Following Report on the Fracking Dangers of Drilling, Hunt Explains Need for Task Force

gasland-what-is-hydraulic-fracturing.jpg
How fracking works, as explained in the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland
Over the weekend, local gas-drilling opponents forwarded to media members Ian Urbina's piece in Sunday's New York Times about the heretofore unknown dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water, sand and a laundry list of toxins known and unknown into the ground that busts up rock and releases gas. Using docs from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and even drillers, Urbina writes that gas drilling may be even more dangerous than earlier thought:
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
But: "The E.P.A. has not intervened." Meanwhile, of course, XTO Energy is demanding its promised-and-paid-for specific use permits to begin drilling near Hensley Field and Joe Pool Lake. Dave Neumann said he would form a task force, but didn't. Which is why, just last week, Angela Hunt finally spelled out her demands for a gas-drilling task force before the city takes one step further in October, to which votes on the SUPs have been deferred. In the wee small hours of this morning, she explained why she wrote that task-force memo:
Last month, the Dallas City Council agreed to delay a drilling permit vote until a city-appointed taskforce could review and revise the city's drilling ordinance. However, a taskforce proposal has not been forthcoming, and concerned residents have regularly voiced their frustration to the City Council about this delay.

Creating a gas drilling taskforce is a critical first step in evaluating the hazards that may be posed by hydro-fracking. ... Given the growing evidence of risks associated with hydro-fracking, the Dallas City Council must move swiftly to address the safety of this practice.
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17 comments
andrea
andrea

i did not know much about fracking, but i can not believe people would consider this.

DonYoungFW
DonYoungFW

" ...heretofore unknown dangers...", my ass. FWCanDo and others west of Dallas have been warning of the many dangers of gas drilling, including radioactive fallout, since 2005. But wait... that was before gas was discovered east of Cowtown so you weren't paying attention. The party started over 5 years ago but, welcome aboard. Get ready for the long haul.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

TASK FORCE ? Kind of late for that .A DEAL has been Made with XTO.

The real question is do We let them risk their investors money to extract minerals from the ground ? Or do we box our selves in and cause them to File lawsuits where they will get their money back and then some from the city treasury ?

DallasAirSux
DallasAirSux

It's going to be interesting to see who on the council is going to have the guts to jump on board with Ms. Hunt's proposal. Too bad for Dave Neumann that he has had since like last summer to take the reigns on this, even if it meant a way to get reelected.He obviously has chosen to 'roll over' and not do anything about it. I wonder just how much of a 'bonus' is in play to civic leaders if these applications went through. That's how the industry works.I guess that bonus is much more important to some than to constituents.

The task force train is about to leave the station and let's see who jumps on board to get some of the best seats. Our lives depend on it.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Trey - did you really read the blog? It doesn't dismiss the arguments presented in the article, just the mitigating impact to Penn. Nothing of the sort of action taken in Penn has been taken in Texas, specifically the Barnett Shale, so everything the NYT described in terms of water risks ana municipal water works applies.

Plus, it's from the same regulator in Penn charged with protecting the state from fracking whp's been under fire from citizens for not doing his job. Not exactly an objective, independent source of information on which to refute the TImes article. Since when did you start agreeing with bureaucrats over citizens?

Plus, these are ADDITIONAL hazards of fracking identified in the Times. There are enough well-documented known hazards (1-7 million gallons of water use per well, more air pollution than all the cars and trucks in DFW combined, low-level toxic exposures, property value decline, well water contamination, etc) to make it an undesirable phenomena unless it's highly regulated. Even many drillers say urban drilling is a messy, insane thing to do.

Maybe you should widen your reading circle.

Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson

Really? So precious that he thinks he can debunk the NYT article.

Marc
Marc

Your statements are factually incorrrect. XTO got land leases for drilling, but they came with the specific stipulation that zoning changes would be required, and that granting of Special Use Permits (SUPs) would be required to obtain the zoning changes. There never was a quid pro quo stating that XTO has a right to drill in exchange for the monies paid to Mary Suhm and Tom Lie-ppert. The only guarantee that XTO got was that they had exclusive lease rights to the land provided they placed pipe into the ground before the initial lease expiration, which would have happened this month. That guarantee has been realized.

Because of severely low prices for natural gas XTO chose not to drill until a few months before their leases were to expire. They did not have to produce gas, they just had to get their vertical pipes in the ground to hold the leases, which then would have been up for automatic ten-year renewals. Unfortunately for XTO, some of us started finding out about the hazards and dangers of gas well drilling, educated ourselves and began mobilizing opposition.

In spite of the intentions of former Mayor Tom Lie-ppert and City Manager Mary Suhm, we have successfully thwarted drilling before the Dallas City Plan Commission and the Dallas City Council. XTO could, technically, file a lawsuit against the city, but it will not do so for severeal reasons.

First, they would not win. The lease did not give XTO an automatic right to drill - it merely gave them exclusive access to those parcels of land.

Second, the city council just extended their lease for an additional 30 months without charging them one penny even though it was XTO's fault that they failed to get pipes in the ground to secure their leaseholds.

Third, the city development code specifically states that ANY activity that would be harmful to citizens, the environment or the attraction to the city as a place to live and work or relocate a business is prohibited by law, and natural gas well drilling is about as hazardous and dangerous as any industrial activity that could ever be considered.

Fourth, the current rate of natural gas is about one half what is needed for profitability. It costs $2.5 - 3 million to drill each well, and no well has a guarantee of viable flow, so that becomes a lot of money for speculators.

Fifth, XTO is not risking or working off their own money - they are risking and working off investment capital (YOUR money, if you own their stock), so they have no reason to risk their own money on frivilous lawsits that they cannot ultimately win.

XTO is a renegade company with a horrible track record in Texas, Pennsylvania and several other states for spills, accidents and other environmental disasters. Last November, an open value on a frac fluid tank in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania released about 13,000 gallons of toxic and carcinogenic fluids that contaminated a major tributary to the Sugar Run River, a natural spring and at least two private water wells. Cattle in adjacent fields had to be fenced off to keep them from eating tainted grasses and drinking highly polluted water that would have killed them in a day or two. This is just a single example of the kind of "good neighbor" XTO is to those living adjacent to where they drill.

Sixth, you cannot get blood out of a turnip, as my dearly departed daddy used to tell me. Our city is facing a $41-96 million budget shortfall for the next two years, and that amount will skyrocket when the state, also facing a $25 BILLION budget shortfall, starts cutting funding to cities. So, if they sue us, then they lose the original investment plus the costs of litigation.

The issue is not about letting them risk investor money to extract minerals from the ground. The issue is that, regardless of whether or not they are able to extract minerals, their process pumps MILLIONS (1.5 to 9 million per well) of gallons of polluted water into the ground that is toxic, carcinogenic and neurotoxic. It endangers people, animals and plants that are exposed to the toxins through water, air or soil exposure. The issue is about real property devaluation near drilling pads, pipelines and compressor stations. The issue is citizen safety and health versus corporate profitability.

If you do not understand the issue, then perhaps it is time to get educated so that you will understand why many of us are fighting this thing tooth and nail. Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield and other Barnett Shale cities jumped into this issue blindly, and are now having to face the damages they allowed. Dallas has the advantage of being able to learn from their mistakes and from what we now know that was not known 5 years ago.

Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson

The interesting thing about all the lawsuit threats is that Dish, Texas has some of the most restrictive drilling ordinances in the Barnett Shale. The drillers comply with them and no one has been sued.

Jay D
Jay D

A contract to perform an illegal act is not enforceable. A permit allowing XTO to perform a legal act by illegal means and methods is also not enforceable. If it is shown that XTO's method of extracting gas violates TNRCC (not bloody likely) or EPA regulations (very likely), then, judicial politics aside, XTO should not prevail in court.

Ihavequestions
Ihavequestions

Well, those are all good questions. We can also add: Do we just let them in and do their dirty work and take the contamination with it? Lives are literally at stake on this issue.Then you could have lawsuits from residents using the Dallas Nuisance Code as a base for litigation.(oh yes, it does exist) Did I say that? Oh, yes I did.

rc
rc

u go boy and chew em up!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I do not Doubt you right .And Hope you are .However this is Dallas . And Dallas is something I understand very well.A place where yes means no on a ballot .

As on top of things as you folks are .All it takes is a clerical error or a meeting you don't know about to Void out all the good work you are trying to do.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Just pointing out not disagreeing ....It bodes well for XTO that the courts are as they are and justice as it is will prevail for them with the Supreme s in Texas and the Roberts court in DC.

Just remember this ..The Battle Cry ,of those who's continued errors mark the difference between what should have been and what really happens .Which is what was said if they did it their way .Without listening to the input of others.

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO PLACE BLAME IT IS THE THE TIME MOVE ON AND FIND SOLUTION'S

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

The thing is you think we are still here+ in the process The past where things are put on paper and agreements are made on how things are done the housekeeping part of it all. Which should be done long before money changes hands.Well money did change hands and +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------We are here where it is time for the city to allow whats been agreed to.

Its no Magic no slight of hand it is what it is . A done deal. It might no be the one "WE"like but I don't think XTO is going to walk away with out extracting a large sum of cash because the city wanted to change an already made deal.

While I do understand your environmental issues .

My Large problem with this is is about no real concern is being shown about fracking bed rock under the footings of the Both the Joe Pool and Mountain creek lake Dams.

If these folks "aren't " worried about that we have larger problems like folks swimming to safety on I 20. and Jefferson and the Dallas Levy's if Joe Pool is structure is compromised

Jay D
Jay D

The Roberts court upheld the EPA's CO2 Endangerment Finding, thereby empowering the EPA to enforce regulations by fiat that the Congress refused to grant by legislation. Don't be so sure the US Supreme Court will roll over for XTO.

rc
rc

you are exactly right to be concerned about the 'water' issues. all real. remember how Joe Pool filled up quicker than expected due to the underground spring? there's also wells being fracked under that lake. 2014 is the due date for Joe Pool to be routed up to the Bachmann Water Treatment plant. So................

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