As Patrick mentioned yesterday, the city council will at long last debate that gas-drilling task force Angela Hunt pitched only after Dave Neumann promised but failed to deliver his own proposal. In advance of The Big Day, several groups -- Downwinders at Risk, Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling, You Can't Live in the Woods and even the local chapter of the NAACP -- announced moments ago that they've joined forces to create a single voice in opposition to the city's natural gas policies, including not only drilling on city-owned property but also the ordinance that allows CNG-powered cabs front-of-the-line privileges at Love Field Airport.
Says Jim Schermbeck, filmmaker and director of Downwinders at Risk, "This is a clarion call for Dallas to update its policies on gas across the board. The Dallas CNG-only cuing policy is not a clean air initiative. It's was a please-give-money-to-my-Senate-Campaign initiative by former Mayor Leppert. And the current gas drilling ordinance offers no protection to residents or public resources. Both need to be overhauled from top to bottom, and we hope that process begins today."
The full announcement follows. The groups will also hold a press conference tomorrow morning at 8:30, before council convenes. Incidentally, on her website last night Hunt wrote a little more about the proposed task force, concluding: "This is a critical first step in ensuring Dallas citizens and our environment are protected from any risks posed by the gas drilling process and I am hopeful that my colleagues will support this effort."
Concerned Residents, Environmental Groups, and Cab Drivers Join Forces to Call for Responsible Natural Gas Policies.
As the City of Dallas unveils its plans to move forward with 13 gas drilling SUPs within City limits, a new coalition cries foul.
Today we are formally announcing a partnership between Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling (DARRD), Downwinders at Risk (DAR), and Dallas chapter of the NAACP. "This is a clarion call for Dallas to update its policies on gas across the board", said Jim Schermbeck, Director of DFW clean air group Downwinders at Risk. "The Dallas CNG-only cuing policy is not a clean air initiative. It's was a please-give-money-to-my-Senate-Campaign initiative by former Mayor Leppert. And the current gas drilling ordinance offers no protection to residents or public resources. Both need to be overhauled from top to bottom, and we hope that process begins today"
Cherelle Blazer, a local atmospheric chemist and founder of You Can't Live in The Woods (YCLW) says, "This partnership makes perfect sense because environmental justice issues ARE social justice issues." And the timing of this announcement is no accident - "I was stunned to see the City's disclosure of 5 SUPs already approved and another 8 pending. Just a few months ago the city assured us it would not move forward on gas drilling before studying the issue completely", says Mrs. Blazer. "Today while the City Council is being updated on the state of gas drilling, we want to voice our common concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in this process thus far."
Raymond Crawford of DARRD maintains that while his group supports the efforts of city council members Hunt and Neumann in their statement requesting that the city creates a task force in an open and transparent manner, they also hope that this process will better educate all involved about the exploration of this fossil fuel.
Dr Juanita Wallace, president of the Dallas NAACP says, "Compressed natural gas (CNG) spells disaster for the users, the drilling soil, water, and environment. To force CNG on any one is to kill that person with a painful slow death unless there is an explosion. Why CNG? This is an unreasonable special interest policy pushed through Dallas City Council by lobbyist for yellow cab and the natural gas industry." The NAACP is currently representing hundreds of Dallas cab drivers who serve the thousands of people flying in and out of Dallas Love Field. Currently, these cab drivers, who do not own or drive a CNG vehicle, are losing cab fares due to the discriminatory city policy that requires them to be at the back of the line for the cab queues at Dallas Love Field.
Mr. Crawford cautions, "We all pay the high price of dirty air, dirty water, a dirty environment, and lower property values. No one wants to live in a city that does not protect its own citizens and no new business is going to want to move their business and employees here under these conditions. At one point, everyone living in Dallas will have to pay the price for shale gas drilling in Dallas. We need to find out how high of a price that will be. It is important that we all remember we breathe the same air and drink the same water."