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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...

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