Don't Frack Me, Bro: A Look at Arlington's Gas Drilling Fight in the Shadow of Jerryworld
While we await the Dallas City Council's decision concerning XTO's permit application to gas-drill within the city limits, we look just a little westward -- toward Arlington, where, tomorrow, the council there will vote on a permit to allow drilling on city property not too terribly far from Cowboys Stadium. Change.org has been documenting activist, mother and Arlington resident Kim Feil's long-running battle with city officials over Chesapeake Energy's application to sink wells in a low-income area but a few thousand feet from Jerryworld. Some 2,000 people have signed her petition ("Say No to Natural Gas Drilling Near Dallas Cowboy Stadium") since it was posted several weeks ago.
Today, hours before the vote, Change.org's Jess Leber catches up with Feil, who has made hounding the council and educating residents her full-time job:
[Feil] reports that she has a fair amount of success convincing landowners within 600-feet of the proposed site to reject the project. (Chesapeake Energy is required to get 60 percent of these landowners' support). The owners of a low-income housing unit, she says, have tried to give back their enticement check a few weeks ago, which they originally accepted a few years back before they fully understood the risks this project posed to their employees and residents. She has also spoken, through a translator, with the parishioners of a nearby Latino church, who, according to her, had signed a waiver for the project years ago without having much any idea what they were signing.
In a phone conversation last week, Feil also told me how she recently traveled to a public meeting of the Texas Railroad Commission, the oil and gas regulators who have let drilling run rampant in the state. As two commissioners left the building, she stuck her gas masked-dummy "Ben Zene" ... eye to eye with both of them. "It just felt good to be able to create that memory and have those men know that I'm not afraid to show them a gas mask and pull some sort of activism stunt like that," she said. (The Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Ordinances named her the hero of May 2010, calling her one of the "gutsiest" activists around.)
Update: As I was posting this, the Startlegram was posting an interview with Arlington city council member Mel LeBlanc, who said, probably not in a Bugs Bunny voice, that he will not be swayed by the thousands of petitions Feil's managed to land in his in-box: "LeBlanc said he does not believe the proposed drill site would endanger the stadium, which is owned by the city and leased by the Dallas Cowboys, or the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the stadium for tours or events."
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