This story’s about Texas, but I know that soon this will be even more parts of Pennsylvania, thanks to the political payoffs the gas industry invested in our new governor Tom Corbett, who is so firmly in their pocket, he might as well be lint. If we know there’s one thing Republicans cherish, it’s their right to allow their corporate patrons to fuck up the environment and then blame the Democrats who have to come in and clean it up!
Fearing for his children’s health, Mayor Calvin Tillman is leaving behind his government position and getting out of Dodge… or rather, Dish.
Dish, Texas is a town consisting of 200 residents and 60 gas wells. When Tillman’s sons repeatedly woke up in the middle of the night with mysterious nosebleeds, he knew it was time to move — even if it meant leaving his community behind. In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, Mayor Tillman reveals that when it came down to family or politics, the choice wasn’t a tough one to make.
Tillman, first elected mayor of Dish, Texas in 2007, has spent his time in office fighting to regulate natural gas companies that are drilling into the Barnett shale, which holds up to 735 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
According to the Associated Press, residents of Dish have complained of nosebleeds, pain, and poor circulation since the first compressor station was built in their town in 2005, though there is no hard proof linking the health problems to the natural gas drilling. The air over the Barnett Shale near Dish was found to contain high levels of the toxic chemical benzene, shown to cause cancer. The town’s mayor is leaving it all behind.
Last Memorial Day was the final straw. Tillman’s 5-year-old son awoke in the middle of the night with a severe nosebleed. As Tillman describes to HuffPost, “He had blood all over his hands, blood on the walls — our house looked somewhat like a murder scene.” In the weeks prior, both of Tillman’s sons had experienced severe nosebleeds. At the same time, the town was surrounded by a strong odor from their natural gas facilities.
While Mayor Tillman acknowledges there could be other explanations, he feels, “It’s one thing if I’m exposing myself to something… but with our children, it’s just a completely different story. We just couldn’t take the chance after that.” Around the country, similar reports of nosebleeds can be found among residents living near hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” sites, though the energy companies insist that their methods are safe.
“Safe” as in, nobody can pin it to us quickly enough to keep us from drilling until it’s too late.