Friday, February 24, 2012

New York State Court Affirms Municipal Power

Propublica has a good story (with many helpful links) on a decision by a New York State Court affirming the power of local municipalities to regulate fracking. This is potentially sets a major precedent for similar cases.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Report on Shale Gas from UT at Austin

The Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin has just come out with a report about the health and environmental impacts of shale gas. The report is intended as a summary of what is known but leaves much to be desired - for example, it does not provide citations to the original research articles that it discusses!

This is odd for a group has wholly swallowed the linear model of science policy: Get the facts straight and the rational, best policy will follow.

The only problem is that we are in post-normal science here: scientific studies are being used as ammunition in political debates. So, the question is: whose science, which facts? Given that as the situation, we need to explicitly handle the moral and political questions and make decisions in a climate of uncertainty. Our position has always been: city government should prioritize health and well-being. There is insufficient evidence to conclude that shale gas development aligns with this priority to further permit the status quo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Fracking Law in PA

A new fracking law in Pennsylvania has many up in arms - it only awaits the governor's signature to take effect. At issue seems to be: the power of municipalities to regulate oil and gas development and the power of doctors to divulge information about toxic exposures.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gas Plant in Denton

Today's DRC top story by Lowell Brown covers the planned CHP power plant near the airport. Two issues are central. 1. Process: A transcript from the state legislative session with City Attorney Anita Burgess suggests that a local vote was bypassed in favor of state legislation in order to appease corporations. 2. Substance: A CHP plant certainly is better than a traditional gas plant (only electricity) or a coal plant. But are those the only options? Seems like a foregone conclusion that what Denton ought to do is attract more industry and to do that we need the energy infrastructure in place. But is this how we should develop? Do we want more industry? Do we want to have a major power plant here? Seems like important questions that - to tie it to the process issue - perhaps a local vote could have generated a discussion about. Instead, it seems as though it is fated: a big power plant is coming and industry will follow. This is one thing Marx got right - most of the really important decisions are classifed as 'economic' rather than 'political' so that democracy is confined to window-dressing around a taken-for-granted techno-economic imperative to grow.