Calvin Tillman is the unpaid mayor of a very small town called Dish, a grid of modest homes on the north Texas plane. Calvin is an authentic American hero. Like the heros those old Westerns we grew up with, Calvin is the guy who doesn’t want a fight but turns out to be very good at it.
Calvin and the town of Dish have, by their persistence, changed the conversation on gas drilling in the entire state of Texas. Dish is admittedly an extreme example. Besides being ringed with gas wells, it is transected by a number of major pipelines and has a large complex of gas compressor plants on its border.
The compressors run 24/7/365 emitting noise, light, and vapors. Occasionally, when unacceptable pressure builds in the pipelines, the compressor facility will blow off large amounts of methane into the air with the sound of a jet taking off.
Texas allows public domain seizure for pipelines. The many pipelines feeding the compressors cross private property rendering it unfit for future development.
The cumulative effect of the gas industry on the residents and their property values has caused Calvin, their mayor, to refer to Dish as a Sacrifice Zone.
Calvin became concerned about the health effects of gas industry vapors. Besides the unpleasant smells, trees and animals were dying and some residents complained about a number of growing health problems.
Calvin asked the industry and the Texas regulatory agencies to study the problem but received little help. Worried and frustrated, the town council authorized spending ten percent of its yearly budget to commission their own independent professional study.
The results weren’t good. Benzine, a carcinogen, was found at high concentrations on or near private property as was hydrogen sulfide, a neurotoxin. One state environmental official equated it to sniffing a gas can.
Thanks to the Dish study, state officials are beginning to focus on the issue of unregulated emissions from the gas industry. The Dish study confirmed the concerns raised by Professor Al Armendariz at Southern Methodist University whose work showed that the gas industry in north Texas was responsible for as much ozone and smog as all the cars, trucks and airports in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area, 6.3 million people.
Calvin Tillman not only has concerns, he offers solutions. Much of the air quality issue can be mitigated with inexpensive, off the shelf technology.
Calvin Tillman, 7:30 pm, Friday, April 30th
Genetti Hotel, West 4th Street, downtown Williamsport
FREE admission sponsored by: Responsible Drilling Alliance and Freshlife
Calvin Tillman is not being compensated for either his talk or his travel
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