Only one of the MANY letters sent by Fort Worth residents to actor Tommy Lee Jones regarding his misguided and inaccurate commercials for Chesapeake.
Dear Mr. Jones:
About 3 ½ years ago I heard that Chesapeake Energy was going to drill for natural gas inside a city-owned, 160-acre native prairie preserve. Since my family and I live across the street from this national treasure I was especially horrified to hear this news.
The next day, I founded Friends of Tandy Hills NA to organize my neighborhood and try and prevent this action by Chesapeake.” We were successful in protecting this preserve but much darker clouds were on the horizon.
I soon began to realize that Chesapeake, XTO Energy and others were planning to drill in neighborhoods all over town. I felt a duty to do something. In 2005, FWCanDo (Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Ordinance) was founded as the first organized effort in the state of Texas to help educate people about the negative impacts of urban gas drilling. My brief NIMBY days were over.
As you might expect, most people were as horrified as I was but after awhile they gave in to apathy and just wanted to get on with their lives. Millions of dollars in advertising spent by Chesapeake left many folks feeling beat down like they had no choice but to sign away their mineral rights. Many of those who did sign now wish they had not. Others mistakenly believed they would get rich.
Our town, like others in the Barnett, is slowly eroding away into a giant industrial zone with hundreds of new gas wells and assorted equipment littering our neighborhoods and highways. Thousands more of these dirty and dangerous drilling pads are on the way. Our green spaces and wildlife are rapidly disappearing, as well.
But for me, one of the biggest tragedies is the denigration of our rural landscape. Gas drilling is fast destroying what remained of our north Texas prairie landscape.
A pleasant Sunday drive in the country is no longer an option. Within hundreds of miles of Fort Worth, gas wells, toxic water pits, gravel roads, tanker trucks and oilfield trash have replaced open prairie and ranch land.
Honestly, Mr. Jones, I think you have been given some bad advice. For one thing, this is not “your father’s” gas drilling. The new “fracking” technologies are far more toxic, threatening clean water supplies and allowing gas drillers too close to where people live, work and play.
Gas drilling may be slightly cleaner burning than coal, but the production of NG is just as bad. “Clean Burning” is nothing more than a Wall Street slogan to distract people from discovering the truth about NG production.
Many people in Fort Worth agree that Chesapeake Energy has the dirtiest reputation of a very dirty industry. They have run roughshod over people and property. Few of us are fooled by their “donations” to various causes. I suspect their deep pockets were a factor in your unfortunate decision that allows them to connect their dirty deeds with your good name, face and reputation. As a long time admirer, I am greatly disheartened by your decision.
You see, it’s not just about the money. No one denies the money is big, but we are losing, we have already lost something priceless and irreplaceable. Our kids and grandkids will grow up in a much worse place than we did thanks to companies like Chesapeake Energy.
I’ll end this letter by telling you about the latest news from Chesapeake: I recently learned that they are proposing a 36” gas pipeline that will run through the front yards of a residential street near my home. This is a quiet, well-established neighborhood.
Thanks to Chesapeake, nearly every tree on that side of the street will be cut down and new trees can never be planted over the pipeline. Some of those trees are over 100 years old. Most of those homes have kids and old folks living there who will miss those trees. Homeowners will never be able to recoup the value of their homes that sit 4 feet above a disaster waiting to happen.
This unbelievable scenario is no longer an isolated incident in Fort Worth. Why? Because companies like Chesapeake want to make more money and their ad campaign featuring you, Mr. Jones, is helping them do it.
I hope you will accept my offer to give you an unvarnished tour of Fort Worth in the near future. I want you to see with your own eyes how companies like Chesapeake Energy are turning Fort Worth into a Dirty Ol’ Town.
Founder, Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area