Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Imagine If There Were A Town In The USA Where You Couldn't Get Any Water. You Can Stop Imagining.

This is an interesting story about honest hard working Texans, wondering what those elected to prevent this are doing about.  Whether the water is poisoned or depleted, but when it's gone it's gone.

Imagine If There Were A Town In The USA Where You Couldn't Get Any Water. You Can Stop Imagining.

Independent Texans First Convention Ever – Sept. 21st! | Independent Texans

I hope to see you at the first Independent Texans convention on September 21, 2013 in Austin, TX, where I will be talking about something near and dear to my heart, Eminent Domain.  See link below.

Independent Texans First Convention Ever – Sept. 21st! | Independent Texans

Monday, August 19, 2013

More Corruption by Texas Politicians

Here the Texas politicians are using their power to get admission into State Universities and student loan fraud.

More Texas corruption

Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Time For Congress To Actively Condemn Eminent Domain Abuses - Forbes

This is a good article that illustrates the importance of needing legislation to protect some of our fundamental rights.  We should be able to purchase property knowing that we can raise our families and live there as long as we want, without fear of being run out of our homes by corporate greed or corrupt politicians.  I served 6 years as an elected official, and in my view if an elected official has allowed eminent domain that is not truly for public use , then they are corrupt...period.  However, there will not be changes to this policy unless we stop letting corrupt politicians buy their seats through reelection and hold them accountable for their actions.  The corrupt politicians will never implement term limits on their own, that is left up to us.  If we do not, then we are choosing our fate, and we are leaving a very sad world to our children.

It's Time For Congress To Actively Condemn Eminent Domain Abuses - Forbes

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water | Environment | The Guardian

This is something that we must think about moving forward.  If there is not water, there is no food, no vegetation and subsequently no life.  How much will we have to pay for water in the future?

A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water | Environment | The Guardian

It Sucks To Be The Example

While boarding my flight at DFW to the Gasland 2 premiere in New York City, I can not help but reflect on the last eight years, and how it came to be that I would a part of a film that would make such a huge impact around the world.  How is that a small town boy from Oklahoma, a welder's son, would be invited to a movie premiere in the big apple?

I reflect further back to my roots of growing up in a small Oklahoma oil boom town, and the strange journey that my life has taken after graduating from the Oilton, OK High School.  My mind drifts back to my childhood and helping my father, who would work on the oil well pump jacks for extra money, became some of my earliest memories.  How did  I go from growing up in an oil field to becoming one of the oil and gas industry's largest critics?

Because of my upbringing, I did not find it odd to move into an area, where there was mineral exploration going on, surely this would be just like the area that I grew up in.  The wells would absolutely not be placed near people's homes, nor would there be drilling in urban areas.  However, I would soon learn that this was nothing like the area that I grew up in.  I would soon learn of the technology called hydraulic fracturing, which has unlocked previously unreachable minerals.  

After 2005 the drilling activity in our area exploded, there were drilling rigs everywhere,  pipelines snaked their way through corn fields and cow pastures.  It was at this time when I was sworn in as a Town Commissioner for the small town of Clark, TX.  Over the next two years, the name of the town was changed to DISH, in exchange for 10 years of free dish network.  We also put in one of the strictest and most comprehensive drilling ordinances of any town in the Barnett Shale.  It also became more and more apparent that I was meant to become mayor, and lead this small community.  In May of 2007, I was sworn in as the third mayor of DISH, TX.

It was at this time that a large industrial complex was being constructed just beyond our southern border.  We would soon come to learn that this would be a bank of several natural gas compressors, and processing facility.  Although the industry down played this facility, it became apparent that we would soon have something similar to a refinery in our back yard.  However, being a life long conservative republican, it was difficult to speak out about the natural gas industry.  However, over the next few years, that view would change considerably.  

As the facility grew, the noise got louder and the odors got stronger.  There were also several events that led to massive releases of natural gas.  When we complained to the industry, they simply said that this was a safety feature, and everything worked as designed.  They also stated that natural gas is lighter than air, and everything went straight to the moon.  At this point, I was wondering if it was this bad and things were working as designed, what would happen if it didn't?

Growing up in Oklahoma, left me with a certain views and opinion that were impressed upon me by my parents.  One thing that I was never very good at, was dealing with a bully, and I was figuring out real quick, that the oil and gas industry played the bully card real well.  However, the community had put their faith in me to protect them from this, and it was my intention to not let them down.  Therefore, I began to get more aggressive, when dealing with the industry.   

Frankly, if the oil and gas industry had been half as responsible as they portray themselves in the industry commercials, most folks would have never heard of DISH, TX or me for that matter, I certainly would not have been a part of Gasland.  You might say that I was forced into being a critic of this industry.  However, as the facility continued to grow against our will, the side effects continued to get worse.  

There was a moment when the impact of what we were going through all started come together.  We were watching the acclaimed documentary Split Estate, when we had that sobering moment.  The theme of nosebleeds began to come up again and again.  Unfortunately, we had noticed our two young boys had been having increasing nosebleeds.  Not the kind that rough and tumble boys get when they are wrestling, but these nosebleeds would happen while they were sleeping, also on nights when the odor was the strongest.  

We knew at this point that something had to be done to protect our children, after a week in May of 2010 and nosebleeds by one of the boys basically every night, we made the decision to move.  To move away from the only home my children knew, away from our church and school, this is certainly one of the toughest decision I have ever had to make, now I am traveling to see one of the worst things that me and my family have had to go through played out on the big screen, it sucks to be the example.    

After moving it did not take us long to realize that we had made the right choice, the boys nosebleeds stopped immediately, and my oldest son's asthma improved immediately.  I often wish none of this would have happened, but believe that we are all put into positions for a reason, and therefore, I am committed to prevent what happened to my family from happening to others.  I lost my dream home, but will continue to fight and help others in similar situations.  As I look into the eyes of my seven month old daughter, I know we can not stop.  Please join me in the fight, together we can make a difference.  

My Testimony in the 2013 Legislature Before The Energy Resources Committee in Opposition to House Bill 2828

Notes for HB2828 Pipeline Preemption

My name is Calvin Tillman and I live in Aubrey, TX.  However, for the purpose of HB 2828, I am here on behalf of the small community of DISH, TX, where I serve as an unpaid municipal consultant and citizen's advocate.  The town of DISH has some of the greatest and earliest impacts from the natural gas boom in the Barnett Shale, more specifically the natural gas pipeline industry.  I served three terms in the local government of DISH and we are adamantly opposed to this bill.  

This bill has been characterized as a bill to prevent municipalities from implementing different safety regulations on pipeline companies.  The pipeline industry does not want to be faced with different safety rules in each municipality that they do business in.  Different than what state and federal regulations currently require.  This is understandable.

However, currently municipalities are preempted by state and federal law, and have been for many decades from implementing ANY safety standards on pipeline companies.  It short municipalities, are and have been for many years restricted from the ability to regulate safety on pipelines in any manner. This has been held up in numerous court cases, most recently in the case of The City of Grand Prairie vs Texas Midstream Gas, which was the pipeline branch of Chesapeake Energy.  Therefore, this bill has nothing to do with municipalities implementing different safety standards.  

This bill could and likely will be interpreted to preempt all municipal ordinances including noise abatement for compressors engines, nuisance ordinances, and aesthetic requirements for above ground appurtenances.  These simple requirements are   meant to prevent property devaluation and preserve quality of life.   

Imagine spending your life savings on a piece of property and building your dream home.  Now imagine an industry moving a facility in next door that emits loud noises and horrible odors.  Noises and odors so bad that you are unable to enjoy  going outside and enjoying the property which you have spent your life savings on.   How would you like that?  If you pass this bill, you will be taking away a municipality's ability to prevent it.
I am the first to say that the proper place for this kind of a discussion is inside of the working group that was put together a few years ago to develop the best practices, not inside of a hearing room at the Texas Legislature.  This group worked very hard to prevent the need for further regulations.  

If this bill were to pass and the ability of a municipality to have any input on pipelines would be taken away completely, you will essentially take away a municipality's ability to plan for the future.  This will destroy the municipality's ability to implement a comprehensive plan, or zoning for that matter.  For example, a small community may  have a plan in place to develop a certain area as a business district, and a pipeline company decides that they need a compressor station or pipeline in that area, they are able to condemn the property against the will of the property owner, and without municipal input they can essentially destroy the municipality's ability to grow.  Completely destroying the possiblity for a future business district.  

Although the substitute does allow for the municipality to charge a fee for the crossing of a municipal right of way, it is unclear if a municipality will have any input on where the pipeline crosses, or how the municipality's property will be used.  

The substitute bill does allow for the mapping and inventorying which is critical to the day to day operations of a municipality and currently one of the few things that municipalities can currently require.  

Municipalities and pipeline companies need to be forced to negotiate matters such as this, however, this bill would give an unreasonable amount of authority to an industry that has a history of not using it's authority well.  This bill is also is an encroachment on a municipality's ability to control it's own future.  

For communities like DISH, TX the ability to grow will be taken out of of the municipality's hand and given to the hands of a bureaucrat at the Railroad Commission, and could essentially turn many small communities into heavy industrial areas.  Which will destroy property values and prevent residents from peacefully enjoying the property which they likely spent their life savings to buy.

Having served as a small town mayor and town commissioner, it is clear that a small local government is the purest form of a democracy.  My citizens were not a vote or a number, they were my friend and neighbors.  I met them at the grocery store and at our kids tee-ball games.  They helped me build my barn, and their children played or in some cases babysit my children.  They were friends, neighbors and extended family.  I urge you to  leave local officials some authority to protect their citizens, don't take it all away.

In closing I will read a comment from the current mayor of DISH, TX, Bill Sciscoe that I just received via text message - 

We R on the short lisr of the filthist places on earth because of the N. Gas industry. We R almost defenseless now because of legislation just like this.  

Our citizens deserve better than this from our legislators. 

I want to thank the chairman and committee for allowing me to speak on behalf of the great small, resilient community of DISH, TX.   

Two Children Given Lifelong Ban on Ever Talking About Fracking by Range Resources (RRC)

The folks at Range Resources (RRC) are the epitome of the evil company that abuses their power and authority.  The Range Resources Shareholder's should be ashamed of what is going on their and demand immediate action.
Two Children Given Lifelong Ban on Ever Talking About Fracking

My Testimony at the Texas Energy Resources Committee Supporting Surface Owner Protection and Texas House Bill 3600

HB 3600

Hello thank you Mr. Chair and committee members for allowing my testimony,  I am Calvin Tillman from Aubrey, TX and I am here representing myself to support HB 3600.  

Whenever a drilling rig shows up in someone's backyard, the affected landowners start searching on the internet and they usually find a handful of people including myself.  So I have heard stories from surface owners all over this state, and frankly it is time for us to do something about protecting the surface owners.  

Through personal interactions, and being intimately involved in the interactions of others, I must agree with Representative Wu's assessment that you should consider getting an attorney anytime the oil and gas industry shows up at your door.  However, that is not how people do business in rural Texas.  Also, the litigation process is not an easy process for a property owner to go through.

Imagine working hard your entire life to buy your dream home, a home and 10 acres that you build into your dreams, you get a horse for your children to the ride.   When you close on the property you already have plans to build a barn for these horses, and seed the front pasture for them to graze, as well as building a pipe and cable fence to keep the horses in.  

You question you realtor at closing about a document that you are asked to sign.  It is a one page document that has you simply acknowledge that you do not own the minerals for the property that you are purchasing.  Your realtor explains that if you are digging in your yard and hit oil - the oil is somebody else's.  

You continue living the American Dream for the next several years.  You have performed the improvements you had planned when purchasing the property, and now this is officially your dream home.   

Then one day whaile you were traveling for work, and shortly after your wife leaves for work,  without notice a natural gas drilling company comes and cuts down your new pipe and cable fences and proceeds to bulldoze approximately three of your ten acres for a well pad site.  

When you provide the Forman your displeasure with the process, the Forman on the site lets you know that it would be in your best interest to not speak with an attorney, cause they could really make it tough on you if you start causing problems.  They then threaten you with a restraining order that would prevent you from being able to use your own home.  But they brag about how nice they were, because after they cut your fence down they locked your horses in the barn.  

A drilling rig is set up to drill two natural gas wells on the massive pad site 300 feet from your back door.  You are curious why this company needs to put this well 300 feet from your back door, when there are tens of thousands of acres of open land around you.  When you figure out the answer, you are disturbed, the reason that this company did this...is because they can.

Your deep republican roots, have you support the oil and gas industry, but what you have seen makes you question how your party could support what just happened to you.  You are military veteran, who faithfully served his country, you ask yourself if this is what you defended. 

You then think about think about the document at closing, wondering why your realtor did not describe this process to you when you asked about owning minerals.  If she had told what potentially could happen to you, you would have run.  

Whenever I tell this story, most people can not believe that this could not happen in America, and certainly not in a property rights state like Texas.  However, the scenario that I just described do not happen in some third world dictatorship, this happened right here in TX , and it happened in Representative Phil King's district.

There is actually a rule that requires for notification of the surface owner within 15 days after a permit is approved from a the Railroad Commission.  However, there is no penalty for not complying with this rule.  This is an example of when a law is not really a law.  

I know that the job this committee does is very important, and I know there is a variety of subjects that you deal with every session.  We have to start the discussion regarding surface owner protection in Texas.  There are several other mineral producing states that already have reasonable surface owner protection.  This has not stopped mineral exploration in these states.  

With Texas's vast mineral production history, we should not be catching up to other states on protecting honest hard working Texans, we should be leading.  If not now, when?

Thank you.