Friday, January 17, 2014

Faux Outrage from the Right?

I think we've all been aware of an incredible amount of anger coming from the far right. Even common sense Republicans who have more in common with Goldwater or Reagan than the Teas have commented on this from time to time, though perhaps using politer language in public. I happen to sympathize with common sense Republicans since sometimes the anger of the Tea Party is specifically directed at them, and is just as irrational as the anger directed at progressives.

In any case, articles show up from time to time that puzzle me. For example, there have been a lot of articles around oil, natural gas and fracking that are head scratchers. Here's an item from the Daily Camera in Colorado:

Founder and CEO Jonathan Sawyer [of XetaWave] said the Lafayette Community Rights Act, which was passed by voters in November and bans all new oil and gas drilling within city limits, puts a business like his in questionable legal territory

XetaWave provides radios to oil and gas operators that can relay information about operational aspects at remote sites, such as condensation tank levels or flow rates at the well.

Because the charter amendment states that it is illegal in Lafayette to "engage in the creation of fossil fuel, nuclear or other non-sustainable energy production and delivery infrastructures," Sawyer said it's not clear to him if a company like XetaWave could be prosecuted even if it doesn't extract energy itself.

Now maybe Mr. Sawyer was misled or misunderstood, and maybe the writer of the article is just writing the facts as they came to him. In the comments, a city attorney is also mentioned who may also be part of the story. But what I see is something that I see too often that looks like a phony tempest in a teapot that is designed to make those "dangerous left wingers" look like idiots. However, in our country, our communities still have some latitude on organizing their communities how they see fit (and yes, sometimes local politics go the other way). Now as I understand it, the right to drill whether anybody likes it or not is not one I see in the U.S. Constitution. 
Now the law in Lafayette was legally passed and was intended to stop oil drilling within the city limits. That much is clear. 
But a claim seems to have been made (by opponents of the law?) that anything remotely associated with oil drilling whether inside the city or outside is somehow illegal according to the new city ordinance. This of course is ridiculous. The logic of that interpretation might mean that if a candy factory inside the city limits supplied their product to an oil company's vending machines outside the city, they would be in violation of the city ordinance. A broad interpretation by right wingers would be a classic example of right wingers looking for controversy where none exists. I've heard a phrase for it in recent years (since 2010, in fact): "Faux Outrage." Sometimes, because we hear such things so often on Fox News, I've seen it as "Fox Outrage."
The irony is that many oil companies have full-time lawyers who clean up numerous and serious company violations of the law on the quiet. It would not surprise me if the more conservative oil executives find Faux Outrage a convenient utility in their legal tool box, though of course in this particular case, the motivations of the company may simply be informational. Nevertheless, the question remains: how is it that such a trivial story came to be in the Daily Camera? And why is it that such phony stories of late have so often managed to be printed?


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