Liveblogging City Council's Look at Gas Drilling Task Force. Or: The Return of Lois Finkelman!
Welcome back to City Hall, where the council's settling back into their seats in the briefing room after a much-needed break for lunch.
Word was that the council was going to treat us to its gas drilling update in the morning -- but after taking an extra-long executive session to work out just who'll get to say what, it was time for lunch.
It's already been the topic of conversation in the public comment period, where gas drilling activist Raymond Crawford showed off his five-foot Barnett Shale map dotted with all the gas drilling operations from here to Fort Worth, as of last Thursday, he said.
Ed Meyer, another activist who lives near one of XTO Energy's proposed drilling sites on city land, urged the council to not only create its own task force to study gas drilling, but to give industry fewer places at the table. As it's proposed right now, he said, "This task force leaves a lot more room for industry and a lot less room for residents."
Theresa O'Donnell just kicked things off here, promising a tag-team walk-through of the latest council briefing, and she knows just how to grab this council's attention -- edu-tainment video! Jump for a play-by-play.
O'Donnell says she spent a while trying to find a video clip that wouldn't be too biased one way or the other, and settled on a clip from Tarrant County that's pretty close to even, if "a little pro-industry."
It starts off with a peppy synth soundtrack, and voiceover suggesting that "You may have noticed" a whole bunch of new industry popping up around Fort Worth. It's drillers! They've gone a-frackin' for gas down in the shale! It suffers from a serious lack of cartoon mascots, which might not sit well with this council, but there are some serious talking heads in suits and plenty of dudes in hard hats in front of fun equipment.
The 10-minute video is full of language about the great economic benefits drilling will bring Fort Worth, and the minimal risk of environmental impact. It's a good thing they got everyone together to watch this thing in the same room, and pass meaningful looks across the horseshoe while the music plays. Anyway, you might've already done some reading for yourself about gas drilling, but you can still take a minute, check a little of the latest news, and you'll be up to speed for the rest of the conversation.
O'Donnell's outlining each of the three options the city's proposed for the council -- to form a task force, hire an outside consultant or simply sit back and watch what everyone else does. Generally, though, she doesn't sound too keen on blowing money on an expensive new study. "There's lot of good work going on in the region, there's no reason to duplicate that work," she says.
With that, she's turned it over to the council and here we go with the round of back-slappin' and thanks, first for Angela Hunt, then "most of all," for Dave Neumann, and for Linda Koop. "There's nothing wrong with review. There's nothing wrong with research," Caraway says, with the stunning admission that he's not a gas drilling expert himself.
He says the task force is a done deal, with four-term council woman Lois Finkleman set to chair the new city gas drilling task force. He also says there'll be an ad hoc committee on the council -- to pick task force members, sounds like -- and it'll be run by the brightest scientific minds the council has to offer: chaired by Linda Koop, with Dave Neumann as vice-chair and ... Carolyn Davis on board as well. Other council members cough Angela Hunt cough are free to pile on too, if they like, Caraway says. "At the end of the day, we want to do what is best, what is right and most of all what is safe for the City of Dallas," he says.
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