Gas Industry Goes After DISH Mayor

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Posted January 28, 2010 by Jeff Prince in Blotch

Fort Worth sure is special.

Even our air is tougher than your average air.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested the air at natural gas sites inside the city limits and found “no cause for concern,” leading Mayor Mike Moncrief to say we’re all safe and healthy and happy around here.

TCEQ testing elsewhere, however, discovered the carcinogen benzene was fairly common at gas sites in the Barnett Shale field. About 1 in 5 sites were emitting toxins and pollutants in the air. And two sites tested so high that the state regulators demanded immediate corrections.

Gas production facilities can “and in some cases do” emit contaminants in amounts that could be deemed unsafe, according to a TCEQ news release.

Read this week’s Metro story for insight into the shaky world of TCEQ air testing.

DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman is quoted extensively in the story as his town resorted to spending 15 percent of its budget to pay for independent testing. The TCEQ seemed connected at the hip to the gas industry and so Tillman requested independent tests, which revealed high levels of carcinogens near a gas compressor station.

And guess what happens when you try to challenge a powerful industry that is spewing pollutants that are killing trees and animals and, some say, making humans ill?

You get harassed.

Read this letter written by Tillman after he received a letter from a law firm representing the Texas Pipeline Association. The group had asked for public documents from DISH, which Tillman supplied, but the law firm claimed he wasn’t giving them everything they asked for. The pipeline association is ready to “exercise all available remedies” if the information isn’t provided.

Here’s Tillman’s response:

Many of you have told me to let them know if ever needed your help. Well, I could use your help at the moment.  As you may have noticed I have become a lightening rod for personal attacks from our friends in the natural gas industry.  The latest is that they are accusing me of not providing the information that they asked for in a public information request to the town of DISH.  Please know that I completely cooperated with their request. The only thing that I questioned with the request was that they were asking for personal medical information from the citizens of DISH.  Of course they only wished to use this information to vilify the very citizens that they are poisoning.  So, I questioned the legality of their request, like any good mayor would do.  However, from the latest letter they are threatening to file suit against the town and file a complaint with the attorney general.  However, we have been more than cooperative with with those in the Texas Pipeline Association, who made this public information request.  What they are trying to do is come of with frivolous allegations, to run up the legal fees for our community.  As with with everything that I have done thus far, I am only trying to protect the citizens of this community, and I will not back down.  I have long ago quit worrying about myself, and now only worry about my family and my citizens.  I would ask that each and every person who supports what I have done and what am doing, please call the following people and ask them to clean up their mess in the town of DISH, and to LEAVE US ALONE!!!!  Please see attached threatening letter.

Patrick Nugent 512.478.2871

Celina Romero 515.472.8800

Please forward this message to as many people as you can and ask for their help.

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”


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