Bill Pushed by Texas Republicans, Big Oil, Disgustingly Sets Out to Directly Undermine Democracy

greg-abbott-texas-1In this country we have several ways in which we use our voting power. We elect House representatives to represent each of our individual districts; we elect senators to represent our state; and we let the popular vote within each state determine which presidential candidate gets that state’s electoral votes, which ultimately decides who becomes president.

But the truest form of democracy is found when citizens are allowed to vote on individual issues directly. You see this most often at the very local level, but sometimes it’s done on the state level as well. While an elected representative might break campaign promises, a citizen directly voting on something is possibly the truest form of what democracy is all about – especially when it comes to issues impacting our local communities. After all, who knows our communities better than we do?

Well, a new bill that’s almost certainly going to become law in Texas sets out to directly undermine democracy in one of the most brazen ways I’ve seen in recent memory.

Last fall the town of Denton, TX (just north of Dallas) voted to ban fracking within city limits. Again, in the truest form of democracy, the majority of the citizens of Denton voted to ban the controversial drilling practice within their community. And the vote wasn’t even close – it passed 59-41, which is about as “overwhelming” as you get in today’s political world.

Democracy wins, right? Not exactly.

Almost immediately following this vote, Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick said she was going to ignore the ban, claiming it wasn’t up to Denton or its residents whether or not fracking takes place within city limits.

Well, if this new bill passes (which it will), it will prohibit cities and towns in Texas from passing similar bans on fracking.

In other words, if local residents don’t want their town ruined by fracking – too bad. Basically, big oil and gas didn’t like the fact that this ban was passed, or that other cities and towns might pass similar bans, therefore the politicians they’ve bought and paid for are going to make sure these bans are deemed “illegal.”

“Small government” Republicans strike again; nothing says “we support small government and the voice of the people” quite like using the state government to override local communities, and the people living in those communities. This bill will effectively end any way for local residents to oppose the highly controversial drilling method that’s been linked to contaminated drinking water and a drastic increase in earthquakes.

What’s even more comical is Republicans in the state are framing the ban passed by Denton as “big government.” Tell me, what’s bigger government:

  • Local residents within a community overwhelmingly voting to ban something they don’t want allowed in their city. – or – 
  • The state government passing a law that overrides local voter and bans communities from blocking big oil companies from ruining their communities.

It’s absolutely disgusting.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • ManifestoDem

    Brilliant article. More poignant illustrations of how clinical cognitive dissonance infects the GOP mind and way of thinking.

    • strayaway

      “Despite its name, it no longer regulates railroads.””Established by the Texas Legislature in 1891, (the Texas Railroad Commission) is the state’s oldest regulatory agency and began as part of the Efficiency Movement of the Progressive Era…. With an annual budget of $79 million, it now focuses entirely on oil, gas, mining, propane, and pipelines, setting allocations for production each month.” -Wikipedia

      Similar articles could also be written about President Obama changing and ignoring ‘uniform’ naturalization laws passed by Congress or trying to fast track secretive and corporatist TPP legislation. Similar articles could also be written about mission creep in other government agencies such as Homeland Security, a bureaucratic praetorian guard agency implementing executive orders of late, that has expanded its duties from protecting the United States from and responding to terrorist attacks, man-made accidents, and natural disasters to registering economic invaders to work in the US.

      • Michael O’Brien

        The fact that you make some good points is nullified by the foil hat wearing conspiracy theories.

      • strayaway

        Specifically, what were the “foil hat wearing conspiracy theories” mentioned?

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  • Macdoodle

    Looks like Hillary has problems with this donor for favors scandal.I think her goose will be cooked before she even gets the nomination.

    • Pipercat

      Cool, I’ll file it right after Benghazi and email server…

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      yeah sure….drone on

  • Macdoodle

    I sure like paying 2.25 a gallon for gas.We are no longer dependent on places like Iran or Saudi Arabia.Drill baby drill and keep up the fracking.

    • FD Brian

      actually you are paying 2.25 for gas because the Arab nations are pumping crude at higher levels which is driving the cost of crude down. As a matter of fact there are places that stopped pumping oil in the US once the price fell. So you are wrong about that.

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      Didn’t Newt Gingrich have a plan to get gas to $2.50 when he was running for Pres? America sure is glad we didn’t elect another dumb Repubelican.

      • Michael O’Brien

        I think the number was under three, but yes we are much better off for not electing something from the GOP pool.

    • Michael O’Brien

      Quit eating paint chips!

  • OrdinaryGuy

    As a citizen of Denton, I can tell you that we worked hard to make this ban pass. The mere fact that Abbott and the state government would overturn this makes me sick. I remember celebrating with people when this legislation was passed. By doing this, the state government is literally saying, “We don’t care about your opinions, your health, or that you get to make your own decisions. We will overrule you because no one will stop us.” The “small government conservatives” in this scenario are the biggest hypocrites by far.

    • Flat Banana

      The same thing is happening in the federal government.

  • GimmeSomeTruth

    One word: “Dictatorship”..

    • Michael O’Brien

      Who? The Texas governor?