The mayor of a small Texas town encouraged Arkansas residents to require the oil and gas industry to use "green technology."
Mayor Calvin Tillman of DISH, Texas, addressed a gathering of about 100 Saturday at the McGee Center in Conway. His opening remarks included a declaration that he is not "anti-drilling" but instead a citizen calling for the oil and gas industry to be responsible, respectful and regulated.
"There is a better way to do it than is being done," he told the audience.
Tillman said he is using money "out of my pocket" to travel around sharing his knowledge and experience that he has received while dealing with ongoing and a variety of issues in DISH, which are now "much better" than they were a few years ago since launching his accountability campaign.
"No radical environmental group is paying my way," he said. "I’m doing this to help other communities."
DISH, he said, is about 25 miles north of downtown Fort Worth with a population of about 180 people in the incorporated area and 500 outside the incorporated area. In the corporate limits, he said there are 18 natural gas wells and 50 or so outside the corporate limits.
"The entire process goes on in DISH," he said. "We are in the middle of the Barnett Shale and we have been for the past several years."
For more than an hour, he detailed the steps of drilling a gas well and the steps that he said he has followed as mayor to deal with the ill-effects of the industry including alleged harmful toxins causing health problems, air pollution, foul odors and equipment sounds reaching 90-decimals. Also, he talked about the "scarring of the land," and the power of oil and gas companies under "imminent domain."
"In Texas, drilling is getting closer and closer to homes," he said. "With new technology, you don’t have to do that."
It’s possible, he said, to have a closed loop system on wells as well as no flaring and no pit drilling and placing a gathering line prior to drilling. These measures, he estimated, would allow about 95 percent of emissions to be mitigated.
"Has anyone seen a flare shoot 40 or 50 feet in the air?" he asked. "And, the stuff it puts out? That is not necessary. They have technology that can do away with that. Drilling can be accomplished using green completions."
Currently, he said, a vapor recovery unit is being installed in DISH. He also touched on the subject of hydraulic fracturing. While he said he is not an expert, "I’ll tell you what I know."
Fracturing of the shale, he said, releases natural gas. The process, he said, is exempt from the Clean Water Act. It has been reported, he said, that more than 250 chemicals are used in the process. Currently, he said, the industry is exempt from disclosing the chemicals used. However, he said, there is a governmental move to pass a "Fract Act," requiring the disclosure of chemicals.
Waving a bottle of cloudy water that appeared to be contaminated, he told a story about a family that had sediments in a water well where, he said, 15 pounds of sediment was removed from the well. The water in the bottle, he said, was from their well.
"I’ve never seen anything like this outside a drilling area," he said. "But, I’ve seen it several times where there is a drilling area."
He encouraged the audience to get active and to push for regulation that requires green completions, to require the companies to have the latest green technology on all aspects of the natural gas production and to require certification to conduct all drilling operations.
"You guys are really just getting started here," Tillman said. "You have a long way to get to where we are in Texas."
A glance at the sign in sheet, showed attendees from not only Conway but also Heber Springs, Clinton, Maumelle, Little Rock, Enola, Damascus, Greenbrier and Knoxville, Tenn.
Donna Adolph with Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability was greeting the attendees as they entered the room. She encouraged all to share their experiences and stories concerning "smelly or dirty well water or air situations" allowing the information to be gathered and sent to the EPA.
Tillman spoke in Clinton Friday night where about 130 were in attendance, Adolph said, and toured the Clinton area Saturday.