Archive for July, 2013

It is 1984 in Gardendale!

Posted: July 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

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In an Orwellian move a subcontractor, ProVision, acting on behalf of Berry Petroleum has set up cameras pointed at a landowner’s home! This egregious and outrageous violation of privacy did not occur in Venezuela or China but in Gardendale, Texas! What is next on the list of these thugs? Outlawing thought? Will they attempt to police your thought? Or where you worship? Or who you vote for? How long will these assassins of Liberty and Freedom be allowed to act with impunity? All in the name of ‘oil and gas law’ and ‘providing jobs’ of course. Stand up Texans! Are you men and women of integrity or sheep?

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ProVision survl well 14ItProVision sees well but apparently can’t read! This Berry subcontractor, in clear violation of posted ranch rules, moved to set up cameras on a location in Gardendale. I suppose it is hard to find good help nowadays. So sad they can’t find hands that can read and heed simple instructions!

A few weeks ago we listened intently to an ‘expert’, under oath in a court of law, attempt to explain why it is better for Berry  to simply leave their drilling pits intact on our land in Gardendale rather than haul off the contents for proper disposal. She claimed they have liners, etc. which should make it ‘ok’ to do so. The coup de grace came when she rolled out the ‘superior’ logic of why it is better to leave the pit, with its contents (some of these pits have tested to levels of Benzene dozens of time higher than would be allowed in other non-oilfield facilities elsewhere) buried in the ground on private property. She stated that using a totally closed loop system and the subsequent removal of the waste material resulted in environmental spills which had to be cleaned up. Leaving the waste buried in the pit is actually ‘better’ (according to the ‘expert’}. What? Better for who? Berry, who must pay to have spills cleaned up or the landowner who is going to have it on his/her land for hundreds or thousands of years? We at Gardap don’t have fancy degrees in environmental studies but we find it hard to believe that she can, with a straight face, say that so much waste is slopped about and spilled it is better environmentally to not remove it at all!

We think this incident is a good example of the hubris displayed by Keystone and Berry  from the first day they showed up in Gardendale.

The first clue we had of what was coming was the arrival of the geophysical exploration company. Ostensibly nice guys that were simply doing a job. Do you mind if we put our fancy gear on your property, sir, so we can see if somebody is going to get rich? By the way, if you don’t let us we will hire a mean lawyer to force you. You see, the mineral owner has rights and you can’t exclude him access to your property.  The dust from Dawson’s trucks had hardly settled when that peculiar hybrid of preacher, liar, good old boy and old fashioned flim flam man showed up; the land man. Wouldn’t you like a little walking around money? You can have FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS…..just for signing this simple agreement that protects your rights…and of course you know we don’t need your permission to drill on your land so you might as well take the money….we don’t have to give you the money so you better take it before those guys back in the office change their mind (conspiratorial wink, wink). Of course, because you sign doesn’t mean we are gonna drill on your land…who knows what those crazy geologists in Midland will do?

Of course, some landowners sensed  behind the slick words lay a coiled serpent, ready to strike and refused to sign, going as far as to make known their trepidation. They could see the industrial storm troopers gathering on the horizon. But, the folks working on behalf of the mineral owners had a solution. When resistance rears its ugly head, crush it. Like Stukas of the German Luftwaffe in WWII diving  out of the sun they dropped their loads of restraining orders and lawsuits on the heads of those with the gall to stand up to them. In court, buttressed  by affidavits of their own employees they swept over Gardendale residents easily, playing the court expertly. Play the right tune, say the right words and like magic a court order appears! Your honor, this diminutive 77  year old widow in front of you looks frail but don’t let that deceive you! Her threatening words and actions are making us lose valuable production time. Not only are we losing money she is threatening civilization itself. Please, your honor, don’t let this beast come near us on her own land! Her presence alone frightens us. We have an affidavit from one of our honest employees stating  she is a ninja expert with her walker! Make her leave us alone. Please, don’t let her hurt us. Grant this restraining order.

Next the serious work began. Heavy trucks rolled into Gardendale in a Poland style blitzkrieg. Move in quickly, start drilling, if anyone gets in the way summon the lawyers in thousand dollar suits. If you can’t  get a restraining order then sue. Your honor, this dastardly landowner expertly portrays himself as a simple country man. Don’t be fooled for he is sly and clever like a fox.  We have an affidavit here (from one of our honest subcontractors) that says he saw a man working for this vile creature driving a tractor hit our power pole. It cost us days of production. We need a lot of money to make up for that production. A lot of money. Please make him pay us for the money we lost because of his horrid deeds. Please stop this monster before he strikes again. Our investors in Denver are depending on you!

Realizing they were losing ground in the public relations war they took drastic steps. They hired a professional public relations firm from San Antonio to shine up their image; KGB Texas. We kid you not. Berry hired the KGB to make themselves look better. Somehow, in hindsight it seems fitting. Tasked with convincing us to enjoy the assault on our land the KGB immediately set out to prove Berry was a swell company. They formed the ‘Gardendale Stakeholder Committee’. Apparently the ‘pros’ at the KGB didn’t understand the negative connotation of the word Stakeholder. They must not have known that Berry was busy driving stakes on our land (some within 150 feet of our homes) to indicate where they were planning to drill. We did not want to hold their stakes. Wonder how much money they wasted on this incompetence? They changed the name to Common Ground Committee; as if putting up a fancy website gives them something ‘in common’ with us. Those bumpkins in Gardendale will be easy to fool. They must be educated to what a great and environmentally friendly company Berry really is. Once they understand they should be thankful one of the ‘good players’ is taking excessive amounts of their property,  pummeling them in court, venting their gases on them and leaving toxic waste buried on their land. They will be grateful. They may elect Robert Heinemann president. Don’t be surprised if they are moved to worship the superior beings from Denver as gods. Well worth the pile of money you are paying us. It is sad we can’t send them to a Gulag if they give us trouble. Maybe with enough money spent on our bought and paid for Texas legislature we will get the law changed allowing us to do that!

Berry’s continued drive through Gardendale to their goal of 300 wells or more has been compared to Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the sea in the Civil War. Burning, confiscating wealth and generally humiliating the South (which contributed significantly to the North’s victory) he began the campaign by burning Atlanta and ended in Savannah. However, Sherman’s post-civil war career is more apt for comparison. Sherman, as commanding General of the Army, was responsible for the Army’s conduct of the Indian Wars. Making agreements with the tribes, breaking them, attacking them and forcing them off their lands; all under the umbrella of orders, the law and Manifest Destiny. In Gardendale Berry appears to be have studied Sherman’s techniques. Relentless in their insistence on drilling close to homes; pulling back from their ‘promise’ to use closed loop systems; utilizing brutal legal tactics; attempting to dress it all up with a ‘PR campaign’; giving their subcontractors permission to break ranch rules and occupying what we believe to be grossly excessive numbers of pad sites (when, we think, it is possible to directionally drill) they continue to infuriate and alienate many residents of Gardendale.

Gardendale has suffered first at the hands of Keystone, then Berry and now it appears Linn Energy is buying Berry. It got off to a rocky start when Berry was accused of manipulating events to benefit senior executives and large shareholders. In addition Linn is being sued by stockholders for fraud. Somehow this did not surprise us in Gardendale.  They may be innocent. We doubt it.

Our complaints to legislators and state bureaucracies have fallen on deaf ears. Wagging their heads they proclaim “It is the law”, and, “You should have known when you bought land in Texas you could be severely screwed over by an oil company. You should have known.” Yes, it is the law. The law also used to say that one human being could own another. The law also used to say that women could not vote. The law also used to say that a woman and her children could be kicked out of their homes because of a gambling debt. The law also used to say that citizens had to pass a literacy exam in order to vote. The law also  used to say one could be arrested for drinking from the ‘wrong’ water fountain.  If we depend on gray haired men and women in black robes (at times living in a world separate and distinct from us) to define what is moral and just we are in a desperate situation.

Berry lawyers, landmen and executives hold  Texas Oil and Gas law to be a kind of Holy Codex good for consultation as a moral guide and compass.   A convenient substitute for a conscience. We believe Texas Oil and Gas law is outdated and grossly unfair to landowners. When it was written some of the technologies in use today were not even dreamt of and certainly not accounted for in many of the rules and regulations. When Berry executives and senior managers are old and in a nursing home (probably the finest that money can buy) relying on an aide to change their diapers and feed them will they consider the wrecking of Gardendale? Without their brutal and powerful lawyers around to salve their consciences and having forgotten the words of their Holy Codex will they wish their behavior had been more humane?

Soon Gardendale will be subject to new Oil and Gas masters. Linn energy. If the lawyers can settle the legal questions, keep the important folks out of jail and maintain Berry and Linn’s solvency the acquisition will occur in the third quarter. Will Linn be any different? Better? Worse? A lot worse? Their website proclaims them to be “A different kind of oil and natural gas company”. We hope so. Until they prove differently we consider them to be the same kind of bad actor as Berry. Until then we fight. A note to Linn. If you want to improve the communication between Gardap, Gardendale and yourselves (we don’t mean the faux communication perpetrated by the KGB with its, closed meetings by invitation only to handpicked members of Gardendale, much like the Politboro in the former Soviet Union) quit hiding behind your lawyers and landmen’s petticoats and meet with us like men and women of integrity; or, consult your Holy Codex. You choose.

Dan   Boggs

Gardendale Accountability Project

A landowner in Gardendale went onto a Berry location to obtain photos of an area with an oil spill (See our post Berry-Environmental Incompetents?) underneath a trailer. His account is as follows:  As he went to leave a BlackTruckBlocked Berry employee drove quickly to the gate (the only exit-see photo above) and blocked it. No doubt he thought this to be a clever ploy of harassment. However, we believe it to  be a case of unlawful detention. The Sheriff’s office was called, a deputy dispatched and a report filed after the deputy talked to the Berry employees.  Does oil and gas law give an oil company the right to  detain a landowner on his own land? We don’t think it does. A bigger question is were these employees acting at the direction of management or on their own? In either case they and Berry may  be legally liable for what they did. However you can the judge as to what really happened. You see, we have a video and will post it as soon as possible. You watch and you judge. Stay tuned.

The pictures below were taken on a Berry location in Gardendale. We believe these men (apparently one of them brought a teenage family member) are employees or contractors to Berry. Berry has told us on several occasions that we could not come on their locations ON OUR OWN LAND without the ‘proper safety equipment’. See the Safety Hypocrites item on our website to enjoy the performance by the Shrieking Shrews of Safety. After consideration we understand what they mean. There is a valid safety issue. Working on and around Berry’s location may be unsafe for the Constitution and Landowner Rights. It is clear to us their issue is not whether or not we have hardhats but what we do with the videos of their misdeeds!

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The new potential owners of Berry and lords of Gardendale are being sued for fraud. The charges are that they defraueded investors. Gardendale. wake up! Your new ‘masters’ may be, in fact, what they say….A different kind of company….but in a bad way!

http://www.rgrdlaw.com/media/cases/217_Complaint.pdf

Berry covered up the property surrounding the bubbling pit the day after we posted the evidence of their environmental misdeeds! No doubt their ‘expert’ would declare this environmentally sound!