Citizens fought good fight

By Jim Popp | Published Sunday, March 27, 2011

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I just wanted to openly tell my neighbors in the Greenwood area, who were members of Texas Citizens For a Safe Future and Clean Water, how much I truly appreciated their support these past six years, during our long fight against The Railroad Commission of Texas and Pioneer Exploration, Ltd, and their permitting of a commercial salt water injection well in our immediate area. You all know who you are, and I’m proud to know, and be associated with, each and every one of you.

When we started our fight six years ago, we stood completely alone. We received no support from anyone, including the Wise County Messenger, our state representative, Phil King, or our state senator, Craig Estes. In fact, not only were we not supported, but in certain cases just mentioned, they worked against us for quite some time. We were called names by our fellow citizens, and in some cases ridiculed, until they too finally realized what we were stating was the truth.

Still, through it all, we stuck together as a small group of citizens and neighbors against overwhelming and incredible odds, and we finally won our case in the Appeals Court in Austin. After winning our case and handing The Railroad Commission their worst defeat in decades, the RRC could not allow that defeat to stand, and they took our case to the Supreme Court of Texas where a decision was finally handed down March 11 siding with the RRC’s position and reversing our winning appeals court decision.

Basically, the Supreme Court of Texas decided that “public interest” means, at this time, whatever is good for the oil and gas industry is good for the public interest of Texas citizens, and no other circumstances or safety concerns can or do really matter. I guess that wasn’t a great surprise to any of us since approximately 60 to 70 percent of the re-election campaign funds for most of our judges and legislators comes from the oil and gas industry.

We all can stand tall because in the six years since we started our fight we taught thousands of other Texas citizens the truth about these so-called salt water injection wells and the fact that they are, in actuality, liquid toxic waste injection dumps that contain over 27 different types of toxic waste, including benzene. We taught people that they do poison private water wells and stock tanks in the area, along with lowering property values around them by about 50 to 80 percent, along with possibly causing many other public health risks. We let “the cat out of the bag,” and the truth is now out there, thanks to our efforts in this long fight.

Hopefully, sometime in the near future, our Texas Legislature will do what is right to protect our state’s citizens from this liquid, toxic waste and change some of our present laws. All of us really do want them to “drill here, drill now”, but we just want the oil and gas industry to do it in a safe manner for all concerned and not just in the cheapest way possible for oil and gas with the overall public safety, for generations to come, be damned.

Jim Popp

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