This website explores the facts, truths and myths about natural gas exploration and production using the slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing process in the Barnett, Haynesville and Eagle Ford Shales of Texas, as well as other shale formations nationwide. Our purpose is to present the best available information about natural gas exploration and production to help civic leaders and citizens make informed decisions about how to proceed with this heavy industrial process in their communities.
On Thursday, March 21, the Dallas City Plan Commission met to "reconsider" their December 20, 2012 denials of three Trinity East Energy SUPs for proposed gas well and compressor complex/refinery sites on city-owned park land and in the Trinity River floodplain of northwest Dallas. This controversial project spilled over into Irving, as members of the neighboring Irving City Council and citizens showed up at Dallas City Hall to join Dallas residents in opposing the zoning changes being sought to allow natural gas exploration and production on a municipal golf course, adjacent to a municipal gun range and adjacent to a brand new soccer complex with 20 fields where citizens and visitors to Dallas would be engaged in tournaments and soccer league matches.
The hearing was heated, and some Commissioners took umbrage at citizens who dared to challenge them to act in the interest of citizens first and out-of-town corporations seeking to make a profit last. At the end of the day the SUP for the gun range site failed on an 8-7 vote, and the SUPs for the golf course and soccer complex failed on 9-6 votes. A breakdown of how each Commissioner voted is in the table below. The numbers in the three vote columns refer to zoning SUP item numbers Z101-220, Z101-221 and Z101-248 on the CPC's agenda for the March 21 meeting.
The issue now moves to the Dallas City Council where a super majority 12 votes are required to override the CPC denials. The City Council must also amend existing city ordinances to allow drilling in floodplains and parks where it is currently prohibited, and the city must hold a hearing under Chapter 26 of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department code, and meet strict TPWD requirements before converting park land to industrial use. No date has been scheduled for any part of the City Council work that lies ahead, which also includes revamping the antiquated and woefully inadequate gas drilling ordinance to bring it in-line with what is known today about necessary safety precautions and operating requirements.
Dallas, Texas, March 2-4, 2013
The Stop The Frack Attack National Summit in Dallas March 2-3, 2013, was a resounding success on all fronts. Numerous workshops provided activists from all over the country with the tools and information to organize and get their message across to ordinary citizens and political leaders alike.
Former Dish, Texas Mayor Calvin Tillman, noted environmental scientist Dr. Wilma Subra, Wyoming rancher John Fenton and Texas civil engineer Charles Morgan were on hand to tell compelling personal stories of how their lives have been adversely affected by fouled air and compressor station noise and fugitive emissions. Gasland director Josh Fox joined the summit via Skype. But, the highlight of the conference was the last two speakers - Deborah Rogers discussed the economics of shale gas production and how it is a losing proposition, followed by Dr. Tony Ingraffea discussing the realities of climate change brought on by production and use of fossil fuels. Watch this website for links to videos of their presentations as soon as they are available.
Perhaps the single greatest benefit was the opportunity to meet other Fractivists with whom we have all worked for a very long time face-to-face and have time to sit down for one-on-one discussions about how shale gas and oil development are affecting our lives and communities nationwide. Many friendships that will last a lifetime were forged during the 2-day conference.
Click HERE for the STFA website.
The saga starring City Manager Mary Suhm, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Former Mayor Tom Leppert, City Attorney Tom Perkins, CPC Chairman Joe Alcantar and other officials at Dallas City Hall continues to grow and unravel as the truth slowly leaks out to the public. Thanks to the diligent efforts of City Councilman Scott Griggs and the timely reporting of the Dallas Morning News' Rudy Bush, we now know a lot more of the details about corrupt practices related to oil and gas leases signed between Suhm and Trinity East Energy LLC in 2008.
Details are now available in articles appearing in both the Dallas Morning News on February 13, 2013 and February 15, 2013, as well as articles appearing in the Dallas Observer on February 7, 2013, February 8, 2013, February 11, 2013 and February 15, 2013.
And, here is a link to the original agreement signed by City Manager Suhm and Trinity East Energy's Steve Fort on August 15, 2008, which debunks claims by Suhm, Rawlings, Perkins and others that failure to permit drilling by Trinity East will result in the City of Dallas being sued because "that deal has already been made." The truth is, no such deal ever existed, and the lease for the Luna Vista Golf Course site is probably invalid because it was not approved by the City Council at the time Mary Suhm illegally inserted it into the lease AFTER the city Council had approved the lease.
Stick around. This saga is just getting started. Dallas City Hall appears to be forming a circular firing squad, and who knows who will fall, but it will probably include, at the very least, City Manager Mary Suhm who appears to have violated several federal and state laws in her attempt to justify taking Trinity East money to fill a budget shortfall in 2008.
On Thursday, February 7, the "reconsideration" hearing for the three Trinity East SUPs that were denied on December 20 of last year took on a life of its own. A strong showing of public opposition to gas drilling in our parks and the floodplain of the Trinity River was on hand to voice concerns about the planned activities being considered. CPC Chairman Alcantar allotted 15 minutes to each side, and when the opposition's time was up with many more still waiting to speak the CPC voted to extend the time by 10 minutes. In the end, at least 20-30 people who had taken the time to show up at City Hall to petition their government for redress of their grievances, as set forth in the US Constitution, were denied the opportunity to speak because the CPC had "a lot of items on the agenda" and did not have the time to hear citizens' concerns about gas drilling in our parks and floodplains.
For a real perspective on this whole mess, and what is at stake, please see the TCE Press Release of January 28.
On Monday, March 4, Fractivists from all across America converged on the Texas State Capitol and the Railroad Commission of Texas headquarters in Austin demanding tougher regulation of hydraulic fracturing and more openness in the process of debate and consideration of drilling permits for exploration and production of natural gas and oil.
At issue is the pending HB 1496, introduced by Plano Republican Representative Van Taylor, a first year Tea Party member of the Texas House, which would strip away the Home Rule authority of cities to regulate oil and gas production within city limits eviscerating the ability of cities to protect citizens from heavy industrial processes in their residential neighborhoods and parks.
A protest of earthquake proportions took place in the state capitol as concerned citizens voiced their objections to business-as-usual in the non-violent action aimed at raising awareness about issues related to hydraulic fracturing.
On Tuesday, January 15, the Denton City Council heard a contested public discussion before voting to approve a new gas drilling ordinance that is weak in some really critical areas, but which did include 1,200 foot setback requirements and strengthened insurance requirements for drillers, as well as the inclusion of additional properties defined as "protected use areas" from which setbacks are required. The hearing saw members of the Denton Advisory Group (DAG) stage a mild protest by refusing to limit individual comments to the 3 minutes allotted resulting in most of them being escorted from the chamber by a very polite and amused policeman who was providing security for the meeting. The new ordinance is weak on restrictions for compressor stations, gathering stations, pipeline infrastructure, water and air monitoring, water use restrictions during droughts and several other major concerns to local citizens.
What was really interesting is that not one citizen spoke in favor of drilling in the city out of more than 50 who addressed the Council and about that same number who did not speak, but completed speaker cards indicating their opposition to drilling in Denton. It was a typical case of local government ignoring the pleas of concerned citizens while pretending to be defending the city against threats of industry lawsuits that never actually materialize.
On Friday, January 11, 2013, a natural gas line exploded in Lewisville when workers from Atmos Energy were using a backhoe to look for a line leak. The resulting explosion leveled a duplex sending a male occupant to the hospital in critical condition and seriously injuring two firefighters who responded to the blast. The explosion was heard and felt more than a mile away from the scene. Atmos spokesperson Jennifer Ryan says the gas company isn’t sure what caused the explosion, and likely won’t know for some time. Lewisville Fire Chief Brian Freed reported that Atmos crews were using a backhoe to dig up and repair a gas leak behind a house, and that at some point during their process the house next door exploded.Freed went on to say that windows were blown out in houses and the church near the site, and pictures were blown off walls.
On Friday, July 20, 2012, a natural gas leak at an XTO Energy well site in Benbrook, Texas caught the attention of neighborhhod residents who heard a very loud noise that sounded like "what you might hear if several jets were passing over", except that the noise was constant. You can read the story HERE!
On Tuesday, August 28, 2012, construction workers at the SH 121/US 75 intersection hit a buried natural gas pipeline that was improperly marked, sending one worker to the hospital, destroying several pieces of heavy equipment and closing both highways for several hours resulting in major traffic snarls. And they said it couldn't happen here! Read the story and see photos from WFAA-TV 8 HERE!
It looks like the Katemcy sand mine has been put on hold for a few years (maybe indefinitely.) It is supposedly because the sand mine owners are focusing on other mines in other states. And, the one in Pontotoc is also on hold due to a couple of lawsuits (one between two sand mine buyers, and one between a land owner and a neighbor's easement.) The residents and landowners of Mason County are breathing a little easier while these sand mine projects work their way through the legal system.
Luna Vista Golf Course drilling protest October 26, 2012
The 2011 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, which registered 5.7 on the Richter Sale, was caused by deep injection of wastewater from natural gas exploration and production. The temblor was felt 800 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It goes down in history as the biggest earthquake ever felt in Oklahoma, resulting in destruction of 14 homes, injuries to two people and buckling of a federal highway. The injection well that caused the earthquake is located near the Wilzetta Fault, and it is still in operation today.
While studies by the US Geologial Survey and the National Academy of Sciences attribute injection well activities with earthquakes, including this one, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has yet to issue an official account of the sequence. In a statement responding to the paper appearing in the journal "Geology" about this earthquake, Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland said the study showed the earthquake sequence could have been triggered by the injections. But, he said, "it is still the opinion of those at the Oklahoma Geological Survey that these earthquakes could be naturally occurring. There remain many open questions, and more scientific investigations are underway on this sequence of earthquakes and many others within the state of Oklahoma."
Click HERE for the full story.
For a more comprehensive report on injection well induced earthquakes and industry efforts to suppress scientific evidence linking them please visit Mother Jones .
For the second time in recent months a New York higher court has ruled in favor of towns and cities exerting control over the process of hydraulic fracturing within its incorporated limits.
For the past six weeks, a New York appellate court has been hashing this out in the case of Norse Energy Corp. v. Town of Dryden. In 2011, the little town of Dryden, N.Y., banned gas drilling and was promptly sued by a multibillion dollar energy company. A year ago, Dryden won its first battle in a New York Supreme Court ruling. Just yesterday, it won the second. Indeed, the people of Dryden didn’t beat the industry—they pummeled it. The Appellate Court just handed New York towns and cities a very heavy stick in the jurisdictional street brawl over fracking. Norse can appeal (and my sources say they are planning on it), but because this was a unanimous decision they’ll have to first get the court’s permission, and that may be challenging.
Click HERE for the whole story.
Drill, Baby, Drill
The Post Carbon Institute has just released a comprehensive report discussing the economics of fossil fuel exploration and production in the face of economic realities and global markets. The report, titled Drill, Baby, Drill, discusses the truth about pursuing a fossil fuel future rather than moving to develop alternatives that are sustainable and clean. At issue is the high cost of dwindling production and increased environmental damage to our planet.
Artwork created by Lmnopi:
On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, a 36-inch natural gas transmission pipeline exploded near Sissonville, West Virginia sending flames roaring into the sky and closing IH 77 to all traffic. At least 5 homes burned and people in a nearby nursing home are safe, but residents near the blast site were being urged to evacuate due to concerns of a secondary explosion. No injuries or fatalities have been reported. The fire has severely damaged about 800 feet of the asphalt road surface on both sides of IH 77.
See video of the fire below.
TEDX Air Pollution Study Released
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) has released a study of the health effects of air pollution caused by natural gas exploration and drilling near residents in Colorado where TEDX is based. The peer-reviewed study substantiates what has long been known about the health damages caused by exposure to chemicals, even in extremely small doses, that adversely affect child development and IQ. Read the full study HERE.
Chesapeake Energy has been found to be behind an effort in Mansfield, Ohio to stop a Citizens' Bill of Rights from being implemented to ban wastewater injection wells in an area where such wells have been proven to cause earthquakes. Working behind the scenes, and using several front organizations, Chesapeake seeks to limit protections of citizens' health and safety to continue its business'as-usual approach to exploiting minerals for its own enrichment at the expense of people living near their projects. Considering the implications in Dallas, where Councilman Sheffie Kadane is on the record as favoring allowing injection wells, this is an important issue as our City Council prepares to re-write our gas drilling ordinance. Read the story about this issue HERE.
No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.
It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to take possession of or make use of for any purpose, or build upon, alter, deface, destroy, move, injure, obstruct by fastening vessels thereto or otherwise, or in any manner whatever impair the usefulness of any sea wall, bulkhead, jetty, dike, levee, wharf, pier, or other work built by the United States, or any piece of plant, floating or otherwise, used in the construction of such work under the control of the United States, in whole or in part, for the preservation and improvement of any of its navigable waters or to prevent floods, or as boundary marks, tide gauges, surveying stations, buoys, or other established marks, nor remove for ballast or other purposes any stone or other material composing such works...
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