Days Before Council Considers Forming Gas Drilling Task Force (Or Not), Angela Hunt and Dave Neumann Join Hands in Support

Dave_Neumann_debate_Merten.jpg
Photo by Sam Merten
At long last, the Dallas City Council's set to tackle the subject: What to do about allowing natural-gas drilling on city property. According to a presentation prepared by city staff for Wednesday's briefing, the council can choose from one of the following options: form a task force, hire a consultant or just sit back and watch what everyone else does.

The presentation, which follows after the jump, includes a detailed proposal for an 11-member task force, which would include:
  • Three subject-matter experts (professors, environmental attorneys)
  • Thee industry/business reps (gas drilling consultants, oil & gas lawyers)
  • Three citizens and/or environmental group reps
  • One chairperson
  • One Park Board representative

That's one person more than the task force Angela Hunt proposed two months ago, though it looks to leave a little more room for industry reps, and combines the spots for residents and environmental activists.

Hunt had support for her proposal from four council members -- Pauline Medrano, Vonciel Jones Hill, Tennell Atkins and Carolyn Davis -- and Linda Koop has suggested the council take a long look at the North Texas Council of Government's Gas Drilling Task Force.

But Dave Neumann had conspicuously mum on the issue. As Davis told Unfair Park back then, "We need a task force, and hopefully Mr. Neumann -- it's in his district. It would just be interesting to see what he'll say or what he'll do."

Well, days before the council hears their options -- and a week after he faced a gauntlet of questions from gas drilling activists at a campaign debate -- Neumann looks to have picked sides. Today he joined Hunt in signing a memo recommending the council go ahead and form its own task force, calling that choice "critical to the success of evaluating this issue." Read the whole thing after the jump.

Neumann and Hunt Gas Drilling Task Force MemoGasDrillingUpdate_042011

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8 comments
Marc
Marc

Well, it looks like Dallas is going to get a gas drilling task force, and it may be better than we had even hoped. Mayor Caraway appointed Lois Finkleman to chair the task force, which will be comprised of three seats from among scholars, environmental attorneys, etc., three from the gas industry, three from environmentalists and local residents, one from the City of Dallas Parks Department and the chairwoman.

Unfortunately, three Council members (Margolin, Allen and Kadane) seem to be more concerned about the cost of the task force and the time in which it will operate than they are about the health and safety of city residents and those who live in adjoining communities. To them I would ask, exactly what IS the maximum amount that is reasonable to spend and what time period IS the reasonable limit to set for exploring and analyzing the health and safety issues before moving ahead to allow gas drilling in Dallas?

But, with the current 14 seats on the City Council (15 after the May election) and the fact that the vast majority are in unison on this idea I hope those three see the handwriting on the wall - they are going to lose. My real questions are, who are they trying to protect, and why? They, along with the XTO representatives present today, seemed dismayed at what transpired.

The three objectors want to utilize as much information from Fort Worth and other nearby cities as possible to formulate our policy, but those other cities have already acted irresponsibly in the ways they pursued gas drilling, and they are now starting to see major problems that were unknown at the time they began this course, so I think that we need a fresh approach that looks at what is known today, not what was known or done years ago.

To me, the single biggest issue is water quality and quantity. Currently, 100% of Texas is in severe drought conditions, and about 10% of our state is in drought conditions so bad that absolutely NOTHING will grow! We will soon face (once again) water use restrictions that prohibit watering lawns, washing cars and other non-essential uses of our diminishing fresh water supply. This is a very real crisis, and it is with us RIGHT NOW!

At the same time, frac'ing requires 1.5 to 9 million gallons of water for every well that is fractured. Over the lifecycle of a well pad it is possible for a single well pad having 30 wells, each frac'ed 20 times, to consume about 540 BILLION gallons of fresh water that can never again be used by humans, animals or plants because of contamination with toxic, carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals.

Is it sane to use this much water for a dirty industrial process that may not even yield any gas or any royalties for our city or property owners while drawing down our available water table of clean, fresh water and pumping our ground full of thousands or millions of tons of hazardous chemicals that will eventually leech into our surface and subsurface water tables? I think not. In fact, I think it is about as insane as any action we can take because without an abundance of fresh water our city cannot attract new businesses, new residents or new opportunities and we will vanish from this planet as a species.

Life without natural gas and oil would be much more difficult than what we are accustomed to, but we would not die without those things. Man lived on this earth for 200,000 to 400,000 years until about 1860 without ever using ANY oil or gas, so precedent proves it can be done. NOBODY can survive without clean water and clean air! PERIOD!

It is out of stupidity and greed that anybody advocates using our limited, precious fresh water supply for a processs that permanently contaminates it and renders it forever lost from our water table just so some corporations can make profits and increase sharehlder equity.

Our task force needs to take whatever time and expense are necessary to find the facts and then act to structure a process that demands safety first before allowing any gas well drilling in our city. We need setback requiremnents of at least a half mile to insure that an explosion will not wipe out people and homes, destroy infrasatructure and adversely affect the health of people in close proximity to well sites. We need restrictions that protect our watershed, our air and our soil from industrial contamination. And, we need policies with real teeth that severely punish drilling companies and their associates whenever their processes damage our citizens, our infrastructure, our water and/or our air.

This is not an issue for sound bites, platitudes and cute comments. This is an issue that very directly affects our health and safety - NOTHING is more important than that!

Richard
Richard

Neumann would have never agreed to the task force if he was the frontrunner in his campaign.

HAL9000
HAL9000

Scruffy, at present it is impossible to drill horizontal wells more than 3-5 miles, so those communities you mentioned will not be able to reach the Barnett Shale from where they are located. Besides, they would need an impossible feat fo getting hundreds of thousands of signatures from people under whose land the drilling was being done before they could cocmmence, and I seriously doubt that is ever gonna happen.

We ARE going to get a gas drilling task force, and the end effect will probably to bannish all future attempts to put a danagerous industrial porject in a highly populated area like Dallas, which is the best thing for our people.

wascallywabbit
wascallywabbit

What they need to do is design signature drilling equipment...then there wouldn't be any problem and we could even have some new material for our highly sought after postcard industry. Think about it...it would be a lovely addition to the downtown skyline! Hit me up! I know a guy who's signature is gonna be HUGE here.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Yeah I have a recommendation. Yank all those leases and get us out of this mess you put us in MARY!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Sunnyvale, Irving, Mesquite....here's your chance. Allow Montgomery Burns-esque sideways drilling operations to get natural gas from under Dallas!

matilda of tuscany
matilda of tuscany

Thank you Marc, nice to hear the voice of common sense, versus common cents.Additionally, what plans would our city have in place when the first major gas well or pipeline incident happens? Despite the industry reassurance that the chances are slim for a major event, remember Japan, the Mississippi Coast, Prince William Sound, or Bhopal. Then remember the lack of accountability by each of those pollution industries.

gabbahey
gabbahey

Apparently it takes an election cycle to make Neumann create the illusion that he actually gives a shit...

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