Calvin Tillman on The Big Deception: when regulatory agencies work for industry rather than the public

How to ignore data and come to the predetermined conclusion the real bosses order

When I first decided that we needed to have some biological testing accomplished here in DISH, TX, I was cautioned against getting our state health department involved.  Most figured that they would run up here and began covering the back side of the oil and gas industry like they have done so many times before.  However, I also have some very smart and nationally recognized people who help me in these decisions and we decided that if they would take our input on the testing, we might be OK.  So we asked the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to test the air and a tentatively identified compound test in conjunction with the tests they were running.  But they ignored the request from a nationally recognized scientist, who has more scientific recognition in her little toe, than anyone who works for the DSHS will ever have.  Therefore, their report subsequently has turned out more political than scientific.

.As one well known citizen who lives in the Barnett Shale has stated, “Everything you hear from the natural gas industry is either a lie, or half truth”.  Here in DISH, we are used to the paid liars from this industry coming in and feeding us the normal lines like “what good neighbors they want to be.”  However, when you get this from your state agencies that are sworn to protect you, it does not set as well.  Many people believe everything these people say, and they are never held accountable when they are wrong…or deceitful.  The DSHS showed up just like many of the other paid liars, thinking that they would blow smoke up the rear ends of a bunch of country bumpkins that didn’t know any better, and just like the other paid liars, they left with their tails between their legs.  Country bumpkins typically recognize the smell of BS pretty quickly.

After thinking about this, and doing some research into the matter, it was clear that no matter what was detected, the DSHS would have found a way to say there is nothing wrong.  They have a history of doing just that;  please see the following link, where they failed to protect the public interest in Texas once again.

In this ”investigation” the community was worried about water run-off from a former refinery (hmm, same industry), and subsequent surface water contamination.  However, the same characters who came to DISH decided the surface water didn’t need testing.  The soil and sediment were tested and both exceeded the Health Based Assessment Comparison for aluminum, arsenic, BaP TEQ (benzene derivative), and vanadium.  Conclusion – “no apparent public health hazard”.  In my line of business we call people like this “hacks”.

In our case, they were looking hard for criticisms from us before the meeting, so that they could prepare to answer them.  I made some comment to the media about the number of folks who had toluene and xylene in their systems, and oddly enough they came up with statistics that show we are actually lower than the rest of the United States; this was not in the report, just the presentation.  At this point I started getting that familiar smell that we have grown accustomed to here in DISH… and not the natural gas smell.  I then asked for the source of the statistics they used to determine this and they sent me to NHANES, said “Just Google it”.  Maybe that was their joke, because I and others searched for hours with no success finding this data.  I did find a statement that said VOCs are present in most everyone at some level, but it would not be in detectable levels in everyone, so that may have been one of those “half truths.”

During my several hours of research, I did find that the 95th percentile used in the DISH study appears to be a number hand-picked by the “hacks” and likely hand-picked for a purpose.  Apparently, you do not need a percentile reference number, but when one is used the 90th percentile seems to be the number used by real scientists.  If 50% of the households in DISH were above the 95th percentile for chemical exposure, I wonder how many are over the 90th percentile.  However, if they would have figured that, it is likely that they would have that trend they were looking for, and we damn sure wouldn’t want that, now would we?  I think similar lying with statistics was accomplished in Flower Mound as well.  If they start finding problems, the boys and girls in Austin would not get those critical campaign contributions they have grown accustom to.  In my business we look for trends, and I am starting to see a trend with these “hacks.”

If the above blatant failures were not enough to show what a joke this was, you must hear the rest of the story.  Dr. Bradford admitted when questioned that the study was not a scientific study. However, they came to a very solid conclusion, with this non-scientific study.  The conclusion goes something like…we see exposure but have no idea where the exposure is coming from, but it damn sure ain’t coming from that compressor station that we smelled those horrible odors from.

They then admitted that they did not know how close any of the citizens lived to the compressor sites, nor did they know the number of males vs females that were tested, and did not even know the age range of those who were tested.  You would think they would have known the answers to the easy stuff if they wanted to appear believable.  The data that they used for comparison in DISH was seven years old.  Outdated data is something they also used in Flower Mound to help them reach their objective.  I guess they figured they had this one in the bag like all the others before; too bad the country bumpkin’s weren’t buying.

Children were not tested as part of this “investigation.” There apparently was no data to compare the results; however, in my wild goose chase that Dr. Bradford sent me on, I found several studies that referenced children.  The one mentioned above showed how these chemicals affect children differently than adults…and yeah, it is much worse.  She avoided the question during the meeting when asked about how children are affected differently than adults.  Frankly, I believe that they were sent here to not find anything and they would likely find exposure in our children.  If they find toluene and xylene in kids they would not be able to blame it on smoking.  Even us country bumpkins don’t let our five year olds smoke.  They would not have been able to give us the “half truths” that they did, and people don’t play when it come to their kids.  If us nice country folk knew our kids have BTEX chemical exposure, we may not be so nice any more.  I am hopeful that the light will shine on some of the roaches who are responsible for these illusions, and I think there is another facility I would rather see them at, and it is located in Huntsville, Texas.

The house of cards they built came down very quickly.  I am extremely disappointed that these folks did not take their oaths seriously, and are allowing the public to continue being put at risk.  I had originally felt sorry for those who were likely on the puppets for the higher-ups, but it is all too apparent that this is not their first deception, so they should have moved on to something else if they weren’t committed to covering things like this up.  They have actually offered to come back for another round of testing.  I think I would rather see if the Chesapeake or Devon environmental department is available; they are much better liars.

In closing I would like to say that this “investigation” brings more questions than answers, and it is time for us to demand a stop to the social injustices that these state agencies are allowed to impose.  Many people have no other options than to take their word for it, and no recourse when they are wrong.  We apparently have not only been sacrificed for the good of the shale by these companies, but also the State of Texas.  It is time for us to hold these paid liars accountable for their actions.  Please let me know if you have any skills to help me investigate similar injustices.

Fortunately, the last state agency that left the DISH town hall with their tails between their legs was shamed into installing a permanent air monitor.  Frankly, I am delightfully surprised by the improvements in our air quality over the last month.  I am certainly not calling all clear, but it may be that we don’t even need more testing, but I know that another community will face the same situation if there is not something done.  If this industry would just do it right, we would not have many of these problems.  The Gulf would not be becoming the dead sea and our children would not be exposed to cancer causing toxins.  Please post on your blogs and websites.

See report here:

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX

“Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it”