At the first of three final briefings on recommendations from the Gas Drilling Task Force Wednesday, Dallas City Council members asked a lot of questions.
Council member Jerry Allen asked Task Force Chair Lois Finkleman one of the big questions of the day.
Allen: Are you saying that drilling for gas is safe if we do exactly what you’re saying?
Finkleman: I don’t know that we’re in a position to tell you it’s safe, any safer than any other industrial use that goes on in the city.
That exchange prompted a response from anti-drilling audience members.
Four protesters wearing industrial-use face masks were escorted out. They did not get to hear Council member Tennell Atkins’ position that gas drilling could be a good thing for the city.
Atkins: I do think that gas drilling is an asset to the city of Dallas and to most of the cities and to the country. I believe we are going to drill in the city.
If drilling occurs, Council member Scott Griggs does not want it to be in a city park or in the Trinity River floodplain, as allowed under the Drilling Task Force recommendations. And, he wants a new Dallas drilling ordinance to address how much the drillers must pay for the millions of gallons of water required for hydraulic fracking. Griggs says that water would be contaminated and stored forever.
Griggs: So I think we need to be very careful about how we price that water since that’s permanently lost water capacity for the city of Dallas.
Mayor Mike Rawlings promised a lot more discussion before a final vote.
Rawlings: This has got many levels and many ramifications; not the least being neighborhood issues; not the least being legal issues.
The Mayor has scheduled three more briefings: one to hear from environmentalists; another to hear from the industry; and one, behind closed doors, to hear from the city’s lawyers.
Drilling opponent Raymond Crawford wants to Council to go slowly. He says the outcome is too important to rush.
Crawford: This will be a legacy vote. However they vote, their decisions will affect everyone’s life in Dallas for decades to come.