During the reconstruction era, following the Civil war, the term Carpetbagger was coined to describe northerners who moved to the south and were usually seen carrying a bag which looked like it was made from a carpet.
Motives for the “carpetbaggers” include political aspirations and/or economic opportunities. Many carpetbaggers were businessmen who purchased or leased plantations and became wealthy landowners.
Today, carpetbagger refers to anyone coming in from the “outside” for political or economic motives.
WPX and FRANKLIN FORKS
Earlier this week, word was spread among fracktivist groups of the WPX obtaining a court order to allow them to remove water equipment from the home of two families in Franklin Forks. WPX had previously halted water deliveries, and the families relied on themselves and through donations to purchase and deliver clean water.
Local Pennsylvania fracktivist groups rallied and put the word out, asking for donations to purchase and install new equipment to replace the ones WPX was going to remove. In a late Friday afternoon news dump, and after discussions with their attorneys, WPX indicated they would not be removing the equipment and as reported would be giving the equipment to the families. Donations that had been collected will be used to purchase and deliver water to families in the area who have contaminated water wells.
Did WPX have a change of heart? Did ghosts of fracking past, present and future visit them? Or did they have that fateful Grinch moment where their heart grew ten sizes?
Per Environment America’s press release, Green Century Capital Management and nine other investors delivered a letter to WPX and called on them to stop its plan to remove the water equipment.
The Letter: (emphasis added)
December 11, 2013
Ralph A. Hill, President and Chief Executive Officer
CC. Stephen E. Brilz, Vice President and Corporate Secretary
WPX Energy, Inc.
One Williams Center
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74172
Dear Mr. Hill,
The undersigned investors believe that companies that attend to environmental and social risks may enjoy competitive advantages. We are writing to urge WPX Energy Appalachia LLC (WPX) to respect community concerns and environmental impacts associated with its hydraulic fracturing operations.
In particular, we urge the company to stop its effort to remove the drinking water tank of the family of Tammy Manning. The DEP requested that WPX install these tanks after finding dangerously high levels of barium, aluminum, iron, and methane in the Mannings water. These tanks provide critical drinking water to a family whose water would otherwise be unsafe to drink.
Hydraulic fracturing operations are increasing[ly] controversial and WPX’s recent actions to remove clean drinking water from the Manning family have increased the reputational risk for the company and its shareholders. The companies’ decision to remove the drinking water tank has resulted in negative media attention for the company and risks damaging the company’s community relations. Removing the Manning’s access to safe drinking water risks positioning WPX as a corporation that is not concerned with the well-being or basic human needs of residents living near its operations.
Unfortunately for shareholders, this recent high profile set of actions by WPX is not the only negative publicity that resulted from company inattentiveness to its operations and its public relations. Over the past year, Pennsylvania state regulators have called on WPX vent four wells that had dangerous levels of methane and test water sources in local towns. WPX also received a series of state violation notices for its drilling.
Companies are increasingly held responsible for its environmental and social risks and management. We urge WPX to immediately drop its plans to remove the drinking water tank from the Mannings and make its change public.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Green Century Capital Management
Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
Ruth Geraets, PBVM
Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM
Progressive Asset Management Group
Director Corporate Social Responsibility
Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia
Judy Byron, OP
Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
Director, Shareholder Advocacy
Ursulines of Tildonk for Justice and Peace
Director of Equity Research & Shareholder Engagment
Julie N.W. Goodridge
President & CEO
NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.
Director of Socially Responsible Investing
Zevin Asset Management
It appears from the letter, investors are worried about WPX’s public image more than the impact drilling operations are having on communities and families.
WPX denies responsibility for contaminating the water of the Franklin Forks families. This is not unusual as you would be hard pressed to find any instance where a drilling corporation has taken responsibility for any form of impact on water, air or the land.
Instead, they will blame it on “pre-existing conditions”, as is the case in Franklin Forks, Dimock, Hickory, Butler and hundreds of other communities across the country.
When the “pre-existing condition” excuse won’t due, the drilling corporations are now blaming the failure to achieve an amicable resolution on “out-of-state anti-drilling activists”.
“The company tried to work with the Mannings and the other residents to help them get their wells fixed, WPX spokeswoman Susan Oliver said in an interview before Hanger sent his letter. But she said out-of-state anti-drilling activists have exploited them for their own political ends.
‘If it wasn’t for the activists yelling and screaming, we could have helped that family fix the mechanics of their well,’ she said.”
There are a couple problems with Oliver’s statement.
Firstly, once a water source is contaminated with explosive levels of methane, dangerous levels of barium, aluminum, iron, and who know what else, it cannot be fixed. This is not a problem of the mechanics of the well; it’s a problem of previously clean and fresh water being forever contaminated.
Secondly, the majority of activists involved are volunteers who live in Pennsylvania, not from out of state. After WPX ceased water deliveries, these families received water delivered from volunteers who live in Pennsylvania, not from out of state.
The efforts to raise money to purchase and install the equipment WPX was going to remove was organized and coordinated by volunteers who live in Pennsylvania, not from out of state.
WPX Energy is not a Pennsylvania corporation. WPX Energy is a spin-off from the Williams Companies. WPX and Williams are both headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If Oliver took the time to look at a map, she would see neither Tulsa nor Oklahoma is located in Pennsylvania.
In fact the vast majority of drilling corporations operating in Pennsylvania are NOT from Pennsylvania, they are from Texas, Oklahoma and as in the case of Royal Dutch Shell, their headquarters are not even in the United States, and this is why I use the term Carpetfracker.
Residents of Pennsylvania are interested in preserving and protecting their health, their property and communities.
The Carpetfrackers come, they frack, they leave.
©2013 by Dory Hippauf