In The News...
Stop the Frack Attack is planning next steps, and we
want you to be there.
We will be gathering in: Dallas/Fort Worth
March 2-4, 2013
We are currently working logistics and will have more details as planning progresses, but the location has been selected – we will be taking over the Best Western Plus
UNDERSTANDING THE PROPOSED CODE OF ETHICS CHANGES
Excerpt... On November 30th, I requested from the City Council, an explanation or example of what benefit the proposed Code would offer the citizens. There has been no Council Person willing or able to advise me of any benefit to date.
At the recent Fort Worth City Council meeting, the City Officials appear to be in a rush to change the Code of Ethics. I was very disappointed in the absolute lack of knowledge the City Council seemed to posses regarding these changes on which they were voting at the December 4, 2012 meeting.
From the meeting, it was apparent the City Council wanted to rush the change to the Code of Ethics Ordinance. But that shouldn't have surprised me. The City Attorney addressed the Ethics Committee and told them what the Mayor and City Council expected.
"Specifically, on August 19th, the council announced that they definitively want the ability to appoint members to taskforces that have particular expertise in an area without those members being subject to an automatic violation of the ethics code simply because of their profession."
This was the directive from the former Mayor and Council at the time. I had hoped the current Mayor and Council would have realized the citizens expect more ethical behavior and not less.
At the December 4, 2012 Council meeting, the first of the comments coming from the Council members, included, how the citizens were confused about what the new Ordinance included and the confusion
was not on the part of the Council.
The Council member insisted it was a result of a news journal that printed half-truths, as the Ordinance actually tightened things up according to that Councilperson. He then explained that one example of what was tightened up, was how the proposed Ordinance offered more protection for the Council and Board members. The Council member failed to explain what was incorrect in the news journal.
This Council member continued with his observations that in the Ethics Code are many gray areas. Unfortunately, he is correct. The Ordinance, as it is written is very cloudy and unclear in its meaning.
That is one of the many problems with the proposed Ordinance. The Ordinance must be rewritten in a manner that is not gray, it must be absolutely clear for the citizens to understand.
An Ordinance is a law that must be easily understood by all. When even the City Council states it is gray, the Ordinance must really be confusing to many. I have read what was written in the news journal he was speaking of, and find the articles very accurate and not confusing. In fact, the articles are amazingly correct. It also appears the council member has not read enough of the Code of Ethics and certainly doesn't understand its intent. In the preamble of the Code of Ethics it explains what that intent is and why.
236 - Declaration of Policy:
- "The city council deems it advisable to enact this code of ethics for all officers, employees and advisory board members, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, to serve not only as a guide for official conduct of the city's public servants, but also as a basis for discipline for those who refuse to abide by its terms."
The Code of Ethics as it is written, indicates it is to protect the citizens from improper actions of the City Council, employees and advisory board members. It is not written with the idea of protecting the Council members and board members from the citizens. The City Council and Boards have a City Attorney for that purpose.
The Mayor also made the following observations about there being a great deal of confusion. I agree with the confusion, but it appears the City Council members are the ones who do not know the true details. She stated there was a great deal of citizen input. I would question there being a great deal of citizen input on this matter, as it appeared there are many citizens who were not aware of the proceedings. If many citizens and neighborhood organizations are not aware of a major Ordinance or policy change, shouldn't the city accept some esponsibility for that? Perhaps it wasn't publicized enough or in the right places. Perhaps it was intentional. The Mayor went on to say the following about the proposed Ordinance.
- "It doesn't mean they will meet behind closed doors. The City will publically post these meetings and they will be subject to Open Meeting requirements. It has been said that all the meetings would not be subject to the Open Meeting Act, is simply not true. It clarifies when it is appropriate to appoint members, for short term advisory only, Task Forces."
The truth is, no new
"Advisory Only Committee" is required to meet the Open Meeting Act requirements and the City's proposed Code has no
provision that requires
it either. The Code provides no
clarification that explains when it is appropriate to allow or require a committee or board to be called "advisory only" or otherwise and what the distinctions must be.
It refers to short term, but it fails to explain how short term is defined. The Gas Drilling Task Force and Air Quality Committee lasted over a year. I don't view that short term and the City Attorney continues to insist they were "Advisory Only". The Mayor stated, "they have said, the City Attorney has the power to give Absolute Immunity and that is not exactly true. According to the new code there are provisions that require the individuals follow the City Attorney’s advice and receive it in writing. Otherwise, the Ethics committee can still take it up."
At the beginning of the proposed Ordinance, Absolute Immunity is one of the stated provisions. The new regulations of the Ordinance would actually make the Absolute Immunity rule an unreasonable hurdle to cross if one were filing a complaint. Additionally, if one files a complaint when Absolute Immunity is the defense, it will most likely be dismissed on its face due to the Absolute Immunity provision.
A horrible situation would arise if the advice the city Attorney provides should be wrong. Not only will there not be a hearing to resolve the issue, but the wrongdoer is allowed to continue the wrongdoing and
there is no recourse available to prevent them from doing it over and over.
The attorney General has already provided an AG Opinion, "that a City may regulate conflicts of interest involving City Council members by adopting ordinance provisions that are not inconsistent with Local Government Code chapter 171. Thus, the city may not attempt to exempt its officers from requirements imposed by Local Government Code chapter 171."
The Absolute Immunity provision is without a doubt, an attempt to exempt its Officers from requirements imposed by Local Code 171 and other State laws. Additionally, there are various types of immunity recognized in Law and Absolute Immunity has a legal meaning.
Absolute immunity means the official engaged in judicial, prosecutorial or legislative acts within the scope of duty is absolutely immune not only from liability but also from suit concerning the act. A valid claim of this immunity is an absolute bar to the suit, and will result in dismissal of the suit itself. No discovery or any other suit-related process is permitted.
A defense Attorney would use this defense against any complaint filed. When there is a Written Opinion that provides an Absolute Defense, the complaint would automatically be dismissed regardless of what the Ordinance states.
The Mayor also stated, "the change on Substantial Interest simply supplements the State Statue and goes beyond what the State Ethics require."
The City Attorney in their power point presentation "amended the definition of Substantial Interest to be consistent with State law." There is nothing in the Ordinance or that was said about going beyond State
Law, the City Attorney only said it was consistent with state law. In other words, the new Ordinance actually ends up requiring less ethical behavior of the public Officials than the current Ordinance.
The proposed Code of Ethics does not go beyond any provision already provided by State Statute. The proposal regarding the ability of the City Attorney to provide an Absolute Defense actually appears to
be an attempt to exempt Officers and committee members from certain State Statues and would appear to be contrary to what the Attorney General has stated in a legal Opinion.
An Attorney General Opinion basically carries the weight of law until it is overturned in a court of law or rewritten. However, the City Officials seem to downplay or ignore many Attorney General Opinions that don't meet their needs. On November 30th, I requested from the City Council, an explanation or example of what benefit the proposed Code would offer the citizens. There has been no Council Person willing or able to advise me of any benefit to date.
The Mayor went on to say, "The Ethics Committee looked at other Cities and these are standard practices in other large Cities."
The Ethics Committee did not look at any other City Ordinances. The City Attorney advised the Ethics Committee they had looked at other Cities and then "Cherry Picked" from certain other City Ordinances.
They also said that in many cases those City's Attorney did not know where some of their Ordinances came from and in many cases they had never applied them. Our City Attorney advised the Council, that San Antonio and Dallas had provisions in their Ordinance that granted immunity as a result of their Ordinances. Those two City Ordinances have additional provisions indicating, "that other state and federal laws may apply" also.
Absolute Immunity is not a term they used in their Ordinance either. This is a case of "cherry picking" only the part of other Ordinances the City Attorney wants to meet their specific needs. It is much like taking "something out of context". The Fort Worth Ordinance does not include other provisions that should part of certain types of rule changes.
Mr. Danny Scarth provided his understanding of the Code change by using the example of "having a friend who plays golf occasionally and that person having an interest in golf, so should he be subject to a
violation if he votes on a rate change"? Mr. scarth then states his opinion, saying, "That would be silly". Mr. Scarth of all people should know about Ethics issues, but apparently doesn't.
Taken from, 2010 Texas Conflict of Interest Laws Made Easy - Office of the Attorney General #8.
What is the test for conflict of interest regarding a business entity?
State law provides a two-part test for ascertaining whether a local official has a conflict of interest regarding a business entity that would prevent the official from participating in a vote or discussion on that item. To determine whether a conflict exists that would prevent that official’s participation, one should follow the following two-step analysis:
Step one (substantial interest analysis): First, the official must determine if he or she received more than 10 percent of his gross income in the previous year from that business entity or if he or she owns 10 percent or more of the voting stock or shares of the business entity or has some other substantial ownership interest in the business entity. If the official has such an interest or a close relative of the official has such an interest, the official must consider the second part of the test for determining if a conflict of interest exists.
Step two (special economic effect analysis): The official must determine whether the action that the local entity is considering would have a special economic effect on the business entity that is distinguishable from its general effect on the public. If it is determined that the official has a substantial interest in the business entity and it is likely that the action would have a special economic effect on the business entity that is distinguishable from its effect on the general public, a conflict of interest would exist.
If a conflict of interest exists, the official is prevented from discussing or voting on an issue involving that business entity. There are certain thresholds to be met and are determined by law. The City can write stricter requirements than required by State law, but not less. Therefore if the golfer in question only has an interest in Golf as indicated by Mr. Scarth, then by all means they should be allowed to be on the advisory committee. On the other hand, if the interest were financial, then the thresholds would be one of the determining factors.
In my opinion, Mr. Scarth should be ashamed for deliberately trying to mislead the citizens with this comment. Virtually every issue the City Council addressed at the December 4, 2010 Council Meeting shows a complete lack of understanding of the problems with the proposed Ordinance or even what it says.
The Ordinance must be rewritten in a manner that is not foggy as the Council indicated and it must be easily understood by all to be enforceable. It will require individuals from both sides having input, for there to be a reasonable Ordinance.
This Item will require time to get correct and it should be important to all that it is correct this time.
This proposed Ordinance should be vetoed or at least delayed. Please go to the LINK below and submit a comment card "AGAINST" the proposed action on the Code of Ethics.
***You can also send a message directly to the city council members by using the emails listed below****
THE SKY IS PINK by JFOX
( The same people that tried to convince us that smoking was safe are playing a key role in distorting the truth about gas drilling)
Plus: Annotated documents featured in the film can be found here of the industry analysis of exactly how gas can migrate to the water supply:.rollingstone.com/extras/theskyispink_annotdoc-gasl4final.pdf
Ruffalo on Fracking (Watch this AMAZING video!)
Keith Olbermann :: July 13, 2011
Opponents of hydraulic "fracking" say it pollutes water and causes illness. Actor, activist (and newly-minted Countdown contributor) Mark Ruffalo joins Keith to discuss the lucrative practice that potentially threatens supplies of drinking water, and why so many have their heads in the sand.
"This is an industry that is the dirtiest, slimiest, most arrogant, and negligent that you can imagine," Ruffalo says.
Ruffalo also talks about rumors of blacklisting actors who speak out on political matters, and ponders why he was singled out by CNN to comment on it.
"You can do what's right or you can put your head in the sand," Ruffalo tells Keith, shortly before Keith bestows the ultimate Countdown honor -- welcoming Ruffalo into the ranks of official on-air contributors
E.P.A. Issues Tougher Rules for Power Plants
By JOHN M. BRODER :: Published: July 7, 2011 WASHINGTON
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued new standards for power plants in 28 states that would sharply cut emissions of chemicals that have polluted forests, farms, lakes and streams across the Eastern United States for decades.
The agency said the regulations, which will take effect in 2012, would reduce emissions of compounds that cause soot, smog and acid rain from hundreds of power plants by millions of tons at an additional cost to utilities of less than $1 billion a year. The E.P.A. said the cleaner air would prevent as many as 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks and hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments every year. Read more...
An Open Letter to Journalists From Gasland Director Josh Fox in Response to Attacks by Gas Industry
Josh Fox | Monday 21 February 2011
With the recent Oscar nomination of my documentary film GASLAND, Big Gas and their PR attack machine hit a new low in its blatant disregard for the truth.
In an unprecedented move, an oil and gas industry front group sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying that the film should be ineligible for best documentary feature.
We are honored and encouraged by the Academy's nomination. It is terrific to be acknowledged as filmmakers by the film world's most prestigious honor. But perhaps more than that, I believe that the nomination has provided hope, inspiration and affirmation for the thousands of families out there who are suffering because of the natural gas drilling. The Oscars are about dreams, and I know that for all of us living with the nightmare of gas drilling the nomination provides further proof that someone out there cares.
Now Big Gas wants to take that away, as they have shattered the American dream for so many. GASLAND exposes the disaster being caused across the U.S. by the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign history and how the contentious Halliburton-developed drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking threatens the water supply of millions.
Fracking is a whole-scale industrialization process that pumps millions of gallons of toxic material directly into the ground. Thousands of documented contamination cases show the harmful chemicals used have been turning up in people's water supplies in fracking areas all over the map.
We stand behind the testimonials, facts, science and investigative journalism in the film 100 percent. We have issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the group's claims ("Affirming Gasland"), posted on our website.
It's not just us they're after. The gas industry goes after anyone who tries to punch a hole in their lie. Last week the same pro-drilling group, Energy in Depth (EID), attacked an investigative piece on drilling pollution by ProPublica, the highly credible public interest journalism organization.
And just last week, T. Boone Pickens, the most visible promoter of gas fracking, went on The Daily Show claiming that he personally has fracked over 3,000 wells and never witnessed any contamination cases, even when Jon Stewart asked him about GASLAND point blank. He simply stated over and over again the industry lie, that fracking is safe. Not a single word of acknowledgement, or responsibility for the claims of thousands and the threat posed to millions.
The gas industry believes it can create a new reality in which their nationwide onshore drilling campaign isn't a disaster. But no amount of PR money or slick ads can keep the stories of contamination coming from thousands of Americans from being any less true.
On Monday, Congressional investigators called out frackers for pumping millions of gallons of diesel fuel directly into the ground, exposing drinking water sources to benzene and other carcinogens. This makes EID's specious and misleading attack on the science and data in GASLAND especially ironic since Halliburton stonewalled Congressman Henry Waxman's investigation into fracking, refusing to provide data on their use of diesel and other harmful chemicals injected in the fracking process.
There are major watershed areas providing water to millions of Americans that are at risk here, including the watershed areas for New York City and Philadelphia. The catastrophe has been widely covered not only in GASLAND, but also by hundreds of news stories, films and TV segments. This is a moment of crisis that cannot be understated.
Even before its release, the power of the film was not lost on the industry. In the March 24th edition of the Oil and Gas Journal, Skip Horvath, the president of the Natural Gas Supply Association said that GASLAND is "well done. It holds people's attention. And it could block our industry." GASLAND was seen by millions and I personally toured with the film to over 100 cities. In affected areas, people came to the screenings with their contaminated water samples in tow. They came to have the truth they know shared and confirmed
As Maurice D. Hinchey, U.S. Representative (NY-22) recently said, "Thanks to GASLAND and the millions of grassroots activists across the country, we finally have a counterweight to the influence of the oil and gas industry in our nation's capital."
Big Gas is blocking the truth in their pursuit of hundreds of billions of dollars of profit. Their clear goal is to ensure our nation remains addicted to fossil fuels for the rest of this century. They seek to stifle the development of truly renewable energy.
They're playing dirty in more ways than one, attacking the film and the testimonials and science in it instead of taking responsibility and addressing the contamination, destruction and harm that they are creating. I now know how the people in my documentary feel, to have the things they know to be true and the questions they are raising so blatantly discounted and smeared. It is truly unfortunate that the gas-drilling industry continues to deny what is so obvious to Americans living in gaslands across the nation.
Josh Fox Director,
www.gaslandthemovie.com Media Contact: Josh Baran – firstname.lastname@example.org – 917-797-1799 Josh Fox is based in New York City and will be in Washington, D.C. on February 17. He is available for interviews. DVD screeners for the media are available.
Josh Fox, Gasland Director, Calls For Civil Disobedience
Josh Fox gave a powerful speech to the crowd at the Marcellus Shale Protest in Pittsburgh on 11/3/10-- right outside the DUG East conference.
Josh called for civil disobedience and then called the governor elect (by cell phone) to announce the crowd's intentions of banning natural gas drilling in Pittsburgh and then Pennsylvania as a whole. Lots of stories about tragedies related to gas drilling, and an announcement about the upcoming Gasland 2!
Worth a watch. Then spread the word to friends and family.
Mayor Tillman vs. Governor Ridge
2-Minute Video Highlights Gas Industry Credibility Problem:
Mayor Tillman & Tim Ruggiero Live in a Shale Gas Zone;Governor Ridge & Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Kathryn Klaber Do Not; Tillman Is Not Paid for Speaking About Shale Gas; Ridge Is Paid $900,000 by Marcellus Shale Coalition
Tillman & Ruggiero Can Explain “State-of-the-Art Environmental Protection” for Shale Gas Operations; Ridge & Klaber Cannot - But They “Embrace” & “Live” the Principle. Read more...
State advisory panel critical of Railroad Commission performance
December 16, 2010 :: by BRETT SHIPP
DALLAS - The agency in charge of regulating fossil fuels in Texas may itself soon become a dinosaur.
Several members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission strongly suggested Wednesday that the Texas Railroad Commission is headed for an overhaul.
The report from the staff of the Sunset Advisory Commission's reads like an indictment. The state's oldest regulatory body and its three elected commissioners have been accused of being too cozy with the oil and gas industry they regulate.
Excerpts... One of the key criticisms is that the commissioners "rely on campaign contributions from the regulated industry." But, the published report was not as critical as the remarks at a hearing Wednesday from some on the bi-partisan Sunset Advisory panel.
...Also upsetting to the Sunset Panel was that when staff members sought to get input on their proposed recommendations, the Railroad Commission and their staff were allegedly uncooperative. Read more...
EPA acts after water contaminated by drilling in Parker County
December 7, 2010 :: WFAA :: by CHRIS HAWES :: Follow: @ChrisHawesCh8
PARKER COUNTY — News 8 has learned the EPA has issued an emergency order after the agency says a natural gas company's operations contaminated drinking water in Parker County.
It's the first confirmed case of its kind in the Barnett Shale. This afternoon the EPA issued an emergency order to Range Resources under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The order alleges natural gas from a Range Resources well about 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth contaminated two private drinking water wells, which draw water from the same aquifer.
The company has been ordered to supply the families with clean drinking water, as well as monitors inside their homes to assess methane levels.
The EPA has also ordered Range to take the necessary action to halt the flow of methane into the water supply.
EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz tells News 8 the EPA decided to issue the order after the Railroad Commission of Texas declined to act in the case.
News 8 was attempting to get comment from Range Resources and the Texas Railroad Commission on the EPA's action.
See WFAA video here.
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 11:07 Static :: Fort Worth Weekly
January is usually when local candidates start announcing their election plans. Neighborhood advocate and former Fort Worth city councilwoman Cathy Hirt hasn’t officially announced a run for mayor, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to spot the clues. “I have been working diligently on putting a campaign together,” she said. “It has gone past exploratory.” That’s about as close to a confirmation as Static can get for now.
Thinking about Hirt’s candidacy reminds Static of a time in 2003 when Hirt and Mike Moncrief battled each other for the mayor’s job. Moncrief quit the Texas Senate and came home to Fort Worth seeking a job. Coincidentally, every gas driller in Texas was also honing in on Cowtown, angling to exploit lax regulation to suck the most money possible from the Barnett Shale. Moncrief pledged an accountable city hall, making promises to voters about public safety, quality of life, open government, and so on.
“Government must be a partnership between the people and their elected,” he told Fort Worth Weekly seven years ago (he stopped talking to the Weekly once he got elected). “All of our community deserves equal treatment, decent parks, decent streets, decent security, and good schools. All need a voice. And they will have that voice. That’s my promise to Fort Worth.”
His promise was as flimsy as a balsa wood oil derrick. He’s become the least inclusive mayor in living memory. He tolerates few rebuttals or criticisms and can be rude and combative when residents take their three minutes to speak at city council meetings. When people disagree with him, he tries to remove them from the conversation.
UTA Professor requests six month moratorium:
Nov. 8, 2010 :: Author: Melanie Sattler, Ph.D., P.E. Associate Professor
Faculty member in Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington
Excerpts from letter:
I am writing to support a six-month moratorium on issuance of natural gas drilling permits, along with the creation of a task force of environmental scientists/engineers and medical experts to assess how the environmental and health effects of drilling in an urban setting can be mitigated. Technology that is currently available and widely used in other industries can reduce emissions from natural gas drilling, if it is required to be installed.
...In the past 2 years, I have conducted studies of toxic air pollutant concentrations surrounding 3 sets of natural gas compressor stations, at 3 different locations in Tarrant and Denton Counties.
...The results showed exceedances of both short-term and long-term Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) effect screening levels (ESLs) for a variety of toxic air pollutants.
...However, I believe that they still pose enough concern, particularly since the effect screening levels were most often exceeded by such large amounts, to warrant a moratorium on issuance of natural gas drilling permits.
Pipeline dangers abound in Texas
by BRETT SHIPP :: WFAA :: October 19, 2010
NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES:
The gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Francisco suburb last month did more than kill, injure and devastate a neighborhood.
It put many North Texans on edge, leaving them wondering what condition Texas pipelines are in... and could a similar tragedy happen here?
The answer is easy. It has already happened here, many times.
The better question is: Where and when will it happen again?
Since 2000, 16 people have died in pipeline incidents in Texas. More than 60 people have been injured.Three of them were hurt last November near Amarillo when a gas transmission pipeline ruptured and exploded.
In February of last year, a gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in Carthage in East Texas.
In February, 2008, a 16-inch natural gas pipeline exploded near Corpus Christi. Read more...
Quicksilver Resources board considering taking firm private
Robert Francis Editor :: 10/18/2010 :: Fort Worth Business Press
The founding family of Fort Worth-based Quicksilver Resources Inc. announced Oct. 18 it has informed the board of directors it is pursuing “strategic alternatives” for the company and may take the publically traded energy firm private. Read more...
Message: More cause for alarm! This is exactly what we've been warning about..... as they change "partners," investors, go private....just means we have an even tougher time finding out the TRUTH and monitoring them.
The Texas Gas Industry's Potemkin Village Tour
Are industry and TCEQ undermining good science?
September 22, 2010 by: Forrest Wilder
In May, we broke the story that TCEQ officials had suppressed information on elevated benzene levels from natural gas drilling activity in Fort Worth. After the story was picked up by other media, TCEQ promised to get its act together.
But documents obtained by the Observer show that the oil and gas industry is sabotaging even minor TCEQ efforts to study the problem… and the agency seems to be doing little to overcome the resistance.
Pollution from oil and gas activity has been a hot topic in Texas, especially after Al Armendariz – now the regional EPA administrator – estimated last year that the “oil and gas sector likely has greater emissions than motor vehicles” in the five-county Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.
TCEQ also conducted helicopter fly-overs of industrial sites along the Gulf Coast and in the Metroplex that detected large plumes of hydrocarbons. Later, agency analysts took a closer look at 20 of the sites and found that 14 of them were polluting above their permitted limits. READ MORE...
Has Fort Worth Lost its Moral Compass?
Ethics questions seem to be a hallmark of this city administration.
Sept. 22 2010 by:Betty Brink and Jeff Prince. Fort Worth Weekly
Politics is a messy game — you need a playbook when you’re spending more than a billion dollars a year, making rules that affect the lives of nearly a million people, and balancing neighborhoods and business interests. Without rules, the victors always get the spoils, might and money are always right, and ethical lines fade.
If you think that last sentence sounds a lot like what has been happening in Fort Worth lately, you’re not alone. Many local civic and neighborhood leaders believe this city’s ethical lines are not so much fading as beingactively erased and moved around in some cases.
A resident ( Jim Ashford ) complained about the city council putting gas industry executives on an air-quality task force. Allowing drillers to make crucial decisions on how the city’s air quality is tested at drill sites appeared to be a conflict of interest clearly forbidden by the city’s ethics code. The independent ethics panel agreed.
So how did the Fort Worth City Council, led by Mayor Mike Moncrief, respond?
They killed the messengers, scorned the resident who made the complaint, and fired the ethics panelists.
“They have no shame,” said Hortencia Laguna, 78, who had been president of the committee for years, until Moncrief dumped her. Read more...
The Whole Fracking Enchilada
Violating the bedrock, the atmosphere, and everything in between
by Sandra Steingraber
:: Published : Sept./Oct. 2010 issue of Orion magazine
I HAVE COME to believe that extracting natural gas from shale using the newish technique called hydrofracking is the environmental issue of our time. And I think you should, too.
excerpt... Fracking is linked to every part of the environmental crisis—from radiation exposure to habitat loss—and contravenes every principle of environmental thinking. It’s the tornado on the horizon that is poised to wreck ongoing efforts to create green economies, local agriculture, investments in renewable energy, and the ability to ride your bike along country roads.
The Fossil Fuel Connection
In September, 2010 TEDX released a one-page statement:
Extracting, processing, and burning fossil fuels (natural gas, oil and coal) introduces huge volumes of harmful chemicals into our environment. These chemicals, and the tens of thousands of chemical products synthesized from them, are now present in every environment on earth, including the womb. Extremely low concentrations of many chemicals can damage the endocrine system of our bodies by interfering with the intricate, delicate network of natural chemical interactions critical to healthy development and normal function.
Click here to download the full statement.
North Texans worry about safety after California gas blast
by JIM DOUGLAS :: WFAA :: September 10, 2010 at 6:31 PM
ARLINGTON -- After Thursday's huge explosion near San Francisco, and with so many natural gas lines running through North Texas, many residents are wondering about safety. Jim Douglas reports from an Arlington neighborhood where a 24-inch gas distribution line was recently installed. Read more...
EPA to natural gas companies: Give details on 'fracking' chemicals
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 9, 2010 :: Christian Science Monitor
Excerpts ...The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it would ask nine big natural-gas production companies to volunteer what the industry has staunchly resisted: details about what hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" chemicals they inject into the ground.
...it’s critical that the extraction of this valuable natural resource does not come at the expense of safe water and healthy communities," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.
"At least the EPA is paying attention," says Don Young, founder of Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations. "Before they weren't even asking, and industry had carte blanche doing whatever they wanted. What the EPA is doing is good – but only if they take that information and use it to demand the industry stop pumping these chemicals underground." Read more...
Fort Worth’s Ethics Get Slapped ::
by Jeff Prince :: Fort Worth Weekly
A nonprofit, nonpartisan Florida-based organization that provides advice on local government ethics matters has recently issued a two-part article referencing Fort Worth — and not in a good way.
Robert Wechsler, research director for City Ethics Inc., wrote in Part I about conflicts of task force members and in Part II uses Fort Worth as an example of how poorly some city officials deal with the issue. Read more...
excerpt (from Wechsler)...With these five alternatives available, there is no reason for a blanket exception of advisory board and task force members from conflict of interest rules. Needless to say, that is the course chosen by the Fort Worth council, a course that will be discussed in the next blog post (along with other problems).
Read about the FIVE MISTAKES that is making Fort Worth better know for it's CORRUPTION than its Quality of Life.
Fort Worth City Council to consider waiver for gas wells
Aug. 09, 2010 :: By Mike Lee :: Star Telegram
FORT WORTH -- A high-stakes dispute over a natural gas drilling site in west Fort Worth is headed to the City Council today.
Chesapeake Energy wants to put four wells on a tract just off Bryant Irvin Road. The site is within 600 feet of 24 houses and 272 feet from the closest home. Residents in Como have joined with Ridglea residents to fight the proposal.
..."The money's not the issue; it's the quality of my life," she said.
Dorothy DeBose, president of the Como Neighborhood Advisory Council, said most residents aren't opposed to gas drilling, they just want it done from elsewhere. Read more...
Withdrawal of Gas Well Application by Chesapeake!
Statement from NCTCA - North Central TX Communities Alliance:
"This is a solid victory for the CITIZENS of Ft. Worth! We want to CONGRATULATE the citizens of the Como Community as well as the Ridglea/ Westridge area for banding together in a strong, united effort for this success! It shows what informed, caring citizens can accomplish!
And, it proves that citizens who truly care about their Neighborhoods can't be bought off!"
Chesapeake Letter To The Council:
Dear Mayor Moncrief and Council Members:
Chesapeake respectfully withdraws our application for four wells on the proposed Westridge site located at 3900 Bryant Irvin Road . While we have the support and encouragement of hundreds of mineral owners who could have their minerals produced from this site, it is clear to us the majority of Council does not support our request for a waiver In absence of that support we feel the most responsible action is to withdraw.
Julie H. Wilson
Vice President - Urban Development
Chesapeake Energy Corporation
Without question, the Fort Worth City Council can spend
Star Telegram Editorial : Aug. 5, 2010
At some point during Tuesday's Fort Worth City Council discussions of a $600,000 contract to study air quality around natural gas facilities, someone should have mentioned that no such contract exists.
Excerpt ... One of the nine elected officials might have demonstrated enough interest to ask about a particular aspect that he or she wanted to make sure would be covered by the study.
Or someone could simply have asked, "Is this going to be done the way the 10-member committee of local residents and others we appointed in March said it should be?"
None of that happened, and Moncrief and the council should be ashamed.
Without question, they spent $600,000.
There was no contract because the city staff missed its own often-stated deadline for completing it. Presentations to the council as recently as July 13 listed Aug. 3 as the date when "City Council appropriates funds and awards full contract." Read more ...
Flower Mound Residents File Lawsuit To Stop Gas Drilling Permit on Hilliard Field
Saturday, July 31, 2010Friday, July 30th, two Flower Mound residents filed suit against the Town of Flower Mound to stop a permit for drilling on the Hilliard Airfield located on 2499, south of 3040.
The permit would allow up to 24 wells, along with compressors and numerous tank batteries to be located in the middle of a highly populated area of town and close to two schools.
"We believe that our case will show that since 2005, the [town] council majority removed many of the protections provided by Flower Mound's original oil and gas ordinances," plaintiff Virginia Simonson said in a prepared statement. "We also plan to show that the protections were removed without the full understanding or majority support of Flower Mound residents."
A permit to drill was previously denied by the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals because it required at least 4 variances. Since then, the landowner, Mr. Hilliard, cut down trees, capped his well, moved the pad site closer to the highway and other changes to accommodate a pad site.
Simonson feels the Hilliard case shows the inconsistencies in the town's rules. She said the town shouldn't have allowed the trees to be removed while the gas application was pending and allowed the approval process to be circumvented.
To the read article in the Dallas Morning News click here
Many residents feel that the present Oil & Gas Ordinance does not offer enough protections for the residents. They believe the previous local government did not do enough to protect the town.
In May of this year, the residents elected new officials. The NFL team has been doing what they can to undo what had been done but their hands have been tied. They inherited a pile of crap when it comes to regulating the industry. Since being in office they have adopted the moratorium petition, appointed an Oil & Gas Advisory Board, worked hard to get 24/7 air monitoring in the town and other positive changes. They have still have the support of the majority of the people of Flower Mound.
The Hilliard situation is happening now! The Oil and Gas Advisory Board will not submit recommendations for and changes to the ordinance for at least 90 days. At that time, the town will listen to citizen input and review the recommendations before adopting any new regulations.
To donate to the Flower Mound Defense Fund click here . Click here for press release.
Breaking Story... Star Telegram :: Editorials :: Posted Friday, Jul. 23, 2010
Super Bowl XLV, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief
Backtrack, Mr. Mayor
Moncrief gave a firm no to a request from Esther McElfish, president of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance, at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The subject was a planned air quality study to look at emissions from natural gas drilling and production facilities in the city. In March, the council named a 10-person committee of local residents, gas industry representatives and others to design the study and recommend a consultant to do the work.
The committee did that during a series of meetings ending June 30.
McElfish asked the council to have the committee review the results of the study once it is done. Moncrief, originally the most powerful force in naming the committee, nevertheless now wants it to go away.
"It is the intention of the chair not to continue that committee," he said regally and firmly. "It was appointed for a specific purpose, and that is to give us a recommendation for someone to get this testing done. And I think that's where their responsibility needs to end."
The mayor said he would go back and check, but he believes that the committee's work is done.
Here's an assist with his double-checking: The March 9 council resolution creating the committee gave it five charges, the last of which was, "Receive a briefing on the study results and provide feedback to the City Council."
Looks like McElfish should get what she's asking for.
Looking for comments?
Environmental groups call for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing
Posted Thursday, Jul. 08, 2010 :: By JACK Z. SMITH
Excerpts... Stronger federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a technique routinely employed in drilling Barnett Shale natural gas wells, is needed "to truly protect the public health and environment," the Sierra Club and two groups active in North Texas said in a teleconference Wednesday.
Esther McElfish of Fort Worth, president of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance and a participant in Wednesday's teleconference, said she believes a federal law should be passed to mandate that chemicals used in fracturing be disclosed in a fashion similar to disclosure of ingredients in food, with the chemicals listed in order of highest content to lowest. The alliance has called for a moratorium on the issuance of drilling permits in the Barnett Shale until a fuller assessment of the impact of drilling can be made.
The Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, represented by North Texas resident Sharon Wilson, also expressed support for a comprehensive EPA study and tougher regulation of fracturing. Read more...
Problems with agencies
Thursday, June 24, 2010 :: by
Excerpts.. The problems that Mike Wilfong have encountered appear to be no different than the problems others have had when dealing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Railroad Commission.
Wilfong is the rancher north of Gordon who found 15 of his 20 cows dead and dying at his 320 acre ranch a couple of weeks ago. One cow was sent to Texas A&M to try to determine the cause of death. This week, A&M had no answers as to what led to the deaths.
Wilfong contacted both TCEQ and the RRC to get some help to determine if their water had been poisoned, either inadvertently or maliciously. Wilfong said TCEQ sent a solid-waste specialist to take water samples. Those tests showed traces of barium and chloride. Read more...
...Unfortunately for Mr. Wilfong the people he wants to check on have the money and clout in Austin. Are the deaths of his cattle related to drilling operations in the area? No one knows, but worse yet, no one wants to find out.
Is there another cause? No one knows, and worse yet, no one cares to find out. It would seem Wilfong has neither the political clout nor the big bucks to get state agencies off their duffs long enough to look into his situation.
Texas really needs a change in attitude and a change in the mission of TCEQ and the RRC. Instead of helping industry get by, both agencies need to refocus on protecting the interests, property and lives of the people who call Texas home.
In the meantime, the Wilfong family struggles alone, fighting a bureaucracy steeped in what appears to be cronyism and big bucks.
Fort Worth ethics panel questions fairness of having industry representatives on air quality committee
Thursday, Jun. 24, 2010 :: Mike Lee
Excerpts... It may be an inherent conflict of interest to allow gas company employees to serve on committees that oversee their industry, the city's Ethics Review Committee ruled Thursday.
Ashford ( NCTCA Advisory Board Member ) stressed the importance of barring the gas industry from having control over the city's regulations. "We have one attorney representing all three individuals -- this would indicate the three members are speaking as one voice," he said. Read more ...
.A North Texas family is suing Chesapeake Energy claiming chemicals are now in the
Watch the Ch 11 video...
Who’s Listening at City Hall?
Fort Worth Weekly :: June 16, 2010 ERIC GRIFFEY, BETTY BRINK, AND DAN MCGRAW
Neighborhoods say they’re being ignored.
Excerpts...Thomas (Tolli Thomas is the acting President of the Wedgwood Neighborhood Association) began volunteering in her neighborhood organization in 2002 and said things were very different back then. “There was always a lot of discussion with us,” she said. “We were consulted regularly. The city came to us and asked for our opinion.”
Thomas said Wedgwood is concerned about Chesapeake Energy buying lots of property in the area –– mostly commercial –– and has asked the city what developments the gas drillers might have in mind. No answers on that question. They have presented traffic planning suggestions to city staff, and no response on that one either.
Thomas said Wedgwood is concerned about Chesapeake Energy buying lots of property in the area –– mostly commercial –– and has asked the city what developments the gas drillers might have in mind. No answers on that question. They have presented traffic planning suggestions to city staff, and no response on that one either.
Maybe it was the gas drilling, she said, an issue that put the city council at odds with thousands of its citizens who felt –– and still feel –– that the city has failed to protect their safety and health from the environmental dangers of drilling, compressor stations, and pipelines.
“Perhaps they used that as an excuse to seek less input from us,” Thomas said.
...Rita Vinson: “I’m ready to work on the next city council election.” Read more...
Rita Vinson is the immediate past president of Brentwood Oak Hills Neighborhood Association and is a long time community organizer on the eastside.
Flower Mound imposes moratorium on gas drilling
June 8, 2010
:: By AMAN BATHEJA
Hours after a natural gas pipeline exploded in Johnson County, the Flower Mound city council approved moratoriums on any new gas drilling activity for the summer.
The timing of the vote was just a coincidence but supporters of the moratorium say it could be the start of a larger backlash against urban gas drilling in the Barnett Shale region. Read more...
Natural gas facility explodes near Cleburne; three dead
Associated Press :: June 7, 2010
A natural gas facility exploded near Cleburne Monday afternoon, killing three people, according to Cleburne City Manager Chester Nolen.
As many as three people are believed to be missing at the site in Johnson County between Cleburne and Granbury, and a number of people were transported to hospitals with burn injuries.
A massive fireball and a huge plume of smoke could be seen in the sparsely-populated rural area. The flames continued to burn for about two hours until the gas supply could be cut off. Read more...
Also, read comments from Jerry Lobdill, an NCTCA Advisory Board member.
by CHRIS HAWES :: WFAA :: WEDNESDAY :: May 26, 2010
State regulators fail to disclose benzene in Fort Worth air ...
Excerpts... (State Sen. Wendy Davis) "This agency (TCEQ) that has been charged with ensuring the health of our community has broken our trust, in terms of assuring us that they're going to look out for our safety versus looking out for their own reputations and their own concerns about the fact that they failed to do the job that they should have been doing," Davis said.
"Every citizen should be outraged, in particular the citizens of Fort Worth, because we've been duped and lied to," said Esther McElfish of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance.
... The City of Fort Worth now plans to conduct its own testing, and Calvin Tillman, mayor of the tiny Denton County community of DISH, is calling for an investigation of TCEQ by the Department of Justice. Read more...
EPA Takes Down Screwy Texas Air Program
by Forrest Wilder :: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The TCEQ-EPA showdown has escalated. In an unprecedented move, EPA announced yesterday that it is blocking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from issuing a permit to a refinery in Corpus Christi and is threatening to do the same for dozens of other refineries and chemical plants.
It’s clear now – if it wasn’t before – that the feds mean business.
...For months, Armendariz has been telling TCEQ to fix its so-called “flexible permits” program, a screwy system designed by industry. A “flex” permit essentially gives major polluters a pass on ratcheting emissions down at individual emissions sources, instead placing a cap on the facility as a whole. The cap is way too high and virtually unenforceable, critics charge.
Former TCEQ commissioner Larry Soward, now a consultant for Air Alliance Houston, said industry is only reaping what it’s sown. Read more...
Ah, Texas: Radioactive Politics, Gas Protests and Coal Wars
by Forrest Wilder :: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
This is something you don't see everyday in Texas: Protesters yesterday temporarily blockaded an industrial site.
ARGYLE — Protesters opposing a natural gas company’s plans to build wastewater tanks and compressors in a rural neighborhood temporarily blocked workers’ access to the site Monday morning, in a move designed to draw attention to their plight.
A line of protesters blocked the gate to a 7-acre property near the southwest corner of Frenchtown and Jeter roads south of Argyle for about 35 minutes, forcing contractors to wait in a line of idling pickup trucks until Denton County sheriff’s deputies arrived. The protesters stepped aside when a deputy told them they couldn’t block access to private property, but they remained standing beside the road holding signs throughout the day as bulldozers cleared the site, razing several large oak trees, and as trucks hauled in gravel and equipment. Read more...
Tests find toxins in Dish residents : Same substances detected in air, water
April 13, 2010 By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
excerpt...DISH — Tests on blood and urine samples taken from residents by state health officials in January have found the same toxic compounds in people’s bodies that have been detected in the air and water here. Read more...
Also, watch the WFAA News Video with
Cancer-causing toxin found on property of Decatur family
March 9, 2010 by CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV
excerpts... The day Aruba Petroleum began drilling operations next to the Ruggiero family's Decatur-area home is the day the dread began for Christine and Tim Ruggiero.
Taken in February, the highest sample was 85 times the state's benchmark for long-term health concerns. Lower levels, if they're breathed consistently over time, can lead to serious health problems.
"In terms of getting cancer, things like leukemia, we're talking five to ten years typically for it to manifest itself," said Dr. Martyn Smith, a nationally recognized benzene health affects expert. Read more...
Pandora's Wells :: Do you know what's going down that disposal well near you?
Feb. 24, 2010 By GAYLE REAVES :: Fort Worth Weekly
excerpts... Like nuclear power, natural gas is a fuel touted as clean on the front end but with major questions left unanswered about how to get rid of its byproducts on the other end.
Some regulators think drilling wastes ought to be disposed of on the drilling site, so that the same people who benefit also participate in the risks.
But if that were the rule, Fort Worth would end up with hundreds of disposal wells to go with its gas wells, in residential neighborhoods, near schools and parks and waterways.
A state appellate court has raked the (Railroad) commission over the coals for its narrow approach toward protecting the public interest in such applications. Read more...
DISH halts new drilling for now
:: 90-day moratorium on issuing new permits
Feb. 8, 2010 :: By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
excerpts... Tillman said the ordinance affects only new drilling permits, and not current operations. He told Peggy he had already issued a cease-and-desist order, which the energy companies were ignoring.
“I’ve asked them to shut down,” Tillman said. “Short of an injunction, that’s all we can do.”
Tillman assured her that he wasn’t giving up the fight for the community.
“This [ordinance change] is just a start to get what we need,” he said. Read more...
EPA to target gas drilling operations in North Texas
Feb. 4, 2010 :: by CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV
FORT WORTH — Big brother is about to step knee-deep into natural gas drilling. That's the word from the EPA's Region 6 chief, who spoke to a standing room only crowd of activists on Thursday night.
Dr. Al Armendariz is the agency's new boss for the five-state area that includes Texas. He said big changes are on the way — changes that could alter everything from what drilling facilities are allowed to emit to how they are monitored. Watch video...
New EPA regional chief from El Paso will be sworn in today
Feb. 2, 2010 ::By Zahira Torres / Austin Bureau
excerpt... Al Armendariz, 39, will be sworn in today in Dallas as Environmental Protection Agency administrator for the region.
Armendariz's office is also looking at air-quality permits that are issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to be certain that they meet minimum federal requirements. Read more...
NCTCA questions TCEQ AIR QUALITY TESTS
conducted in Fort Worth Read more...-
The Nightmare Underground :: Fort Worth Weekly
Jan. 20, 2010 :: Static Section
excerpt... A group that the Associated Press has called a "green dream team" of policy experts and scientists has concluded that the future is anything but green for groundwater resources in many parts of our country, thanks to oil and gas "fraccing" activity. Read more...
Loophole lets gas drillers inject chemical; Texas official says water untainted
:: Dallas Morning News Jan. 19, 2010 :: by RANDY LEE LOFTIS
excerpts... "Companies are basically doing an end run around the law," said Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel for the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization. "Congress should never have given the oil and gas industry a free pass."
The report shows "for the first time, with a great deal of specificity, how toxic the substances are that the industry is injecting," said the Environmental Working Group's Horwitt. "There's circumstantial evidence across the country of water contamination linked to fracturing." Read more...
Test Regularly — and ACT ON — Drilling-Site Emissions :: Special to the Star-Telegram
excerpts... As an organization of residents devoted to the welfare of neighborhoods, the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods believes that it is imperative to determine the extent to which the air we breathe is affected by emissions from the more than 1,600 gas wells in our city.
Dec. 21, 2009 ::
by LIBBY WILLIS :: President of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods and is Chairman of its Gas Drilling Committee. email@example.com
It is time for the city to dedicate some of its gas well revenues for regular, independent, gold-standard testing of drilling sites, particularly those near schools, healthcare facilities and neighborhoods. Read more...
The Opacity of Hope :: Fort Worth Weekly
Dec.16 2009 By: ERIC GRIFFEY
This article provides a comprehensive view of the environmental concerns in Texas.
excerpts... The party was hosted by the Downwinders at Risk,an environmental group based in North Texas, in honor of the recent appointment of Al Armendariz as regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, making him the top environmental official in Texas.
...getting serious about fixing the myriad environmental calamities in this state.
...A recent study conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration concluded that if Texas were a separate country, it would rank seventh in the world in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
Read the 2009 report by Dr. Al Armendariz:
Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvements