Letter to Gov. Perry: the least of these

Posted: May 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear Governor Perry,

While it may seem that the issue facing the residents of Gardendale is not within your ‘bailiwick’ I think it is. You see, Governor Perry, you will be facing issues in the near future that have to do with oil and gas development on a state level. The Keystone pipeline may be one of these. How you support issues like Keystone will affect the citizens you represent. We understand that the Republican party is pushing the pipeline for the jobs it will bring. However, were you aware that building a pipeline will involve the use of imminent domain to seize a huge amount of land necessary to build it? A group of private companies building a private pipeline for private profit will seize private land owned by private American citizens! And they will do it with the blessing of the U.S. Government. At the Gardendale Accountability Project we empathize with those land owners that will be bulldozed by Keystone. We are experiencing the same thing at the hands of Berry Petroleum of Denver, Colorado (a foreign corporation doing business in Texas) The injustice we have suffered at the hands of Berry Petroleum is worse than the profligate use of imminent domain that many in Texas rail at and indeed, passed legislation to limit!. All Berry needs to seize our land for their private use is a contract with the mineral owner, a fee paid to the Texas Railroad Commission and they are free to do almost as they wish on our private property. Our permission is not necessary for them to do anything they deem ‘reasonable’. If a surface owner of modest means disagrees with an oil company’s definition of ‘reasonable’ then they have the special joy of pitting themselves in a legal battle with a multibillion dollar company having the ability to hire legions of lawyers. A young family making $50,000 a year and owning a couple of acres that Berry wants to drill on doesn’t stand a chance. Oil companies don’t hesitate to sue folks into oblivion. Did you know that a tactic used by oil companies is to countersue for ‘lost production’? This amounts to about $100,000 per day if the surface owner balks at what they want to do. Governor Perry, this practice is an outrage and has the effect of crushing any opposition to the oil company’s definition of reasonable. In Gardendale Berry Petroleum thinks it ‘reasonable’ to drill 150 feet behind the home of a 70 year old widow with a heart condition. She has lived in Gardendale for 40 years. When she raised her voice the original lease owner (Keystone Petroleum, by the way!) rushed to get an injunction against her. Governor Perry, she is on oxygen and uses a walker! Shame is not a word in many of these oil companies dictionaries. It doesn’t bother them to ‘run on’ the poor, widows and elderly. Would you want them to do that to your mother? The lease was subsequently sold to Berry Petroleum. Additionally, Berry Petroleum thinks it reasonable to drill 300 to 600 wells in our neighborhood. I could go on and on but eventually you would become numb to our complaints. A question to be answered is this, “ If state officials can come up with a plan to ‘protect the lizard’ and get oil companies to sign onto it why can’t they do the same for us?” I borrow a phrase from our Lord “Are we not worth many lizards?” In summary, what is going on in Gardendale affects your constituency and I intend to continue sending you updates to the ravaging we are enduring. You may review a chronicle of our plight by going to www.gardap.org and checking out our Facebook page, “The Gardendale Accountability Project.” We are unreasonably being taken advantage and want you, as our elected governor, to come to our aid.

Very Respectfully,

Dan Boggs, President, Gardendale Accountability Project, Inc.

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