A Few Council Members Take in Gasland, But Not Before Mayor Mike Makes a Promise to City

AngelaHuntatGasLandScreening.JPG
Photos by Leslie Minora
Angela Hunt was asked whether it's likely Dallas will be sued by gas drillers awaiting their SUPs.
Mayor Mike Rawlings took the mic before last night's Observer co-sponsored Gasland screening and told the audience of council members, activists and concerned locals, "I will never vote to put any neighborhood at risk because of money."

And there are high stakes behind that sentence -- tens of millions of dollars that the city signed (and spent) in gas-drilling contracts and the very real risk of being sued if the city does not allow XTO and Trinity East to drill near Hensley Field and Love Field, respectively. Rawlings's statement set a bold but optimistic tone as people settled in to watch the Oscar-nominated nightmares documented at homes near drilling sights throughout the country.

Among those in attendance: council members Angela Hunt, Sandy Greyson, Linda Koop, Scott Griggs and Delia Jasso. So too were former council member Lois Finkelman, who will head the city's ad hoc gas drilling task force, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia and Dallas Park Board President Joan Walne, who replaced Rawlings when he left to run for mayor. Said Rawlings, acknowledging the number of officials in the room, "We know this is important."

The screening came two days after the Dallas City Council approved a gas drilling task force to drive local policy and lawmaking on the issue. And, as you may know, the city is backed into a corner with binding gas company leases and no firm local policy.

Hunt wasn't originally scheduled to be part of the panel. But the evening's moderator, a certain local blog editor, asked for a council member -- any council member -- to address the ad hoc gas drilling task force's marching orders as it begins its long walk toward a hoped-for October deadline. The members in attendance sent Hunt to the front, and Robert asked: Come fall, will the city ultimately allow XTO and Trinity East the right to drill with certain restrictions, or will the city of Dallas ultimately be taken to court for not honoring the company's lease agreements?

"Will we get sued?" Hunt repeated. "Yes. It's that simple."

She continued: "As a city council, our responsibility is to our residents and our environment. You cannot get that back." Hunt said she hopes the city's task force will first determine "whether fracking can be done safely in an urban environment," and then flesh out policies necessary to "ensure that fracking, if it can be done safely, is done safely."

It's hard to say at this point how the council will go -- whether the anti-drillers will rule the day, or whether City Attorney Tom Perkins's threat of massive litigation will scare the pro-drilling faction into signing off on the specific use permits.

The council's certainly making a big show of its support for the anti-drilling activists -- among them Gasland director Josh Fox, who was beamed in post-screening for a Skype chat, but not before Jasso read to him an official proclamation from the city. Fox says today it's but one of two official proclamations he's received -- the other coming from New York. He says last night's presentation was "extremely gratifying."

We spoke at length today about the impact the anti-drilling activists have had in Dallas -- how, as he puts it, "reality shifts depending on the level of government" you're speaking with.

"Here's the interesting situation: At the local level, you find a very concrete appraisal of the situation and a lot of honesty about what's happening from local officials," says Fox, who expects to be back in the area within the next six months as he shoots the Gasland sequel. "It's a confirmation of reality. But when I go to Washington or talk to governors, then all of the sudden we're not in reality. We're in a moment of competing industries, which is testament to the amount of money [at stake]. To have people fighting for you on city council, at the local level, is worth a lot, because it's true representation. And I am noticing it more and more -- that at the local level you have incredible influence on the political system."

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Marc McCord, Jeffrey Jacoby and Cherelle Blazer take questions following the screening.
Speaking of: Raymond Crawford organized last night's event -- Crawford, described not so long ago as the "catalyst" for stopping the rush to drill, baby, drill at City Hall. he was joined on last night's panel by FracDallas's Marc McCord, Texas Campaign for Environment's Jeff Jacoby, Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project's Cherelle Blazer, Sharon Wilson, Dallas Sierra Club's Molly Rooke and Downwinders at Risk's Jim Schermbeck. Each spoke of how they don't trust gas drillers, how they've seen first-hand the damage wrought by fracking and compressor stations; time and again they emphasized the need for regulation and safety.

"We've done the industry a great disservice by not requiring better of them...they're out of date; they're out of step; they don't have to do better," said Blazer, a member of ad hoc gas drilling task. "They don't have to be state of the art, so they aren't. I think we need to push them to be on the cusp of how to do this right, and I know that they can."


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32 comments
R Cook
R Cook

When standards are loose and an industry is relatively unregulated, an observer might say we only have anecdotes about drilling negatives and not proof. However, I think proof exists-a great deal of proof. What we need now is a system that recognizes, records, and explains what has happened to water supplies; and, yes, take time to specifically correlate that to specific rigs.It is regrettable we have to send in the scientists and regulators AFTER damage has been done, but that's reality. Frackers hacked into the shale before most of us understood what was happening. I also think people who sold drilling rights early in the process were fraudulently enticed and swayed to do so.

Julia E.S. Spencer
Julia E.S. Spencer

That saying about how it's easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission is the oil and gas industry's philosophy in a nutshell. They'd rather drill first and buy the residents' silence and trucked-in drinking water later. After all, it's not their spoiled land, their grandkids' asthma, their lost sense of taste and smell, their tainted livestock or poisoned groundwater and crops. It *is* their destroyed national park land and razed Native American archaeological sites, but if they don't give a damn about living people and animals, why should they give care about remote wildernesses or the cryptic remnants of a stone-age culture? (Cf. the Yellowstone River disaster.)They may have enough money to hide their carelessness for a while, but eventually, the damage will be too great for all the richest companies in the world to fix. We regular folk must stick together and defend our right to fresh water, clean air, and healthy ecosystems. These treasures cannot be bought; they must be preserved.

Marc
Marc

For the record, Cherelle Blazer is the head of You Can't Live in the Woods and a former employee of Environmental Defense Fund. He is also a Yale-educated chemist. Sharon Wilson is the head of Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

And, it was Jim Schermbeck that stated that we have done a disservice to the industry by not requiring better of them.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Last night truly was an amazing evening. Lots of good energy, love fest between the mayor and the audience even though a majority were Kunkle's people. He said all the right things and it was all captured on video tape. So with that in mind, we move forward to make all the wrongs right and should the city decide to go ask XTO's and Trinity East's wishes, let them sue.Everyone knew that $34 million was not a guarantee but only an option. It was sold as 'good deal' by the city manager back in 2008, plain and simple.

Mayor Mike will do down in the history books if he sticks to his words. Think I can arrange a meeting with Mike and Josh when he hits town.

TimCov
TimCov

"I will never vote to put any neighborhood at risk because of money."BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

claytonauger
claytonauger

Thanks to the Observer for providing good coverage of this controversy. The DMN seems to have given up entirely. Last night was indeed a milestone.

Marc
Marc

I could not agree more! What you described is precisely what happened.Some want to deny it, but it is a fact.

Chesapeake Energy told Grand Prairie citizens that if they did not mandate their City Council to life the moratorium it could cost the city $3 BILLION in total economic impact, $240 MILLION in royalties for citizens and businesses, and $105 MILLION in city and school district tax revenues. There are about 90 wells operating in Grand Prairie of which 67 belong to Chesapeake - they control 18% of the total land area of Grand Prairie by themselves.

According to Chesapeake's own website, the total paid to Grand Prairie for the ENTIRE industry in 2010 was $132,000! Anybody who can do the math will see how badly Chesapeake lied to the citizens of Grand Prairie. And that is just one city!

pak152
pak152

"They may have enough money to hide their carelessness for a while" do you have evidence that it was carelessness that resulted in the pipeline break?

I love this statement from Weasel Zippers referencing the Yellowstone spill"So if an activity can have humans making mistakes, that causes harm to mommy Gaia, and maybe death to cute furry things it should be banned?With this attitude we’d still be eating twigs and berries in caves."

http://weaselzippers.us/2011/0...

"We regular folk must stick together and defend our right to fresh water, clean air,"

and how did we get that fresh water and clean air? not through the government, but rather through engineering and mistakes. I think it was Henry Petroski an engineering professor at Duke who said that engineers learn from their mistakes and not from their successes.

Cherelle Blazer
Cherelle Blazer

Thanks Marc for mentioning YCLW.....they did, however, get my quote right.  :-)

WCGasette
WCGasette

@pak152:  Those links you have provided are very poorly done attempts to discredit the work of a man who wanted to figure out what was happening all across America. He turned down $100,000 from a gas company that wanted to lease his family's land. 

Take a look at some other Barnett Shale blogs that truly tell the story of what is going on in North Texas.  Google Bluedaze. And remember that this industry has all the money in the world to persuade you that there are no problems. The rest of us have something else other than monetary reward that drives us to discover the truth about all of it.

Marc
Marc

John, all this drilling is hardly pointless. The fact that we may not get viable flows, and thus no royalties, misses the most important point. With or without viable flows and royalties we WILL get thousands of tons of toxic, carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemicals pumped into our ground. Our water tables, air and soil WILL be permanently polluted. We WILL be left with outrageous costs for remediation that can never restore our water, air and soil to its condition before drilling regardless of the amount of money we have to throw at the problems, and it will be far from enough under the very best of circumstances.

pak152
pak152

i'm not surprised that you would poo-poo the links I guess you didn't check out this linkhttp://search.datapages.com/da...

here are a couple more links for your to poo-poohttp://youtu.be/NW_xJqPjE_I

http://www.americanthinker.com...

http://www.realclearmarkets.co...

http://blog.energytomorrow.org...

as many have pointed out methane is naturally occurring in water. follow this link to read what the Colorado Oil and Gas commission thinks about Gasland

"Gasland incorrectly attributes several cases of water well contamination in Colorado to oil and gas development when our investigations determined that the wells in question contained biogenic methane that is not attributable to such development."http://cogcc.state.co.us/libra...

http://johnhanger.blogspot.com...

if you question what I post then you should also question what is shown in Gasland. what is the 'author' really pushing. is he giving the whole story? or just what he believes

scottindallas
scottindallas

don't say never, and permanent; decades and centuries are a long time, but they aren't forever.

LouisMcBee
LouisMcBee

Not surprised.  This industry has lots of money to create and operate many blogs and internet sites that have lots and lots of misinformation contained within them.  Unfortunately here in Fort Worth we live with it everyday....and it isn't BS...the industrial crimes and the distruction of our city is for real.  The methane in these wells did not exist prior to drilling, and the methane is not biogenic.  Fact...not fiction....when you must live with it every day!

Marc
Marc

Actually, Danny Q, I am not really addressing these things to you personally. I am just using you as a vehicle to address people with enough intelligence to engage in an intellectual discussion without reverting to lies and propaganda to support a failed argument, like the one you just made about engineering giving us fresh water and air. I really do not know where you went to school, but they did a terrible job in educating you because "education" is something you missed. But, I will play this game with you because it gives me opportunities to address a larger audience of people who might actually be capable of understanding the science behind the issue.

http://www.journeyoftheforsake...

Marc
Marc

Dan "Potatoe" Quayle, I realize that the truth hurts you and kills your argument, but it is still the truth. Like it or not, there is a growing mountain of evidence - PROOF - that frac'ing does, indeed, pollute aquifers, surface water, soil and air. Trying reading this link for comprehension and see if it makes any sense to you (though I know it will not because it is scientific fact, and it is beyond your comprehension level.)

http://www.journeyoftheforsake...

pak152
pak152

jumping to conclusions again are you? apparently you are unaware that both spellings are correct, but then who can forget that our current president believes that there are 57 states and that corpsman is pronounced corpse man. ;-)

Marc
Marc

Ah HA! So, we now know that pak152 is actually Dan "Potatoe" Quayle! THAT certainly explains quite a lot! Thank you for clarifying why we cannot take you seriously.

pak152
pak152

this is what I love about the anti-drilling crowd they are like true believers in that they believe that their's is the truth and all others are non-believers. using scatological language in an argument is the sign of a someone who has nothing else to argue with. just like calling the those in the gas industry liars.

pak152
pak152

you say potato, I say potatoe ;-)

pak152
pak152

"pro-drillers have been unable to prove a negative."  i believe you mean "disprove a negative"

' Pro-drillers and anti-drillers alike should be moe inclined to wait for the results rather than being so dogmatic."

I agree except that the anti-drillers are the ones who are being dogmatic and don't want to wait for results. It is much like the infamous alar scare.

Julia E.S. Spencer
Julia E.S. Spencer

BTW, I think you meant to write "pooh-pooh," not "poo-poo." But if you're referring to the O&G companies' response to "Gasland," then it's right on the money!

Marc
Marc

The jury is still out only in the minds of those who refuse to see and acknowledge the truth. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see, and that includes you, Edgar.

To the rest of what you said, BULLSHIT! Discosure is only coming because it is being required, and for no other reason! There is NO integrity in the gas industry. They are proven liars.

Marc
Marc

Edgar, who cares what you think? I certainly do not. You are a shill for the gas indsutry, and nothing anybody says is going to compel you to change your mind anyway. But I do now realize that when I replied "BULLSHIT" to pak152 I was inadvertently calling you by your name. It was meant as a concise reply to pak152, not a call to you!

Edgar
Edgar

I guess you're right that the jury is still out in the sense that, scientifically, nothing has been proven by the anti-drillers, and the pro-drillers have been unable to prove a negative.

Fortunately, things are beginning to change.  Fracking has become so widespread that companies understand what their competitors are doing. Maintaining the proprietary nature of contents of the frack fluids is no longer a large concern. That's why most operators are disclosing the contents of their fluids. Most of them have supported bills requiring disclosure, as long as they give them some measure of protection for trade scerets as they pertain to the "dosage" of the chemical components. So, we should test the hypothesis, and but for once we should do so with airtight methodology. Pro-drillers and anti-drillers alike should be moe inclined to wait for the results rather than being so dogmatic.

Edgar
Edgar

Nice convincing rebuttal there, Marc.  Good attention to detail.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Do you really have a problem with demanding these frackers give us more information about the chemicals they are using so we can see if the other chemicals that are coming with the methane might be the same as those being injected?  I mean, we can test this hypothesis, whether this is just a phenomenon of random methane eruptions, or indeed induced by these chemicals.  It should be quite simple to test how much these chemicals leach, the very thing they are intended to do.  I'm surprised you have such a strong view, one way or the other, the jury seems to be out.  Or, do you jump on every idea/product that's marketed to you?

Marc
Marc

BULLSHIT!

Marc
Marc

There is no known technology available today to clean and re-use that water. If there was such an option, then the drillers would use it and save millions, if not billions, of dollars. With only 3% of ALL the water on earth being fresh water, and no additional source for new fresh water available, we will likely run out of fresh water and perish, as a species, long before somebody finds an economically feasible way to clean and re-use that water.

Does that clarify it for you Scott?

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