NCTCA - North Central Texas Communities Alliance is a broad-based coalition of individuals, organizations, and communities throughout the Barnett Shale area working on local, state, and national levels for positive solutions to the problems related to natural gas drilling and pipelines.
To facilitate our goals, we strive to Communicate, Educate and then to Mobilize citizens to action in North Texas and their own unique communities. It is our belief that a MORATORIUM ON ALL NEW PERMITS (for gas wells, pipelines, compressors ) is required in order to have time to sort through the maze of complex issues regarding our health, safety, environment and quality of life.
NCTCA is about empowering you and our
communities! Join Us!
The Society of Professional Journalists'
Fort Worth Chapter ...
...is holding an important workshop next Saturday and we'd love to see you-all there.
Topic: government secrecy and government intrusion. If you can spread the word, I'd appreciate it.
Hope you can come. Please let me know if you have questions.
Thanks for all you do.
(Gayle Reaves : Fort Worth Weekly)
Saturday, June 21, 2014 from 8:45 AM to 2:30 PM (CDT)
RSVP required -- Register Now!
Workshop is FREE.
Workshop with box lunch - $10 / Vegitarian option available.
UT Arlington Fine Arts Building Room 258
700 Greek Row
Arlington, TX 76019
View Larger Map
From: Gary Hogan ....
PLEASE CONSIDER PARTICIPATION IN: Natural Gas Production and Community Impacts Survey
I have been contacted by the Damascus Citizens group of Pennsylvania that has crested a survey for citizens to fill out a survey they are collecting to document the Health and Community Impacts of Gas Production in their communities. Although this is being done by a Pennsylvania citizens group their effort is to document not only their local Impacts with testimonial surveys but through other activists groups and communities across the Nation . How can this help our cause ?
- Get your experiences officially recorded with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the Department of Health & Human Services.
- Petition to get a Public Health Assessment in your area
- This Survey has been created to help you and your community, and change public policy. Your information will go towards creating a national database and a national review of drilling (NGE&P) impacts. We are hopeful also that we can start to find help for impacted people.
Natural Gas Production and Community Impacts Survey Go To: www.DamascusCitizensATSDR.org
Please Help Support ShaleTest!
SHALETEST AIR TESTING SHOW ELEVATED BENZENE LEVELS IN THE BARNETT SHALE NEAR NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION FACILITIES
Based on results of a recent air study, benzene is still elevated around natural gas production facilities in the Barnett Shale.
During the month of October 2012 members of the non-profit organization ShaleTest.org visited many sites throughout the Barnett Shale in North Texas. These sites were viewed through a FLIR Gasfindir camera, which detects Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Many of these sites had visible emissions present and unfortunately many of these sites were close to communities, city parks, restaurants and other place where people congregate. Former Mayor of DISH, TX and co-founder of ShaleTest.org says that "it is a shame that over the past several years we still have a problem with the oil and gas industry polluting the air of North Texas, it is time for the industry to step up and be the good neighbors they claim to be on the industry funded commercials".
During this visits ambient air monitoring was performed using stainless steel summa canisters. Results of this monitoring show the presence of several chemicals including the well-known carcinogen benzene.
Kinder Morgan gas processing facility located on Jim Baker Rd. west of DISH, TX showed elevated levels of benzene and toluene, as well as many other chemicals known to be present at facilities such as this.
ShaleTest documented emissions at a similar facility near downtown Fort Worth on Nixon Street Operated by Chesapeake Energy.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality performed sampling that validated ShaleTest's concerns, finding elevated levels of benzene and toluene at this facility. “Looking forward into 2013 we must make our health and environment a priority. It is unacceptable that the natural gas industries are ignoring the devastating impacts they have on citizens and the environment.” says Susan Sullivan, board member of ShaleTest.
ShaleTest is a non-profit organization that provides environmental testing for lower income families, and was performing this monitoring at the request of several citizens on the Barnett Shale.
Meet Anthony Ingraffea — From Industry Insider to Implacable Fracking Opponent
By Ellen Cantarow :: EcoWatch January 2, 2013
Why, exactly, is high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing such a devastating industry? How best to describe its singularity—its vastness, its difference from other industries and its threat to the planet?
Q. So could you comment on several areas where you think the dangers lie?
A. People’s water wells have been contaminated at a significant rate. The industry would say, “When we drill
... It’s the health of many versus the wealth of few.
Dr. Anthony Ingraffea wells some of the wells leak, but it only happens rarely.” I would counter: it used to happen only rarely, now it happens more frequently.
There’s the global threat of global warming, there’s the local threat of contamination of water wells, and there’s the regional threat of air contamination, and surface and groundwater contamination which are exacerbated by the spatially intense form of extraction. Because you have multi-well pads and clustered pads you have very big industrial operations with diesel engines operating for long periods of time in large regions, smog, ozone creation at regional levels.
There are air quality problems because of the nature of shale gas development. Also water quality problems at the regional level because of accidents or purposely dumping of waste in surface waters.
People need to breathe air. People need to drink water. People need to live in an acceptable climate, one they can expect will be stable and unchanging. There are two things involved. Having the community you wanted to live in and you’ve lived in your whole life just taken over from you, and the environment, the water, the air, the climate, the flora the fauna, it’s all under threat. Both of those threats reside on the spectrum of health versus wealth. It’s the health of many versus the wealth of few.
Q. So are you for banning this industry?
A. My position is this. Where shale gas development has not yet occurred, ban it. Period. Where it is occurring, enact ironclad regulations, inspect for compliance with them with dogged diligence, and enforce them relentlessly with fines that really mean something. The Ten Commandments are “regulations,” but as words alone where do they leave us? Read the entire article...
Home » Blogs » Robert Wechsler's blog
Very Problematic Fort Worth Ethics Reform Proposals
Mon, 2012-08-20 10:12
In a long cover story in last week's Fort Worth Weekly
, Peter Gorman looked at the state of government ethics in Fort Worth and, most important, some proposed changes to its ethics program that take it in the wrong direction. Since it was the only article on the proposals, and Gorman paraphrased me often (based on an interview), I was waiting for other local newspapers to jump in and confirm what Gorman wrote. But I've only found a short Star Telegraph blog post
that says what a "bang up job" Gorman did. So, end of waiting.
One of the most important facts is that the proposed changes are coming from the city attorney. Not surprisingly, as in Houston
and other cities, when the city attorney is in charge of changes, the changes usually give the city attorney a greater role in the ethics program. A principal change provides that the city attorney may give ethics advice to officials and that officials who get this advice are protected from ethics enforcement.
As I have said again and again, a city or county attorney should have no role in an ethics program. Or, as the article quotes me:
"Probably the number-one ethics problem in the U.S. . . . is officials going to [city or county] attorneys for ethics advice."
The result is what Gorman calls a "get-out-of-jail-free card for public officials." An official asks the city attorney whether he can help his sister's company get a zoning permit. The city attorney says he can. Someone files a complaint, and the official has the defense that he followed the city attorney's advice.
Why City Attorney Ethics Advice Is Wrong
There are five reasons why the Fort Worth city attorney should not provide ethics advice to officials. One, a city attorney is not a neutral, independent professional (Fort Worth's is appointed and fired by the council), In fact, a city attorney is usually very politically involved.
Two, a city attorney spends her days looking out for the interests of the very individuals whose interests an ethics professional is supposed to subordinate to the public interest. A city attorney has the sort of special relationship with officials that leads to a conflict requiring withdrawal from participation, including the giving of ethics advice. And the relationship with officials creates an appearance of impropriety that taints any advice that appears to be in an official's personal interest, even when the advice is excellent.
Three, a city attorney rarely has any training in government ethics. In fact, attorneys generally take a legal rather than ethical approach to conflict situations. Such an approach says to the public that loopholes in ethics codes are okay and technicalities are more important than the public interest in having officials not misuse their position for personal purposes.
Four, nothing happens to a city attorney who gives an official the wrong advice, even if it seriously harmful to the city. A city attorney is only accountable to the public through the principal people to whom she would give ethics advice, that is, the council. They are hardly going to take her to task for giving them advice that is personally helpful.
Five, Fort Worth has an Ethics Review Committee
(ERC) that provides ethics advice. Setting up an alternate ethics adviser allows officials to forum shop, that is, choose the adviser they think will give them the answer they want (usually the city attorney). Having multiple ethics advisers also means inconsistent rulings and, therefore, less guidance to officials. Ethics advice is supposed to be a form of ethics training, useful not only to the official who requests it, but also to others in the same situation. Contrary ethics advice is confusing, and ethics advice protected by lawyer-client confidentiality (and that is what city attorneys usually insist on, although it is the city, through its legislative body, that actually holds the privilege and determines the level of confidentiality) is helpful to only one individual.
Considering all this, only a city attorney who does not understand government ethics would propose to set herself up as a source of ethics advice. Or, as I am quoted in the article as saying, “I don’t think any city attorney worth their salt would want to be in the position of making ethics calls for the people he or she works for."
In fact, this is the second city attorney to have made the same proposal. See my blog post
on what happened two years ago.
Ethics Review Committee Independence
Fort Worth now has a weak provision regarding the selection of ERC members. The council is required to "develop a list of community, civic and professional organizations which shall be invited to make suggestions for appointments to the committee." According to the Weekly
's article, the city attorney wants to change the "shall" to "may."
There are only two reasons for this. One is to deal with possible time problems. It can take a long time to get suggestions for appointments, and it might be important to fill positions quickly in order to ensure enough ERC members for a quorum. But this does not really require a change in language. The council can invite suggestions and give the organizations on the list (if there actually is a list) two weeks to make suggestions. If they do not, the council can, knowing that it has followed the law by inviting suggestions, go ahead with approval of its own candidates.
In fact, the wording is already so weak that the council is free to ignore any suggestions made to it. It only has to ask for suggestions, not accept them. The proper reform here is to require the council to consider only suggestions it receives, unless it does not receive the names of individual who qualify for the ERC. This is the trend in EC selection, ensuring a truly independent EC, both in appearance and reality.
The only other reason for making this language change is to dispense with the process altogether. This is a serious step away from ERC independence. As with allowing the city attorney to provide advice, this will undermine the public's trust in the city's ethics program.
The third proposed change, also made and not passed in 2010, is to make advisory committee members not subject to the ethics code, so that they may sit despite serious conflicts of interest. I deal with this issue at length in my book Local Government Ethics Programs
(search for "advisory board members").
The worst thing about the proposed changes to the city's ethics code is the secrecy that surrounds them, even though the proposals are nothing new. Gorman wrote, "the process of changing the ethics code is being done so far under the radar that even some community organizations that are generally quick to howl about ethical lapses and lack of transparency say they didn’t know what was in the works."
You can't propose to change an ethics code, especially moving away from an EC with independence and a monopoly on advice, without a great deal of public input. It's not only wrong, but suicidal, in anything but the worst ethics environments, to engage in ethics reform without the support of local good government groups and other civic organizations, especially when they are, by ordinance, involved in the ethics process.
The proposals should be scrapped. Instead, good government organizations should be asked for ways to provide the ERC with more independence and authority, so that what happened two years ago does not happen again. Dallas is seeking to improve its ethics program via a contract to get professional ethics training and advice for improvement of its ethics program. It's time for Fort Worth to do the same.
Director of Research, City Ethics
Help neighborhoods STOP Gas Line Compressor Stations by "RIGHT" !
Twice over the past 11 months, and three times over the past couple of years, the Mallard Cove Neighborhood Association, in concert with other organizations in the Historic Randol Mill Valley Association have fended off the desire of Chesapeake Energy to install a multiple gas line compressor station near their neighborhoods.
Property zoned "Agricultural" allows such stations by right and the proximity of this neighborhood to "Ag" zoned property has caused the situation, but it is not the only neighborhood in such jeopardy in the city of Fort Worth.
Actively opposing these intrusive and dangerous facilities so close to neighborhoods are the following organizations:
North Central Texas Communities Alliance
Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods
Eastside Sector Alliance
John T. White Neighborhood Association.
It's time for the Fort Worth City Council to remedy the issue for these neighborhoods and all other Fort Worth neighborhoods close to "Ag" zoned property. Your voice will matter!
The League (Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods ) advocated against allowing such multiple gas line compressor stations so close to neighborhoods both times. See the League's latest letter here.
Also, see the excellent presentation by the League on Wastewater Disposal Wells 2012.
Please read the OPEN LETTER from Gary Hogan and ACTION Request regarding Compressors Stations.
OPEN LETTER From: Calvin Tillman ::
Former Mayor, DISH, TX
Beware of " paid liars " ...
It has now been a few years since my first brush with the oil and gas public relations firm Energy in Depth. However, they have found it necessary to follow me around the country, and make several attack pieces and post them to their websites along the way. As time has progressed, the reality of the articles has digressed. They have went from simply making false allegations and half truths, to making wild and far fetched blatant lies. They never stand up and actually debate the facts, but rather slither in like the serpents they are, and hide in the shadows hoping that no one recognizes them. It is a good thing that only the like minded hacks from the oil and gas industry pay any attention to these clowns.
Here is a little more information on the group:
They first began their smear campaign against me upon my announcement that I would be touring Upstate New York, discussing the things that we were experiencing as a result of the oil and gas industry in our small community of DISH, TX. There first attack was typical of what I have come to expect of the oil and gas industry paid liars. They attempted to paint me as some wacko environmentalist, that had some wild agenda. However, it doesn't take one long to realize that this picture is false, and that what happened in DISH is unreasonable by any terms, and Jethro and Chris would certainly not move their families there.
Over the years, just about every event that I spoke at led to another article or video put out by the gang at Energy in Depth. I am shocked at the low quality of people this group hires. These are certainly not the brightest bulbs on the tree, and they come across to the average person as a bunch of paid liars. On one of my trips to Ohio, the small portion of the presentation that they chose to pick out and attempt to attack, did not even relate to the point they were trying to make, so I am not sure what they were trying to accomplish.
I suppose they have run out of things to attack, so the latest goon, which was just hired in Michigan, just completely lied about several facts that didn't even matter. New Energy In Depth employee Eric Bauss made his way out to all four of my presentations in Michigan. He obviously stood out, and he even asked a question at one of the presentations. However, when I asked him if he worked in the oil and gas industry, he said "no". Perhaps, he is ashamed of where he gets his paycheck from, and frankly I can't blame him. If my life had turned out differently and I had to work for some second rate group like Energy in Depth, I would deny it also.
Eric seemed nice enough, and during the last presentation some one in the audience pointed him out, and he described his organization as a "fact checking organization". Perhaps Eric should get someone to check his facts, because in his article there are several "facts" that are wrong. For example Eric states that there "isn't many oil or gas wells in or around DISH", which couldn't be further from the truth, and is easy to verify. All you have to do is look at a google map of DISH and you will see hundreds of wells in and around the town. From the home that we lived at in DISH, there are easily 100 gas wells within a mile. Perhaps hiring someone to be a paid liar, has a special niche and you simple can't find someone skilled to work in these positions, but the more of these guys that I meet, the less impressed I get. You can see Eric's lies for yourself here:
I have met many people in the oil and gas industry that I personally liked and respected, but I guess they wouldn't work for a bunch of goons like Energy in Depth. So they are stuck with guys like Eric, who really probably should be working at a fast food restaurant, no sorry, that may offend fast food workers to put these guys in their category, so hopefully everyone gets the point.
Energy in Depth has tried to attack Gasland, and the director of the film Josh Fox, but they weren't successful at that either. They came out with a documentary of their own called "Truthland". However, they screwed that up also. The link below shows the real story with Truthland:
The reason that the goons from Energy in Depth come across as paid liars, is because they are. The reason that they are unsuccessful in attacking Josh and Gasland, is because they are lying. There are some of us out there speaking the truth, and it is Energy in Depth's job, to attempt clouding the truth, and casting a shadow of doubt, which may work with the section of society that is more concerned with what is happening on their favorite sitcom, than what is happening in their back yard. But for anyone who is willing to do even a small amount of research, you will find that Energy in Depth, is nothing more than a bunch of paid liars for the oil and gas industry.
It does give me some satisfaction that the industry is spending a ton of money to fund this ineffective group of paid liars, which does nothing more than to rally the industry extremists. They are not changing anybody's mind, nor are they breaking any new ground for the oil and gas industry. However, Energy in Depth is wasting a bunch of the oil and gas money, and not making the industry look any better for it. They are dividing the groups further and further, perhaps for job security. Also, they are making the industry look more and more like the greedy industry who couldn't care less about those they trample on to get those profits. For those of you who have managed to get the goons at Energy in Depth to come after you, as a young lady from Pennsylvania once said, "you are creating jobs".
For those in the industry who fund groups like Energy in Depth, perhaps you would take a little advice - if you don't like being treated like scum bags, don't be scum bags, and certainly don't hire a bunch of scum bags to represent you.
Former Mayor, DISH, TX
"Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it"
Stop the Export of Fracked Gas!
Fracking is bad enough on its own. There is no reason that we should contaminate America's water here to export cheap natural gas to other countries. Exporting gas only creates more profits for the multinational corporations that are doing the fracking, at our expense. Let's make an impact by taking away their ability to export natural gas from fracking to other countries.
Please add your name to the on-line petition.
THE SKY IS PINK by Josh Fox
( 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 viewed in the link below. They show the gas industry's analysis of exactly how gas can migrate to the water supply: Industry Documents
Open Letter ...
To: The House Committee on Energy Resources
Attn: Representative Jim Keffer, Chair
RE: Response to "Charge #2 - Examine state regulation governing oil and gas well construction and integrity and pipe line safety and construction and determine what changes should be made, if any, to ensure that the regulations are adequate to protect the people of Texas and its natural resources."
Mr. Chair and Committee Members,
First and foremost, the above "Charge" assumes that tweaking regulations is what is needed to make O&G wells and pipelines safe. This assumption is faulty at its inception. We don't currently have adequate enforcement of the now existing regulations because of inadequate funding, and thusly, inadequate staffing levels. With all due respect, it is our view that focusing on regulations is not going to improve this situation at any point in the near future.
Secondly, the state's regulations on all these issues mimic the federal regulations because that is the cheapest thing to do. The federal regulations on pipelines are inadequate to provide safety. As an example, the attachment (Recommended Changes to Code of Federal Regulations) is a list of recommended changes to CFR 49 regarding pipeline construction that were proposed by an unspecified NGO in recent years. I sincerely doubt if any of them ever were enacted. These or similar construction regulations were not followed here in Fort Worth on property bordering that of Mary Kelleher on Randoll Mill Road in Fort Worth. The pipeline was laid through an old backfilled dump site and flood plain. There was no concern for pipe bedding or any junk or other inappropriate materials in the trench, and there was no pipe bed preparation or compaction of soil. This will produce stresses and leaks at an early and unpredictable date.
Third, PHMSA's pipeline safety program basically consists of construction specifications that are "self monitored." Further, reporting of failures is on the honor system, and operators are allowed to change submitted reports at will, thus encouraging falsification of records of incidents and removal of existing reports of incidents that exceed reporting thresholds.
Regulation without sufficient enforcement is worse than no regulation at all. Texas's inspection team is totally inadequate in many different areas, but particularly of concern is the number of actual inspectors for the monumental task of keeping all Texans safe. Of particular concern are those high pressure, unodorized pipelines that are literally placed just feet from citizen's front doors.
It is recommended that the state and industry target the building of safe "new" construction and decommissioning and removing pipelines that run under residential developments rather than spending public money focusing on third party incident reduction through publicity and rhetoric aimed at the public. Further, do not spend public funds on propaganda programs that attempt to convince the public that pipelines carrying hazardous materials are "safe" and that most failures are caused by third parties. The simple analogy would be, "people who are involved in a plane crash don't really care what caused the plane to crash....only that it did."
The function of pipeline safety efforts is to decrease pipeline failures due to faulty construction methods and to increase safety the public. Certainly NOT to be a publicly funded propaganda arm for industry.
The North Central Texas Communities Alliance
Mr. Jerry Lobdill, Advisory Committee - Pipelines
Mr. Gary Hogan - President
Mr. Louis A. McBee - Treasurer
Tell the EPA: Protect Our Water and Ban Diesel Fuel from Fracking
In 2011, the natural gas industry was caught red-handed, secretly pumping over 32 million gallons of diesel fuel and diesel by-products into the ground -- and right through our drinking water. This is after the industry denied using diesel in their fracking cocktails!
Send a message today -- tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to protect our communities and our health by banning diesel fuel and diesel fuel by-products in fracking. Click here to sign petition.
OPEN LETTER TO: US Representative Kaye Granger
In 2009, The North Central Texas Communities Alliance cheered our supported for Dr. Al Armendariz for the position of EPA Region 6 Administrator because we knew he would do an excellent job of enforcing environmental laws and protecting public health. We support him today because we believe that he has stood strong for protection of our region and understood the unique contributors to our region. He has done a champion job of standing up for efforts that needed address.
The same people who are called for Dr. Armendariz to resign are also calling for the entire EPA to be
de-funded and abolished. It is clear that they do not support federal enforcement of any environmental standards under any circumstances. They are engaging in a new McCarthyism towards all things environmental. Nothing you could do in response to this completely contrived controversy would satisfy them.
We are disappointed in his resignation although publically stated as his decision and respect it, we feel the political pressure that forced his decision was unjust and not in citizens of Texas best interests.
Dr. Armendariz was a popular and well-liked Regional Administrator among all but the most extremely politicized self interest Oil and Gas stakeholders in the region. Dr. Armendariz’s work has led directly to concrete improvements in the lives of people. For example, EPA’s recent decision to enforce air pollution standards that will reduce harmful emissions from gas drilling operations would not have been possible without research first conducted by Dr. Armendariz in 2009 and in prior years, as an air quality expert and professor at SMU Dallas, Texas on air quality, that demonstrated the urgent need for this policy.
Our North Texas region remains in serious non attainment to federal air quality ozone standards. Our region has been inundated with natural gas drilling activities. There has been very little or any interest by major gas drilling companies to control their emission releases in the region. In fact they invest heavily in PR, lobby and influence, rather than incorporating readily available control technologies.
Common sense alone would dictate that this added and obvious contributor to our region’s air quality requires regulation to control their emission footprint.
No amount of manufactured outrage can obscure the fact that Dr. Armendariz stood for exactly the kind of serious-minded scientist and policy maker that we needed as Region 6 Administrator. Our hope is his successor will pick up his mantle and EPA will stand strong behind them. Texans needs the EPA!
I wish we could say we had faith in our own State agencies RRC and TCEQ they have caused us to feel let down too many times and have proven too many times who they work for and that is the influential Oil and Gas lobby in Texas. Economy may be good but what good is economy without environmental health safety and protection of other natural resources of clean air and water.
Thanks for your attention and Stand Up for US.
North Central Texas Communities Alliance
c/c to President Barack Obama; TX Senators Kaye Hutchison & John Cornyn
and Director of EPA Lisa Jackson
NCTCA is honored to have received this recognition for the SECOND year (2010 - 2011) from the FW Weekly!" "We want to acknowledge all of our Members, Volunteers,and Supporters who have kept up the great efforts to EDUCATE, COMMUNICATE,AND MOBILIZE!