City's Ready to Alter Terms of Lease Agreement With XTO at Oak Cliff Gas Drilling Site

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Patrick Michels, our go-to guy on all things having to do with XTO's efforts to drill for oil and gas at Hensley Field, is presently occupied, and so, once more, it falls to me to point out what some Friends of Unfair Park have mentioned in the comments below: On Wednesday, before the council's budget briefing, it will once more take up XTO's lease agreements for the land in Oak Cliff. The amendments (found beginning on Page 11) have nothing to do with XTO's thus-far turned-down requests for specific use permits to drill, baby, drill, and instead deal with extending the terms of the lease and altering some details found in the small print.

Says the amendment, forged by City Attorney Tom Perkins and XTO reps, the city is willing to extend the lease 30 more months -- which gives the city time enough to wait, per council member Dave Neumann and Angela Hunt's requests, for studies related to the environmental impact of fracking. The amendment also trims out some potential sites available to XTO near the abandoned airfield -- though, truth is, some folks at City Hall believe XTO agreed to that provision because they weren't terribly promising spots to begin with.

The new deal also says that at least one week before it submits an application for an SUP, XTO "will provide an accurate inventory of chemicals to be injected into the well bore for the purpose of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, or related well bore activities," echoing demands that some members of Congress sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior only last week. Drillers don't release the list of chemicals, because they don't have to. But XTO had already told the council it would provide the menu ahead of time.

City Hall's shut down today, of course, so there's no one we can ask about how this deal was struck. Questions remain, chief among them: Are these amendments the result of Mayor Tom Leppert's meeting with XTO and Exxon officials last week? (Word is: They are not ... at least, not for the most part.) And does this new deal, if it's approved by council, mean XTO's willing to give the city time to step back and study before it follows through with a lawsuit over the money the city took for the leases back in '08?

I asked Hunt for comment, but she's withholding a public statement till city staff answers her questions. Patrick's following up with another item tomorrow, and keep in mind there will be a public hearing about XTO's SUPs on Wednesday as well. Patrick will liveblog that, lucky feller.

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