This Fracking Map: Activists Plot More Than 100 Drilling Leases on City-Owned Property

The densest corner. The map in its entirety is at the end of the post.
The densest corner. The map in its entirety is at the end of the post.

This afternoon, Dallas Residents at Risk, a coalition of of anti-fracking activists, will unveiling their map featuring what they say are more than 100 drilling leases on city-owned land totaling some 1,400 acres. The colorful visual shows that the extent of gas drilling leases in Dallas goes well beyond the eight with pending zoning cases, including five on private property and three on city property -- so far the only locations that have been directly addressed by the city's gas drilling task force, which began the process of updating the city's drilling ordinance in June.

The activist group -- which includes representatives from Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling, Dallas Sierra Club, Downwiders at Risk, Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Mountain Creek Neighborhood Alliance and Texas Campaign for the Environment -- will put their map on display in about 30 minutes in the Flag Room at City Hall, shortly before the start of what's scheduled to be the task force's penultimate meeting.

The citizens plotted the map based on information received in response to an open records request filed with the city. "I was surprised," says Ed Meyer, who worked on compiling the data for months. "I had no idea how many there were and where they were located."

The group will also address the five protections they believe are most important, which, if you'll recall, are:

1) Minimum 3,000 foot setback to protect Dallas homeowners and residents where they live, work, worship and play. 2) Full disclose of all chemicals used for Dallas's first responders, no "trade secrets" that could endanger police, fire and medical professionals. 3) Disallow exporting water for drilling operations outside Dallas, and charge gas companies more for the hundreds of millions of gallons of water they permanently contaminate. 4) Require companies to off-set their climate change gas emissions so drilling will not cripple the Dallas Climate Protection Plan. 5) Establish an industry-funded office of gas drilling oversight to respond to any drilling problems that might arise.

Task force member Cherelle Blazer tells Unfair Park this afternoon the map shows that despite assertions that drilling would only affect locations in the far western portion of the city, drilling can potentially affect a far wider swath of the city -- and the city's updated ordinance will, in turn, affect dozens of current leases. "Definitely whatever recommendations we come up with will affect those leases," she says. "The set-back might make it so that you can't drill at each individual lease point."

It could also mean a windfall of lawsuits against the city for leasing land for the purpose of fracking, then tightening rules to prohibit the practice.

Unfair Park called David Cossum, assistant director of Sustainable Development and Construction, for further information on how much skin the city has in the drilling game; we'll update accordingly.

"[Drilling] could be a very big production in Dallas," Blazer says. And the map of leases on city-owned land, "that's only the tip of the iceberg," she says. That doesn't account for the private leases, which are more difficult to track.

Blazer will also speak at the press conference before today's task force meeting. "I really feel like the residents should have more of a say as to what's going on. I feel for some of them who know there's going to be a site right next to their neighborhood. They shouldn't be shut out of the process," she says.

After the press conference, the task force will address a list of about 20 items that they've individually decided they would like to revisit. Expect set-back distances to fill most of the afternoon.Gas Leases in Dallas

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