You must document the failures!
I urge everyone who contacts me for help due to harm by oil & gas operations to always contact the proper state agency. It is well known that the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) exist to provide cover for industry and not to help protect the public or environment. So, it’s a hard sell to convince people to continue making complaints to those agency.
Change doesn’t come easily, especially in Texas. We need to continue documenting the monumental failures of both agencies.
Recently a Laredo citizen documented the failure of the TRC in a letter to the Laredo Morning Times. In her letter she describes trying to talk with David Porter about drilling, fracking and environmental issues but he threatened to call security on her.
Another Laredo citizen documented a different failure of the TRC concerning hauling Eagle Ford Shale drilling waste in open top trucks.
After the San Ygnacio townhall meeting that successfully prevented an oil/gas waste site from expanding in Zapata county, we spoke to Gil Bujano (TRRC)and told him that we (Mellie Hereford & Tricia Cortez) had pictures and videos documenting waste haulers’ sludge spills in Laredo. He tod us to contact the Corpus Christi office and to have them start a file of these spills. He added if it turns out its the same operator then we’ll look at pulling his permit-something to that effect.
Well, that was easier said than done. I called, Mellie called and Tricia called. It was very difficult to get someone to even confirm that the CC office was indeed responsible for the Laredo area. Eventually, I called Gil Bujano again and he told me to talk to Arnold Ott at the Corpus Christi office. He confirmed they were responsible and that TRRC had even added a “couple of guys” to the Laredo area. However, all he gave me was an e-mail in case we had something to report. I emailed his office and asked that someone please respond to me to confirm receipt. After about TWO WEEKS, Mr. Ott called and left a msg on my voice mail saying that yes, they had gotten my email but they were having some “IT” problems.
Later, I did get another call from Gil Bujano and told me that we should call instead to their CC office at 1-361-242-3113 24 hours a day. He said M-F before 5pm, someone will answer, other times someone will get back to you. It turns out thats their main number, the same number anybody else for any other reason uses to contact them. He did say that we should always refer to “waste haulerl spills” in order for the message to get to the right party.
I like to help citizens keep track of state regulators’ failures. Together we will make a difference.