This is a tale of two cities.
On December 11, 2013 the Dallas City Council voted 9-6 to approve a recommendation by the City Plan Commission that requires natural gas wells to be set back at least 1500 feet from homes. According to the Dallas Morning News, the decision came after years of arguments over well safety, toxic air emissions, gas leasing rights and the use of hydraulic fracturing. The new limit is an increase from the former limit of 300 feet.
The gas industry reacted strongly, calling the ordinance a “de facto fracking ban.” It’s hardly that, since the Council can still set the requirement aside and allow permits, but it is a strong statement. Shale development has been discussed in Dallas since at least 2008, and the city has yet to issue a permit.
The industry cites Fort Worth’s 600 foot setback requirement as a model, but a model of what? Fort Worth is the first major city in the United States to allow extensive fracking within its city limits. The city has 2000 gas wells and more are being drilled. The city has granted a number of exceptions to the 600 foot limit, and in some cases fracking is taking place 300 feet from homes and businesses.
I’ve published this before, but it’s worth watching again. This is the true cost of giving up control of your environment as they have in Fort Worth:
Most of Northern Texas is now a mess, as the industry has moved quickly to exploit the. But Dallas has held out, and they’re going to reap the benefits of wise civic decision making.
This is the decision that confronts Carbon and Stillwater Counties. Follow the path of Fort Worth and let Energy Corporation of America turn the area into a modern version of Fort Worth, or stand up as Dallas has and demand the preservation of the environment.
- Fort Worth Shows Why So Many Towns Are Banning Fracking (thinkprogress.org)
- Did Dallas Just Ban Fracking? (thinkprogress.org)
- Another Victory for Fracking Opponents in Dallas (texasobserver.org)
- Urban Fracking Bonanza Threatens Dallas Suburbs (desmogblog.com)