This is a complete transcript of the first twenty minutes of my upcoming documentary, Don’t Frack With Denton (2015). It is provided here to make quotations easier for anyone who may want to cite this documentary for their own purposes. I hope it is useful to those who value this documentary and may wish to cite the information within.
Tara-Linn Hunter: I like so many things about Denton. I moved here for the music and I fell in love with this town. It’s just a gem. It’s really just a jewel in Texas. The culture, the arts, the music that we have here is just phenomenal.
Got married here. I teach here now. I teach voice, music theory, oral skills, piano, early childhood music. So that’s a ton of fun. And then I teach private lessons out of my house here.
Tara-Linn Hunter: (Teaching piano lesson) Yea. Let’s try one more time. You’ll get it. Yea. It was just a little hitch in there but – Yay! Great! Awesome!
Angie Holliday: We are a town of musicians. You know, everyone here is in a band. Everyone calls themselves a musician. We have one of the most prestigious music schools in the country here rt UNT. So, Denton is very, very centered around music.
I’ve been singing for at least a decade. I actually came here for vocal performance at UNT, and then found out that my passion for the environment was much greater than my passion for music. So I switched.
Tara-Linn Hunter: I moved to Denton to sing at UNT. I transferred here and I was so looking forward to the music program. It was so great, but I started to have asthma pretty severely. It’s gotten progressively worse.
Angie Holliday: I have to have an inhaler with me and as a vocalist that’s very concerning because, you know, your lungs and your vocal chords are your biggest instrument and I don’t experience asthma unless I’m here in Denton.
Tara-Linn Hunter: I really want to live here. I want to like, you know, have my family here and so forth, but fracking is the one reason I would leave. It’s difficult to sing. It’s difficult to do what I came here to do when you can’t breathe. Breathing is the root of all good singing, if I may be a voice teacher for a second. And, there’s just a lot about this community that we really adore. So, a lot worth fighting for.
Angie Holliday: I really appreciate Denton for the mentality of the people here, and I wasn’t quite sold at first but it was actually getting into this issue, this fracking issue, that introduced me to a lot of the beautiful people that I know now in Denton. There’s such a sense of community.
Tara-Linn Hunter: (Speaking at group meeting) There’s a lot going on, but our very, very main focus is to get as many shifts covered as possible so we can be the very last voice that people hear before they go into the poll. And the main point of that is just to get out early voting.
So if you have musician friends, like the people that are doing the house concert, that want to show their support with a photo shoot for Frack Free Denton just, just let me know. Thanks.
Maile Bush: Denton is an incredibly awesome city. It has a vibrancy about it. It has a lot of people that care about other people.
Maile Bush: (Walking through her neighborhood) This is where the original well went up. We’ve got produced water tanks. This is also where they put the compressor station, which is what you’re hearing. It runs pretty constantly. It’s also venting chemicals constantly, which makes it dangerous. Don’t usually spend time over here.
We were told that the rest of the neighborhood was coming in over here, which it did, but after this, which we certainly weren’t expecting. Today it still boggles the mind that they can put industry this close to house, because unless you’ve lived it you don’t know.
This is what remains of what was actually the second set of wells to go up. There are actually two wells. For a while there the neighborhood was actually surrounded. What you’re seeing there, those are the water tanks that store the produced water that comes out. This is the site that’s actually closest to my house.
This is maybe about four hundred and fifty feet from my house, but even before they started the actual fracking, when they started bringing in the materials to frack with, they brought in huge amounts of frack sand, and frack sand is, it’s silica sand, it’s a carcinogen that would blow all over the neighborhood and there was just dust everywhere.
And silica sand is very tiny, and It gets into your lungs and once it gets in your lungs you can’t get it back out. It’s a lot like asbestos, causing mesothelioma. When you have a neighborhood like this that has a lot of small children in it, it gets into their lungs and their lungs ares still growing and their lungs are still developing.
So we don’t know what the long-term impacts are going to be, of them being exposed to just even the silica sand, not to mention the chemicals that they then mix with the sand to actually put down the well. There’s actually someone working their today. And they think it’s just fine but they don’t live here.
Angie Holliday: (Singing to a crowd) People gonna rise like the water. We gotta slow this chaos down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying stop this fracking now.
People gonna rise like the water. We gotta slow this chaos down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying stop this fracking now.
People gonna rise like the water. We gotta slow this chaos down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying stop this fracking now.
Last time! People gonna rise like the water. We gotta slow this chaos down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter saying stop this fracking now. Saying stop this fracking now. Saying stop this fracking now. Thanks! Great job everybody.
Audience: (Chanting loudly) Our air and water! Our health and safety! Our Denton! Our air and water! Our health and safety! Our Denton!
Angie Holliday: It’s been really incredible that we’ve been able to incorporate an aspect of music into the Frack Free Denton movement.
Tara-Linn Hunter: I think music is essential to any movement. And then what about harmonies? You know? When everybody’s using their own individual base of talent to contribute to a whole, beautiful thing. That’s a beautiful metaphor. So music is, music is just wonderful in that sense.
Maile Bush: We can succeed, because Denton has heart. And if there’s one thing the industry doesn’t have, it’s the heart that we have. And I think on that alone we can win.
Maile Bush: (Addressing the Denton City Council on July 14, 2015) My home is sandwiched in between two pad sites that were fracked earlier this year. IF the industry truly believes that the myriad health problems that are occurring in my neighborhood and neighborhoods like it aren’t fracking related then they should have to prove it.
They came into my neighborhood and then my kids got sick. Then the coughs got worse. Then the nosebleeds started. They need to prove to me that it’s not because of what they are doing, not the other way around.
They don’t care about Denton, its people or its economy. They only care about getting as much gas out as cheaply as possible. Tonight you have an opportunity to stand on the right side of history by protecting your citizens from fracking.
It is time to improve the future of Denton so that no other mama has to feel like I do, and worry like I do, and cry like I do. The world is watching and my neighborhood, my family and my children are counting on you to pass this ban.
Chris Watts: (Mayor of the City of Denton) That’s it? No other comments? We have a motion and a second on the floor to oppose the ban in the ordinance as presented in the initiative petition, is that right madame City Attorney?
Anita Burgess: (City Attorney) To deny the ordinance.
Chris Watts: To deny the ordinance. Then it shall, as we’ll see in the next agenda item, be called for an election in November. (Council members vote) The motion to deny is approved five-to-two.
Maile Bush: (Speaking to her children at home) Hey cute girl, did you have your cough medicine this morning?
Cassidy Bush: I can do it bottoms-up
Kaden Bush: I’ll go first!
Maile Bush: Okay, chill-out.
Kaden Bush: Me!
Maile Bush: Let’s take some anti-histamine and decongestant stuff. Don’t Make a mess please. Now swallow. Don’t make a mess.My six-year-old son was asthmatic prior to the rigs coming in. So we already had an issue with his, he has upper respiratory issues. It’s something we have to keep an eye on during all of that process, which took about a month because they were doing three different wells.
It just kept getting worse and worse. And all the sudden his asthma was no longer under control. all of the sudden they’re having nosebleeds. You know the kids have to have CT scans and all kinds of things done because they couldn’t figure out out why is he coughing so much?
Absolutely baffles me. And I hear these people screaming, literally in some cases, screaming about how we’re taking their mineral rights away and “I’ve got” you know” “I’ve got thousands of dollars under your feet that now I can’t get to.” and I think “Well, I’ve got thousands of dollars in medical bills that I can’t pay now because my children have been impacted by your irresponsibility.”
UNT student: “I really like your cause and I really want to talk about it. The water contamination issue kinda sold me.
Cindy Spoon: Also, did you know there’s fracking on our campus?
UNT student: There’s fracking currently going on, on campus?
Cindy Spoon: On campus by the Apogee Stadium.
UNT student: Huh, interesting.
Angie Holliday: Yea, so we actually have fracking right across the street from the Apogee Stadium. It’s a pretty striking image of windmills on one side of the street and frack wells on the other side.
Maile Bush: I just want my kids to be able to breath. That’s all I’m wanting. They’re like canaries in a coal mine, and it’s really not fair. It’s not fair to those children to have to be the ones to let us know “Oh look. There’s a problem.”
The rest of the neighborhood was going to go in across, directly across the street from us which is now happening bu those houses are being built around the pad site, around a compressor station so incredibly close to, you know, the infrastructure for gas development. People got really scared.
No one ever said “Oh there’s a gas pad site right here, and there’s a gas pad site right here, and they’re subject to being drilled, and they’re subject to being re-drilled, and oh, by the way, hydraulic fracturing.” None of that ever came up.
It smells so terrible. Yuck! It just makes, it makes you mad. I – (Worker arrives to close gate) I think the gate’s going to be closed. (Worker drives away)
I don’t think I could change that guy’s mind. To him it’s a job and he’s making money and he’s supporting his family and I absolutely respect that, but when I hear people say “Well, if you’re against fracking you’re against jobs.” I think “Well, if you’re for fracking you’re against children.” My kids still can’t play in the back yard. They can’t go in their back yard. They can’t go in local parks because they’re fracking near the parks. They’re not getting to be kids.
You know, I fight this fight because there are other families in Denton and I’ve lived through this and as a mama I’ve cried myself to sleep many nights not knowing what was going to happen, what’s the right answer. Should we move now? Should we move later? What do we do? I don’t want any other mama to do that.
I – It is – It is a nightmare. And the thing is, I’m not going to go another day of my life not wondering what are the health affects that my children are going to feel now or in the future? What harms have we done long-term because of the fracking?
Tara-Linn Hunter: (Speaking at group meeting) Last push for tomorrow. There’s some things that I just want to share with everybody. It’s going to rain, which could work in our favor so that’s okay, but we’ve just got to go out there and brave the polls. If anybody has a poncho, bring a poncho. If anyone has an umbrella, bring an umbrella.
So the opposition has paid people fifteen dollars an hour to stand at the polls and confuse people and lie to people and that’s terrible. So we’re going to be the voice of clarity. So the other side shows a picture, just so you all know what this picture is, this is UNT, Apogee Stadium. There are two wells at that site. This is when they were fracking and you can see it clearly does not “Mean Green.” (UNT’s slogan)
This can happen in neighborhoods – is happening in neighborhoods. It’s happening in Sandy’s neighborhood. So this is a good visual. Be polite, but be bold. Don’t be intimidated by the opposition. Get the message in there because they are purposely trying to confuse people and we’re purposely trying to clarify.
Cindy Spoon: Sir, are you going to vote? Do you want to read the language for the fracking ordinance? This will be on the ballot. This is going to be on the bottom of your ballot if you’re registered here in Denton. It’s a fracking ban ordinance. Have you read about that?
Voter: I have. I’ve actually studied it.
Cindy Spoon: Great.
Voter: I think you’re wrong.
Cindy Spoon: Alright.
Voter: Good luck.
Cindy Spoon: Thank you.
Cindy Spoon: There’s no way. We’re never ever going to have as much money as them. We’re never going to be able to raise as much money as them. I mean, our secret weapon has been canvasing. Going door-to-door. They, you know, they can send out advertisements all over; advertisements, advertisements. But, we’re the ones having face-to-face conversations with our neighbors, and that’s what’s going to work.
Angie Holliday: So I think they’re very afraid of what’s going to happen if Denton, a city in north Texas, is able to set a precedent of banning fracking from their community. I think they’re very scared of that.
Tara-Linn Hunter: There was always that fear that maybe we were doing it totally wrong or maybe we hadn’t thought of some major possibility. So I hope it doesn’t prove to be naive, but I feel really hopeful about this.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, the City of Denton just issued the following statement to the media in light of early voting results regarding the proposition to ban hydraulic fracturing on behalf of Mayor Chris Watts.
“As I have stated numerous times, the democratic process is alive and well in Denton. Hydraulic fracturing, as determined by our citizens, will be prohibited in the Denton city limits. The City Council is committed to defending the ordinance and will exercise legal remedies that are available to us” blah blah blah blah blah. We win!
Check Twitter and Facebook or something. There’s a lot more that he said on there, but you guys are freaking me out.
Title Card: After Denton became the first city in Texas to ban fracking, state lawmakers approved a bill that will make it impossible to enforce the ban. The bill will also make it impossible for any other city in Texas to ban fracking.
Tara-Linn Hunter: The Texas legislature has created an onslaught of bills that would strip municipalities, cities of their local control. This bill would not only make our ban unenforceable, but this would basically put us back to square one where we were before the ban.
Maile Bush: We have a compressor station in our neighborhood that is emitting VOC’s constantly and I have children that still cannot play in their back yard. There is no way to now how long that compressor station is going to continue to run, but potentially it could run for years. My children are still at great risk.
Rep. Drew Darby: (Texas House of Representatives, District 72) In many instances, we hear about these extreme setbacks, is because of health and safety is the claim. (sic) And if health and safety were the real issue you wouldn’t be building houses next to wells and, number two, nobody would be buying them. A lot of times these ordinances are not getting based on sound science. They’re being based on emotional issues from misinformation that’s being presented in communities, and that’s what leads to unreasonable circumstances.
Tara-Linn Hunter: The most challenging thing for me is confronting lies. It’s really hard. It’s really hard to watch someone say a bold-faced lie. It’s really, really – It incites a lot of anger and emotion, obviously, in me. But it’s even worse when they’re lying for the sake of a profit and when they’re lying to the very people that they’re harming.
So it really reveals the state of things, you know. We followed all the rules. We followed all the proper steps and it didn’t work. What this bill is saying to our community and to communities across Texas is that they do not respect the vote of the people. They do not believe in the democratic process, and that should not rest well with anyone in the United States of America.
So we’re going to continue to keep meeting and to keep refining our ideas together and keep bringing the beautiful creativity to the table that we brought all the way through the campaign. I mean, it’s arrogantly and so shortsightedly been suggested that if we don’t like it we should just move, and that is the most insulting suggestion that I’ve heard yet from our legislators. And this is our home and you – you don’t just abandon it.
End Title: To be continued …