Fracking debate gets personal one week before historic Denton vote

Oct 28, 2014, 5:40am CDT Updated: Oct 28, 2014, 2:21pm CDT

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Jake Dean

Drilling was the topic of debate at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch Monday.

Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal
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People on both ends of the fracking spectrum challenged the validity of the other's research Monday night at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch.

The debate featured Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of DISH, against Philem McAleer, who directed the pro-industry film "FrackNation."

It comes just eight days before the city of Denton votes on a referendum that would ban hydraulic fracking in the city. If adopted Nov. 4, Denton would be the first city in Texas to do so.

Tillman, an Air Force veteran, said he was seeking the American dream when he bought rural land in the Denton County town.

That was until an ever-growing natural gas compressor station moved in next door, causing noise and odor pollution to spread onto his property. His children started having nose bleeds and other negative health effects, he said.

Much like the residents in Denton when drilling encroached on their homes, Tillman said he discovered the utility had eminent domain powers and couldn't be stopped. That turned the lifelong Republican who supported both Bush presidential campaigns into an activist.

"Talking out about the oil and gas industry just felt wrong," said Tillman. "Imagine my surprise that the minute I spoke publicly about the oil and gas industry, I was termed a left-wing, radical, un-American, tree-hugging environmental wacko who is now getting paid by Russia."

He monitored the noise, which he likened to a tractor trailer going through his yard, and later the city conducted an air quality test.

McAleer was quick to criticize the validity of these tests in "FrackNation" and again at the debate Monday because he said the woman who conducted the tests falsified her credentials.

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Nicholas covers the energy, manufacturing, aviation and transportation beats for the Dallas Business Journal. Subscribe the Energy Inc. newsletter

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