Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

The Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party Takes Texas

Politics makes strange bed fellows, but it’s the taxpayers getting screwed.

by
Howard Nemerov

Bio

October 29, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Texas has Proposition 6 on this year’s ballot, which is the current battle in our water war. Yes,  it’s rather boring to watch as the have-nots in the rural counties slowly waste away while deep-pocket developers and their urban government supporters drain our water table to support those taxpayer-funded, multi-billion dollar projects that line their pockets so handsomely. Who cares to watch rural communities wither and die, like our agriculture will after our water table is drained?

According to proponents, Proposition 6 will “help protect public health and our economy from the impacts of drought,” by making $2B from our rainy day fund available to municipalities for capital improvements in water infrastructure. If you look at who’s supporting, you’ll see bipartisan support, including our own state senator Kirk Watson, and pro-abortion gubernatorial  candidate Wendy Davis. They supported this in exchange for the Republicans putting a couple billion more into schools. Isn’t it fun how prostiticians scratch each others’ backs on our dime?

Here’s a few concerns, which are relevant to anybody living where there’s a limited supply of fresh water.

Is transporting one county’s water to another county like paying not only our county taxes, but the other county’s as well? Our water rates include building and supporting infrastructure. Then somebody else comes along and ties into our infrastructure to make money on our water by selling it to people living elsewhere. We pay for their profit.

A quote often attributed to Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Good laws follow two basic principles:

  • Do all you say you’re going to do.
  • Don’t infringe on other persons or their property.

What happens if your neighbor drains your shared water table? Most likely, your property value declines. Would you want to live next to a toxic chemical factory? If your water’s poisoned, it surely devalues your property, as threatening your health.

So is it reasonable that a shared resource like a water table needs to be locally managed by the community that relies on it? And how is this balanced with private property rights so that the landowner isn’t deprived? What’s fair? Watering crops seems reasonable, but what about exporting one’s water elsewhere, knowing that it depletes the entire water table, not just the water under your land?

This isn’t to say some government bureaucracy like the EPA is the answer. That’s like saying people in our county don’t have the foresight and intelligence to solve our own problems and determine our own future. The less locally controlled a project gets, the more complicated, the more unintended negative consequences, and the more it costs taxpayers. Look at Obamacare, for example. At least we have a chance to improve local oversight if it becomes corrupted by special interests.

Speaking of special interests, here’s where Proposition 6 gets…well…interesting. The Equal Access to Justice Act, enacted under Jimmy Carter, was touted as helping the “little guy” stand up to unfair treatment by government agencies: plaintiffs had to have a maximum net worth of $7M or less. But it contained a curious loophole, also allowing 501(c)(3) nonprofits to sue the fed, and this included environmental groups like the Sierra Club, which has teamed with our state Republican government to endorse Proposition 6.

According to Linda Curtis of Independent Texans, most environmental groups support Prop 6 because Democrats joined with Republicans to promote it, and environmentalists are Democrat. The deal was that the GOP would increase educational funding if Democrats supported Prop 6. Being perfect Pavlovian products as are most partisan organizations, environmentalists decided if the Democrat leadership supports it, they must, too.

But there’s much more beneath the surface, which returns us to what PJ Media’s Michael Walsh calls the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party. Like any political operative, the Sierra Club is a stakeholder in big government. Since 2009, they have sued the fed – usually EPA – dozens of times in an action called “Sue and Settle” which creates new environmental regulations while avoiding the normal governmental oversight and open comment period where taxpayers can weigh in on proposed regulations. Instead, the federal agency settles with the plaintiff/Sierra Club, creating an agreement over new regulation, which is then enforced by court order. This avoids all the checks and balances built into our original system of governance.

According to Forbes, between 1998 and 2010, these cases cost taxpayers $43M in legal expenses. During 2003-2010, taxpayers coughed up another $16M to reimburse attorney fees and expenses. Putting this in perspective, how many people would feel a vested interest in a business that brings in $2M/year?

The curious thing is that I reached out to three different pro-Prop 6 entities, none of which would provide any details as to exactly how Prop 6 would benefit taxpayers. Also, they were much more interested in canvassing urban centers than visiting our rural county. According to Linda Curtis and Environmental Stewardship’s Steve Box, that’s because Prop 6 will provide money for urban municipalities to build the pipelines necessary to steal water from rural Texas in order to sustain urban sprawl.

Steve Box reported that according to law enacted by Texas legislature and court precedents, the water under your land is purportedly yours, and local water districts have local control over who gets to drill into the aquifer. However, loopholes warn that water should be distributed in a “fair” manner, affording rich developers the opportunity to sue water districts—and their taxpayer/rate payers—in hopes of finding a judge who decides that denying growing urban centers water from rural aquifers isn’t “fair.”

Another curious factoid is that Prop 6’s two biggest campaign contributors are the Associated General Contractors of Texas ($375,000) and Dow Chemical ($250,000). Even though many Democrat operatives support Prop 6, the Koch Brothers—the anti-Tea Party Pavlovians’ bugaboo—invested $20,000. It’s also endorsed by the Texas Association of Realtors and a number of regional real estate councils. (Curiously, Texas Tea Party Republicans voted against this bond measure.)

Texas, a Flyover State, is willing to sacrifice its own flyovers. Big Business, Big Government aka Dem/Rep Big Fusion Party, Big Opportunity, and the taxpayers get to pay for it.

One last question: What are you going to eat?

Former civilian disarmament supporter and medical researcher Howard Nemerov investigates the civil liberty of self-defense and examines the issue of gun control, resulting in his book Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working? He appears frequently on NRA News as their “unofficial” analyst and was published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics with David Kopel and Carlisle Moody.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
"I have been involved in protecting local water supplies as a lawyer and lobbyist for 25 years"

Really? Lawyer AND lobbyist? Well excuse me if I don't think those two professions serve as a stellar recommendation for you.

"The Texas farm bureau and others including myself believe that the best way to avoid conflicts between rural Texas and urban Texas is for urban Texas to have seed money to help build major transmission and water supply projects."

Here's the problem with that scenario; the urban centers of Texas have been experiencing rapid growth for over a decade. They KNEW they were going to need additional water resources, but under the wonderful Democrat leadership of places like Houston, San Antonio and El Paso, they did nothing to build reservoirs or to implement far reaching plans to provide the water that would be needed as their cities grew.

Now they want to reduce the water table in rural areas, because their lack of leadership has come home to roost. It doesn't matter if my neighbor, retired to the country after living in a major city most of his life and wants to play gentleman farmer, sells his water to San Antonio, it comes out of the same aquifer that I get my water from that provides for my cattle and my livelihood and once that source is reduced, in a state where drought is common, then what do I do, Mr. Lawyer and Lobbyist?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howard:

I do not know where you got your information from but prop 6 is just a way to provide money for water infrastructure for cities and rural areas. The Texas farm bureau and others including myself believe that the best way to avoid conflicts between rural Texas and urban Texas is for urban Texas to have seed money to help build major transmission and water supply projects. The laws protecting water in local areas remain unchanged. I have been involved in protecting local water supplies as a lawyer and lobbyist for 25 years and would not have supported prop 6 if it allowed such a thing. Texas needs new water supplies and water moved from the wet areas west where it's drier can be done without hurting east Texas. Goggle up the Texas water conservation association and talk to them about prop 6 if you need more info.

BTW the money for Prop 6 is coming from Texas' overflowing rainy day fund whose source includes excess revenue from our oil and gas severance tax. So it's really hard to say taxpayers will see increases for this transaction and it's a one time transfer.

There is a wide range of support for this Prop because all Texans D's, R's and Libertarians like myself need to have sufficient water.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great. So let's spend more money because we have it. And the GOP here calls themselves conservative, heh. And why do we need to approve $2B more for water projects when the $6B we approved in 2011 hasn't been spent at all? Don't you think this is curious that certain players want more money on their new terms?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howard,

white I am opposed to Proper 6 because I think it will destroy individual Texans' water rights, I suggest you do a little research into Steve Box and his [real] agenda.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why don't you? I do know that Steve was one of the few people who didn't think they were too important to respond to my inquiries. Let me know what you find out.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have. That is why I suggested you do. And exactly what does his responding to your inquires have to do with the spider web of dubious organizations that surround Steve Box?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another wrinkle in this sort of dispute comes from California. Southern California (where I've lived all my life) has nowhere near the water that it needs. Everyone who's watched the classic Nicholson movie "Chinatown" knows this. There were shady deals to move water from wherever it was to here, but there also were some ethical ones. California paid for part of several irrigation systems, and Hoover Dam, to be able to get water from those sources. Some time later, the contract to send the water to California was voided by a court (the locals wanted all the water, and didn't want to return California's original investment to it, either). Meanwhile, here within the state, a lot of the water is irrigated down from the Central part of the state, where there's a lot of agriculture. The farmers of course begrudge every drop of water sent south; they also demand enormous Federal and State subsidies, some of which make them money without them even having to grow anything. Southern California was hectored about the high consumption of water in the city, and conservation was demanded: when it worked, the DWP complained that they weren't making enough money, and the rates went up to compensate them.

It's not always the cities that are powerful...
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
True about cities. It seems history repeatedly shows that somebody's transferring taxpayer dollars into their pockets on these government projects. There were many losers on the Hoover Dam project, most of whom didn't have the deep pockets to hire expensive lawyers to even the playing field.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All

One Trackback to “The Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party Takes Texas”