Trinity East Wants to Drill in the Floodplain

Ah, the Trinity River corridor, that swath of green that anchors urban Dallas to Mother Nature. How we cherish it.

Unless, that is, someone -- Mayor Mike Rawlings, for example -- wants to build a toll road through its heart ...

Or maybe dump a few hundred gallons of pig blood into the river ...

Oh, let's face it. Dallas has an Oedipal relationship with Mother Nature: We're just aching to screw her good.

Further evidence of that popped up Tuesday when the Texas Campaign for the Environment released a map, provided by City Hall, of where drilling company Trinity East hopes to poke a few holes in the earth, pump in a mystery stew of noxious chemicals and suck out natural gas. You guessed it: The land is almost entirely in the Trinity floodplain, either on or near existing parks or on land intended for possible park development.

Trinity East is one of three companies that have leased mineral rights from the city and are awaiting the City Council's decision on where they can drill. As things stand now, drilling isn't allowed in parks or the floodplain -- because it, you know, floods and washes stuff into the river -- though that could change.

If that happens, figure it's just a matter of time before fracking chemicals make their way into the river from spills, trees get chopped and soccer players start dropping like flies from fumes from drilling rigs. (Though that could make the sport more entertaining. Nearly anything would.)

The Texas Campaign is still waiting to see maps for the other two companies, but the Trinity East map shows that the company's leases chiefly lie on the east bank of the river, winding along floodplain from Royal Lane southeast toward downtown. Crown Park and the proposed Elm Fork Soccer Complex are included in the leases, says Zac Trahan, program director for the environmental group's DFW branch.

"Look at any map of the park system and you'll see this green ribbon" of potential parkland along the river, Trahan says. "Do we want to turn that ribbon into a waste of gas wells?" Trahan is relatively new to Dallas, so we spared him our cynical snort of laughter. Perhaps he hasn't yet learned that these aren't the sort of rhetorical questions one should ask around here when it comes to money vs. environment. (Sample question: "Do we really want to pave paradise and put up a parking lot at the arboretum?" Answer: "Well, not pave, per se, but thanks for the suggestion.")

Here's hoping he figures it out by Wednesday, May 16, when the city's Gas Drilling Task Force makes its final recommendations for drilling regulations. For the map of the future home of Rigs R Us, check out below.

Trintiy East Gas Drilling Press Release 5-8-12

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams