Archive for January, 2012

See if they are your neighbor! As the largest landowner they have a greater responsibility to those that actually live here. They claim to want to be a ‘good neighbor’. Neighbors are folks that live in your neighborhood. How many Berry employees live in the community they know they are going to drill hundreds and hundreds of wells in? Do you know of a single one?

 

                 
Smell something…Say something! 
 
This letter is being distributed as a community wide service from GARDAP.ORG to the Citizens of Gardendale Please see “gardap.org”-and click on the ‘ PRINCIPLES’ tab for what Gardap is about. Gardap is not associated or affiliated with any other group.
 
Please take time to read this letter to understand the role of regulatory agencies such as the T.C.E.Q. (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), T.R.R.C. (Texas Railroad Commission) and how you can make an impact.
As you are now aware the drilling in and around our community is ‘full speed ahead’. Along with economic benefits drilling brings some less desirable activity. The producers are going to extract the minerals; this is a reality and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
 
It is true you cannot stop the producer from the exploration and extraction of minerals from below our homes.  There are laws assuring them this right but they do not have the right to infringe on the quality of our environment by fouling the air we breathe.  
Odors associated with the extraction of minerals (drilling) are becoming more frequent in Gardendale. The south-western part of Gardendale has already had one mass evacuation to date .Thanks to an alert resident a gas cloud was detected, 911 was called and families were evacuated by the fire and sheriff’s department.
The only way we can battle this and keep the odors out of our life’s is to make sure that when we smell something that we believe is related to oil and gas exploration activity we need to act immediately and say something by contacting the appropriate agency and filing a formal complaint. 
 You can do this no matter the time of day as there are contact #’s for all hours.
 There are several numbers listed below you can use; the T.C.E.Q. is the agency you will need to contact for air-environmental issues. T.R.R.C. is the agency you can also contact about both air and non-air issues.
 It is possible to contact the producer directly but it is not recommended as there will not be any kind of formal documentation of the complaint. Use the numbers listed below to ensure regulatory agencies are made fully aware of air quality issues. The producers would prefer to investigate themselves and not involve any outside authority.
Without regulatory agency involvement there may be no formal records of toxic and nuisance emissions in our community.
 
Reporting complaints to the T.C.E.Q. and T.R.R.C. can be taxing but will pay dividends if we are persistent and work together. Don’t assume that someone else has complained; call personally and make sure. If multiple residents call on the same complaint it sends a message that as a community we are aware and alert…. Once you acclimate yourself to the system and methods the agencies require it will become an easy task.
A formal complaint is the only way a record of the reported odor is documented. This is a very important step and cannot be over emphasized. When making a complaint always request a formal complaint.  
Don’t allow representatives of any agency to convince you not to make a formal complaint. Don’t be put off if they ask ‘What kind of gas is it?’ Remind them that they are the experts, not you!  Keep the phone numbers listed below handy and use it for the sake of our families and neighbors.
 
TCEQ info:
 
TCEQ Midland office 570-1359 (business hours 8-5)
TCEQ answering service 1-800-832-8224 (after hours) this goes to both agencies you must choose which you want when asked by the operator.
TCEQ Spill reporting line: 800-832-8224
TCEQ Complaints & Non-spill releases: 888-777-3186
 
TRRC info:
Sue Hannaman 432-684-5581 ext. 408
Danny Miles-Ector Co. 432-684-5581 ext. 417
Contact T.R.R.C. /T.C.E.Q. if there is an H2S or rotten egg odor ASAP
You can call 911 at anytime of course-especially if you smell rotten egg odor and feel it necessary.
Please do not take oil and gas related odors lightly there are some of the emissions associated with the exploration and extraction of oil and gas that are volatile and can kill.
 
Thanks from Gardap for giving this consideration and supporting a very necessary issue.
 
This is a personal log provided by the T.C.E.Q.

Tillman tells the truth

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

This treatise from former mayor Calvin Tillman sums up what each and every member of GARDAP has experienced when dealing with paid-for-lying landmen.  It has been described, exactly, by Mr. Tillman in the following narrative.  Pay close attention, read carefully, and learn much.

GARDAP

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

To those of you who have children, you have no doubt seen the movie, The Jungle Book.  In this movie the villain is played by the dreaded tiger Shere Khan.  Shere Khan was feared by all in the land except for the young child Mogli, who exposed Shere Khan’s weakness, which was fire.  Shere Khan was of course what we call a paper tiger, which appears to be powerful, but is actually powerless and ineffective.

 

When I started dealing with the natural gas industry, I was initially intimidated by the size and wealth of the industry.  I soon learned that negotiating with them in this frame of mind, I would come up short.  The industry is poised to prey on those who are intimidated by them, and I had began to hear a number of horror stories regarding the industry and how they would threaten and intimidate those who would dare to question them.  Frankly, I found the initial approach to be friendly… friendly like a car salesman, not friendly like neighbor.  However, after being sold a bad used car a couple of times, you quickly learn that maybe you should question what is going on.  That is when you start seeing the threats begin; first the sales pitch, and then the threats.

 

When growing up everyone had to deal with a bully.  Maybe is was the ugly kid at school whose parents didn’t like them much and who never learned to get their way without using force.  But, eventually the skinny kid punches them in the nose, and the secret is out that they bleed like everyone else.  The skinny kid does that when it seems likely the only option.  If you figure out that you are going to get your butt kicked either way, you may as well go down swinging and this is when the paper tiger’s weakness gets exposed.
This is very similar to the story in DISH.  At some point we knew that there would be nothing left if we did not make a stand; nothing more than an eventual statistic.  We went through the sales pitch from the paid liars, and the constant threats from the industry sociopaths.  I knew we were likely going to lose, but why not go down fighting?  I quickly learned that this industry was nothing more than a paper tiger, and began finding and exploiting their weaknesses.  I found with a little strategy, it does not take much to get ahead of this industry.

 

I like playing chess, and compare this little battle to playing chess with a checkers player.  They have employed the same strategy for so long, that they do not have the ability to try something different.  Everyone who plays chess is familiar with the four move checkmate; however, the four move checkmate works every time on those who work in this industry.  I have told them on a number of occasions that I have two advantages over them, the first being that they get paid for this…I don’t, and the second being that when they were snuggled into bed I would be lying awake staring at the ceiling thinking about my next move.  Many times I got only a blank stare at this comment, kinda like the lights are on, but no one is home look.

 

Many of the people I have spoken with feel like they are behind they industry and always reacting and catching up to them.  However, I think that it is imperative to make the industry react and catch up to you.  When they are getting ready to make a move, they must consider what you will do.  They must make your reaction a part of their plan.  Through my dealings with the industry, it is apparent that the plan that they employ is very simple, they lie, they bully, and when that doesn’t work, they get the laws changed so that one of the other tactics works better next time, then they wonder why nobody likes them.

 

It has come to my attention that the industry is trying the bully tactic on some of my friends made through my travels around the United States.  They apparently have stooped to the level of stalking and intimidating people.  This is happening from Texas to Pennsylvania to people who are only trying to live the American Dream, and having that dream stolen by this industry.  I have had a number of people call me and caution me about being so vocal on the industry.  Many have been worried about my safety and I certainly appreciate the thoughtfulness of these warnings, but you must know by now that I am not afraid of the paper tiger.

 

Just like the skinny kid that bloodies the bullies nose, you have have to figure you are going to get your butt kicked either way, so why not put up a fight.  This has helped improve the situation in DISH, and it will help you as well.  When we have meetings in DISH, and the industry showed up, I asked them to let me know so that I could hire private security to insure their protection.  Typically, they stand in the back of the room, staring at their shoes, and only speak when spoken to, I think they may actually have left their vehicles running in the parking lot for a quick escape.  You see in DISH, we were not intimidated, but rather the industry was intimidated by us; in DISH we controlled the situation.  Many of the state regulatory agencies also have been put in their place by the angry mob in DISH.

 

There always seems to be one industry person who draws the short straw and has to attend one of my presentations.  They are easy to spot and do not wish for me to know their identity.  I always try to sneak up on them and introduce myself.  I have to sneak up on them, because if they see me coming, they will avoid the meeting.  If I do manage to introduce myself, you can see the uncomfortableness of the individual as I shake their hand, making sure to squeeze their hand just enough to get their attention, and I have already told several to watch the exchange to see the reaction from the paper tiger. Many may say that I am using my notoriety to intimidate them and therefore I am no better than them.  I do this for a reason, and that is to show those who invited me exactly how weak those in this industry are.

 

There have also been reports that some are intimidated by none other than their own neighbors, who are apparently disappointed that they have not signed the lease and are “stopping progress”. I have already spoken about the “gold rush” scenario, so I won’t go into that.  But nonetheless, there are those who feel that it is only you that are preventing them from fulfilling their lifelong goal of being rich.  They have not managed to get rich with all of their other schemes, but this is the one that will finally work.  Not realizing that they are doing nothing more than helping a guy in Oklahoma make payments on his NBA arena and is wine collection.  They have just been taken advantage of one more time, and they don’t even know it, and they will likely end up as broke as they are now.

 

I am not suggesting violence, or anything that could be interpreted as that.  What I am suggesting is to stand up and deal with this problem.  When politicians take away our rights for the benefit of this industry, let’s show them the door.  When the industry tries the techniques I have described, expose them for what they are.  If they stalk you, get photos, videos, and expose them for what they are doing, send this information to me and others who can expose these sort of actions. Don’t let their threatening emails and message go unnoticed.  Call the authorities, call the media, or call me.  You will find very quickly that you are dealing with a paper tiger, the intimidation will stop immediately.  And this message is also for those in the industry, it is your people that are taking these tactics, and it is your responsibility to help prevent it.  A little advice for those in the industry, if you don’t want to be treated like a scumbag…don’t be a scumbag.

 

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

“Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it”

Truth is truth

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
No truer words could be spoken about living in Gardendale, TX right now!
 
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‎”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” – Martin Luther King.

Sunday, January 15, 2012
Putting the Cat Back Into the Bag
Since the town of DISH released the results of the ambient air study in 2009, the oil and gas industry has worked overtime to put that cat back into the bag. They first attacked the consultant that conducted our study, and then came after me personally with numerous threats and frivolous public information requests. They also spent a tremendous amount of resources to find any angle to put a cloud of doubt around the study, although the lab results clearly showed a problem, and subsequent studies show similar results including those studies perform by the oil and gas industry themselves. This rhetoric did not stop at the industry public relations departments, but also went to the highest levels of government in the State of Texas. Our state wide elected Railroad Commissioners can be heard on public record regurgitating the same vile comments that the industry groups were spewing, all working in collusion to make this little problem go away.

Once the Town of DISH started to get attention worldwide from this air study, the industry worked even harder to cloud the truth. Through my research it is apparent that the oil and gas industry will dispute any and all actions that cost the industry money, even likely spending more money to dispute the facts than accept responsibility and correcting the problem. Although, if they would show even one ounce of responsibility, it would pay huge dividends to their public image. One example of this propaganda is the AskChesapeake (CHK) website. Before the town of DISH air study was made public, there was a section of this website that admitted to the release of many of the chemicals found in DISH, and other areas, including the carcinogen benzene. The site indicated that these chemicals were tightly regulated by numerous state and federal agencies. When the DISH study was released, it became apparent that these sites weren’t quite as regulated as Chesapeake (CHK) had indicated. Therefore, shortly after the release of the DISH air study, which had Chesapeake’s (CHK) name all over it, that section of their website disappeared, and was replaced with a page that basically said ” a little benzene exposure is ok”.

The industry also likes to deflect blame from themselves by pointing out other industries that pollute. They act as though bad behavior by others makes it alright for them to do it. I have heard that there have been idle threats aimed at municipalities from Chesapeake, stating that if air testing was accomplished at any of their facilities, they would hire a firm to test the air around some of the area’s largest employers. Hmmm, didn’t see that advertised on AskChesapeake.

Now when traveling to make presentations around the country, I carry a library of air studies, and numerous photos from around the country. I explain these studies and photos during my presentation, because I know by now that someone will accuse me of dramatizing these issues. The industry would much rather show a photo of a little deer running in front of a drilling rig, than an aerial view of DISH, or better yet, the satellite images that show thousands of large well pad sites. That makes it a little difficult for them to say that there will only be a few wells here and there, and the land will be returned to its original condition. Therefore, the group of paid liars, show up and video my presentation, trying to find something to take out of context and use against me. They then write some hack piece on their websites that are only read by those looking to get paid by the industry, and that makes the band of thugs applaud.

Another issue that follows the same pattern is the small community of Dimock, PA. A private water well actually exploded and yet now the claim is that everything is fine, again trying to put the cat back in the bag. Anyone who has visited the affected people in Dimock, know that everything is not fine, but rather still quite a mess. But the state agency designed to protect the people of Pennsylvania are also working in collusion with the oil and gas industry. This agency has allowed the industry to stop delivering fresh water to those whose water wells are tainted by the irresponsible activities of others. With these sort of actions, does anyone wonder why people are moving out of Gasland? When you cannot depend on those who are paid to protect you, you must protect yourself and your family. None of us are in this position because of our own doing, or because we want to be.

There have been numerous university studies that have attempted to validate the industry’s stories. Whether it deals with health impacts, or economic impacts, if they are funded by the industry, they always paint a rosy picture. While typically those who perform studies that are not funded by the industry, typically tell a different story, and if the story is not rosy, it is attacked. In the industries eyes only the studies they fund are valid, and not too many studies show a rosy picture if they are not industry funded. There have been numerous air studies accomplished throughout the Barnett Shale. First there was the DISH Study, that was followed up by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality testing, then the industry performed a study, and lastly the City of Fort Worth perform a study. If looking at only the lab results, all of the studies have very similar findings. There were the same chemicals detected and at levels above the Effects Screening Levels, including benzene that was detected in all of the studies. Frankly, some of the benzene levels found in the other areas were much worse than those found in DISH. However, the study in DISH indicated that there might be a problem with being exposed to benzene, while the other studies indicated that being exposed to a little benzene was ok, and when the levels were very high, they stated that they were being corrected. Although the lab results showed problem, the press release said everything was rosy. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality actually lied to the public about their test results, and had a subsequent internal ethics investigation that showed how this organization intentionally misled the public when they stated that they had not detected benzene in eight air samples, when results showed that half of the samples had elevated benzene levels. No one was ever held accountable for this intentional misleading of the public.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) even came to DISH to take blood and urine samples. This showed several elevated chemicals in the blood and urine of over half of the households, and most of those chemicals had been found to be produced by the compressor station; however, the TDSHS said things like household chemicals and smoking caused the elevated levels, when only four of the twenty seven people tested actually smoked. I was one of the ones who gave samples for the test, and along with 2/3 of those tested, I had toluene in my system. The TDSHS blamed this exposure on my commute, which I had not accomplished in 72 hours, and the half life for toluene is said to be 4 hours. During the meeting where they presented this information, there were several questions posed that the TDSHS could not answer, such as what the number of men vs women that were tested, were there different results in men vs women, how far did each person live from a well or compressor site, did those who lived closer to wells or compressors have higher exposure than those living further away. After it became apparent that the person responsible did not do an effective study, she admitted that this was not a scientific study, and that it should not be looked at as such (you can find the presentation on youtube). However, it has been treated and touted as the smoking gun that things are fine…nothing to see here . There have even been those in academia who have supported this study after it was admittedly flawed, while both the university professors, and the TDSHS are both paid by the State of Texas, where negative talk about the oil and gas industry is not tolerated. Consequently, the governor, who has never had a real job, made a run for President of the United States due to his support from the oil and gas industry, although that is not working out to well for him.

I do not have PhD that follows my name, nor am any kind of scientist, doctor,or lawyer. I admittedly do not understand things like climate change or global warming, but I do believe that I have a little common sense, and I have a lot of smart people that consult me. Therefore, when the benzene level goes up, so does the risk of someone getting cancer, and my children waking up to massive nosebleeds is not normal. Since moving from DISH 9 months ago my children have not suffered one nosebleed in the middle of the night. So although I am not a scientist, and can’t explain why my children were getting nosebleeds, or why the noxious odors gave me a headache and a sore throat, I know I feel better now, have a lot more energy, and that moving out of Gasland was a smart move for me and my family. For those really smart people who think that everything is fine in Gasland, please let me know…I bet I could find you a great deal on a house with a compressor station in your back yard, because it is very easy to say things are fine, when you don’t have any skin in the game.

Calvin Tillman
Former Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

“Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it”
Posted by Former DISH Mayor at 2:06 PM
1 comments:

MYtoeSPACEpillowJan 15, 2012 07:17 PM
Thanks for the article!! Looking forward to seeing you Thursday night at the NCTCA meeting.
Reply

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Living the Nightmare

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
Nice read. Interesting that Fasken Oil and Ranch wants a harmonious community of real estate and oil and gas on their own property using 40 acre spacing but don’t mind at all drilling up the property mere yards away from Gardendale! Oh, that is right, their executives will be on the property at the new headquarters. Gardendale, out of sight, out of mind. Plus, Gardendale residents, are, in general, common people with small plots of land. Who cares about them? Certainly not Tom Craddick or Norbert Dickman! Norbert Dickman is General Manager of Fasken Oil and Ranch, LTD.
 
Excerpt from this article:
 
City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Michael Trost said “to marry oil and gas and real estate is truly a big step. I’m sure the rest of the state will look to Midland and what Fasken is doing here.”
City Councilman Jeff Sparks told the audience he grew up hearing about the Fasken family and said the plans for the office building and planned community are symbolic of oil and gas operators. “Oil and gas people are, by nature, dreamers and this is a dream, having residences and producing wells mixed together,” he said.
The Gardendale Accountability Project, Inc. is “looking” at Fasken Oil right now in our backyard drilling wells on 4 acre by 4 acre squares. This model of toxic, industrial living is not what folks like 77 year old widow, Mrs. Owens, signed up for 40 years ago, but now, is being forced upon her.  There was a place called Gardendale where families could move, setup a small farm or ranch, and enjoy the quiet, country life.  However, our “dream” is being extinguished by Fasken, Berry, and RSP Permian and has turned into our nightmare!
 
Fasken Oil breaks ground on new corporate headquarters
www.mywesttexas.com
After 18 months of planning, executives of Fasken Oil and Ranch Ltd. were joined Wednesday by city officials to launch construction of its new corporate headquarters.
Berry Petroleum’s PR website, www.commongroundgardendale.com, contains an update from the latest Common Ground Committee meeting. In the update the disaster plan for Gardendale was laid out: in a nutshell call 911. At that point local first responders will swing into action. If things get bad they will go door to door and tell the residents to evacuate. At some point, we assume, Berry executives and most importantly, their lawyers will be notified in the safety of their upscale Denver homes and offices of any disaster that occurs in Gardendale. After the smoke clears and bodies are removed their lawyers will be seeking quick ‘equitable settlements’ with the victim’s families. Of course the victims will be required to keep their mouths shut as part of the perfunctory non-disclosure agreement. Most telling of all are the following comments:
• A meeting was held on Nov. 1, 2011 with Berry employees and Berry contractors/service providers to review the upcoming drilling activity and the expectations for all personnel
• Protocols were reviewed with an emphasis on safety and sensitivity/respect for the community and individual land owners
• All personnel are instructed to refer questions to the appropriate respondents and continue with their work.
• Onsite security personnel at each rig. Rig personnel are not authorized to engage in resident conversation on the worksite due to safety concerns
• Unauthorized personnel will be asked to leave the site due to safety

In addition the following e-mail response was received by a Gardap member when a request was made for Berry protocols for contractors operating in Gardendale.
“…Berry representatives and members of local law enforcement have expressed concerns that the distribution of contractor protocols could lead to local residents, who don’t have professional training in these areas, taking on law enforcement and environmental, health and safety enforcement responsibilities, thus putting those residents and their neighbors at risk…. Accordingly, at this time, we do not feel it is prudent to release publicly Berry’s employee, contractor and subcontractor protocols.”
Over time a clear picture has emerged of Berry’s ‘protocol’ in dealing with the residents of Gardendale as they implement their massive drilling plan for our small community. It is as follows:

1) Hire a PR company to interface with Gardendale residents. Berry has hired a company called KGB, Texas of San Antonio to serve as intermediaries between their employees and the residents of Gardendale. The stated goal of the KGB, from www.commongroundgardendale.com, is “… to provide accurate information and develop mutual understanding so that property owners and mineral rights holders can coexist in a way that benefits the entire community.” Gardap thinks the secret mission of the KGB is to let Gardendale residents ‘vent’ without doing anything substantive. In other words, let the residents express themselves while showing appropriate concern and caring. This tactic potentially has four benefits for a company like Berry:

a. It is hoped to make the residents feel better about having their land taken and community destroyed.
b. It is designed to insulate local Berry employees from interfacing with Gardendale residents. Having a website we could send our questions to and receive thoughtful, considerate answers (the theory) from a friendly public relations expert would keep us away from the Midland office and Berry’s field employees. If the Berry employees were exposed to the full impact of their activities in Gardendale it is possible their consciences would be disturbed. A disturbed conscience could interfere with profitability.
c. A professional PR company and regular meetings gives the illusion to Berry investors, board members and senior executives that residents concerns ‘are taken seriously’.
d. It will buy time for Berry. In Texas there is a time limit of two years to file a civil suit in most cases. Soothing folks with a potential claim in order to run out the two year clock is a technique used by clever companies. This technique was used by PG&E in an attempt to ‘wait out’ the residents of Hinckley, California. See the movie ‘Erin Brokovich’.

2) Hire an out of state drilling company to drill the 300 – 600 wells. An outside company, Keen Energy Services, formerly Goober Drilling (yes, Goober Drilling) , has begun the process of ‘drilling up’ Gardendale (www.keenenergyservices.com). This helps Berry in two ways:

a. The employees of Keen Energy Services, (formerly Goober Drilling) don’t have to face Gardendale residents. They will do their job and go back home. They won’t have to be around the people whose community they are helping destroy.
b. By following the injunction to not converse with us and refer our comments/questions to ‘appropriate respondents’ for the sake of ‘safety’ they will be able to rapidly move ahead on drilling as many wells as fast as possible. Keen Energy Services (formerly Goober Drilling) can rest their consciences easy, knowing Berry has provided a system for Gardendale residents to be heard and have their concerns addressed.

Berry attempted a clever ‘bait and switch’. Offer a few goodies like hospital grade muffles, a centralized gathering system and a professionally managed ‘common ground committee’ to listen to residents and come to mutual understanding…all the while planning on not backing up one whit on their massive drilling program that will destroy our community! We are not deceived by artificially concerned public relation professionals or Berry’s superficial changes to their operational plan. Berry will not foreswear 10 acre spacing. They may wind up drilling over 600 wells in our small community! Is that the action of a progressive, concerned and caring modern company? Insulating the consciences of their employees and contractors allow them to continue their ‘devil’s errand’ undeterred by any silly crisis of morality. Berry Petroleum, on its website says, “Berry Petroleum supports many worthy community, education and industry related causes through direct funding, in-kind donations and matching funds, as well as through employee participation and volunteering.” I challenge Robert Heinemann to do the following: Mr. Heinemann, the next time you are writing a philanthropic check on behalf of your company…remember the tears of Jeannie Owens and Donna Guyton, two widows in Gardendale impacted by what you are planning. Think of the community you are destroying. Your charitable contributions won’t wipe away the stain of what you are doing to us. Consider your actions carefully, They may make you wealthy and benefit your stockholders but they will also destroy the community 2200 souls live in.

www.commongroundgardendale.com

An Open Forum Regarding Your City