The city of Dallas has a bit of an issue with gas, one that anti-drilling activists call potentially silent but deadly and hydraulic fracturing proponents call a huge economic relief for the city -- one that would provide an whopping amount of energy. The issue seemed to briefly and temporarily subside in the past few weeks as the city's drilling task force has completed its list of recommendations for an updated drilling ordinance. City Council will get a briefing -- likely for sometime next month -- in advance of their discussion and vote on the ordinance revisions. But citizen activists aren't relishing in the quiet.
Instead, they've planned a community event for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Center for Community Cooperation at 2900 Live Oak St., for which they've rallied council member Scott Griggs, task force members and other experts disillusioned with drilling. They'll discuss why they think the final ordinance should be more restrictive than the task force's recommendations. Jim Schermbeck of Downwinders at Risk, one of the event's organizers says the purpose is to raise awareness about drilling in Dallas and unite people with similar concerns.
"The task force chapter came to an end. You kind of have to re-gear up," Schermbeck says. "This is the beginning of a very public campaign that we'll be in the middle of until we get passage of some kind of ordinance."
Unfair Park caught up with Griggs, who hinted at his feelings on the issue, but left the rest for Tuesday's event and for after the council briefing on the issue.
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"I think it will be a good starting place for staff and the City Council to begin the work on fine-tuning the ordinance," Griggs says of the task force's recommendations. "Certainly, we would fine tune the rules so that they protect the lives and the quality of life of our residents and people that live in our communities."
As for specific changes he would like to see in the ordinance, Griggs prefers to wait until after the council briefing. "It's still early," he says. But set-back distance from the drill site to residences and other uses is consistently the hot-button issue. "Proximity is always going to be a big issue," Griggs says. "And we've seen other cities show that having set-backs beyond 1,000 feet are workable ... so certainly moving in that direction or beyond makes a lot of sense." On this point, some of his colleagues are sure to disagree.
"Above all," he says, "we need to make sure that people's lives and the environment are safe and protected." As for what that looks like in the form of an ordinance, we'll have to wait and see.