Gas drilling in Dallas could take a leap forward Thursday. The City Plan Commission is to vote on a request to drill for natural gas on three sites in northwest Dallas.
XTO and Trinity East Energy bought drilling leases from the city for more than $30 million in 2007. But the city council put all drilling on hold for more study. Now, with leases to expire next year, Trinity East is requesting permits to drill on the LB Houston golf course; a section of the nearby Elm Fork Gun Club, and next to the new Elm Fork soccer fields – part of the Trinity River development project.
Drilling opponents Claudia and Ed Meyer say golfers would be teeing off near as many as 20 wells, and a big, natural gas compressor station is planned 600 feet from the new soccer fields.
“Why in the world would you have families and children and people coming out to play soccer next to a heavy-duty, industrial compressor station?” asks Claudia Meyer.
“The compressor station is the big air polluter, the noise polluter. The compressor stations are 24/7,” Ed Meyer said.
City staff is recommending approval of the permits, with a necessary amendment to allow drilling in the floodplain. That’s currently prohibited, but it’s something Trinity East has said was promised. Steve Fort, with the company says drilling is a great opportunity for the city to capture valuable minerals that belong to it, and generate much needed revenue to help pay for services such as police, fire and roads.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says the city council will have the final say. And he says the issue requires a delicate balance.
“I mean obviously we have got to make sure that we’re safe in this city and we are not going to do things that I think are going to jeopardize neighborhoods,” Rawlings said. “We have contracts that other folks kinda cut, and we’ve got fiscal responsibility to the citizens of Dallas. So, balancing those issues is going to be critical.”
Claudia Meyer says what Dallas does with gas drilling, beginning with the City Plan Commission vote, will attract a lot of attention.
“Dallas is being scheduled now for a national fracking conference summit in the beginning of March,” Meyer noted. “So that is going to bring a number of groups all around the United States to Dallas. And they’re going to be very interested in what Dallas does because this is part of a national picture.”