Texas News
10:33 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Dallas City Plan Commissioners May Do A U-Turn On Gas Drilling

UPDATE 10:45am:  The re-vote on gas drilling permits for Trinity  East Energy may not happen today. Three city council members have sent a letter to the Plan Commission Chairman asking him to delay reconsideration of the permits.

Part of the letter from Council members Angela Hunt, Scott Griggs and  Sandy Greyson reads as follows:

If the ostensible reason for reconsidering the vote is that two sitting commissioners were absent from the last meeting, then we would note that three commissioners may be absent from tomorrow’s meeting.  It follows that any revote on this matter should be deferred until all commissioners can be present.

Two Plan Commissioners have the flu.  A third has a previous appointment and cannot attend.

Gas drilling on park land in northwest Dallas is getting a second look at the City Plan Commission today.  Three weeks ago, anti-drilling groups thought they had won a major victory with a unanimous vote to deny drilling permits to Trinity East Energy.

Trinity East wants to drill for natural gas on the LB Houston/Luna Vista golf course, the adjacent gun range and a site near the new Elm Fork Soccer Fields off Luna Road. Last December 20th, City Plan Commissioners unanimously denied the permit request. But it comes up again today.  

This time, public comment will not be allowed. But drilling opponents plan to be there in large numbers to get their opposition across.  Claudia Meyer’s concern is the large gas compressor station planned next to the new soccer fields. 

“The compressor stations were something that the Task Force Chairman Ms. Finkleman was against it, and Linda Koop from the city," Meyer noted. "That’s a number one concern that I have.”

Meyer maintains no permits should be issued until the city approves the Gas Drilling Task Force recommendations that are sitting on a shelf. She says compressor stations emit toxic volatile organic compounds and other pollutants that dirty the air and are harmful.

Dr. Ken Morgan, director of the Energy Institute at TCU says there are new ways to improve air quality around the compressor stations that could come into play.

“What we’re finding is really the problem at some compressor stations is not so much the volatiles coming from the natural gas it’s about burning the diesel there that are the compressors," Morgan says. " So, we’re looking at electric compressors.  We’re looking at natural gas compressors to take that out of the equation.”

Morgan says compressors are essential to get the natural gas to the market. He says drillers, communities, and opponents need to strike a balance on location.

Jim Schermbeck, with Downwinders at Risk expects the permits to be approved. He says the re-vote is a result of pressure to uphold a City Hall deal cut several years ago with Trinity East to allow drilling in the floodplain and on park land. That deal goes against city ordinance. Mayor Mike Rawlings has acknowledged some sort of deal was made.  Whatever the outcome at the Plan Commission, the full city council will make the final decision in two weeks.