Berry….Carpetbagger reincarnation!

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

carpetbagger•We were told recently by an oil company legal representative that they (the oil company) had 80 years of Texas law and precedent behind them in what they do in places like Gardendale. In other words, there has not been a substantial change in the direction of Texas law in 80 years. While Texas law declares the mineral estate to be dominant it also states that oil companies must make accommodation to existing use of land they drill on, where possible. It also gives them the right to ‘reasonable’ use of the surface as they seek to exploit their lawfully owned/leased minerals. Texas got itself in the jam it is in now when it ‘split’ the mineral estate from the surface estate. Now it is possible (and actually prevalent) for the surface owner to have no interest in the minerals. This set up a natural conflict between the surface owner and mineral owner. The surface owners at times tried to inhibit the mineral owner from harvesting his property. Therefore the courts have consistently sided with the mineral owner and supported his ‘rights’. This seems reasonable until you see this insidious practice played out on your own land. When the law was put in place declaring the mineral owner to have the ‘dominant estate’ the technology in place was antiquated compared to todays. Directional drilling, fracking and the multitude of production improvements have radically changed what can be done and where it can be done. Areas that were believed to be unprofitable to exploit for the last 60 years or more are all of a sudden ‘goldmines’. The quantum leap of technology has outstripped the law. It is often said (and has been said to me many time) “When you bought your land you knew you didn’t own the minerals….You should have known that an oil company could drill on you! YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!” So, the law that existed 80 years ago was meant to include the fantastic leaps of technology that came afterward. Does anyone believe that? Do we believe the same about other industries? 80 years ago did we view cigarettes the same as we do know? Auto safety? Do you remember when the dash in your car was hard metal and it actually had pointed dials that could pierce your eye if you were thrown forward? Should auto companies be able to apply the safety standards of 80 years ago to today’s cars? Do we really want 80 year old law to govern modern technology? Even our language has changed to include modern technologies that weren’t a fantasy 80 years ago.

In Texas our state has bent its regulatory functions to support the oil producer, many times (I believe) at the expense of the landowner. Many folks believe that some of what oil companies do to surface owners is unjust and perhaps a violation of basic civil rights. But in Texas there seems to be tolerance for putting up with ‘a few injustices’ in exchange for the high paying jobs and enhanced revenue. ‘Sure, there are things they shouldn’t do but look at all the jobs they provide.” We choose to ignore the slights to what we believe to be the few because of the economic benefit to the many. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” is a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program. They can take your land because others will benefit from it! Apparently our Texas politicians share this philosophy. You possibly think this reasonable….unless you are a landowner (say of two acres) that is going to have all of your land absorbed for use by an oil company; or, unless you are a landowner ignored by law enforcement when reporting trespass of oil company employees; or, unless you are a landowner that has been told a mineral lease signed in 2007 supersedes your land deed granted over 50 years ago; or, unless when reporting grievances and possible crimes you are told it is a ‘civil’ matter; or, unless after presenting video evidence to the TRRC of misdoing by an oil company on your land you are told that your video means nothing; or, unless …and many, many more examples that are taking place in our community. Berry Petroleum has swooped into Gardendale like Carpetbaggers infesting the South after the loss of the civil war. ‘Carpetbaggger – When northern people came to the south to take advantage of their poor situation when they were vulnerable (apt description of the Berry carpetbaggers).’ Their misdeeds are compounded by recruiting fellow Texans to assist in the wholesale disassembling of Gardendale. In exchange for their 30 pieces of silver they scurry to carry out Berry’s bidding. However, it isn’t too late to change course. If you are a Berry employee and don’t like what you see them doing in Gardendale, QUIT! There are plenty of jobs out there in which you don’t have to betray your neighbors in exchange for a full rice bowl. It may be a difficult thing to do but your grandchildren will talk about the time “Grandpa (or Grandma) risked it all to do the right thing. What will you choose? A legacy of courage and commitment to stick up for the vulnerable or a paycheck from a company that cares not one whit for your conscience? Perhaps it is time to stand up, be counted and vote with your feet. Choose now. As you read this if your conscience is speaking to you, listen. Don’t deny its call to your heart.


  1. rnm1224 says:

    I wonder how our local company owners and their employees who have friends and family in Gardendale that are helping Berry in Gardendale view Berry and when will they begin growing morals and tell Berry they just cannot accomodate them in their legal plight in Gardendale while hiding behind an antiquated oil law in Texas.
    All the residents of Gardendale and all they own is simply colateral damage to the dingle-berrys,in their eyes the residents are just stupid for buying in Gardendale.

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