Anti-fracking activist sticks by industry "expert" who was proven to be a fraud

Calvin Tillman is the former mayor of DISH, Texas, a small town which for some reason insists that its name be spelled in all caps. Since moving on from local government (and making a name for himself by fighting the gas and oil industry) Calvin has settled in to a nice position on the board of directors at ShaleTest. (Which, coincidentally I’m sure, also is involved in going after the same industry.)

When Calvin was cutting his teeth in the lucrative industry of fighting fracking, he did so relying heavily on a study he commissioned on local water supplies done by Wolf Eagle Environmental, a testing firm. The problem with the study is that Wolf Eagle has established something of a track record… for fraud. Journalist and filmmaker Phelim McAleer (the producer of FrackNation, which everyone should watch) has been investigating both Tillman and Wolf Eagle for some time now. The items he has uncovered are truly eye opening.

First of all, the Wolf Eagle study was arranged by Alisa Rich, an environmental engineer and Ph.D holder who is an expert in the field. That would have been great except for a couple of small problems. Rich is not an engineer and does not have a Ph.D.

According to articles released Monday 4/5/2010 in the Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter, alleges that all those reports on Dish, TX that Calvin Tillman, and Alisa Rich, sole proprietor of Wolf Eagle Environmental have been using to say that Natural Gas Well are bad polluters have been discredited.

According to witnesses and Fort Worth City Officials, Ms. Rich was to give a 5 minute talk to the Fort Worth Air Quality Study Committee which was holding it first meeting. Ms. Rich’s 5 minute speech turned into a 25 minute rambling and at times incoherent tirade. Ms. Rich launched into an attack on the natural gas industry, unable to maintain her composure, City Officials finally cut her off. But not before she admitted that she did not have a Ph.D..but said that she probably will have it by this summer.

That’s not all. (And for those of you following this issue for a long time, this is the really interesting part.) Do you remember all of those film clips which showed up in various hit pieces like Gasland and Promised Land where they showed people’s sinks erupting in flames when the tap water is running? They were alleged to have been caused by natural gas build-up in the water supply because of fracking. Well, thanks to the investigation by Phelim McAleer, we find that Ms. Rich was involved in the production of a similar film for “research” purposes. But she was taken to court and tossed out on her ear when the film was revealed to be a fraud. (Emphasis added.)

A judge has concluded that a Parker County resident, owner of a methane-contaminated water well, created a “deceptive video” that was “calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning.”

State District Judge Trey Loftin said well owner Steve Lipsky collaborated with Alisa Rich, an environmental consultant.

In his order, Loftin expressed concern that Lipsky, “under the advice or direction” of Rich, attached a hose to the water well’s gas vent — not to a water line — and then lit the gas from the hose’s nozzle.

“This demonstration was not done for scientific study but to provide local and national news media a deceptive video, calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning,” the judge wrote. Loftin also cited evidence that Rich had sought to mislead the EPA.

Loftin said e-mails between Lipsky and Rich about the video could reasonably lead people to believe that a “conspiracy to defame Range” exists.

Yet with all of this evidence in hand, Tillman continues to move forward, relying on the “study” done by Rich’s firm as his evidence. For a somewhat amusing closer, here’s a video of McAleer attempting to get Tillman to answer a few simple questions about the qualifications of the source material producers. As you might imagine, Tillman doesn’t seem to feel very chatty.