Remember the former mayor of DISH who fled the city after gas drillers turned it into an industrial site?
Tillman and some of his townsfolk fought a long time against state laws and regulatory agencies that are geared toward protecting industry. They’re still fighting. But last year he put his home up for sale, gave full disclosure about the nearby compressor stations and the health effects that some residents were reporting (including his own children), and eventually sold his place at a loss.
Seven months ago, Tillman moved from DISH. Now he’s co-founder of ShaleTest, a nonprofit that collects environmental data and provides environmental testing to lower income families and neighborhoods affected by natural gas exploration.
Here’s an email update from Tillman edited for length (I put ellipses to indicate where I cut something):
“Since moving from DISH, my children have not experienced the periodic nosebleeds that they had while living there, and we have been able to enjoy being outside at our home without the noxious odors. It is amazing how you miss things like opening your windows on a nice day to let a breeze blow through your home. This has taken a tremendous burden off of the entire family. … Traveling around and talking to various people, I have found that there are many others in the same position that we found ourselves in; however, getting out for most is not as easy. … Once someone is put in this situation, selling their home, even at a massive loss can be difficult if not impossible. So foreclosure is the only option available for some folks to get out of the situation that they have put in, which in many cases is through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, foreclosure is not the end of it, because after that, your credit will be ruined and all the money invested will be lost, not to mention being able to find another place to live.
“I am unsure how a situation like this can occur in America, but it has on numerous occasions and keeps repeating itself. There have been so many who have lost everything because of this situation. These are honest hardworking, taxpaying Americans who have worked hard and saved to buy a home, and spent their life savings on the home of their dreams, only to see that dream be taken away by an energy company that could not care less about the impacts they are making on someone’s life. They are forced to deal with exposure to hazardous chemicals, tainted water, and noxious odors that prevent them from peaceful enjoying the home of their dreams and threaten their children’s health. They are faced with decisions that an American should not have to be faced with. We were also fortunate that we lived close enough to the edge of the Barnett Shale, that we could move off of the shale without needing to switch jobs, and maintain key relationships. Many are not in a similar position, for them to move off of their prospective shale, or other formation, they would need to move several hundred miles away to escape. So you are then left to wonder where exactly you could move to get out of your situation, and what you may do when you get there. Scenarios such as this prevent families from leaving a bad situation. Therefore, they continue to live in a home, where the air or water may be tainted because there is simply no good option to move elsewhere.
“The stories that I hear over and over again and again, seem to get worse and worse. Every time I hear one of these stories, I tell myself that this is as bad as it can possible get; only to hear one that is worse. I am a grown man that has stood toe to toe with very powerful politicians and a very powerful industry, but these stories break me. …
“This is an aspect of this subject that is not discussed often enough, and the number of people who are affected in this manner continues to grow. There are so many that are wanting out of their current situation, and have no viable options to make that happen. Therefore, they are stuck in a situation that perhaps is negatively affecting their health and or the health of their children. To those of you out there in this position, I hear your voice and only wish I could do more to help you.”