Back on October 21, you'll recall that the City Plan Commission narrowly voted to deny XTO Energy's application to set up gas drilling along Mountain Creek Lake. The City Council's likely to have their final say sometime next month, but in the meantime, XTO's gearing up for yet another day before the Plan Commission, a week from today, when they'll make their pitch for a second drill site.
Before they do that, though, XTO representatives are going to sit down with a two-man subcommittee -- Plan Commissioners Bill Peterson and Mike Anglin -- to see if, this time around, they can't smooth out their differences in advance.
Peterson was there for Tuesday's announcement about plans to reboot Lower Greenville, and mentioned afterward that Plan Commission chair Joe Alcantar had asked him to join Anglin "to explore ways XTO might satisfy the commission."
XTO's latest proposed site, at the intersection of Camp Wisdom and Belt Line Roads, isn't far from its first application site at Hensley Field; it's farther from the city center than other drill sites leased from the city two years ago -- including Love Field and L.B. Houston Golf Course in North Dallas.
Anglin -- a Dave Neumann appointee whose district includes the drill sites -- proposed an amendment to XTO's first Specific Use Permit that would have added extra environmental safeguards. Much of the anti-drilling crowd complained his extra controls didn't amount to much extra protection, while he complained about all the concerned letters and emails he'd gotten that he said were more about opinion than fact.
XTO representatives told the commission they'd done everything the city had asked of them, but Peterson said there were plenty of concerns they hadn't addressed. It's anyone's guess what would happen if time runs out on XTO's three-year lease before the city approves any of its drilling proposals. A company spokesman told Unfair Park it's too soon to speculate about whether or not they'd sue.
The U.T. Southwestern professor of biochemistry said that he wanted to see specific safeguards put in place -- to capture leaking gases and properly handle fracking fluid -- but that he wasn't against gas drilling in principle. "I'm concerned about, do you have a leak there, where are you going to bury the stuff, and whether or not that really works," Peterson said, but that he hadn't been impressed by XTO's answers last month. In the next week, he said he and Anglin would sit down with XTO to explain what they want to see in their next presentation. "A good presentation is, you don't come in and say, 'Trust us, we're huge,'" Peterson said.