Corruption, thy name is James Womack

frackingmontgomeryburns.jpg

And strangely enough, he seems to be exerting undue influence on himself:

Last August, five people had written to to the commission, alleging that they had been unfairly prohibited from applying for drilling permits in Lee County because of a local ordinance establishing a temporary moratorium on fracking. In their petition, the complainants asked the commission to essentially overrule Lee County government and allow them to frack for natural gas on their land.

Yet all of the complainants holding the metaphorical sword over Womack’s head are his friends, neighbors or professional colleagues — relationships that could jeopardize his impartiality in granting a hearing or voting on whether to undermine Lee County’s authority. And questions about Womack’s potential role in the drafting the individual complaints raises further concerns about the depth of his involvement in promoting fracking in his home county.

Okay, so: Republicans pull this kind of crap all the time, by recruiting "regular citizens" (who also are usually local Party acolytes) to file complaints about this or that, to provide an excuse for GOP elected officials to take action. See the 2016 voter fraud fiasco for background, in which several local "citizens" filed voter challenges in an effort to undermine/overturn Roy Cooper's victory over Pat McCrory. But in this case, it's glaringly obvious that Womack is in cahoots with local landowners eager to start poking holes in the ground, regardless of what the duly elected county government says:

“The state has prohibited ordinances that interfere with oil and gas exploration,” Womack said at the meeting. “It’s unfortunate that some local governments worked around the issue.”

That workaround is a pre-existing law which allows local officials to establish temporary moratoria on development activities, including fracking, under certain conditions. For example, local officials must clearly state why they are enacting the moratorium. And they must also set a “reasonable” expiration date for it.

With that authority, Lee County Commissioners (as well as Chatham County) passed a fracking moratorium in 2015 because of questions about its environmental and socioeconomic impacts. By a unanimous vote, commissioners renewed it last December for another two years, with an expiration date of Dec. 7, 2019.

Understand, if a majority of the voters had been upset with elected officials for delaying fracking, they would have been replaced, or *at least* that vote would have been split, and not unanimous. But people like Womack don't care about the wishes of the public at-large, they only care about a handful of people making money by contaminating the groundwater.

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Comments

I had completely forgotten

about that C. Montgomery Burns image of him getting ready to frack that neighborhood. Very fitting.