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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Is it Game Over For Fracking in Arlington, TX?

3-6. That was the final score on June 9th when Arlington City Council denied TEP Barnett’s request to amend a specific use permit to establish a drill zone to sink three additional gas wells near Pioneer Parkway and State Highway 360. For the first time in over a decade the citizens prevailed against an oil and gas giant.  Public opinion about fracking has shifted significantly in recent years, and e-mails of opposition poured in to the city for this case. 

So, what caused council to suddenly do a 180?  Did they experience an epiphany? Were they punch drunk from taking repeated blows from citizens railing against these bad neighbors over the past decade? With the City of Arlington facing budgetary shortfalls during this time of COVID19, would they go out on an economic limb and risk an expensive law suit to openly defy HB40 ~ legislation which stripped municipalities of local control related to oil and gas activity? The short answer is no, and it is unlikely that this bill will be overturned any time soon due to the current political climate in Texas. Fixing the problem of gas drilling inside neighborhoods would require a workaround. Thankfully, Arlington citizens elected a Mayor skilled in the art of the deal. All bets are on that there will be new development coming soon which won’t include any new gas wells. Of course this is purely speculation. 

For now, enjoy a cold drink during this fracking intermission and stay with us until it is game over for the oil and gas industry in Arlington. 

If you missed the public hearing on June 9th, click here for that link. 

Dear Arlington, TX City Council

June 9, 2020

         Subject:  SUP09-21R1 (AC360 Drill Site) 2000 South Watson Road

Dear Mayor Williams and City Council Members, Dear Mayor Williams and City Council Members,

The oil and gas industry has had their knee on the necks of citizens and municipalities for too long.

We can’t breathe.

It is evident to all by now that allowing for corporate interests to explore and drill and frack for gas hundreds of feet from the fence lines where people live and children play was not only a terrible mistake but a dangerous one.  

In this particular case TEP Barnett wants a variance to an already insufficient setback of 600 feet. Approval would result in the release of tons of toxic emissions into the air we breath during a worldwide pandemic when COVID19 is attacking the respiratory systems of the weak and frail as well as the strong. Heavy industrial mining is incompatible with residential communities. We all know this, yet time after time again we witness council violating their own consciences due to a corrupted state legislature complicit with an industry that fuels their campaigns.

I implore you to come out from the shade of HB40.  This is not the time to put profits over people.  We need your help in taking the knee of oil and gas off our necks so we may live and breathe and peaceably enjoy our properties in a city which is governed in a manner which causes no harm to the most vulnerable in our community.

I pray you deny TEP Barnett’s request to establish a drill zone at the AC360 Drill Site.

Warmest regards,

 A Concerned Citizen  

2) There was a gas pipeline fire on April 18th which occurred two exits to the south of proposed drill zone. Note that this happened during the quarantine.  Had it been a normal Saturday, this intersection would have been gridlocked due to Traders Village traffic and there would have been casualties.  https://youtu.be2

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Arlington, Texas Government ~ Kremlin Style

2018 ushered in nearly six months of testimony and public hearings for a controversial drill zone and four additional gas wells at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. Because it was an election season, Arlington City Council strung the citizens along giving them false hope. On June 19th the decision was finalized.  Council gave Total ~ the 4th largest oil and gas company in the world, and based in France where fracking is banned ~ the green light to conduct fracking operations on church property next to and under Cravens Park and inside a residential neighborhood. 

What made this particular case high profile was a playground situated around 300 feet, a stone's throw, from the drill zone.  There was strong opposition to this case, and a high turnout of citizens from the community appeared and re-appeared at city hall during these months citing a myriad of arguments against gas drilling from the adverse health impacts, non-compatibility to residential zoning, to Total being ranked a bad player by industry standards.  

On February 13, 2018 Sharon Wilson from Earthworks brought a poster-sized image to the podium (courtesy Liveable Arlington) juxtaposing the dangerously close proximity of this playground to the drill site along with a gas mask, and when she presented these props to council, it looked as though the blood rushed out of the councilwomen's faces. It appeared as though they had seen a ghost.  Citizens hoped they may have pivoted on this issue.  

On February 27, 2018 Arlington City Council denied Total's request for a drill zone by a vote of 6-2. Total doesn't take no for an answer, so they moved the drill zone 15 or 20 feet and re-applied. Note how the May 5th municipal election had not taken place yet.  

In Mayor Williams absence with Councilwoman Capehart presiding over the meeting, the drill zone was approved the evening of May 22, 2018 with these three amendments:

1)  Sound walls for workover rigs.
2)  Electric Drill (sic)
3)  The playground be moved "expeditiously." (Scroll ahead to 3:37 mark to hear Councilwoman Victoria Farrar Myers ask for this assurance.)

A cacophony accompanied 80 citizens as they filed out of the chamber chanting, "Vote them out!  Vote them out!"

Also in Mayor Williams absence with Councilwoman Capehart presiding over the meeting, four gas wells received city council's blessing on June 19, 2018. It was universally understood by the city, the industry, the church, and the public that the playground was to be moved prior to the commencement of drilling operations.  Nearly one month had passed providing adequate time to move that equipment. Then sometime around the 4th of July holiday, a rig moves in, but the playground remained in the same location.  This display of insolence by Total and the church completely undermined the authority of our municipal government, disrespected citizens, and set a precedent for Total to break any and all rules going forward. Get ready for a fracking free-for-all.

Photograph Courtesy Fish Creek Monitor 

The City of Arlington did not assess any penalties against Total for this willful disregard of the amendment stipulating that the playground had to be moved.  Now if that wasn't egregious enough, click here and scroll ahead approximately 1:12 into the June 19, 2018 public hearing.  Notice how there are 20 seconds or so of silence between Kevin Strawser's rebuttal and the moment when the council votes. Everyone familiar with this case clearly remembers the ongoing discussion about the moving of that playground.  Now, Poof...!

Disappearing Dialogue, Kremlin Style.

During the July 16, 2018 Russia-United States Summit in Helsinki, a Reuters reporter named Jeff Mason asked President Putin, "Did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?" Putin replied, "Yes, I did.  I did.  Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."  

Curiously, the White House transcript dropped the first half of that two-part question, "Did you want President Trump to win the election?" and the Russian transcript skillfully cut out the entire exchange. Those with an interest in world politics may Click Here to watch the full video where Rachel Maddow discusses the Helsinki Summit and the disappearing transcript. 

So, you decide.  Were those moments of silence just prior to the Arlington, Texas City Council vote on June 19th to approve four controversial gas wells the result of a technical glitch in the new chamber's audio equipment, or was this dialogue - most likely discussing specific amendments related to this case - deliberately scrubbed from the record?  

We just pray for the sake of the children that Total moves the playground expeditiously.  Merriam Webster defines the word expeditious as:  marked by or acting with prompt efficiency.

Until next time, stay safe out there. We are living in dangerous political times.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Gas Wells are Good For You

Gas Wells are good for you.  In fact, if you are not fortunate enough to have gas wells in your backyard, you are missing out on all the positive health benefits this heavy industrial activity has to offer. If you think this is satire, it is not.  This information comes straight from a City of Arlington resolution dated June 19, 2018 recommending that  Total E&P Barnett, USA, LLC  drill four additional gas wells at the Cornerstone drill site in southeast Arlington, Texas. The resolution states, 
"...The City Council has determined that it is in the best interest of the public and in support of the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens that the gas well permits be issued." 
To read the resolution in its entirety, go to this link:

Remember to take your daily dose of fracking! 
It's so good for you!

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...