish to restore it. If he were to just leave it alone, nature could do the job for him, but it would take longer than if he gave nature some help.

    Private land owners and privately funded organizations such as the Kleberg Center do more to protect the land and its wild inhabitants than either the state or federal government; and the owners of mineral rights can structure leases that have strict requirements for what the oil well operator can do at any point from exploration through drilling, production, and final capping of the well when production is finished. Good surface agreements (from the POV of the surface owner and wildlife) are becoming more common in highly productive areas, as the owners of mineral rights get more money so they can afford to hire competent legal assistance.

    My own land is in a marginally productive area. Operators work on very tight budgets, and mineral owners don't become millionaires. So they don't tend to get competent legal advice. The operator of the well on my land is a crook (for example, he has done prison time for forgery). He talked a bunch of German suckers into investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the oil well project, by lying about how much oil the well would produce. The crook is now in bankruptcy, and the limited liability company that actually owns the well is barely making enough money to cover operating expenses. Naturally, the German investors are furious. I bought the land from an old man to whom the operator paid $1,000 to pretty much sign away any rights he had to the surface. The agreement was not binding on me, so I've been able to exert some control over what the operator does, but without a strong surface agreement my options are limited. As long as I can keep them from venting H2S into my back yard and from dumping oil into the surface water (the state DOES object to overt contamination of surface water, which is owned by the state), I believe I can deal with the residual contamination from the fracking pond and oil spills. One of the things I can do for the region as a whole is to offer pro bono services to land owners who cannot afford competent legal help with negotiating oil leases.
     
  11. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    that argument only suggests the possibility that as long as money is inspiring crooks and villains to do their dastardly deeds, it can also inspire conservation and environmental causes, it does not really disprove poorboys eloquent poetry--namely eliminate money, eliminate crooks and villains and have no dastardly deeds that you need money to atone for

    But of course no argument is really that simple, the real argument is to produce such an abundance that people living in eden will have no need/desire to fight or steal or pollute--which perhaps goes to the second part of the poem- practice what you preach and preach what you practice
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    you're a gem Altamira! : )
     
  13. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    and getting back to the first part of this topic, isn't there any requirement on the part of the mining company to preserve the existing topsoil of an area and then to restore the property when they're done mining an area?
     

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