Spent a good deal of time last night staring out the window at the remnants of the latest storm; which by its' arrival from California, had dwindled to a half-assed mix of rain and snow. Even with the dull brown of winter still covering the pastures, the view from the Mesa is spectacular- and will be even more glorious in the coming weeks, as everything begins to 'green-up'.
Spring usually brings a measure of optimism with her; which is one of my favorite things about living in a state with actual seasons. As the days gradually become longer, and the weather less severe, folks turn their attention to spending more time outdoors and planting gardens, while I start obsessing about when the bears will wake up and lumber over the hill to see if I have the potential to provide a tasty meal. I'm guessing I have too much fat, but there is an endless list of things for a former Californian to be scared of.
This year, many North Fork residents are greeting spring with a sense of angst, along with a renewed vow to take on a fight we don't know if we can win.
We're trying to protect ourselves from becoming another statistic in the world of oil and gas development- attempting to keep our valley a safe place to grow organic food, live a peaceful life and remain a location where residents can responsibly earn a living from their land. We'd like to continue to provide produce, wine, honey, livestock, natural fibers, art, music and film to those who seek the area out as a place to live or visit, but that is being threatened by the recent BLM decision to move forward with the sale of 80% of the leases that were in question, choosing to ignore the thousands of citizens who have come forward to voice their concerns; basing their decision on environmental 'findings' from the 1980's.
Taxpayers in the area have gotten screwed by the oil and gas industry already- Two of the major players, SG Interests and Gunnison Energy were recently fined $550,000 for colluding on lease bids, which means they defrauded taxpayers out of the potential revenue that would have been generated from the sale of mineral leases, when they agreed not to bid competitively, but split those leases.
Can you smile and say Anti-trust?
So now, it's not just the risk to the environment that causes us grief- it's the fact that the guys clamoring for the leases are lying cheating greedy bastards.
I did some internet snooping and found that SG Interests is a group from Houston, TX.
Here's a link to a little info on them.
Russell Gordy, who is listed as their President, has been spreading cash around, so getting dinged for a few hundred thousand in fines is most likely no big deal.
But here's something odd...under their list of campaign and political contributions, it shows more cash donations to donkeys than to elephants. Contributions to Republicans: 31,400. Contributions to Democrats: 164,600. This didn't make any sense; but upon closer look, I find they're lying about that, too. Go back to Russell's page, and click on the 'see more contributions'- it will list them individually, and you'll see the tidy sum of 150,000 going to a 'Democratic' group called THE FIRST AMENDMENT ALLIANCE. Democrats? Are you fracking kidding? If this is a Democratic Group then I'm going to join facebook just so I can 'like' Newt Gingrich and his 2.50 gallon gas. What I'm trying to say is these guys are better at fiction than I'll ever be.
Here's the paperwork for the contribution, so you can see it yourself.
and looky what People for the American Way have to say about The First Amendment Alliance...they say, (practicing my most shocked expression) that this is a front for the (GASP) Oil and Gas Industry!
It's not enough that the industry ruins the land, trashes the roads, contaminates the water, threatens the local farming economy, creates an incessant amount of dirt and noise, doesn't want to disclose the chemicals they're injecting into the earth, but they lie. Over and over again. They lie about jobs, they lie about environmental impact, they lie about what they spend, and how they spend it.
That's why we can surmise these guys are corrupt and cannot be trusted. If they were honorable, and the good stewards of the environment they profess to be, they wouldn't have to lie, cheat and steal.
They are NOT good citizens, and until we start putting CEO's in jail instead of handing over wrist-slapping fines, nothing will change. Once upon a time, it happened in the paper industry- sending a handful of corporate execs to prison for anti-trust violations got everyone's attention, and business practices changed.
I don't guess it will change until we get outraged enough to elect some folks who are not on the payout list...and sadly, most people don't pay that much attention.