Wendy Davis' Opponents Say She'll Kill Texas' Oil Boom, but What Does Her Record Say?

Categories: Campaign News

wendydavistribune.jpg
The Texas Tribune
We know that a Wendy Davis-governed Texas would probably be more into preserving natural resources than a Texas ruled by Greg Abbott, who has sued the EPA a modest 17 times. But in a state famous for its lax environmental regulations, how much tougher would Davis be?

Local environmental issues, particularly fracking, haven't been discussed much by either the Davis or the Abbott campaign. One website dedicated to exposing "the Real Wendy" (paid for by the Republican Party of Texas) has claimed that her energy policies would undermine Texas' domestic energy boom.

That's probably an overstatement, but Davis has pushed for some regulations on oil companies -- nothing stringent enough to put a company out of business, but measures that do have support from anti-drilling activists. Local environmental groups describe her as someone sensitive to their cause.

"I have visited with staff and her office several times," says Sharon Wilson, a spokesman for Earthworks and author of the popular Blue Daze: Drilling Reform blog. "She's tried to pass bills that would actually help people, but they never get out of the committee."

Yet she also served on the Fort Worth City Council at a time when the local government ushered in a new era of heavy urban drilling into north Texas.

"As much as I like Wendy Davis, she was not a good advocate for my side," says Don Young, a Fort Worth local who started an early anti-fracking group, FwCanDo. "She was better than others but not tough enough."

Davis was elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 1999. A few years later, Fort Worth passed its first ordinance to allow fracking. It didn't have a huge affect on the city at first. At that time, the domestic drilling boom was just getting underway, with little public knowledge about its potential risks or rewards. Companies were mostly sticking to rural areas.

Around 2005, that all changed. Gas companies became more aggressive, drilling closer to homes, parks and schools. Local homeowners suddenly found that they were living within 600 feet of industrial zones. So the Fort Worth City Council went to work on a new gas drilling ordinance, supposedly to regulate the unanticipated urban drilling that was invading the city.

But under an industry-friendly Mayor Mike Moncrief, the Fort Worth city government ultimately agreed to pass a new ordinance that made it easy for companies to continue drilling in residential and urban areas.

"Overall, they [the City Council] did exactly what the gas drillers wanted them to do," Young says.

Davis voted to approve the industry-friendly measures along with the other council members. But toward the end of her tenure on City Council, she appeared to have second thoughts about Fort Worth's loose approach to urban drilling. In 2007, she publicly complained that it was too difficult to raise even minor concerns about drilling. "I'm not an anti- gas-well person," she said at a meeting. "The dialogue gets characterized: If you express concerns, you're against it."

Looking back, Young feels that Davis' comments then were provocative and strong but didn't have much impact. "She spoke up when it was too late," he says.

Gary Hogan, who served on the city's gas drilling task force, also recalls Davis speaking out against Fort Worth's ordinance toward the end of her tenure. His interpretation: "She was beginning, I think, to see that this [urban drilling] was going to be a lot more than we thought it was going to be," Hogan says.

As Senator, Davis began pushing for legislation that wasn't overtly anti-drilling but was definitely more beneficial to homeowners than the industry. Among other things, she's pressured TxDOT to allow pipelines to be built along highways, as a way to keep the pipelines and the industrial activity that comes with out of residential areas.

In Fort Worth, for instance, Chesapeake Energy wanted to build a pipeline under Carter Avenue, residential street. "Wendy was very influential at the time in helping to put some political pressure to see that that pipeline got moved out of the neighborhood," Hogan says. In 2010, the TxDOT allowed Chesapeake to build it under Interstate 30 instead, in a move that Davis championed.

Later, in 2011, Davis pushed for adding an amendment to a fracking disclosure bill that would have required gas drilling companies to put so-called "tracer" chemicals in their fracking fluid mix, so that the public could find out if the fluid was seeping out and contaminating water. Wilson praises the bill, even though Davis had framed it in the press as a sort of pro-industry measure: "The goal of this legislation is to reduce the cost of legal burdens on the gas drilling industry or landowners when questions of water contamination arise, while also demonstrating to a groundwater-dependent public that drilling is safe," Davis said at the time.

That amendment was voted down.

Outside of drilling, she's also worked on some air quality issues. Another local group, Downwinders at Risk, says that Davis tried to help their cause when some of the oldest, highest-polluting cement kilns were still burning hazardous waste in Midlothian.

"She worked with us on legislation to make it state policy to purchase the cement on cleaner, newer kilns," says Downwinders At Risk's Jim Schermbeck.

Texas lawmakers didn't pass the legislation -- shocking, right? -- but "she was supportive," Schermbeck says.

Young, from FwCanDo, adds that Davis has approached him for votes when she was serving the on Senate. For the past few years, she agreed to co-sponsor his Prairie Fest, an annual solar-powered festival of vendors selling "green" products. He's hoping she'll sponsor the event again this year.

"I'm a supporter," he says, "even though I don't expect her to be anti-fracking or -drilling."

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36 comments
hhhhflb
hhhhflb

Wendy Davis was a freshman senator in the minority party when that crazy attempt by Chesapeake and the City of FW to force the 16" (not the 1-2" ones serving homes and businesses) gas pipeline under people's front yards using heavy handed eminent domain, no less. Although there didn't seem to be much political or personal benefit to her, she made public statements and used her political power to help the folks living on residential Carter Avenue to avoid sleeping a few yards from those dangerous gathering pipelines as this blog post accurately reported. The outrageousness of such a plan received extensive media coverage locally and nationally (e.g. CNN, NBC), but they moved on before Davis and some of her constituents overcame incredible odds to defeat it 2 years after its rollout, esp. with the mayor,city council, and city staff having been in Chesapeake's backpocket and doing its bidding to make this dangerous industrial process an acceptable norm inside cities and residential neighborhoods. Give her credit for showing common sense, human decency, and what appeared to be political courage--remember her work on the issue occurred after the media firestorm had passed and in opposition to a mayor whose family fortune and personal wealth flowed from his investments in O&G industries. Fortunately for the people of Dallas, there were enough time and alert people watching and learning from what happened in FW to launch a successful fight for their health, property, and quality of life against profit-focused fraccers and their shady city bureaucrats.

ruddski
ruddski

This just in, Wendy now supports the 20-week ban she filibustered against.

What a limber woman.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

Lying about her being anti-gun when she's for guns and anti-drilling when she's for drilling, is just the Republican's way of avoiding their real issue - that they're impotent old men who hate her for being a successful woman.


ruddski
ruddski

I like Davis, I think her win would be good for Texas. Republicans need serious competition to winnow the hick morons.

Texas conservative politicos can be a serious drag on the greater conservative movement.

I like and tremendously respect the Texas spirit, and Texans. - such an important part of the national dialogue, but at times, y'all look like nutters. If I was there, I'd vote for Davis.

rusknative
rusknative

why actually is dumb enough to think this Wendy Hilliary Rodham Davis woman has a CHANCE at getting elected ANYTHING of consequence in TEXAS????

Catbird
Catbird

It's really not what Davis will do, it's what her appointees and inner circle will do. Abbott is the only realistic choice.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Took a week off from DO because I was sick of the Wendy Davis stories, only to come back to this...Zzzzzzzz

ruddski
ruddski

She's even pro open-carry now, and "pro-life". By election time, she'll probably bag a couple of coyotes, personally evict a family of undocumented Americans, and drill a well in her backyard.

dingo
dingo

Wendy Davis is not going to kill the oil boom in Texas.

She will, however, distance herself as far as possible from her previous comments denouncing the majority of American women who support a ban on late-term abortions.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

If our Queen is weak, the forces of evil can influence her to the detriment of her Subjects and the kingdom. - Not Sun Tzu 

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@bvckvs  Don't worry your silly liberal head.  She's anti-gun.  She had three full sessions in Austin to introduce an open carry bill. She never did because she isn't in favor of open carry.  This trollop deserves to lose badly.  And lose badly she will.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@ruddski  Like Davis also but seems she is doomed by a poorly run campaign 

hhhhflb
hhhhflb

It means her loyalties don't lie with Middle Eastern and other foreign raw energy producers. Domestically produced oil and natural gas are indispensable for the nation's economic life and the American people's way of life. But it's production should and can be done with minimal risks to the health and general quality of life of communities and their citizens. Common sense policies by people-focused leaders can make it happen, without the profit-focused companies making too much less profit than they have been doing. In fact, the "lost profit" from cleaner and more socially conscious practices can be pretty much offset by not spending hundreds of million$ on lobbying politicians and buying ads promoting propaganda of "clean energy and energy independence." And of course, public policies and great efforts should be made to promote the production and utilization of less harmful energy sources such as solar and wind.

scottie1620
scottie1620

@ruddski  She may not drill a well in her own backyard, but she might allow one to be drilled in your backyard. If she opposes a woman's right to choose, then I am shocked. Wasn't her filibuster all about a woman's right to choose? And, what, pray tell, is an "undocumented American?" Coming here illegally does not make one an American. It makes then an illegal alien living here illegally.

canoemantx
canoemantx

@ruddski  I cannot fault Davis for supporting "open carry" laws. A concealed firearm is no  deterrent to crime because the criminal does not know it is present. A visible firearm, on the other hand, indicates that things could possibly spiral out of control rather quickly. States that have "open carry" laws also have among the very lowest numbers and percentages of crimes involving firearms. Conversely, states with the strictest firearms laws have the highest numbers and proportions of crimes involving firearms. These facts are reported by the FBI in its annual report on crime in America.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@ruddski  I'm wondering how long the DO is going to ignore her support of open-carry.  

scottie1620
scottie1620

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  For starters, allowing drilling within 600 feet of residences, schools and hospitals when scientific evidence suggests that even 2 miles is too close for human health. There are plenty of other shortcomings in that ordinance, too, like allowing pipelines and compressor stations in residential areas.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@dingo

She hasn't denounced any women... or men.  She focuses on policies, not personalities.

Republicans don't have that virtue.  They're just obsessed with celebrity.

ruddski
ruddski

"Undocumented American" is a euphemism for "illegal alien", used by people who so afraid of being accused of racism, they can't allow themselves to speak clearly.

In her case "pro-life" means pro-abortion, because the mother is alive. Get it?

For lefties, words mean what they want them to, it's a holdover from the commie year. If they used real language and revealed what they truly wanted, they'd never get elected.

ruddski
ruddski

If you open carry, then the crook knows who to take out first. Good luck getting it out of the holster before you know you've been shot.

Concealed carry means the crook gets the surprise.

ruddski
ruddski

Until the ruse has use.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@schermbeck @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul


No, how about you?


It is a legitimate question when a reporter conflates reporting with editorializing.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ruddski  

You have a dirty mind.  I was thinking of her hair style and style of fashion ... 8-D

ruddski
ruddski

Best not go there, it upsets male feministas.

ruddski
ruddski

"Whats to like? She's a liar."

For liberals, that's a plus, how else can policies vital to our economic and physical health get passed?

ruddski
ruddski

And last affirmative action president elected in no small part by racialists because of the color of his skin, not the content if his (unknown) character.

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