The Frackers and the Environmentalists Will Square Off at Dallas City Hall This Week

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Dallas Drilling
This was all supposed to be wrapped up months ago. The City Council formed the Gas Drilling Task Force more than a year ago, which was initially scheduled to wrap things up and have a final recommendation by November. A handful of issues -- proper setbacks, whether to allow drilling in parks and floodplains -- pushed the task force's final recommendation to February. The same issues prompted Mayor Mike Rawlings to delay a final decision by the City Council pending two more briefings. The first of those is set for Wednesday.

The format will be simple: Councilman Scott Griggs has picked attorney Terry Welch to represent environmental groups, while councilman Sheffie Kadane has chosen Ed Ireland, executive director at the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, to pitch for the gas industry. The two will duke it in an hour-long, no-holds-barred duel of PowerPoint presentations, which were posted to the city's website on Friday.

The sides are familiar. Welch argues that the setback from residential areas should be 1,500 feet. Any closer and property values begin to drop, not to mention that the scientific community isn't quite sure of the health effects of living next door to a fracking operation and that "doubt should be resolved in favor of public health." Besides, most drillers will likely request variances to the setback, as a survey of the 19 approved drilling sites in Flower Mound demonstrates.

As for drilling in parks and floodplain, both ideas are dumb, Welch argues. Parkland is a limited and valuable commodity that would be irreparably damaged by allowing drilling. Floodplains have a tendency to be covered from time to time with large volumes of water that "may result in release of undisclosed hazardous chemicals, along with significant amounts of salt and hydrocarbons, into water channels" if drilling is allowed there, all of which poses potential health and safety risks.

Ireland thinks those setbacks sound too aggressive. Nearly 20,000 gas wells have been drilled in the Barnett Shale and have proved "safe and protective of human health and the environment." The vast majority -- 99.51 percent -- of fracking liquid is sand and water. The rest of those "undisclosed hazardous chemicals" are mostly things you can find in your kitchen cabinet or makeup drawer. And just look at all that money. Those gas wells have produced 110,000 jobs and $11 billion per year in economic activity. The city of Fort Worth has received nearly $182 million from leasing city-owned lands for drilling -- a nice chunk of change, particularly in in a down economy. So, setbacks should be set at 600 feet or less.

Ireland's PowerPoint doesn't delve into the wisdom of drilling in parks or floodplains but stresses that in terms of air quality, noise, water usage, and physical footprint, gas wells have proven to be unobtrusive.

Those dueling PowerPoints are all very exciting, but you'll have to be there Wednesday at 1 p.m. in council chambers to witness the "smackdown" promised by Dallas Drilling.


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33 comments
TimRuggiero
TimRuggiero

Never ceases to amaze me that the people who are so in favor of compressor stations, pipelines, short setbacks, dehydration units, ,metering stations and non-stop semi truck traffic are those very same people who will have nothing to do with any of these things near their home. If 1500 feet is too 'aggressive' I'd like to see that long list of mineral right owners and gas & oil execs with any of this equipment 600 feet or closer to their homes.

 

20,000 wells may have been drilled on the Barnett, but saying that every one of them has been proven 'safe and protective of human health' is complete fabrication. Who exactly has 'proven' this? I mean, besides Industry and their bought and paid for studies, rife with conflicts of interest.

 

99.51% of all fluids used in hydraulic fracturing is water and sand? How many GALLONS does that translate into, Ed? I'd like to point out that Industry is quick to admit they use millions of gallons of water in fracking, but when it comes to chemicals, they switch to percentage. I guess saying that 1-2% 'percent' is much more easier to sallow than saying "30,000 gallons". I can see why telling people you're pumping 30,000 gallons of carcinogenic fluid into the ground might cause some problems.

 

"Unobtrusive"? Really? Each well site is an average of at least two acres, some are 10+ acres. Not sure what isn't unobtrusive about that. Get on Google Earth and take a look at DISH, Decatur or Fort Worth and tell me that it's not 'unobtrusive'.

 

According to the Denton Record Chronicle, mineral values is down $1 billion since 2006. Could it be all that lousy production, some wells crapping out after only a year?

 

I haven't seen the presentation, Ed, but maybe you should include that bit about how natural gas sites actually produce more fresh water than they use. Love to hear that story.

dallasdrilling.wordpress.com
dallasdrilling.wordpress.com

Wednesday will be an interesting day for everyone in Dallas/North Texas and on the Dallas City Council. This week will begin the final stretch of what will become a 'legacy vote' in the Fall for the City Council and we intend to make sure that everyone knows who supports a cleaner environment and who supports the oil and gas industry at Dallas residents expense.

Considering the depth of the oil and gas portfolios sitting up at the horseshoe, it's going to be really interesting to hear their questions and watch their body language. The silver tongued words of Ed Ireland and his effect on some of the key members of the City Council should be a show in itself.

gmit
gmit

Sheep for Big Coal !

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The EPA on Wednesday released the results of extensive testing that found nothing toxic in the water in Dimock, Pa. That’s the town where the anti-drilling documentary “Gasland” filmed dramatic images of a homeowner lighting his tap water on fire.  The film blamed the strange occurrence on hydraulic fracturing.  According to the EPA’s study, drilling is the not the root of the problems in Dimock. The substances found include arsenic, barium and manganese, all of which are naturally occurring.

 

Unfortunately, much of the damage has already been done. Those who watched the documentary about flaming tap water aren’t likely to come across an obscure, 725-page report posted on EPA’s website. Regardless, they ought to know that fracking is here to stay.

icowrich
icowrich

 @darrd2010 I'm not so sure it's such a clear choice.  The U.S. has achieved a greater reduction in greenhouse gasses than any industrialized nation, almost entirely because natural gas has displaced so many coal firing plants.  I get that there are local environmental risks, but I'm not sure they aren't outweighed by the resulting greenhouse gas reductions.

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @gmit Yeah, because Big Gas and Big Coal are our only alternatives. Get out more.

 

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @holmantx Thanks industry PR person. Actually, that has nothing to do with the Dallas situation. The industry-paid for study out of UT just told us fracking causes lots more surface spills than conventional drilling. Dallas gets its water from lakes, not wells. Also, there's there's a small problem with tons of air pollution being emitted daily that contributes to regional smog, air toxins, and climate change. Since drilling began moving into DFW, air quality has gotten worse even as car pollution and cement plant pollution and coal plant pollution has decreased. Gas pollution is cancelling out a decade's worth of air quality progress. And oh yeah, the journal published, peer-reviewed study from the Colo. School of Public Health estimates you have a 66% higher risk of cancer if you live within a half mile of a fracking site. 

TitusGroan
TitusGroan

Since we cannot create matter, aren't ALL substances naturally occurring?  That doesn't mean I want to drink them.

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @pak152 5000 more than Chesapeake and Company could manage without paying them to show up.

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @icowrich It's not that clear cut if you look at the emissions from the MINING of natural gas, instead of just the end result of burning it in a utility plant. Methane is actually many times more dangerous to climate change acceleration than CO2 and gas mining emits a lot of methane, along with Nitrogen Oxide, a smog-forming pollutant that's also a greenhouse gas. Combine all of those wellhead, compressor, dehydrator, storage tank, pipeline, etc. emissions, and there are many researchers now who are concluding gas is actually worse than coal. At the very least it's a draw. 

WCGasette
WCGasette

 @icowrich  @darrd2010 Outweighed?  That's a very nice philosophical point that speaks to the greater good.  Bravo! However, if you ever have the opportunity to have heavy, industrial mining within 1,000 feet of your home and community and if you ever have it surround your neighborhood, let's see if that changes any of your philosophical leanings. @deniseaday 

TXsharon
TXsharon

 @pak152 Per congressional testimony given by Devon Energy executive, fracking and horizontal drilling were "married" in 2002. 

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @pak152 Call them the way I see them. If you're not a shill, come out from behind the tag. Horizontal fracking has not been around for 60 years in its current form and you know it. And before they gave you an exemption to a host of environmental regs as part of the Cheney Energy Bill in 2005, you dare not show up in a Ft. Worth or Arlington. That it takes a repeal of such laws to allow fracking in urban areas says all you need to know. And what did happen at Spindletop? As far as I know, there's no peer-reviewed, journal published study of any kind on the health impact of those turn-of-the-20th Century boomtowns on their residents, or how sophisticated any attempt could have been in the nineteen teens and twenties. I do know that in 2012 we now have a peer-reviewed and journal published study by an independent academic institution that says residents who live within a half mile of a fracking site have an average 66% higher rate of getting cancer than those people who don't live under those circumstances. A half mile is more than twice as far as Dallas has ever proposed a setback from a well site. Finally, name even a single "environmental shill" in DFW that gets paid as much as Ed Ireland does for being a prostitute for the gas industry? Half as much? A third? A fourth? I didn't think so. You have the million-dollar budgets that can purchase almost everything but the truth. All we've got is people who've actually experienced the hazards of the technology for themselves up close and personal and and can read reports.

pak152
pak152

 @claytonauger yeah that is the way to have a good discussion accuse your opponent of being a shill. not that there shills for the environmentalists don't exist

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @claytonauger AND of course, your kids will be stunted little four foot buck-toothed anti-Semites with hairy palms who die at thirty.

pak152
pak152

 @TitusGroan you may want to run some tests on your tap water to see what is already in it. Back in the late 90s the EPA introduced a new standard for arsenic in water. went from 50 ppb to 20 ppb (parts per billion). had a problem in parts of West Texas and New Mexico arsenic occurs naturally in the water. been there for millenia. but now the public water was out of compliance all because new instruments could measure that small of an amount

 

fracquestions
fracquestions

 @icowrich Exactly which "consensus" are you talking about? The only "consensus" that favors natural gas over coal is that of uninformed people who are perfectly willing to sacrifice the lives, health, safety, property values and water supplies of whole communities for the financial benefit of those associated with the O&G industry.

 

You are right about the capture of fugative emissions, and there are such devices as vapor recovery systems which pay for themselves in 6-9 months when used, but industry refuses to use them unless mandated to do so by law or code, even when it means they lose money by not using them.

 

What people in the O&G industry make in profits from their exploits is inversely proportional to their lack of integrity, understanding and concern for the greater public good. We only have one environment. When we destroy it we will become as extinct as the dinosaurs! We cannot eat, drink or breath natural gas without dying. Every living thing on this planet requires fresh, clean water and air to survive.

 

If natural gas, and its extraction process were truly safe, then there would be no need to exempt them from the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, CERCLA or all the other environmental protection laws passed during the Nixon Administration that were granted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by a Republican Congress at the insistence of the Cheney/Bush Administration.

icowrich
icowrich

 @claytonauger I should imagine that drillers are losing money on methane just seeping up without being captured.  Surely there are ways to plug those leaks and (therefore) make even more money.  Nevertheless, I'd like to see how the scientific community ultimately judges this stuff.  At the moment, consensus favors natural gas over oil and coal. 

WCGasette
WCGasette

 @icowrich So, you think entire neighborhoods can have "restitution" for their neighborhood becoming a gas patch?  Do you believe this process is "safe and clean"??

icowrich
icowrich

 @WCGasette  @darrd2010  @deniseaday I'm sure you're right about that.  That's why I am all for citizens gaining restitution for their damages as they occur.  I also think it's worth looking at new technologies to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in the fraking process.  As soon as other alternative energy methods are ready for prime time, I'll back them over natural gas...and I want to see heavy R&D invested to make sure that happens.  Until then, however, I'm not sure that those localized costs are greater than the worldwide impacts of climate change that we're already starting to see.

WCGasette
WCGasette

 @pak152  The BEST "shills" we know (for the environment) are the people who have been affected or know people who have been. You can call us shills. We've been called worse. LOL  Because dear @pak152 once you know, you can't not know. You must not really "know." Can you please slow down and form sentences? Thanks.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @floribun did thousands of innocent civilians die from "chronic nosebleeds like the kids in Argyle or DISH do, or severe headaches, or strange skin rashes, or a cough they didn't have before the well/compressor/tank/hydrator arrrived next door"?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Well it was the start of ExxonMobil from the predecessor Humble Oil and Refining.  Texaco, Gulf and a few other companies got their start there as well.

claytonauger
claytonauger

 @holmantx No, but maybe they would get chronic nosebleeds like the kids in Argyle or DISH do, or severe headaches, or strange skin rashes, or a cough they didn't have before the well/compressor/tank/hydrator arrrived next door. What level of illness is sufficient to cause their parents outrage? These are large industrial polluters. They don't belong in neighborhoods.

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