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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.