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Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Women make their case against Total and Gas Drilling in Arlington

Late in the afternoon on February 13th we learned that at the request of the operator, the public hearing for the SUP for the Cornerstone Drill Site was continued until February 27th.  Some activists and leaders of environmental groups ~ who happen to be all women ~ decided to appear anyway hoping the council would grant them the courtesy of speaking since this item was already posted on that evening's agenda.  Scroll ahead 28:30 minutes into the meeting to hear these women make a strong case against Total and gas drilling inside the community by Cornerstone Baptist Church on Matlock Road in Arlington, TX. The speeches were outstanding and very enlightening!

Thank you for visiting and check back for more updates!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

*Update* The Neighborhood Gas Drilling Meeting: Total Smoke and Mirrors

Let's talk about fracking ~ or better yet ~ let's not, since that strategy seems to work in the best interest for the oil and gas industry.  Here is a photo from the February 8, 2018 neighborhood gas drilling meeting which was hosted by Total and held at the Southeast Branch Library in Arlington, Texas. Eight chairs were set up, so it didn't look as though they were expecting a crowd like in the early days of mineral leasing.  A total of six people were in attendance including the City and the Industry.  Not a single person who currently lives in the neighborhood by the Cornerstone Drill Site where future gas wells are planned to be drilled near their fence lines was at this informational meeting.  

February 8, 2018 Neighborhood Gas Drilling Meeting

The man on the left is Kevin Strawser of Total, aka TEP Barnett USA, LLC.  He is their media guy who handles government and public affairs. The woman in yellow is Jessica Youngblood, the City of Arlington's Gas Drilling Coordinator.  The other woman is Roxanne Thalman, District 3 City Council woman who narrowly won the election by two votes, and the man on the right is Todd Harshman.  He no longer lives in the neighborhood which is targeted for more gas wells but he does still own his minerals on a tiny tract of land.

Both Total and the City claim that proper notification was given to the neighbors to inform them about the industry's plan to establish a drill zone at the Cornerstone Drill Site, but we found it odd when no one from the neighborhood showed up to this important meeting on February 8th or the previous one that was held on a Wednesday evening early in January.  So, the next day we canvassed the community to speak with people whose homes back up to that site.  Not a single person that we spoke with had any knowledge about any neighborhood gas drilling meetings, but one man we spoke with received this notice informing him of a City Council Public Hearing for February 27th about the gas wells. Unfortunately, by the time the operator goes before council to get approval for these gas wells, it is probably too late for the public to be able to influence the outcome of the vote since by that time, the zoning details would have already passed through Planning & Zoning and City Council  The gas wells are pretty much a done deal once the other steps are approved.   

It looks as though the neighbors have been cut out of the process.

Clearly, there is a lack of transparency when it comes to information about gas drilling inside Arlington neighborhoods. One woman we spoke with was under the impression that the drill site had shut down following the problems that had occurred when Chesapeake was conducting operations there. She shared the incident when gas spewed and the Fire Department had to be called in.  She also told us about the nosebleeds and ongoing health issues that she has struggled with since that drill site encroached upon her neighborhood. Other neighbors had concerns about the dying trees and strange rumbling noises which would wake them up in the middle of the night when that site was active. Others talked about their damaged foundations and cracks in their walls. But no one we spoke with seemed to know about any industry-led gas drilling informational meetings about the future plans for this site and how it would impact their lives. 

Cornerstone Church seems to know what's going on because they signed a waiver, or waivers, as they own three tracts on this lease.  We tried reaching out to them to see if they might consider rescinding their waiver, but they did not return our calls. *Update* While we still haven't been able to directly speak with the pastor, Darrell Sneed, a church leader, did contact us after this blog entry was published and stated that the church had entered into a relationship...years ago... He will communicate our message to the pastor. We hope to speak directly with Reverend McKissic while there is still time.

The hearing for this case to establish a drill zone was originally scheduled for January 30th and had been continued to February 13th. Now it has been continued again until February 27, 2018 at the request of the operator.

Apparently, these people were cut out of the process as well...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Oil and Gas Tests the Waters in Arlington, Texas

On January 17, 2018 Arlington's Planning and Zoning Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a new drill zone at the Cornerstone Drill Site 319 feet from a church, homes, and businesses in Southeast Arlington.  The gas drilling ordinance requires a a setback of 600 feet, which is in no way protective of public health and safety. The Oil and Gas operator that wants to drill three additional wells (four, actually, but who's counting?) is TEP Barnett USA, LLC, a subsidiary of Total whose headquarters are located in France, a country that has banned fracking. They have acquired Chesapeake's assets, and are the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world. They have come to finish what Chesapeake started ~ to suck up the remaining gas from beneath our homes and communities and make our lives a living hell once again.

This article and video by the Guardian is by far one of the best:  

In order to comply with the gas drilling ordinance, the operator is required to obtain waivers from 70% of the property owners who live within a 600 foot radius of the drill zone, which is the location from where multiple wells get drilled.  When P&Z approved this case, they only had 57% of the neighbors agree to a setback reductionCornerstone Baptist Church, located approximately 340 feet from the nearest producing well had more sway on this decision, as they own three tracts on this lease, and they signed a waiver.  We are praying that the church leaders who made this decision will change their minds and rescind these waivers, as there is still time to save our city from the build out of gas wells. Back in 2009 Chesapeake had slated this site for 21 wells. 

It was surprising to learn that this controversial case passed with flying colors through P&Z despite the fact that the operator hadn't even applied for the proper permit with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the regulatory agency that oversees oil and gas. The applicant for this case, Kevin Strawser, must have spent many, many hours working with city staff on this project.  He also indicated that he met with Councilwoman Thalman and also attempted to reach out to neighbors to invite them to a town hall.  Word has it, no one from the neighborhood came to his meeting.

So, why would the City not require the operator to produce a permit prior to this zoning process?  Tougher restrictions are placed on Arlington residents requiring them to obtain a permit to install a new toilet or build a fence.  Soon a permit will be required to hold a garage sale to sell gently used baby clothes and bric-a-brac. None of these activities have the ability to endanger public health or safety, yet gas wells can and do explode. Heavy industrial activity is harmful to human health and disruptive to the overall quality of life. Why is a huge international corporation not held to the same standards as the citizens who live here? 

Arlington is not a city where its citizens are represented by elected officials, but rather, a place which has been taken captive by corporate interests. To brand itself as an American Dream City is nothing but a misnomer.

City Council was scheduled to hear this case on January 30th, but District 3 Councilwoman Roxanne Thalman was sick with the flu.  This case will be continued on February 13th. 

Total is testing the waters.  The oil and gas industry are predators, but what they don't realize is that while sharks may be at the top of the food chain, humans have been known to eat shark. 

The devil is in the details, and there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from this public hearing which begins at the 51 minute mark.  We hope you will watch! Stay tuned for more...  
Click here to view this P&Z meeting. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is Old Ogle Ogling Political Power Again in Arlington District 3?

Arlington District 3 City Council Candidate Roxanne Thalman shown with Former District 3 Arlington, TX City Councilman Wayne Ogle

This controversial photograph of Arlington District 3 City Council Candidate Roxanne Thalman with former District 3 City Councilman (1995-2005) Wayne Ogle has ruffled quite a few feathers with voters in our District. The Fish Creek Neighborhood is situated in District 3 where Ms. Thalman currently seeks political office.  This duo has made appearances out in the community and on social media lately. In fact, she even did a little name dropping at the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum mentioning Wayne Ogle's name as though it would win this Girl Scouts Troop Leader some brownie points if people knew that she was connected to him.  

  But what has she done for District 3?

This young protegee is riding on the coattails of former Councilman Wayne Ogle who ran for office 22 years ago and doesn't even live in the district anymore!  Ogle lives in District 1, on the north side of I-30 ~ the opposite side of town.  In addition, nearly 99% of Ms. Thalman's financial support totaling $31,896 has come from outside the district.  If elected, who will she represent? 

She is an interloper.

Ms. Thalman lives on the fringe of District 3 where she enjoys a nice view of a park outside the front door of her town home.   Chances are she's never mowed a lawn or seen an active drilling rig.  The scenic views from our neighborhood include gas wells and sinkholes!  This woman has not been on the same journey as we haveMarvin Sutton, on the other hand, lives in the heart of the community and has attended town halls with frustrated neighbors whose quality of life has been seriously diminished because of gas drilling.  Will Roxanne fight for you? We doubt it.  
Now, according to voting records, Ms. Thalman voted in the last Republican Primary.  But not to worry ~ word has it that Wayne Ogle was also a Republican who presented himself to voters as Democratic back in 1995 in order to win his seat in District 3.  He was known as a flip-flop candidate, just like Ms. Thalman who was affiliated with the Democratic Party in Utah in 2007.  Wait. Utah!? Seems this Arlington sweetie lived in Utah and not Arlington her entire life as the campaign seems to frame it.         

We hope that the people who are screaming over social media to vote out the incumbents do not  vote for this candidate, because she is an interloper ~ bought and paid for by special interests ~ part of the good ol' boy network. 


 We recommend Marvin Sutton for a safer, smarter, greener Arlington.  He's built a rapport with the community over the years, and nearly 62% of his total campaign contributions totaling $7,025 have come from inside the district. He will represent constituents, not outside special interests.

Polls are open from 7 am - 7 pm.

Click HERE to find your voting location.

Next on Fish Creek Monitor... 

One year ago Arlington, Texas, also known as The American Dream City, became a Film Friendly Community, recognized by the Texas Film Commission. Numerous movies and television shows have been filmed here over the years including Prison Break, Super Nanny, Tin Cup, and JFK to name just a few. We would like to recommend filming another fracking documentary or maybe a new episode of Sister Wives. Wouldn't that be exciting!?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Will Roxanne put on the red light in District 3?

During the city council meeting on November 29, 2016 Rivera Rivera announced with tears in his eyes that he would not seek re-election.  A few hours later a young single mother came virtually out of nowhere to announce her plan to run for Arlington City Council District 3.  Her name is Roxanne Thalman.  People in our community had never heard of her, except for the buzz around town concerning a so-called skeleton in this woman's closet. 

Last week outside the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum a married couple stood quietly across the street protesting outside the Lions Club. They claimed that Ms. Thalman wrecked their lives. Their story is absolutely gut wrenching.

We will not speak to that incident at this time, but can show you the money because elected officials tend to represent those who support them financially. That's just Politics 101. To date, over 90% nearly 99% of Ms. Thalman's campaign contributions have come from outside District 3. Click Here for the link to the campaign finance reports.

We've highlighted one donor who piqued our curiosity. His name is Jagdip Patel, and he contributed $1001 on March 16th to the Roxanne Thalman campaign. According to TAD records, he owns a home in Southlake with a market value of $1,453,875.  These records also reveal that this individual owns substantial mineral interests with XTO in Arlington. This begs the question ~ whose side will Roxanne be on when the gas drilling ramps up again? It has been our experience that surface owners ie, people who live on top of the shale have no rights when it comes to protecting their homes and quality of life. Unfortunately, many people who own their minerals don't live here, which is why there has been such a loud outcry against oil and gas rules currently in place.  

According to Corporation Wiki, Mr. Patel has been associated with 25 companies over a 23-year period.  Records show that he is involved with the hotels industry which would probably connect him to the entertainment district of Arlington where a new one billion dollar stadium will be built on the taxpayers' dime. In light of this we especially need a candidate who's going to go to bat for residents who actually live on the southeast side where there are telltale signs of urban decay, increasing crime, and the sight of panhandlers who beg for money at major intersections.  

A generous portion of Ms. Thalman's money comes from the same individuals and groups that have been funding the incumbants.  So, while everyone continues to rant about voting out the incumbants, we have our chance to do so now before she gets elected.  Roxanne's campaign flyers claim that she will fight for us, but it's looking like her heart belongs to someone else.  Don't let her pretty little face and the powder blue signs around town fool you. She's bought and paid for ~ nothing but a rubber stamp.  

"Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light" are the lyrics to a hit song released in 1978 by a group called The Police.  This is a song about falling in love with a prostitute, and can be allegorically reminiscent of many political campaigns throughout history.  Let's hope we turn this ship around before it's too late.  

Early voting begins April 24th.  Election Day is May 6th. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Are Frac Ponds a Public Health Threat?

Chesapeake Energy Frac Pond located at the Fulson Drill Site 
Southeast Arlington, TX
Photograph taken by Fish Creek Monitor on 7-26-2016

Vector Disease Control International conducted round two of targeted ground spraying throughout Fish Creek neighborhood this week.  They applied the first round of a synthetic permethrin insecticidal product manufactured by Bayer the week of July 5th, but on July 22nd another mosquito tested positive for West Nile virus.

Looks like they missed the target.

A single bite from one of these tiny winged insects can produce devastating disease.  Because we noticed such a proliferation of mosquitoes since the installation of the frac pond in our community ~ and since mosquitoes have the ability to travel anywhere from 300 feet to 100 miles depending on the breed ~ we asked the City if they require gas operators to implement any sort of mosquito control program for their frac ponds.

We learned that the City of Arlington does require gas operators to treat their frac ponds with mosquito dunks, but verification of compliance is questionable at best.  There is really no way to confirm whether or not the mosquito pellets [sic] that Chesapeake applies to their pond are working to keep the mosquito population at bay. 

According to a Gas Well Specialist with the City of Arlington, this is how compliance works:  
"We (the City) go by their (Chesapeake's) word. They've been pretty honest about the things they do."
 So, how do we know if the pellets are actually working to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in these ponds?  We don't.  The City does not place mosquito traps on gas operators' private property.

Since it is possible that frac ponds might be contributing to mosquito-borne illness, why not require operators to fill them in with dirt?  Chesapeake hasn't drilled any new wells at the Fulson Site since 2012, so there is no need for a pond at this time.  This would be a legitimate request by citizens to ask of their council representatives. Why take the chance of even one person contracting the West Nile or Zika virus?  In the early days of mineral lease signing, landmen pitched the idea that frac ponds would be amenities to the community.  Now people know better.

 Ban the frac ponds.

Doing away with frac ponds in city limits could actually be a win-win for everyone.  It was done at Chesapeake's Rocking Horse Drill Site back in 2012.   Gas operators would still be able to access water for fracking through the installation of above-ground frac tanks/pools which can be easily taken down after completion of a gas well.  XTO, in fact, uses them on a regular basis. Ridding the city of these stagnant man-made reservoirs which waste acreage would not only free up land for future development, but would eliminate a potential breeding habitat for mosquitoes.  

In 2015 fossil fuel advocates influenced the Texas Legislature to pass HB40.  This bill essentially strips away local control from municipalities to regulate fracking with some exceptions such as truck traffic, noise, and setbacks to some degree as long as these restrictions are "commercially reasonable" for the operator.  However, this bill does not specifically address frac ponds.  Since operators could still gain access to an alternative water source, it would seem reasonable that Arlington, a home rule city, could be a role model for other nearby communities by shoring up its ordinance to address this potential public health threat of mosquito-borne illness.  

Our State's overreach of HB40 may have banned fracking bans, but it doesn't specifically prohibit the banning of  frac ponds. Because of the number of cases of  mosquito-borne illnesses in North Texas, this may be a subject worth thinking about.  

In case you missed Chesapeake's Big Boy, click here to meet him.