Turns out that Mega Fracker Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO, is a staunch supporter of Home Rule – local zoning ordinances, when they would keep a frack water supply tower away from his house – which is located in a town that had a moratorium on fracking. So he is suing in support of Home Rule in order to keep the frack water supply tower (and the frack water trucks) away from his house. His co-plaintiff in the lawsuit to block the frack water tower is the eponymous Dick Armey, Tea Party lobbyist and Cheney side-kick.
Neo NIMBY Rex Tillerson has attacked fractavists, including Josh Fox, as NIMBYs – that use local zoning ordinances to prohibit fracking and fracking infrastructure. Such as compressors. And frack water towers. Fellow NeoNIMBY Dick Armey has been the Koch brother’s lobbyist on Capital Hill.
For New Yorkers, this is particularly ironic, since Exxon’s only shale gas well permit application in the state is smack dab next to a trout stream. Exxon is one of the biggest fracking lobbyists in New York and its lobbyists have bankrolled legal briefs to try to overturn local ordinances – Home Rule as applied to fracking and shale gas infrastructure – including fracking moratoriums like the one that had been in effect in Tillerson’s home town.
All this just goes to show that we’re all NIMBYs – it’s just a matter of how large we define our “backyard” – the area next to our house, our town, our region, our state, or our country.
February 20, 2014 5:45 PM
BARTONVILLE, Texas—One evening last November, a tall, white-haired man turned up at a Town Council meeting to protest construction of a water tower near his home in this wealthy community outside Dallas. The man was Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.
He and his neighbors had filed suit to block the tower, saying it is illegal and would create “a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” in part because it would provide water for use in hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, which requires heavy trucks to haul and pump massive amounts of water, unlocks oil and gas from dense rock and has helped touch off a surge in U.S. energy output.
It also is a core part of Exxon’s business. The lawsuit – that Mr. Tillerson is the lead plaintiff in – cites the side effects of fracking, namely the frack truck traffic:
An Exxon spokesman said Mr. Tillerson declined to comment. The company “has no involvement in the legal matter” and its directors weren’t told of Mr. Tillerson’s participation, the spokesman said.
The dispute over the 160-foot water tower goes beyond possible nuisances related to fracking. Among the issues raised: whether a water utility has to obey local zoning ordinances and what are the rights of residents who relied on such laws in making multi-million-dollar property investments. The latter point was the focus of Mr. Tillerson’s comments at the November council meeting.
The tower would be almost 15 stories tall, adjacent to the 83-acre horse ranch Mr. Tillerson and his wife own and a short distance from their 18-acre homestead. Mr. Tillerson sat for a three-hour deposition in the lawsuit last May, attended an all-day mediation session in September and has spoken out against the tower during at least two Town Council meetings, according to public records and people involved with the case.
The Exxon chief isn’t the most vocal or well-known opponent of the tower. He and his wife are suing under the name of their horse ranch, Bar RR Ranches LLC, along with three other couples. The other lead plaintiffs are former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and his wife, who have become fixtures at Town Council meetings.
Mr. Tillerson, 61 years old, moved to Bartonville in 2001 and became CEO in 2006. Since 2007, companies have fracked at least nine shale wells within a mile of the Tillerson home, according to Texas regulatory and real-estate records.
The last to do so was XTO Energy Inc., in August 2009, according to Texas regulators. Mr. Tillerson had just begun talks for Exxon to acquire XTO. Four months later, Exxon swallowed its smaller rival for $25 billion, becoming America’s biggest gas producer.
In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility.In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision.
Later that year, the Armeys, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn’t build a tower near their properties. They also filed a brief in support of the town’s appeal. Last March, an appellate judge reversed the district judge’s decision saying he had overstepped his jurisdiction and sent the case back to the lower court, where it is pending. Meanwhile, the utility has reached out to Bartonville voters, who in November elected two members to the council who criticized the town’s fight against the tower, which would be located near Tillerson’s house, shown below:
“The council is currently evaluating all options,” said Bill Scherer, Bartonville’s mayor pro tem.
In the wake of the election, Mr. Tillerson was among those who lined up in a windowless hall to address the council. He told officials that he and his wife settled in Bartonville to enjoy a rural lifestyle and invested millions in their property after satisfying themselves that nothing would be built above their tree line, according to the council’s audio recording of the meeting.
Allowing the tower in defiance of town ordinances could open the door to runaway development and might prompt him to leave town, Mr. Tillerson told the council. “I cannot stay in a place,” he said, “where I do not know who to count on and who not to count on.”
Texas Sharon’s take on the irony: “I was at the Bartonville Town Council meeting the night Rex and Dick appeared to speak about the frack water tower. Rex and Dick were given as long as they wanted to speak. We were held to a strict 3 minutes. It was surreal because several in the audience were sick from the gas well emissions, including Zoe who had oozing lesions all over her body that mysteriously cleared up when she moved away.”