Residents meet to discuss Eagle Ford Shale

Camille Doty

June 11, 2011 at 1:11 a.m.

CUERO - Toby Frederick brought a gallon of contaminated water that came from his home to a meeting Saturday to illustrate a point.

The Thomaston resident said the brown water smelled like diesel fuel.

He called the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality without success, he said.

"What am I supposed to do?" he asked in the town hall meeting.

Frederick is someone in the Crossroads who is taking precautionary measures for his family. He said he he had to abandon the 280-foot well outside his home because the water was tainted. He also dug up a more shallow well so his family can have clean water.

He came to the Texas Drought Project and the Oil & Gas Accountability Project meeting looking for help.

About 40 residents, including Cuero Mayor Sara Post Meyer were in attendance.

Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, spoke passionately about drilling.

"I'm not opposed to the oil and gas industry. We need it done respectfully and responsibly," he said.

Tillman said Dish was an ideal location because of the town's popular route for pipelines. He also said the 200-resident town was about 25 miles from Fort Worth.

The father of two said the by-product of gas compression left an unbearable smell in the air. "Your eyes would burn when you walk outside," he said.

He relocated his family to Aubrey because of the inhabitable conditions. Tillman said his vocal nature has given him a label in the industry. "When you're as outspoken as I am, you get this tag that you're anti-drilling," he said.

The environmental advocate said he believes in individual property rights. He encouraged the audience to be proactive.

"Don't wait until the rig companies come to your door. And you say 'Holy cow, I should get involved. '"

Sharon Wilson, of Denton, has been traveling the state with Tillman to share her drilling perspective.

She said she worked in the oil industry. At first, she was pro-drilling. "I thought woo-hoo, I'm going to make mailbox money."

Her joy quickly faded as she began noticing changes in her community. She said she saw big pits and waste getting covered up.

The Earthworks organizer said she called the Texas Railroad Commission, but she received no response. She took her concerns one step further by contacting public officials and the press.

"Everyone thought I was a lunatic," she said.

She fought back with her computer keys and started an environmental blog. And she made her case with pictures and videos.

Wilson, the co-author of Drill-Right Texas, also developed case studies of the health impacts of drilling. She said flowback causes about one-third of drilling water returns to fresh water supply.

The environmental blogger said the water supply is not sustainable. She also mentioned it is difficult to determine accurate water assessments because the industry does the estimates.

People at the meeting wanted to know what should they do at this point in the process. Both Tillman and Wilson stressed getting educated and performing baseline testing before the drilling starts.

Wilson wanted the audience to learn from previous mistakes.

"I want to give you the opportunity to have things better than we did. We had some pretty big problems with Barnett Shale."



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