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Trailer Talk's Frack Talk: Why a Mayor Was Forced to Leave His Town Because of Gas Drilling

Major Calvin Tillman left his beloved community of Dish, Texas (that has 60 gas wells) to protect his family from the dangers of natural gas drilling.

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What is guiding people's decisions about whether or not to lease their land for gas drilling? And at what point do the rights of the individual diminish in the face of the health of an entire area? What role does water itself have on the ability for an area to survive by providing for itself?

What impact is this having not only on the communities in the shale regions, but also on the national dialogue and policymaking decisions around energy extraction?

What defines the American dream, and how does it impact the decisions being made in our communities?

Trailer Talk's "Marcellus Shale Water Project" explores the impact of natural gas drilling in our neighborhoods. Local culture, generations of history, and beloved homes can be lost when the oil and gas companies, intent on fossil fuel extraction, move into a new region. We're facing a complete shift in our region as this largest-ever concentration of gas lies in wait beneath our feet.

With the Marcellus Shale Water Project, we are going to be exploring natural gas drilling in my neighborhood of the Sullivan County Catskills, the surrounding upstate New York areas, the Hudson River Valley, and Pennsylvania.

Alright. We are en route. We just crossed over the Delaware River in Narrowsburg, New York, in Sullivan County, and we're now heading into Pennsylvania, where they have begun the drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. And a map has been pulled out. What route is this?

So, we're on our way to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. We're on U.S. 6 on our way to Dimock, Pennsylvania, where they've been having reports of well water contamination, and we'll be meeting with some of the people there. And I have sitting next to me Mayor Calvin Tillman from Dish, Texas. So, it's great to meet a fellow Texan, and welcome you here to New York, and now onward we go into Pennsylvania.

So, Mayor Tillman, if you could share with me what brought you here into our neighborhood and to these communities, and what's been happening in Dish, Texas, with the natural gas drilling?

Calvin Tillman: Well, in Dish, Texas, we have every single aspect of the natural gas operations, from the drilling to the processing to the compression, to the odorizing. We have it all. And there's a lot of negative side effects to that that isn't always made clear in the beginning. And so, I'm hopeful to come up here to the Marcellus Shale and to be able to convey some of those negative side effects to the folks here, because here it hasn't gotten started as much as it has in Texas, so there may be an opportunity for the folks here to do something about it before it starts, 'cause if you wait too long, then you're going to clean up a mess instead of fixing it from the beginning. It's much easier if you can regulate it from the beginning and get some of the precursors in place.

Artel: So, when did this start in your town of Dish? How long have you lived there? A little bit of history about where you're from in Texas; you becoming the mayor; and why you wanted to become the mayor of your town. You talked about the shale -- the Marcellus Shale, which we have here. What kind of shale are you dealing with in your home town?

Tillman: We have the Barnett Shale, and the Barnett Shale is very similar to the Marcellus Shale in a lot of ways. And Dish is located in the very heart of the Barnett Shale. We are 15 miles from the very first well that was ever hydraulically fractured using the technologies that's used in all of the shales now. And so, we're about 25 miles directly north of Ft. Worth, Texas. They started drilling in our area about 15 years ago.

 
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