Here is some quick math on the latest hyperbole from the
industry about the costs of Denton’s fracking ban. This all comes from their
own numbers on the recent smiling school kids mailer.
They claim oil and
gas contributed $1.26 billion to the Permanent
School Fund last fiscal year. There are 304,000 active oil and gas wells in
Texas. Clearly, oil wells will produce more revenue for this fund than natural
gas wells – Denton doesn’t have oil wells. But let’s assume all wells produce
the same returns. That would be $4,144 per well to this fund. That would mean
Denton’s 281 gas wells contribute $1.16 million to the fund.
Now even after the ban, Denton’s gas wells will continue in
production. New wells won’t be fracked and old wells won’t be re-fracked.
Drilling can still occur. It’s hard to say how that will all work out in the
future. But let’s take an extreme scenario and assume that lost revenue from
fracking after the ban will be equivalent to shutting down all of our wells.
Again, that’s extreme and it won’t happen…but let’s give them the benefit of
the doubt to help inflate their numbers.
So, assume we lose that $1.16 million contribution to the
state fund annually. That fundpays out
on its interest, which is about 10%. So, that’s $116,000. Now, that loss would
be spread across the state’s 5 million school children. That amounts to an
annual hit of 2 cents per student. The entire cost to DISD would be $540.
Now, the industry likes to talk in terms of ten year
periods. So, that would be $5,400.
On their latest mailer, they claim the ban will cost DISD
$28.6 million over ten years. That’s 5,296x higher than what even a generous
reckoning seems to show. The mailer directs you to their website, but there is
no mention there of this $28.6 million figure.*actually see below*
Gosh, maybe they really don’t care about our children and
are just using their smiling faces as a smokescreen to hide their total BS?
If oil and gas is such a windfall for our schools, why does
49th in the country on per-student spending? If this boom is such a
big deal, why has state funding DECREASED over the past two years by $1,000
per-student? And did you know that the two leaders of the opposition to the ban
make more from mineral wealth than our entire school district? You can look
that up here.
Could it be that this isn’t really about our schools or our
children at all? Might it be that this is about highly concentrated profits for
the very few and the very powerful?
After the confusion about their giant figure wore off, anger
took its place. How dare they do this?! They are trying to scare us into voting
against the health and safety of our children. They are saying that somehow
toxic emissions and blowout hazards right next to our homes and schools is good
for our kids. On balance, this is a positive thing!? All the pollution and
risks are worth it?!
Denton parents and grandparents are the LAST people who
deserve to get lectured about suffering for the greater good. Every child in
Texas benefits from this school fund, whether or not they have oil and gas
wells in their town – or in their back yards. We’ve got 281 of them. Many
cities don’t have any. If you crammed all of Texas’ gas wells into the 7% of
our land area that is metropolitan, Denton would still have 3x the number of
wells as the average city.
We are doing far more than our fair share for this fund.
But here’s the beauty of it. Once we ban fracking and we
start building home sites rather than frack sites, we’ll generate way more revenue
for our schools. The fact that Texas is ranked 49th despite
contributing oil and gas revenues to schools is a good indication that this is
not a healthy model for school funding. It is far better to have a robust local
economy with a strong tax base, which is precisely what the ban will help us
*I finally found the infamous $28.6 million figure buried in Appendix D of page 23 of the bogus Perryman Report, which is linked to their site. This appears to be a sleight of hand. This is their estimated increase in tax receipts for DISD from increased drilling activity. But it is NOT the figure they give for lost tax revenue for DISD from the ban. That figure - which is in bold and underlined in red up front on the executive summary is just $4.6 million. If they really thought the $28.6 figure was the cost of the ban, you can be sure they would have put that up front in bold and red.
Most of their assumed losses from the ban are from property taxes. But their own figures show that every acre of fracked land generates less than 25% of the tax revenues of an acre of residential development. Plus homes appreciate in value over time. Frack sites depreciate.
If you want long-term, solid tax revenues for schools, fracking would be low on your list of choices.
Build home sites, not frack sites. Less pollution, more tax revenues for schools.