The Dallas City Plan Commission voted against natural gas drilling permits on three sites in northwest Dallas on Thursday. That move becomes an influential recommendation to the Dallas City Council, which will have the final say on the start of drilling in Dallas. That vote will come next month.
Trinity East Energy wants permits to drill more than 50 wells on three sites in northwest Dallas.
Jim Schermbeck with the anti-drilling group Downwinders at Risk said drilling permits should not be issued before approval of the city's new, tougher drilling ordinance. Several speakers at Thursday's hearing worried about the health risks of drilling chemicals polluting the air and water.
Dallas Cothrum, representing Trinity East, told commissioners that environmental regulations in the permits are among the toughest in North Texas. He said distances between the wells and homes, schools or soccer fields would exceed the buffer zones recommended by the Gas Drilling Task Force. And Trinity East said it would use a closed-loop system to capture noxious vapors.
Several commission members agreed that if they were going to approve drilling, the three northwest Dallas sites were probably as good as it gets in an urban setting. Trinity East proposed wells on a unused part of the LB Houston golf course, a plot on the the adjacent gun range and a site across railroad tracks from the new Elm Fork soccer fields -- all city-owned property.
But, several commissioners felt uncomfortable about approving the drilling permits on park land and in a floodplain. City code currently prohibits drilling in both places. The city council would have to make exceptions.
Trinity East officials declined comment after the meeting.