Friday, August 27, 2010

You may have seen the headlines in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, announcing that the "EPA was fine with air monitor data in DISH". They were of course referring to the permanent air monitor installed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) near the massive compressor station permitted to operate by the same organization. In mid July the town of DISH had summa canister samples taken near the permanent monitor and showed different results. For example our 24 hour canister sample showed triple the amount of the carcinogen benzene than the permanent monitor detected only 35 meters away.

The EPA reviewed the data, and gave theories as to why there could be differences in the readings, which I respect. One of which was that for each 24 hour period, the permanent monitor only collects for 15 hours, and another is that the permanent monitor analyzes the samples in a climate controlled trailer, while our samples were taken out in the elements where people would be breathing it. So the conclusions was that it could be possible that both samples were accurate, under each circumstance. I am not sure what that says about the limitations of the machine, when a canister 35 meters away shows benzene at three time the level of the monitor detected and both could be accurate. The report also mentions the possible influence of the dehydration unit on the canister that was 650 meters from the permanent monitor.

This past week the TCEQ announced 8 more permanent monitors were being installed in the Barnett Shale, which will carry a price tag of around $2,000,000.00 of the tax payers money. I am guessing that they do not take kindly to someone questioning that data, when they have dumped that much money into it. The monitors are better than nothing, because they at least show spikes, and what chemicals are being detected, but not sure that we should consider ourselves safe because we are near one.

Below is the EPA's report in its entirety, just didn't want anyone to fall for TCEQ's propaganda. Looks like propaganda is about all they have left, and they are reaching at that.



REGION 6 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
8/23/10

ISSUE: CONCERNS ABOUT DISH CONTINUOUS VOC/AIR TOXICS MONITOR

BACKGROUND
At the August 2, 2010, OAQPS public meeting in Arlington, TX on EPA oil & gas industry air quality regulation development, Mayor Tillman of DISH and Alisa Rich of Wolf Environmental gave verbal comments. One of their comments mentioned discrepancies between their sampling results and the readings from TCEQ’s continuous air toxics monitor in DISH, TX. They pointed out that the TCEQ monitor readings were lower than their sampling results and called the accuracy of the TCEQ results into question.

Region 6 requested the DISH sampling results from Mayor Tillman mentioned in the public meeting in order to evaluate why there may have been differences in the sampling results.

Mayor Tillman provided the sampling results to Region 6, and provided access to his consultant Wolf Environmental, who had conducted the sampling.

Wolf Environmental, collected two 24-hour canister samples were taken in the vicinity of the TCEQ continuous air toxics monitor in DISH. The DISH canister samples were both taken in a 24-hour period from July 15, 2010 to July 16, 2010.

Region 6 was able to compare 8 compounds: benzene, ethylbenzene, styrene, toluene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, m/p xylene, and o-xylene. The DISH canister results were higher than those reported by the automated gas chromatograph (auto-gc), and the sampling results between the two DISH canisters themselves were different by factors of 2 to 8.

EPA REGION 6 EVALUATION
There are scientific and technical reasons why the DISH VOC canister sampling results could have differed from what the DISH continuous monitor recorded during the same 24-hour period. Some of these reasons for the different measured concentrations could be:the different sampling locations, different sampling methods utilized, and possible different emissions sources.


SAMPLING LOCATION

All three sampling locations (TCEQ auto-GC, and the two canisters) are located in proximity of different potential sources of VOCs. The TCEQ auto-GC is close to a compressor station. As described by Mayor Tillman and maps provided by Wolf Environmental; one of the canisters was in proximity of an airplane runway, and the second canister was near a dehydration and amine unit. Depending on wind patterns and operations at the potential VOC sources, the sampling at these three locations could be monitoring different contributions resulting in possible different concentrations.


- One canister was about 35 meters from the auto-GC, another was about 650 meters away.
These distances apart could result in the samplers being impacted by emissions from nearby sources differently than the auto-gc, particularly the canister approximately 650 meters away.

Note: The canister about 650 meters away from the auto–gc (and more likely to be impacted differently) had higher reported concentrations for six of the eight compounds mentioned above.

- The two canister samples were taken at ground level, while an auto-gc sample inlet is typically at 2-3 meters above ground level for sampling

- The two canister samples were outdoors, different from the climate controlled auto-gc trailer environment which could impact resulting concentrations being measured with the two different sampling climate conditions.

SAMPLING METHOD

- The VOC canisters took one continuous sample for 24-hours which was analyzed by a lab.

- An auto-gc typically samples for 40 of 60 minutes each hour. There are also at least 2 full additional hours of calibration verification standard (cvs) /blank checks per each 24-hour period.

- Over the course of 24-hours, the 40 minute per hour sampling plus the 2 full hour cvs/blank checks would result in about 15 total hours actual sampling by an auto-gc, compared to 24 total hours actual sampling for a canister.

This sampling time difference during a 24-hour period could also yield different sampling results. The canister samplers may have been impacted by nearby emissions while the auto-gc was doing internal analysis and not sampling during 20-minute periods/hour and during the full hour cvs/blank checks.

CONTINUOUS MONITOR (AUTO-GC) OPERATIONS
Region 6 evaluated the on-line QA/QC and calibration information for the DISH continuous monitor and investigated the operations of the instrument during the timeframe in question with information from TCEQ, the University of Texas (which operates the monitor) and ORSAT, a sub-contractor for UT. Monitor operations were double-checked and looked fine. There was no obvious internal reason to doubt the validity of the data from the DISH auto-gc at this time.

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

DISH Odor Returns

To all,

It has now been a year since the town of DISH performed our air study around the massive natural gas compression station located in our community. You may remember that this study showed several carcinogens and neurotoxins at some pretty disturbing levels. Over the past year we have had a permanent monitor installed, and several other tests performed. Although things clearly have improved, it is also clear that further improvements are needed before people can live here and enjoy their property. We have patiently waited for our state regulatory agencies to catch up with the facilities they have permitted here in DISH. However, that simply has not happened.

Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but I actually thought that things were getting better; however, that horrible odor returns just as it has so many times before. Unfortunately, the odor seems to also carry some pretty nasty chemicals along with it. This odor of course is coming from the natural gas dehydration units, and amine sweetening units that are also part of the compressor complex.

It takes very little research to find that both of these processes causes horrendous odors, and even those within TCEQ are well aware of the odor issues associated with this equipment. However, when discussing the odor issues, they immediately act as though they have no idea about what could cause these odors, or at least I hope they are acting, because we are really in bad shape if they honestly don't know where the odor is coming from. But I have not pushed the issue, hoping that one of the TCEQ "back room deals" would result in some relief for us. However, after been given a year to fix the problem, we still have periodic odor that prevents us from enjoying our property.

Someone from TCEQ has been to DISH numerous times for investigations, and on most every occasion, they have sent a letter acknowledging the presence of odors, and refused to take any action to prevent it from reoccurring. TCEQ has actually adopted a regulation the protect us from these sort of actions, but has refused to enforce it. It is found the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), and more specifically this requirement is outlined in 30 TAC § 101.4 which states:

No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.

I have formally asked TCEQ to enforce this regulation and am reaching out to you for support on this matter. Many of those who will read this have been extremely supportive of me, and I must ask your help one more time. The odor issues and the inaction of TCEQ, has essentially forced me to put my home on the market and attempt to leave the place where me and my family have lived for several years. Therefore, I am asking you to either place a short phone call, or send an email to those in TCEQ who have chosen to ignore the problems in DISH as well as other areas of the Barnett Shale.

It is not often that I ask for help, but this is one time in which I do not feel as though I have a choice, and I hope that you know I would do the same for you. It is clear that TCEQ will not take action, without some encouragement. If you are with an organization, I would ask for the support of that organization. Please contact the following individuals, and simply ask them to enforce 30 TAC § 101.4 on the natural gas operators that do business in and around the town of DISH as well as the entire Barnett Shale, and allow everyone to enjoy their property:

Alyssa Taylor, REM
Air Section Manager
817.588.5828
ataylor@tceq.state.tx.us


Mark Vickery, Executive Director
512.239.5105
mvickery@tceq.state.tx.us,

Thanks to everyone out there, God Bless and stay in the fight. Please post on your websites, blogs, or facebook pages, and forward to your email lists.

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

For Immediate Release: Permanent Air Monitor Installed by State of Texas Giving False Readings.

For Immediate Release: Permanent Air Monitor Installed by State of Texas Giving False Readings.

DISH, TX -- A permanent air monitor installed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in DISH, TX near a massive natural gas compressor complex, is giving inaccurate readings. The Town of DISH contracted independent testing near the permanent monitor, and the independent testing showed level of the carcinogen benzene at triple the levels detected by the state's permanent monitor. For the carcinogen toluene the levels detected during the independent testing were 50 times the monitor's detections. Additionally, there were several other chemicals detected that the permanent monitor does not sample for.

DISH is located in the epicenter of the Barnett Shale gas play and is home to a megacomplex of compressor stations, as well as pipelines, metering stations, gathering lines and gas wells. The town of DISH spent nearly 15% of its annual budget on a comprehensive air study after months of complaints to the state regulatory agencies and the operators of the compressor sites, gave the citizens no relief.

DISH mayor Calvin Tillman says that "we really thought our air quality was improving, this is devastating to find this information is inaccurate. The TCEQ permitted this facility, and they have no idea how to clean it up to to protect public health. It is also very disappointing that the State of Texas has spent a million dollars on equipment that is not accurate".

The monitor has been running since mid April and has detected no major problems with the air quality in the community. It is unclear whether the monitor is not capable of producing accurate results, or if the results are being manipulated. The TCEQ has not given the Town of DISH any explation for the false readings, or any plans to protect the health of the citizens of DISH.

For More InformationContacts
* Calvin Tillman, Mayor,
DISH, TX(940) 453-3640, tillman4council@aol.com.

* Town of DISH
5413 Tim Donald Road
DISH, Texas 76247

Alisa Rich, Scientist
Wolf-Eagle Environmental, LLC
(469) 939-1020

What About The Money?

When I was preparing for my first trip to the Marcellus Shale, I was approached by someone who lived in Upstate New York to discuss the issues that was going on in DISH as well as the Barnett Shale in general. As we began discussing the lessons learned here about leasing, and the amount of money given at lease signing, he interrupted me to state that in several small towns in the Upstate New York area, they were ready for drilling to begin...for the jobs. He further stated that everyone was waiting to get “their new white pickups and Halliburton hard hats”. That they were not even concerned about the leases and that most had already leased for one or two dollars per acre. He continued to state that when I mentioned the $ 30,000.00 per acre that was once offered in the Barnett Shale, some would collapse in tears, knowing that they had been taken advantage of by this industry.

Throughout my several tours around the country, the question about jobs and the vast influx of money into the local economy came up constantly. I quickly found that my new friend was right, there were a large number of people who really thought they would soon have a new white pickup and Halliburton hard hat. I always asked the crowd, “how many certified pipeline welders do I have in the room?” They seemed to quickly get the point that most of the folks in rural New York would not have the skill set required to work in this industry. Although, I do know of folks here in Texas that started working on a drilling rig with no experience, and worked their way into a nice paying job, it is unlikely with the slowdown, that the industry would need to hire people with no experience. So any jobs would be entry level and low paying. There are plenty of folks out of work with experience in the industry.

In areas of Pennsylvania where gas exploration had begun, there was a noticeable amount of vehicles with Texas plates that highlighted this point. I was almost offended when the local population complained about the amount of Texans that followed the natural gas boom to this area. It was apparent that the population increase was not something that they were yet comfortable with.

While growing up in the Oklahoma oil fields, we went through the boom and bust cycle several times. It seemed as though most of the males would go to work in the oilfields after graduating high school and made a decent living for themselves. However, with the economy based upon this one industry, the downturns were pretty severe on the local economies. When the bust came, it left everyone scrambling to find another job. However, with the economy based on this one industry, most of the jobs were either in the industry or supporting the industry. Therefore, in the bust, there were not many jobs to be found. This resulted in many of the small rural towns to simply dry up, with people moving away to find work.

On a recent trip to New Mexico, I met with Gilbert Armenta, the New Mexico rancher depicted in the documentary Split Estate. Mr. Armenta has spent his entire life living with the boom/bust cycle in Northwestern New Mexico. In this part of the country, the oil and gas industry is the predominant industry. As the industry has cooled over the last year or two, he stated that there was 12 % unemployment in that area. I might add that the Farmington, New Mexico mayor was nice enough to write a letter with some negative comments about your truly, as well as talking about how great the industry was to him.

One thing that I had heard on several occasions is that when the eventual bust comes, the crime rate goes up almost immediately. Mr. Armenta confirmed this fact during his presentation, that crime levels increase particularly during the bust cycles. He further stated that the crime that increased the most was robbery.

Was has happened in Mr. Armenta's area is that it is solely an oil and gas economy. All other industries have moved on and therefore everything directly or indirectly is dependent on this industry. So even if you do not work directly for the industry, when the bust comes, you are affected. In our local area I have noticed over the past several years, that we have been going through a transformation to an oil and gas economy. In some areas of the Barnett Shale, the transformation has already taken place. We managed to avoid an economic catastrophe only because the industry has continued to drill when it wasn't profitable, knowing that regulation was coming. Otherwise, many of the towns in the western part of the shale would have simply went away.

It has become very tempting for cities to embrace the explorations for the quick shot of tax revenue with the budget shortfalls over the last couple of years. Falling to this temptation has led to more and more of the area transforming to this new economy. Unfortunately, when the bust comes, and we know it will, the entire area will be devastated. This may very well lead to this area being destroyed economically at some point, because we know that this is only temporary. It is key for cities to develop strategies for sustainable funding that is not primarily put on the backs of the taxpayer, and does not destroy future growth.

Unfortunately, one city that comes to mind is the City of Fort Worth. This city has the largest number of gas exploration activities of any city in the world, yet financially is by far the worst in this area, having a 73 million dollar shortfall this year. Part of this expenditure is a $600,000.00 air study to determine if the exploration activities is harmful to public health. Fort Worth is also home to several of the exploration company's headquarters. The downturn has affected everyone, but the city most dependent on the natural gas revenue, is the one doing the worst financially. As Tim Ruggeiro would say "it does not take a PhD in economics to see there is a problem here".

Another thing that this does, is give the industry extreme leverage to demand things like tax breaks and loose regulations. They simply threaten to pack up and move somewhere else, and take the jobs with them. When it is an oil and gas economy, them leaving makes a ghost town. Although this is only a threat, local officials are held hostage by this threat. So they give in, and keep cutting the setback requirements like the City of Fort Worth continues to do, or they allow this industry continuously cut corners putting their citizens at risk.

For some here it is too late to build a diverse economy, there will be booms and busts, it will be feast or famine. However, for some of you out there this does not have to be the case. Look ahead and do not let this industry take over your economy and hold you hostage like it is doing in many other parts of the country. Be very careful of what you wish for.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Returning from Vacation

For those who have tried to contact me over the last week, please know that we took our family vacation to Northern New Mexico. It was a refreshing and wonderful nine days camping in the mountains with my wife and children. There were a few nights that we had to run the heater in our camper. This has been a well need break to prepare me for the long road ahead. We did stop in the Mora/Las Vegas NM area to visit with some folks about gas drilling and give my presentations. I was fortunate enough to visit with Debra Anderson who produced the Emmy nominated Split Estate. Gilbert Armenta, who is the fifth generation rancher from San Juan County who is profiled in the film was also on the panel. Mr. Armenta has probably been more impacted than any one person by the oil and gas industry.

Even with squeezing in some public speaking it was still a relaxing and enjoyable time. It was nice to breathe the clean mountain air and get a little rest. I feel rejuvenated and am very much looking forward getting back to work on the tasks at hand. I hope to have some more information on my future soon. I will be getting to my emails and phone messages over the next week, so please be patient and know that I am not ignoring those who have tried to contact me.

Fears of Pervasive Air Pollution Stir Up Politics in Texas Shale Gas Country - NYTimes.com

Fears of Pervasive Air Pollution Stir Up Politics in Texas Shale Gas Country - NYTimes.com