Amid Protest, Dallas Council Hears Gas Drilling Recommendations

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A protest at Dallas City Hall Wednesday interrupted a discussion on allowing gas wells inside city limits that was months in the making.

About a half dozen protesters wearing hospital masks tried to hijack the discussion. It began as a silent protest, but when a councilmember began asking about safety issues, shouting erupted.

One by hospital-masked one, Mayor Mike Rawlings had each demonstrator removed.

The Natural Gas Drilling Task Force had spent eight months looking at how neighboring communities had dealt with gas drilling. Wednesday’s meeting was for the group to present its recommendations to the council.

Among them:

  • Testing for volatile chemicals in water used for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking
  • Prohibit so-called disposal or injection wells that would store used water
  • Noise restrictions
  • A 1,000 foot minimum distance between drill sites and homes or businesses

All recommendations could have some exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

Neighborhood opponents remain unmoved.

“Gas represents a much larger threat to the city of Dallas than either lead smelters or waste incinerators,” said resident Jim Sherbeck.

“We’re not going to get any money out of this; what we are going to get is a lot of toxicity, a lot of pollution, a lot of harm to our environment,” Marc McCord told the council.

A map of possible drilling sites has upset some groups –– most are clustered in far northwest or southwest Dallas, like at the former Naval Air Station. But some possibilities were shown in the Bachman Lake area, as well as the Trinity River bottoms.

The argument is gas rigs would change the area forever.

“We’re never going to put a swimming pool there,” argued councilman Scott Griggs. “We’re never going to put soccer fields there.”

But Jerry Allen cautioned that money from wells could address a host of city needs as what he termed “a generational asset,” adding, “and that might be an important part to have this conversation about; what is the offsetting benefit?”

These are strictly recommendations and this was the initial briefing. The mayor wants at least three more before debating the issue later this summer.

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