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 reduction. Cornerstone 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.