Drilling Task Force Nails Down Set-Backs, Narrowly Votes Against Injection Wells

bio_biegler.jpg
David Biegler
At yesterday's meeting, the council-appointed drilling task force grappled with some of the more divisive issues in front of them -- and actually nailed down what they'll recommend the council do about set-back distances and allowing disposal wells for produced frack water. As they deliberated, anti-drilling activists in the audience held up "Yes" and "No' signs signaling whether they agreed with what was being said.

Picking up where they left off last week, the task force began by discussing the possibility of injection wells. David Biegler, chairman and CEO of Southcross Energy, said he felt that Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport's rules, which say that only water produced there can be disposed there, would work for Dallas as well. Like the rest of the fracking process, he felt injection wells should be part of the SUP approval process. "We can rely on city council and city staff to judge" on a case-by-case basis, he said, "as opposed to prescribing negatives, it makes a lot of sense." Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, sided with Biegler, as did Patrick Shaw, oil and gas attorney at Woodward and Shaw.

brucebullock.jpg
Bruce Bullock
The activists sitting behind Beigler waved their "No" signs at the proposal. Cherelle Blazer, founder of the environmental sustainability organization You Cant Live in the Woods, spoke on their behalf: "I can tell you that I'm concerned about seismic activity. I'm absolutely concerned about it," she said. Terry Welch, an attorney with Brown & Hofmeister who reps muni governments, agreed with Blazer.

Task force chair Lois Finkelman finally called for a vote. And ... the group was split 4-4, so she included her own vote against injection wells, adding, "There would indeed be pressure brought to bear to make it a commercial operation at some point," meaning while they could restrict the disposal sites to produced water from Dallas, their capacity and commercial potential would make it a challenge to maintain the restriction.

Next, the group decided unanimously not to restrict drilling operations to certain zoning categories. To do it any other way could prove cumbersome and ineffective, Welch said. People would simply apply to change the zoning category of their land to allow drilling. And then it was time for a long discussion about set-backs.

"This is easily the most emotional issue and probably the most critical issue in the whole matter," Biegler said. He suggested a distance of 900 feet from the gas well to the nearest protected use. Welch suggested 1,000 feet from the edge of the drilling pad site to the nearest protected use, suggesting it would have less of an impact on property values.

Biegler called Welch's suggested distance "excessive," reminding the group that the distance from the edge of the pad site to the well head would add a few hundred feet.

"I like the number that Southlake has here, 1,000, so that would be my recommendation for just those two parameters, pad site and protected use," said attorney for former Old Oak Cliff Conservation League president John McCall, citing the document comparing set-back distances in neighboring cities' ordinances. He made a motion that the group vote on his suggested distance. The audience held up its "Yes" signs.

In another close vote, the measure passed 5-4. Of course, nothing is final until city council reviews the recommendations and either changes or approves them.

A discussion of set-back minimums, for circumstances when distance restrictions could be eased, also resulted in a vote. With only two voting against it, the task force decided that set-backs can be no less than 750 feet, and that distance easements could only be granted with a council supermajority vote.

As the meeting wrapped up, Ramon Alvarez, a scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, raised concerns about the task force's goal of finishing recommendations by the end of the month and the amount of ground they still must cover. While yesterday's meeting tackled several of the thorniest issues, the process has been slow-going. Alvarez recommend that everyone read through those "strawman" recommendations compiled by Finkelman and pull any items that they'd like to discuss so they can simply accept the items for which there's unanimous support. Finkelman agreed, and no one seemed to object. There's a chance they might finish this process after all.

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Marc
Marc

Just to make sure everybody is aware of it, David Biegler, Bruce Bullock, Joan Walne, Patrick Shaw and perhaps Margaret Keliher were seated on the Task Force by David Neumann and Ron Natinsky, both of whom strongly pushed their agenda, specifically because they favor gas drilling and are supported by drilling and exploration financial interests. Theirs' never was for the purpose of an objective interest in what is best for the city and its citizens in terms of safety, health, property values, quality of life of other issues that should matter to anybody serving in a civic role.

The sole purpose of these people being on the Task Force was to (1) promote the likelihood of a favorable recommendation to the Dallas City Council allowing drilling, and (2) to mitigate any restrictions that may be sought by others who take the job of protecting citizens more seriously.

During his campaign for mayor Mike Rawlings was recorded on audio and videotape, as saying that he would never put money before the safety of neighborhoods. He made those same comments at a screening of "Gasland" at the Texas Theater last summer. We intend to hold him accountable for his statements.

Voting to allow drilling in or near residential neighborhoods or near vital water resources such as creeks, rivers, lakes, drinking water reservoirs and subterranean aquifers is an affront to the health and safety of everybody who is at risk of exposure when things go wrong. The question should never be about money versus risk, but rather about what can be done to provide every reasonable protection for people, animals and the environment without which there is no benefit to money.

Marc
Marc

Just to make sure everybody is aware of it, David Biegler, Bruce Bullock, Joan Walne, Patrick Shaw and perhaps Margaret Keliher were seated on the Task Force by David Neumann and Ron Natinsky, both of whom strongly pushed their agenda, specifically because they favor gas drilling and are supported by drilling and exploration financial interests. Theirs' never was for the purpose of an objective interest in what is best for the city and its citizens in terms of safety, health, property values, quality of life of other issues that should matter to anybody serving in a civic role.

The sole purpose of these people being on the Task Force was to (1) promote the likelihood of a favorable recommendation to the Dallas City Council allowing drilling, and (2) to mitigate any restrictions that may be sought by others who take the job of protecting citizens more seriously.

During his campaign for mayor Mike Rawlings was recorded on audio and videotape, as saying that he would never put money before the safety of neighborhoods. He made those same comments at a screening of "Gasland" at the Texas Theater last summer. We intend to hold him accountable for his statements.

Voting to allow drilling in or near residential neighborhoods or near vital water resources such as creeks, rivers, lakes, drinking water reservoirs and subterranean aquifers is an affront to the health and safety of everybody who is at risk of exposure when things go wrong. The question should never be about money versus risk, but rather about what can be done to provide every reasonable protection for people, animals and the environment without which there is no benefit to money.

Marc
Marc

Just to make sure everybody is aware of it, David Biegler, Bruce Bullock, Joan Walne, Patrick Shaw and perhaps Margaret Keliher were seated on the Task Force by David Neumann and Ron Natinsky, both of whom strongly pushed their agenda, specifically because they favor gas drilling and are supported by drilling and exploration financial interests. Theirs' never was for the purpose of an objective interest in what is best for the city and its citizens in terms of safety, health, property values, quality of life of other issues that should matter to anybody serving in a civic role.

The sole purpose of these people being on the Task Force was to (1) promote the likelihood of a favorable recommendation to the Dallas City Council allowing drilling, and (2) to mitigate any restrictions that may be sought by others who take the job of protecting citizens more seriously.

During his campaign for mayor Mike Rawlings was recorded on audio and videotape, as saying that he would never put money before the safety of neighborhoods. He made those same comments at a screening of "Gasland" at the Texas Theater last summer. We intend to hold him accountable for his statements.

Voting to allow drilling in or near residential neighborhoods or near vital water resources such as creeks, rivers, lakes, drinking water reservoirs and subterranean aquifers is an affront to the health and safety of everybody who is at risk of exposure when things go wrong. The question should never be about money versus risk, but rather about what can be done to provide every reasonable protection for people, animals and the environment without which there is no benefit to money.

Marc
Marc

Just to make sure everybody is aware of it, David Biegler, Bruce Bullock, Joan Walne, Patrick Shaw and perhaps Margaret Keliher were seated on the Task Force by David Neumann and Ron Natinsky, both of whom strongly pushed their agenda, specifically because they favor gas drilling and are supported by drilling and exploration financial interests. Theirs' never was for the purpose of an objective interest in what is best for the city and its citizens in terms of safety, health, property values, quality of life of other issues that should matter to anybody serving in a civic role.

The sole purpose of these people being on the Task Force was to (1) promote the likelihood of a favorable recommendation to the Dallas City Council allowing drilling, and (2) to mitigate any restrictions that may be sought by others who take the job of protecting citizens more seriously.

During his campaign for mayor Mike Rawlings was recorded on audio and videotape, as saying that he would never put money before the safety of neighborhoods. He made those same comments at a screening of "Gasland" at the Texas Theater last summer. We intend to hold him accountable for his statements.

Voting to allow drilling in or near residential neighborhoods or near vital water resources such as creeks, rivers, lakes, drinking water reservoirs and subterranean aquifers is an affront to the health and safety of everybody who is at risk of exposure when things go wrong. The question should never be about money versus risk, but rather about what can be done to provide every reasonable protection for people, animals and the environment without which there is no benefit to money.

Marc
Marc

A 1,000 foot setback is inadequate to protect homes and businesses. In fact, a 3,000 foot setback is inadequate. Just look up the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010 for an example of how proximity makes all the difference. In that blast 38 homes were leveled, another 120 homes were severely damaged and 8 people were killed. Fortunately, the blast occurred when most people were at work or in school. Had it happened at night, then the death toll would have been much higher.

The aftermath of the San Bruno blast looked a lot like Nagasaki and Hiroshima after we nuked them at the end of WW II. Streets were destroyed. Cars were burned, tossed and rolled. The blast was felt at San Francisco International Airport more than 10 miles away.

Since 2001, at least 45 people in the US have been killed in natural gas pipeline explosions.

There is no need or purpose to drilling gas wells unless you also build out a pipeline infrastructure to carry that gas to compressor stations. So, along with the gas wells come both pipelines AND compressor stations along with the attendant problems of each. Pipelines will require eminent domain to confiscate land for the pipeline route, and along that route property values will drop like a rock due to the high danger of a San Bruno-type event. Compressor stations are the source of much, if not most, of the VOC and NOx pollution that occurs from natural gas exploration and production.

Any drilling ordinance must include pipelines and compressor stations in the setback restrictions rather than just the gas wells themselves. Most people do not even think about pipelines and compressor stations when discussing these matters, but both are an integral part of the threats to life and safety when allowing gas well drilling in a densely-populated urban area.

Marc
Marc

A 1,000 foot setback is inadequate to protect homes and businesses. In fact, a 3,000 foot setback is inadequate. Just look up the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010 for an example of how proximity makes all the difference. In that blast 38 homes were leveled, another 120 homes were severely damaged and 8 people were killed. Fortunately, the blast occurred when most people were at work or in school. Had it happened at night, then the death toll would have been much higher.

The aftermath of the San Bruno blast looked a lot like Nagasaki and Hiroshima after we nuked them at the end of WW II. Streets were destroyed. Cars were burned, tossed and rolled. The blast was felt at San Francisco International Airport more than 10 miles away.

Since 2001, at least 45 people in the US have been killed in natural gas pipeline explosions.

There is no need or purpose to drilling gas wells unless you also build out a pipeline infrastructure to carry that gas to compressor stations. So, along with the gas wells come both pipelines AND compressor stations along with the attendant problems of each. Pipelines will require eminent domain to confiscate land for the pipeline route, and along that route property values will drop like a rock due to the high danger of a San Bruno-type event. Compressor stations are the source of much, if not most, of the VOC and NOx pollution that occurs from natural gas exploration and production.

Any drilling ordinance must include pipelines and compressor stations in the setback restrictions rather than just the gas wells themselves. Most people do not even think about pipelines and compressor stations when discussing these matters, but both are an integral part of the threats to life and safety when allowing gas well drilling in a densely-populated urban area.

Marc
Marc

A 1,000 foot setback is inadequate to protect homes and businesses. In fact, a 3,000 foot setback is inadequate. Just look up the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010 for an example of how proximity makes all the difference. In that blast 38 homes were leveled, another 120 homes were severely damaged and 8 people were killed. Fortunately, the blast occurred when most people were at work or in school. Had it happened at night, then the death toll would have been much higher.

The aftermath of the San Bruno blast looked a lot like Nagasaki and Hiroshima after we nuked them at the end of WW II. Streets were destroyed. Cars were burned, tossed and rolled. The blast was felt at San Francisco International Airport more than 10 miles away.

Since 2001, at least 45 people in the US have been killed in natural gas pipeline explosions.

There is no need or purpose to drilling gas wells unless you also build out a pipeline infrastructure to carry that gas to compressor stations. So, along with the gas wells come both pipelines AND compressor stations along with the attendant problems of each. Pipelines will require eminent domain to confiscate land for the pipeline route, and along that route property values will drop like a rock due to the high danger of a San Bruno-type event. Compressor stations are the source of much, if not most, of the VOC and NOx pollution that occurs from natural gas exploration and production.

Any drilling ordinance must include pipelines and compressor stations in the setback restrictions rather than just the gas wells themselves. Most people do not even think about pipelines and compressor stations when discussing these matters, but both are an integral part of the threats to life and safety when allowing gas well drilling in a densely-populated urban area.

Marc
Marc

A 1,000 foot setback is inadequate to protect homes and businesses. In fact, a 3,000 foot setback is inadequate. Just look up the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010 for an example of how proximity makes all the difference. In that blast 38 homes were leveled, another 120 homes were severely damaged and 8 people were killed. Fortunately, the blast occurred when most people were at work or in school. Had it happened at night, then the death toll would have been much higher.

The aftermath of the San Bruno blast looked a lot like Nagasaki and Hiroshima after we nuked them at the end of WW II. Streets were destroyed. Cars were burned, tossed and rolled. The blast was felt at San Francisco International Airport more than 10 miles away.

Since 2001, at least 45 people in the US have been killed in natural gas pipeline explosions.

There is no need or purpose to drilling gas wells unless you also build out a pipeline infrastructure to carry that gas to compressor stations. So, along with the gas wells come both pipelines AND compressor stations along with the attendant problems of each. Pipelines will require eminent domain to confiscate land for the pipeline route, and along that route property values will drop like a rock due to the high danger of a San Bruno-type event. Compressor stations are the source of much, if not most, of the VOC and NOx pollution that occurs from natural gas exploration and production.

Any drilling ordinance must include pipelines and compressor stations in the setback restrictions rather than just the gas wells themselves. Most people do not even think about pipelines and compressor stations when discussing these matters, but both are an integral part of the threats to life and safety when allowing gas well drilling in a densely-populated urban area.

Marc
Marc

A 1,000 foot setback is inadequate to protect homes and businesses. In fact, a 3,000 foot setback is inadequate. Just look up the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California on September 9, 2010 for an example of how proximity makes all the difference. In that blast 38 homes were leveled, another 120 homes were severely damaged and 8 people were killed. Fortunately, the blast occurred when most people were at work or in school. Had it happened at night, then the death toll would have been much higher.

The aftermath of the San Bruno blast looked a lot like Nagasaki and Hiroshima after we nuked them at the end of WW II. Streets were destroyed. Cars were burned, tossed and rolled. The blast was felt at San Francisco International Airport more than 10 miles away.

Since 2001, at least 45 people in the US have been killed in natural gas pipeline explosions.

There is no need or purpose to drilling gas wells unless you also build out a pipeline infrastructure to carry that gas to compressor stations. So, along with the gas wells come both pipelines AND compressor stations along with the attendant problems of each. Pipelines will require eminent domain to confiscate land for the pipeline route, and along that route property values will drop like a rock due to the high danger of a San Bruno-type event. Compressor stations are the source of much, if not most, of the VOC and NOx pollution that occurs from natural gas exploration and production.

Any drilling ordinance must include pipelines and compressor stations in the setback restrictions rather than just the gas wells themselves. Most people do not even think about pipelines and compressor stations when discussing these matters, but both are an integral part of the threats to life and safety when allowing gas well drilling in a densely-populated urban area.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

From what I hear Biegler is trying to run the show and take the reins out of Lois Finkelman's hands. This insider either needs to STFU or leave.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

I do find it reprehensible that Ms. Walne does not cast a vote for Dallas green spaces. It does appear that her vote with the industry shows her lack of knowledge and education about this topic. Perhaps Mayor Mike should rethink her position as a Park Board executive and move her to another job. Since many of the potential drill sites are on Park land, her votes should be interesting going forward. Especially since, back in 2006 the City of Dallas power point memo said that no drilling would occur on park land.

Marc
Marc

Walne never should have had a seat on the Task Force at all. She was put there specifically to add one more vorte for industry over the will of the citizenry. Her lack of knowledge and objectivity are precisely why the drilling industry likes having her on the Task Force. But, let's remember that the Task Force is really just a dog and pony show anyway, and nothing matters except the decisions coming from the City Council.

BigTex
BigTex

It is not common practice to have injection wells on site of the new wells you are drilling. It doesnt make sense anyway. I think DFW airport is a unique case. Waste water in TX has to be treated before it can be put back in the ground thats why companies truck that water to dedicated injection wells that are located in formations that have been abandoned only after the water has been processed............

Marc
Marc

Let us remember that the DFW Airport Board voted to close the injection well on airport property because it was causing earthquakes under the runways. Almost all reports of earthquakes related to natural gas exploration have come from injection well activity, though sink holes have come from the actual drilling and production activities.

If we start having earthquakes under or very near residential and commercial property, then there go property values down a rat hole. If we start having earthquakes under sewer mains, streets and highways and other critical infrastructure, then we are going to face higher taxes to cover repairs and/or even worse roads than we have now.

Industry claims that they can treat and clean the flowback and produced water that comes after the frac'ing is done. It is time for them to walk the walk - they have already talked the talk. If they really can treat and clean the water, then there is no need for injection wells, they will require less fresh water for their activities and there will be a lot less opposition. It is time for them to start using LPG and LNG as frac fluid rather than chemical-laced freshwater. We already know that is a viable alternative because GasFrac from Canada has been doing it for years. And, the LNG or LPG is almost 100% recoverable leaving no polluted water underground, unlike the currently used process that leaves 50-80% of the contaminated water underground at the well site and the rest underground at injection well sites other than  that which is accidentally or purposefully spilled or illegally dumped to save money.

Marc
Marc

Let us remember that the DFW Airport Board voted to close the injection well on airport property because it was causing earthquakes under the runways. Almost all reports of earthquakes related to natural gas exploration have come from injection well activity, though sink holes have come from the actual drilling and production activities.

If we start having earthquakes under or very near residential and commercial property, then there go property values down a rat hole. If we start having earthquakes under sewer mains, streets and highways and other critical infrastructure, then we are going to face higher taxes to cover repairs and/or even worse roads than we have now.

Industry claims that they can treat and clean the flowback and produced water that comes after the frac'ing is done. It is time for them to walk the walk - they have already talked the talk. If they really can treat and clean the water, then there is no need for injection wells, they will require less fresh water for their activities and there will be a lot less opposition. It is time for them to start using LPG and LNG as frac fluid rather than chemical-laced freshwater. We already know that is a viable alternative because GasFrac from Canada has been doing it for years. And, the LNG or LPG is almost 100% recoverable leaving no polluted water underground, unlike the currently used process that leaves 50-80% of the contaminated water underground at the well site and the rest underground at injection well sites other than  that which is accidentally or purposefully spilled or illegally dumped to save money.

Marc
Marc

Let us remember that the DFW Airport Board voted to close the injection well on airport property because it was causing earthquakes under the runways. Almost all reports of earthquakes related to natural gas exploration have come from injection well activity, though sink holes have come from the actual drilling and production activities.

If we start having earthquakes under or very near residential and commercial property, then there go property values down a rat hole. If we start having earthquakes under sewer mains, streets and highways and other critical infrastructure, then we are going to face higher taxes to cover repairs and/or even worse roads than we have now.

Industry claims that they can treat and clean the flowback and produced water that comes after the frac'ing is done. It is time for them to walk the walk - they have already talked the talk. If they really can treat and clean the water, then there is no need for injection wells, they will require less fresh water for their activities and there will be a lot less opposition. It is time for them to start using LPG and LNG as frac fluid rather than chemical-laced freshwater. We already know that is a viable alternative because GasFrac from Canada has been doing it for years. And, the LNG or LPG is almost 100% recoverable leaving no polluted water underground, unlike the currently used process that leaves 50-80% of the contaminated water underground at the well site and the rest underground at injection well sites other than  that which is accidentally or purposefully spilled or illegally dumped to save money.

Gangy
Gangy

Thank you to all of you "fractivists" who have been working so hard for so long to protect the health and safety of Dallasites.  Citizen input since day one is the only thing that made yesterday's votes go the way they did.  We all owe you. 

Now, we need more of us at the City Council meetings where they discuss what the City's policy on fracking will be.  The City Council will require even more pressure from the citizens before doing the reasonable thing.  There's a lot of money and power working against us.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Thanks to the citizens who showed up to push back against the industry tools on this Task force. Unfortunately, one of those tools turns out to be Joan Walne, the President of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board. Despite being entrusted with the city's valuable and too-few green spaces, Ms. Walne voted with industry to allow waste injection wells into Dallas parks. How? She voted to allow such waste injection wells inside Dallas at gas well sites. At least two of those sites are on city park property right now. Many other gas leases are on park property. Ms. Walne is neither protecting Dallas parks, nor protecting Dallas citizens as a member of this Task Force.

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