Another Victory for Fracking Opponents in Dallas

On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council capped off years of debate between residents, council members, oil and gas advocates and environmentalists by passing one of the most restrictive natural gas drilling ordinances in North Texas’ Barnett Shale. The ordinance prohibits drilling within 1,500 feet of homes, schools, churches and other protected sites.

Dallas’ fracking fight came to a head over the past two years, when the city council considered granting Trinity East Energy permits to drill on unused city park land it had leased. Trinity had already forked over $19 million for the leases, which the city promptly spent, but officials played hot potato with the decision before a zoning body, the City Plan Commission, killed the drilling permits in March. One month earlier, a secret deal between City Manager Mary Suhm and Trinity East had surfaced, angering citizens and some city council members.

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Dallas City Council Rejects Fracking

After years of Dallas officials playing hot potato with three permits that would allow fracking within city limits for the first time, the City Council finally rejected the permits today. A city commission is still working on a new gas-drilling ordinance, but at least for now, Dallas is closed to fracking.

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Dallas Commission Rejects ‘Fracking’ Permits

It seems the waiting game might finally be over in Dallas. After years of city government lollygagging, residents appear to be closer to an answer on whether the city will be open to fracking. On Thursday the City Plan Commission rejected natural gas producer Trinity East’s drilling permits, which have been the center of contention in Dallas’ fight over fracking. The final decision ultimately rests in the hands of the City Council, but it would take a supermajority of 12 of its 15 members to override the commission’s vote.

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Secret ‘Fracking’ Deal Comes to Light in Dallas

So about that fracking fight in Dallas … Things just got real.

This morning a letter surfaced revealing a secret deal between Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm and natural gas producer Trinity East. In the letter, Suhm essentially agrees to help Trinity drill on city parkland, writing that her staff was “reasonably confident” that the company would get permission to drill. Around the same time, however, Suhm was telling Dallas City Council that Trinity wouldn’t be allowed to do so. The letter is dated August 15, 2008—two months after the park board had prohibited drilling in city parks and five days before the City Council passed a resolution banning the same thing.

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To Frack or Not to Frack in Dallas

After years of opponents and industry arguing, waiting and waiting some more, Dallas’ fracking future might finally come to a vote. In early February a city commission is expected to vote, yet again, on whether to grant Fort Worth-based Trinity East Energy permits to drill on city-owned land. It would be the first gas well sunk within city limits and would affirm Dallas’ stance on the controversial practice of fracking.

Trinity signed a $19 million lease with the city in 2008 and applied to use the land to drill in early 2011. The city of Dallas has been reluctant to issue any drilling permits without first updating its gas drilling ordinance like other nearby cities have done, to accommodate public concerns over noise, air pollution and property setbacks. As a result, Trinity’s permits have been on hold and the issue has been languishing for what all sides agree is far too long.

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