Who Stands to Benefit From the Prop 6 Water Infrastructure Fund Run By Gov. Rick Perry's Loyalists?

Categories: Politics

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Brandon Thibodeaux
Texans are set to decide whether to ratify a constitutional amendment creating a $2 billion water infrastructure fund, billed as the answer to a growing and drought-vulnerable state. It'll finance new dams, reservoirs, desalinization plants and the development of new groundwater supplies.

As we saw in many parts of the state, in towns both large and small, a water crisis is developing. And with a drought that could ebb next year or persist through the decade, it may not be over anytime soon. So, the answer is to build our way out of it, much like the state plans to do to address a coming electricity shortfall. Conservation would probably be cheaper, but then again conservation doesn't create plum construction projects. Yet the risks of doing nothing at all may indeed be too high.

Still, it's never a bad idea first to take a look at who may stand to benefit from taxpayer-financed water projects.

The three members of the full-time board tasked with making distributions from the fund aren't members of the disbanded Texas Water Development Board or water-policy nerds who breathe this stuff. They're the governor's acolytes, appointed by Rick Perry himself. One is the owner of a natural gas company and chair of the Texas Lottery Commission. Another appointee is the director of governmental appointments from Perry's own office. And the last is a commissioner appointed by Perry to the state environmental regulatory agency. The deck is stacked with buddies.

There's a lot of big-business money flowing into the effort to push Proposition 6. Texans for Public Justice, the nonprofit corruption watchdog, put together a handy list of the biggest contributors to the $2.1 million Texas Water PAC, an organization attempting to sell voters on the infrastructure fund.

Among its biggest benefactors is the Associated General Contractors of Texas, Dow Chemical, Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings (Texas' biggest unregulated power generator), Texas Oil and Gas Association, and Conoco Phillips. Each has a vested financial interest in the infrastructure projects themselves, or in access to cheap, plentiful water with as few conservation strings attached as possible.

With Perry appointees holding the purse strings, there is reason to worry that the otherwise laudable intent of the fund will get twisted to crony-ish ends. One need not reach back too far into history to find other goal-oriented piles of money that in hindsight look more like taxpayer-fueled slush funds to reward political supporters. Think of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

The very companies bankrolling Texas Water PAC have already collectively given Perry $6.8 million since the 2010 election cycle, according to TPJ. Texas needs more water. There's no doubt about that. But what's to stop the familiar CPRIT pattern from recapitulating itself once again?

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41 comments
scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

for all the enviro chicken littles, a global project to build lakes should forestall the rising sea levels of global warming.    Whatever, we need lakes, I appreciate the details on the committee.  How things are done are as important, if not more so, than what's to be done

John1073
John1073

We already have a system to build reservoirs and other water projects in the TX Water Code and the money to do it. Every project will be funded with a loan, even with Prop 6 passed. All Prop 6 does is take $ 2 Billion, of our tax money, and hand it out to developers seeking lower interest rates on those loans the tax payers will pay for. So why are setting up a tax fund to loan out money that taxes will pay back? It's a shell game that solves nothing. I'd rather them spend $2 Billion to come up with a way to kill a damn zebra mussel.

duanewmurphy
duanewmurphy

@fracquestions @dingo @Gangy To put that into context

 700,000,000,000  gallons=

2,148,218.272179 acre foot 


Richland Chambers max-Cap is 1,087,839 ft ac IF FULL. right now it's at 63%that is two reservoirs the size of Richland Chambers of UN-reclaimable water. that they will inject into underground "caverns". I don't have any children, but for those that do you may want to think of the ecological MESS you will leave them with. 

darr.richard
darr.richard

Are you people insane?  The money is coming out of a rainy day fund and will not cause any strain on the citizens of Texas.  Everybody, Rep & Dem, in the house, are pushing for this.  This isn't about putting money in somebody's pocket, it's about helping protect out natural resources.  The cities, counties, and the state have been trying to convince people to conserve water, but nobody wants to do that.  Everybody wants their grass green.  We stay under constant water restrictions, but yet people refuse to obey them.  People are fined all the time for this, but they don't care.  Why does everybody try to blame Perry?  Yes, he's a moron, a thief, liar.......a politician.   He's actually trying to do something good before he leaves office.  He won't be back.  Remember, all of your states politicians support Prop 6.  Everybody that is in the business of making sure that the public has plenty of potable water at their disposal, supports Prop 6.  I think the Observer and the people making childish comments need to do a little more research into what they're talking about.  

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Pretty slick...get taxpayers to foot the bill for water needed by frickin frackers. Only surprised Ricky didn't find a way to get money to Cintra on this one.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Perry's expecting lots of BOD appointments himself after he retires and starts collecting his 2nd state pension. 

He surely doesn't believe he has any chance at all of moving to DC.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The IPCC found that “droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America.” A scientific overview published in June in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Societyfound that the severe drought of 2012, which at one point covered 39 percent of the United States, was still much less extreme than droughts in the 1930s (which covered 63 percent) and the 1950s (50 percent). And all those droughts pale next to the six-decade mega-drought in what is now the U.S. West in the 12th century.

So I think I will vote against ratification . . . 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

What is especially sad about all of this is that Bill Clements became the first Republican governor since reconstruction when he ran on a platform that would abolish cronyism in state government.  Now it seems that we have come full circle.

Gangy
Gangy

Thank you, Brantley!  I agree with all your points.  Many voters I have talked with are simply looking at the amendment as written on the ballot and thinking "we need to increase our water supply".  We won't be increasing our water supply if the increased AVAILABILITY of water encourages more fracking than we would have without it.  Water used in fracking is REMOVED PERMANENTLY from the water supply because it would kill any living thing that consumed it. 


We have very little time (less than 5 years) to dramatically reduce our consumption of ALL fossil fuels in order to avoid reaching a tipping point in climate change that would make our planet uninhabitable by humans and most animals within 40 years.  We have to change the way we live, and rapidly build renewable energy infrastructure so that we can stop killing ourselves with fossil fuels.

John1073
John1073

Everyone supported the war in Iraq too. Oops.

dingo
dingo

@ozonelarryb Well he's not as smart as Obama so he won't make president and he won't be throwing out fat billion dollar IT contracts to campaign contributors like Obama has been able to figger out with WhateverCare.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@Montemalone Perry could certainly move to DC, just not as an elected leader and certainly not as President of the United States.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@holmantx NOAA and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University predict a megadrought lasting 75-200 years will visit the southwestern US starting in just 8 years, and that it will turn everything between California and Texas into something resembling the Great Sands National Monument. It will devastate agricultural production resulting in worldwide food shortages and spiking food prices. It will make the Dust Bowl look like a Sunday picnic.

The last megadrought on this planet was 1,000 years ago. This one will be superimposed on top of the already severe drought we are facing here in Texas which, according to State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon will last another 5-15 years.

Personally, I am torn on the issue of Prop 6. On the one hand we need those water projects. On the other hand too many of my mortal political opponents are in favor of its passage, and that alone gives me pause to consider my vote very carefully.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Gangy Your climate predictions are made by people who haven't been close to right yet.  We're closer to no change than their predictions   Take a deep breath francis, they're just marketers too.

dingo
dingo

@Gangy "We won't be increasing our water supply if the increased AVAILABILITY of water encourages more fracking than we would have without it."

I'm not able to follow that logic. If we have more water then we would still have more water after fracking used some of it. .......

Anyway, here's an interesting article pointing out that fracking uses one percent of water resources and the scarcity problems are mostly localized but nonetheless unsustainable for those localized areas by way of current practices.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/us/as-fracking-in-texas-increases-so-do-water-supply-fears.html

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@Gangy If we don't "dramatically reduce our consumption of ALL fossil fuels" within "less than 5 years," the planet will be "uninhabitable by humans and most animals within 40 years"?

That's satire, right?  You're cleverly cocking a snook at the global warming alarmists, right?

 Right?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@dingo @duanewmurphy @fracquestions @Gangy So, you're saying water, which IS more precious than oil, will be forever taken out of the water cycle?   Or, are you saying it will return, tainted with god knows what chemicals?   Neither is a good answer, you're no conservative, you're more like an adolescent smoking and looking for the next way to poison yourself

duanewmurphy
duanewmurphy

@dingo @duanewmurphy @fracquestions @Gangy That is incorrect, http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/wells_class4.cfm#what_are . After you educate yourself on the "injection wells" you may also want to consider that no rock formation is impermeable, they just have different levels of permeability . You also may consider that once the"produced" water contaminates our Aquifers, lets say due to any shifting of tectonic plates, earth quakes etc. ALL of the underground water in that particular region is useless. I have spent many many hours studying today's " Slick Water Hydraulic Fracturing Methods"  Unlike the methods used in decades past,  there are MAJOR differences in todays Chemical make ups than what the industry would like you to believe has been used historically. Dr. Anthony Ingraffea one the the nations top authorities on fracking, that refused to be bought out by the people he worked for has this to say. Even after the gas industry tried  to silence him with court orders several times. ( they could not because his message is scientifically based and proven). Spend the time to get the facts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjdhiZJCyzU

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

How bout starting a bogus war, and outsourcing the entire supply chain via no bid contracts to one's VP's former company. Yeah dungo, you must be sooo proud of that.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@fracquestions @holmantx 

Isn't that the same bunch who predicted the coming Ice Age on the cover of TIME back in the 1970s?

Or maybe it was Lex Luther in the second Superman.

As you are aware, it was a meteor that hit off the coast of Yucatan that kilt the dinosaurs.

Or was it human activity?

Or a pulsing Red Dwarf?

after all, every planet in the solar system is heating at the same rate.

except they don't have humans on them.

(unless the oil companies have secretly landed).

fracquestions
fracquestions

@dingo @Gangy Obviously, you are oblivious to frac'ing and the amount of water that it permanently destroys. In the Barnett Shale the average water use per frac job is about 5 Million gallons. In the Eagle Ford the average is about 9 million. Over the course of developing 100,000 new oil and gas wells (which is the number projected by the oil and gas industry for Texas in the next decade) by frac'ing the average water destruction would amount to about 700 Billion gallons of water that becomes permanently removed from our hydrologic cycle.

Gangy
Gangy

@dingo @Gangy dingo, the water used for watering our lawns, for flushing our toilets, for swimming pools can all be reclaimed and safely used again by living things.  The water used to frack can never be used.  So that water is removed from the global water supply forever, unless it leaks up into ground water and poisons living things.  The 1% they claim they use is not used, it's destroyed.  Fracking occurs many places in Texas and we're talking at least tens of thousands of wells, if not hundreds yearly.  Each well can be fracked more than once or twice.  This is happening worldwide.  It starts to add up.

Gangy
Gangy

@James_the_P3 @Gangy If we continue using fossil fuels at the rate we are currently, in 40 years, CO2 in the atmosphere will reach 600ppm.  The highest CO2 concentration that climate scientists think humans can survive is 350 ppm.  How long do you think we should wait before taking action that will reduce our greenhouse gas production?  My source is the National Climate Data Center, NOAA.

duanewmurphy
duanewmurphy

@scottindallas @dingo @duanewmurphy @fracquestions @Gangy Frickin A , I don't know what biology class you ever attended,or physiology, or anatomy, or chemistry  but last I understood you can't drink oil,nor is the content of   your being 90+ % oil,( well maybe yours is) you appear to be the adolescent smoking. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Apology accepted. I was just ragging that you went off topic. If, as you say, you are an equal opportunity iconoclast (which I proudly am, and which we need more of), you wouldn't have brought O into it. Just a distraction from Ricky's insider money games. Let O's and W's actions stand alone against our national values, not as relative yardsticks. That is a fool's errand, and just fodder for single issue rants.

dingo
dingo

@ozonelarryb I'm proud that I am do not follow pathological ideologues of either the right or the left. You know, the ones that only discover they cannot get away with everything when they take that one big step too far.

George Bush will never be on Mount Rushmore because he came across as basically a dullard and his policies were admittedly questionable. If this country ever gets to the sorry state where they put Obama up there then they need to carve his face with his eyes super glued shut.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@scottindallas @fracquestions @Montemalone Well, I certainly do hope that he does try because (1) it provides comic relief of the highest magnitude and (2) it exposes the very worst of the GOP and reminds people of exactly why we do not want them running things.

Run, Ricky, Run!

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@scottindallas @fracquestions @holmantx 

But should our government act based upon conflicting evidence?  And how should we exert control over larger society based upon unsettled science?  Clearly, the IPCC et all, is nuanced.  Yet the factions on both sides demand action or inaction.  In these times of austerity, the populace is somewhat hesitant to inflict any further regulation that blocks job creation, and prosperity.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@fracquestions @holmantx they're only speculation.  Their predictions of rising temps didn't bear out.  We haven't heated in a decade.   Opps.  It ain't science, if you can't model accurately

fracquestions
fracquestions

@holmantx @fracquestions Leave it to you to respond to a scientifically factual issue with a Neanderthal retort! Who knew?

No, it is NOT the same people. As to what killed the dinosaurs, it was NOT a meteor hitting Yucatan that killed them. They died because the "nuclear winter" caused by all the dust kicked up by that meteor blocked the sun devastating their food supply. In the end, it does not matter what causes destruction of the food supply. What matters is that we cannot survive without the food supply.

Leave it to you to be too stupid to understand that simple fact of life, and for retorting with snide, illiterate comments like you always do to serious discussions.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@dingo @Gangy Recycling is a myth thrown into the discussion for the purpose of persuading neophytes who have no clue about the truth. There is not one single company anywhere that has successfully treated and re-used any significant amount of recycled flowback or produced wastewater from a frac'ing operation.

Devon Energy was the leader in that game, and they admitted that they could only clean and re-use 7 of every 1,000 gallons of water they contaminated. They stated that using recycled water would raise production costs by 70% (natural gas sells for only about one third its production cost today, so nobody can afford an additional 70% increase in production cost.)

Lastly, recycling is a net loss in energy production because the energy required to clean the water is far greater than the energy produced by using that water.

Reporters who do not understand these issues and facts often spice up stories for the benefit of the dumb and stupid crowd, but the fact that it is claimed in the NY Times does not, in fact, make it a fact. It is merely a false flag being promoted by a writer who does not understand what he or she is writing.

Gangy
Gangy

@dingo @Gangy It is so expensive that it kills the profit in the gas play.  Companies won't use that technology because they can't make it pay.

dingo
dingo

@Gangy @dingoSo the last seven paragraphs in the NYTimes article regarding alternative fracking technologies are not to be taken seriously?

"The water used to frack can never be used."

What about the 'recycling technology' mention in the NYTimes article?

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@Gangy @James_the_P3 In concluding that CO2 will reach 600 ppm within forty years, you pick the most aggressive of six models cited in the IPCC's 4th Assessment Report--a model that has already been shown wrong in the eight years since it came out.

The only "tipping point" that occurs at 600 ppm was that which happened historically, when reducing CO2 in the atmosphere coincided with antarctic glaciation.  But there's nothing to suggest that a similar number would cause the antarctic glaciers to melt, much less that all humans and other animals would promptly drop dead, as you imply.

One can make a persuasive case that we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  But the kind of alarmism that you espouse undermines the credibility of your argument, and makes "global warming" little more than a punch line.

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