Fighting Fracking: Calvin Tillman Shares His Story of Standing Up to a Fossil Fuel Industry

Since we assimilated a quarrel to finish fracking 3 years ago, I’ve had a payoff of assembly so many moving people opposite a U.S. fighting a oil and gas attention in their communities. Most recently, we met Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus of DISH, Texas, who visited Southern California on a vocalization debate of Carson, Brea and La Habra Heights. Each city is intent in a own, singular onslaught opposite Big Oil, though Tillman’s story of hire adult to a attention strike home for residents of any of these communities.

If you’ve seen a Josh Fox documentaries Gasland and Gasland Part II, we might remember that Tillman, while mayor of DISH, fought to strengthen a village from dangerous healthy gas projects. Ultimately, his family finished a formidable preference to pierce divided from a sprawling gas attention in a Fort Worth exurbs. The reason was simple—his kids were removing sick, and a attention wasn’t pulling out any time soon.

Tillman’s California revisit was timely. Two Los Angeles County cities are branch people out to a polls on Mar 3 to confirm either to strengthen their communities from dangerous oil drilling. In La Habra Heights, a tiny farming community, residents will confirm on Measure A, that would anathema fracking and other radical drilling. And in Hermosa Beach residents will opinion on Measure O, that would retreat a long-time anathema on drilling in a coastal city; if a industry-funded magnitude passes, a city will be thankful to approve a plan that will implement a cavalcade site within 160 feet of some residents’ homes and within one-half mile of half of a residents of Hermosa Beach. This week, Get Out a Vote operations are full pitch in Hermosa Beach and La Habra Heights.

Meanwhile, residents of Carson recently degraded a 200 good proposal by California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum) and a Los Angeles County city is operative to correct a oil and gas formula in response to open pressure. And folks in a Orange County city of Brea have been struggling to get city officials to take underneath care their concerns about nearby oil wells.

Tillman had a lot to share with these communities about going adult opposite a desperate-for-expansion hoary fuel industry, though his summary boiled down to a elementary directive: Get involved.

In a week heading adult to his SoCal tour, we had an event to locate adult with Calvin Tillman, and ask him about his practice operative with communities opposite a U.S. since he changed from DISH to Aubrey, Texas.

Q. What have we been adult to given we changed from DISH?

A. I founded [a non-profit classification that collects environmental information for families and in low-income communities being negatively influenced by shale oil and gas extraction] and have finished a lot of work all over a U.S. It has unequivocally outgrown what we primarily dictated it to be—we had to sinecure an executive director, and put infrastructure in place to keep adult with a demand. We’re doing work with groups in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming, Ohio and New York.

I’m still really active with a legislature. In Texas it’s a consistent battle. We have a legislative event going on right now, and we’re really active in operative with a accumulation of opposite groups to assistance strengthen people and their skill from their [the hoary fuel industry] abuses.

Elected officials seem to consider there’s usually one side of this skill rights argument. The people who live in these communities have rights too, though a oil companies seem to have a burst on [the politicians’] side of a fence. I’ve been successful to some extent, though we still have a prolonged proceed to go.

Q. Were there hurdles to job out a oil attention in DISH?

A. The biggest problem was financial—we usually couldn’t keep adult with a income financially that it takes to quarrel these folks. They started to brag us a bit, would do open info requests that were so extended that it would be thousands and thousands of pages of docs. We had a part-time city secretary, so it was roughly a nuisance technique they used to keep us bustling creation copies for open info requests instead of traffic with them.

We would get so many open info requests for a tiny town, we started copy each email off and filing it since we knew they would be perfectionist it during some point. These weren’t always companies that had anything to do with DISH. Sometimes it was a trade associations. They would always ask for supportive info they had no business to, and afterwards would always behind off when we called them out. 

Q. You do a lot of vocalization to a lot of opposite groups: is there anything sold that stands out to we in this movement?

A. Yeah. If we demeanour during this from a 30,000-foot level, each city looks a same. Not usually in a proceed they proceed this with a politicians, though also in a proceed they understanding with a environmental impacts. If we take a representation from a compressor hire in Colorado contra Texas, you’re going to see a same chemicals and a same problems. Their proceed is a accurate same.

Most of a tiny towns, a internal towns, are not going to take $100,000 in debate contributions—local officials don’t get paid. They use a income to influence, generally a incomparable cities, a debate contributions. All of a sudden, city councilmen will author a blog for them, or get a chair on some trade association. We see that everywhere, all opposite a country.

The industry tries to manipulate a approved process, and make it to where they don’t have to follow any rules.

Q. Any village fights or places you’ve been in particular?

A. There’s opposite tools of a nation that have been scorched during opposite levels. In California, there’s problems there, and substantially problems we don’t know about, and’t know about for years to come. In western Pennsylvania we have intensely economically vexed areas that have been scorched by a industry. You have areas where peoples’ H2O goes away, or turns black, or smells horrible, so a attention sets adult H2O buffalos [large H2O tanks] for them. If those residents pronounce out in any way, a attention takes their H2O away.

I know this lady who had to give her daughter a bath from a gallon jug that they were stuffing adult during somebody else’s residence since a attention took their H2O away. You don’t trust that’s function until we see it for yourself. I’ve been to everywhere—Dimock, Pavillion, though that stage in, we think, Butler, Pennsylvania always sticks with me.

This always starts in reduce mercantile areas, it seems. And those are a ones that are always a many impacted and a slightest means to urge themselves. 

Q. This isn’t your initial California tour—what’s it like assembly all of these communities?

A. The initial time we went out there, we was usually doing some work with Earthworks and ShaleTest, and we met with a few of a smaller groups. I’ve seen a probability of creation some headway, that stirred me to come behind and do vocalization events final summer.

I usually feel like there’s transformation there that could be helpful.

Obviously a inhabitant movement, a inhabitant bearing to what’s going on—the same things that we see in Texas—you see in California. Most Californians substantially don’t know that, so we consider it’s critical to build on a internal perspective.

There’s copiousness of things California does to need some-more responsibility, though there’s still problems. Nobody’s defence from those problems. Folks in California need to know what’s entrance over a behind fence.

Q. When we pronounce to opposite communities and tell your story, is there any summary in sold we wish to get across?

A. we don’t come to places to tell people to do this, or not to do this. What we wish to get opposite is to have people consider about it, what they’re doing, and what they’re mouth-watering into their communities. The wish is to not to tell someone what to do, though for people to consider about what they’re doing and get concerned in a routine and make certain they know what they’re mouth-watering into their community.

I didn’t win opposite a oil industry, so we don’t know what that’s like. But we can tell we what does occur when we don’t get involved.

Walker Foley is a Southern California Organizer with Food Water Watch. He became desirous to finish fracking after a gas attention fracked a land surrounding his family’s plantation in a sprouting hills of northeast West Virginia.


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