This month the gas drilling debate is heating up again in Dallas. There are two important public hearings coming up that we need you to participate in! Citizen involvement is how we’ve come this far and we can’t afford to stop now.
First, the Dallas City Plan Commission has (finally) begun writing a new local ordinance to govern all potential gas drilling operations. This is a very big deal: the rules city officials put into place now will determine our fate for years to come. At first, it seemed as if the Plan Commission was moving to enact a strong, protective ordinance, but now they are being pushed to weaken the rules and allow drilling closer to homes, schools, businesses and parks. Residents have essentially ONE chance to speak out in support of a strong ordinance, so please attend this hearing! To learn more, you can read about what we want the ordinance to include and watch the most recent CBS News story.
City Plan Commission Public Hearing
August 22nd, 1:30PM
Dallas City Council Chambers
1500 Marilla, 6th Floor
Next, Mayor Rawlings and the City Council will be holding a final vote on the Trinity East gas drilling applications that were denied twice by the City Plan Commission. They need 12 votes to overturn the previous decision, which seems unlikely. But we cannot take anything for granted at this point, and so we need residents to come speak out against this proposal. Two of the drilling sites are on public park land, one is near a school, and the third includes a huge gas processing facility and compressor station just a few hundred feet away from the new Elm Fork Soccer Complex. There’s a reason these permits have already been denied, and we need to make sure Mayor Rawlings and the City Council uphold that decision. You can watch the ABC News story about this and read the Dallas Morning News article.
City Council Vote
August 28th, 9:00AM
Dallas City Council Chambers
1500 Marilla, 6th Floor
As always, success will mean strong citizen participation. Please come to the hearing and vote and express your opinion in person. There’s no substitute for your face-to-face interaction. Dallas officials need to hear from you!
Tomorrow the Dallas City Plan Commission will participate in a “gas drilling ordinance workshop” at City Hall, as officials have begun drafting a new city ordinance to better govern fracking in Dallas. But what, exactly, will the ordinance contain? For those concerned about drilling in parks, along the Trinity River, near neighborhoods and school, that question has become the new bottom line.
The bad news is that city staff has begun writing the ordinance based on a set of recommendations the specially-appointed Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force issued last year–recommendations that are far too weak to truly protect residents and the environment. The good news is that many groups have organized support for a better ordinance: Mountain Creek Neighborhood Alliance, North Dallas Neighborhood Alliance, Dallas Homeowners League, Dallas Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk, Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling, Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project, FracDallas—and even the Dallas Morning News—have all called for a stronger ordinance that goes beyond the Task Force recommendations. Will the City Plan Commission respond?
Here are our principles for a new, protective gas drilling ordinance. These basic ideas—keep drilling away from people, parks and green spaces, protect our air and water, give the public a right to know—form the principles of our Citizens’ Recommendations. You will have several opportunities over the next few months to participate in the decision-making process. Make your voice heard!
What do you do if you’re a gas drilling company and a key vote on whether to allow fracking in parks, near a school and soccer fields and in the Trinity River floodplain doesn’t go your way? Simple: make a back-room deal to undo the vote and get a “do-over” as if it had never happened. That’s what happened this week in Dallas when the City Plan Commission voted to reconsider the failed drilling applications in a move that was both a shame and a sham. Since three Commissioners who had previously voted against gas drilling permits could not be present, the vote to reconsider these applications passed 6-5. Oh, and no public testimony was allowed. Whatever this is, it isn’t democracy.
Watch the CBS News story here.
Read the Dallas Morning News story here.
Listen to the KERA story here.
Read the Dallas Observer story here.
So now the gas company gets another opportunity to convince Dallas officials that putting a natural gas refinery a few hundred feet away from the new Elm Fork Soccer Complex is perfect safe. They get another chance to argue that fracking is done on golf courses all over DFW and there’s nothing wrong with that. They get to keep pretending that fracking on the banks of the Trinity River, in its floodplain, doesn’t pose any risk at all.
But you know what? Dallas residents get the chance to put an end to this charade once and for all. If concerned citizens come back to City Hall and make their voices heard the way they did last month and this week, the City Plan Commission just might vote to deny these drilling applications for a second time. Then the gas company would really be in trouble.
Come to City Hall on February 7th at 1:30PM to stand up for clean air, healthy water and real democracy in Dallas. Spread the word and ask others to come. Let’s finish this.
Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs is hosting a Town Hall meeting this week to provide an update on the proposed gas drilling ordinance. Please attend, and help spread the word!
Protecting our Community from Gas Drilling – An Update on the New Ordinance
Thurs. Jun. 14 @ 6:30 pm
Hampton Illinois Library
2951 South Hampton Road
Recent news reports have put a spotlight on the possible dangers of fracking near flood control infrastructure such as dams and levees. Gas company XTO (owned by Exxon Mobil) began drilling near the Joe Pool Lake dam in Grand Prairie and applied for a permit to do the same on Dallas’ side of the lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which wishes to forbid fracking within 3,000 feet of a dam, sent a letter to Grand Prairie officials urging them to halt all drilling operations near the dam until further studies could be undertaken. Dallas officials probably received a similar letter from the Corps, but they have refused to release any record of it! Learn more here.
Check it out, worth the read.
I was frustrated watching a succession of southern Dallas City Council members take their turn at the microphone yesterday to ask questions of the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force regarding urban fracking within the city limits. Southern Dallas is top on the list of prospective places to drill. One by one, members tried to get top members of the task force to recommend a course of action. And task force members repeatedly punted the issue right back into the council’s lap.
Several asked: Should we allow drilling in the Trinity River floodplain? Lois Finkelman, the task force chairwoman, refused to take a stand, insisting that it was the council’s decision. All she could say was that other industrial uses already exist within the floodplain. The implication being, heck, why not throw a few fracking pad sites into the mix?
Dallas Residents at Risk is holding weekly planning meetings from now until the City Council adopts its new gas drilling ordinance. You’re welcome to attend,learn more, and give us your ideas and suggestions!
Tuesdays at 6:00PM
Texas Campaign for the Environment
3303 Lee Parkway #402
Dallas, TX 75219
Here are some basic ways that anyone can get involved and help shape a better gas drilling ordinance:
- Sign up to speak at the “open microphone” public comment period during any Wednesday City Council meeting
- Call or email your City Council member to request an in-person meeting about the gas drilling ordinance
- Have your neighborhood group or organization sign on to our “Five Protections” resolution
We discuss these and other ideas every week. We look forward to seeing you there and we appreciate your efforts!