Monday, January 9, 2012

"Did not return call for comment"

That line was used several times in the Denton Record Chronicle article, Into Hostile territory.

It's a good overview on gas drilling PR tactics on "insurgents" and how municipalities are dealing with it, or not.  All those that usually spin the BS, we mean PR, "did not return call for comment".

We mentioned rich bullies buying elections in an early post.  WHAT is it going to end up costing YOU?  Remember, sheep need water and air, too.

She and other Barnett Shale area residents have seen the tactics that blur the line between information and influence in local governance.

When neighbor is pitted against neighbor, it manifests not only in heated shouting matches but also in a long-simmering distrust. As homeowners grow fearful of diminishing values, they try to hang on to their property rights, only to see the mineral rights taken away through a twist of state law. Local governance battles go in remission only to re-emerge with the next concession the industry needs to stay profitable.

Cities frequently revise ordinances with little direct participation of those affected.

However, when area residents have asked for tougher review and regulations of the natural gas industry, industry representatives offer to assist city councils or their appointees to draft such regulations, an offer many city officials seem reticent to refuse.

Denton started work on an ordinance overhaul in 2009 amid public anger over the City Council’s vote to let Range Resources drill inside the Rayzor Ranch development near homes, a city park and a hospital. Some council members said they opposed drilling at the location but feared the company would follow through on a threat to sue if they denied it.

It was Range Resources’ director of corporate communications and public affairs, Matt Pitzarella, who told fellow conferees of his company’s discovery that psy-ops veterans were well-suited for local community work. Pitzarella did not return a call for comment.

City leaders have treaded carefully ever since the legal threat, inviting industry-related representatives to serve alongside city staff and residents on a drilling task force to help write a new code.

“I find it ironic,” Jellison said. “They are the outsiders coming in, going against the local municipality — the established government people are living with. They don’t have any permanent business here. Anyone like that is deemed, by definition, an insurgent.”

Keystone Exploration wrote a letter to its royalty owners endorsing the incumbents in April 2010. The company characterized residents like Vajda and Jellison as anti-drilling activists who would do all they could to limit the industry.

During a Town Council meeting, a sitting council member told them he would run them out of town for their stance on property rights.

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