The mayor of a small Texas town known as DISH will give area property owners his and his town’s retrospective view on mineral rights and the oil and gas industry.
Mayor Calvin Tillman will make two stops in Arkansas on his informative campaign, one in Clinton and another in Conway on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the McGee Center on Prince Street.
DISH, Texas, widely known for its deal with DISH Network, which gave residents free DVR and satellite service provided the town change its name from Clark to DISH, has found its way into the spotlight again.
The town and its mayor were featured on the satirical news program The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and several other media outlets after the name change.
A recently aired documentary on Fox features the town in a different light, in an investigation of natural gas companies and industry practices such as fracking.
According to Tillman, DISH, home to one of the largest compression stations in the country, has experienced many of the ill-effects of this type of mineral extraction.
“Initially we had a lot of air quality issues. There were leaks in units. It caused us tremendous odor concerns. We did a comprehensive test of air quality that showed a lot of nasty chemicals were being emitted from the compressor station.”
Also, an area resident’s well tested positive for high counts of arsenic, lead and the non-naturally occurring Methylene blue active substances.
Tillman said his presentation will outline basic precautionary measures property owners may take to ensure their rights are protected.
“It may be a little late for your area. If anyone has not signed a lease of their mineral rights, I have suggestions for that,” Tillman said.
Baseline testing of air, soil and water on leased property could mean the difference, according to Tillman.
“You need samples before modifications are made so you have something to compare it to. Nothing else could have caused this in DISH, and the industry places the burden of proof on you as the property owner when they should carry that responsibility. If the industry is convinced this activity does not cause environmental problems, they would welcome this kind of testing,” Tillman said.
The presentation will also address issues facing property owners who have already entered contracts with the gas and oil industry.
“The main focus is to educate people on the downside of this. They’ve already heard the sales pitch,” Tillman said.
Tillman said he is not anti-drilling, though that is often insinuated.
“I’m probably pro-drilling. If the industry would work with me and take some of my suggestions and embrace them, I think they’d be more successful as an industry. I do point out a lot of the positives. It produces jobs, adds to the economy and in some instances people get wealthy. I’m certainly a true free market guy, and I want to see that happen for people, but not at everyone else’s expense.”
Tillman said his tour is booked through the end of the year.
“At this state in the game you are in, some damage is done and now you can probably save some of the resources you have there. As an elected official, I feel compelled to help people if I can. It’s the right thing to do, and I don’t want what happened in DISH to happen where it’s not necessary.”
Tillman’s account of the town’s experiences, and a schedule of his appearances is available online at www.baddish.blogspot.com.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)