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Release: “Why is the Railroad Commission Hiding From the Public?” asks Calvin Tillman

For Immediate Release                                                                            June 19, 2014

Former Mayor of the small north Texas town of DISH, Calvin Tillman, filed an open records request today asking the Railroad Commission to provide all correspondence between Railroad Commission officials and staff, the Office of the Governor, other public officials, lobbyists and private enterprises doing business before the RRC, related to “the decision by the RRC to ban staff from doing media interviews.” Click here for the open records request.

Tillman said, “For years, many local officials like myself, together with thousands of citizens, have done all we could to get the Railroad Commission to listen to the concerns we have about the potential for groundwater contamination, air pollution and destruction of a whole way of life we have in rural Texas by the oil and gas industry’s new practice of hydraulic fracturing. My kids got so seriously ill, it forced me to resign and leave my own community. The Railroad Commission continues to demonstrate what we have known for years — they are captives of the industry.”

Michele Gangnes, water rights activist from Lee County and fellow board member to Tillman with the new League of Independent Voters of Texas, said, “The no-interview policy was put in place a couple of years ago, about the same time the production from fracking ramped up in Texas. But now that fracking, which the Railroad Commission is supposed to regulate, is in the spotlight as a serious contamination risk to our state’s groundwater, citizens are wondering why claims of groundwater contamination have to be emailed to the agency for an ‘official’ but anonymous staff response. And they wonder why the Railroad Commission continues to hide behind the oil and gas industry’s claims that fracking is perfectly safe.“

A recent WFAA report shed light on the fact that fracking practices in Texas pose very serious contamination risks to our groundwater, regardless of how many scientists for hire have claimed it cannot be proven. “To his credit, Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) who co-chairs the Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination, asked in a hearing on Monday whether wastewater from fracking has already contaminated underground brackish water, a potential source of fresh water from new mega-dollar desalination projects under consideration. That the question is even being asked by a Republican State Senator speaks volumes,” said Linda Curtis, Executive Director of the League of Independent Voters.

Tillman, a lifelong Republican and now an unaffiliated independent, has been working with hundreds of local officials throughout the state who want more local control to protect their citizens from eminent domain abuse by pipeline companies and contamination from the fracking industry. Tillman is featured in the popular Gasland and Gasland 2 film documentaries. Gangnes is an attorney and long-time independent voter who helped lead the successful battle to stop the City of San Antonio’s “water grab” of Lee and Bastrop counties’ groundwater over ten years ago. She is currently assisting another citizens revolt in those counties to “Stop the Water Grab” by water marketers and some area officials in the IH-35 growth corridor.

Tillman, Gangnes and longtime independent organizer, Linda Curtis, are working together to build the new non-profit, non-partisan citizens lobby for the state’s millions of non-aligned independent voters and to unite them with those who vote in either party primary and who want reform. The League’s purpose is to “unite voters across partisan lines to protect what is uniquely Texan – our land, our water, our clear blue skies and the democratic republic for which we are supposed to stand.” The group’s legislative agenda includes ending the practice of straight ticket voting. See more here.


For more information: Linda Curtis League of Independent Voters of Texas PO Box 651 * Bastrop, TX 78602 512-213-4511* 512-535-0989 home office * 512-657-2089 cell

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