Monday, August 20, 2007

Barnett Shale Buyer's Remorse?

Signs like the ones pictured above are a common sight around the Berkeley, Mistletoe Heights, Ryan Place and Fairmount neighborhoods of South Fort Worth where lots of residents are up in arms about proposed urban drilling for Barnett Shale gas deposits. For a good overview of their concern, I'll refer you to this FWWeekly story from March.

Now, before I go off on a ramble, I'll go ahead and disclose that my wife and I signed a drilling lease with the Four Sevens Company this past winter. We were a little skeptical at first, but after speaking to person with first-hand knowledge of the Barnett Shale drilling, we decided to sign. His advice: "They're going to drill anyway whether you sign or not, you might as well get the money." And so it went. A modern-day Jed Clampett, I went ahead and signed.

Call me a hypocrite if you will, but I'm struggling a little bit with this decision. I know what's done is done, but things I'm hearing are not making me feel that great about my decision to sign. It's not that I'm against drilling. That stuff is down there and it's coming out by God. If Fort Worth can make some money off of it that it can use to make this a more liveable, vibrant city, I'm all for it.

But if it means that Chesapeake, Four Sevens and other Barnett Shale drillers make billions, while the neighborhoods, homeowners and Average Joe just get the shaft, that I'm not OK with. I am not suggesting that anything untoward is going on, but when I found out that Four Sevens Partner Dick Lowe was one of the boosters at the center of the TCU football scandal back in the 1980s, it made me a little queasy to think we're depending on this guy to do the right thing by Fort Worth neighborhoods.

I'm not OK with shortcuts that will jeopardize the environment and the safety of our neighborhoods. I'm not OK with destroying the Trinity Trees. And I'm not OK with variances to the 600-foot minimum required by Fort Worth ordinance.

And that's just what I know, which ain't much. But I'm going on a little quest of sorts to find out more from people involved in what's going with urban drilling. I want to know more about the environmental impact, safety issues and long-term ramifications for Fort Worth. Where is the city's money going to go? I don't know the answers to these questions and maybe I'm a little late in asking. Maybe the horse is out of the barn. But I don't think we can just slide by on good intentions, or, at least I can't. I want to know what can be done so that this Barnett Shale drilling is done with safety and environmental sensitivity, and that the Fort gets the money it has coming and spends it wisely.


Pete said...

Ryan Place is having their monthly neighborhood meeting tonight at 7:00 at the Angel of Hope Church on Page Ave. Jenna and I will be going, and you're welcome to come as our guest. The topic is supposed to be an update from the neighborhood association committee that has joined with Berkeley, Mistletoe Heights, and Fairmount to negotiate better terms with the drillers.

jc said...

also tonight - the Gas Well Revenue Financial Managemenrt Strategy Ad Hoc Committee will unveil ther recommendations for the "Financial Management of Revenues Received from Gas Drilling" in the South Texas Room at Will Rogers Memorial Center. The meeting begins at 7 pm.

Citizen's may comment just prior to adjournment.

Steve-O said...

Thanks for the update guys. I'll try to drop by one of these meetings, but if you want to e-mail an update, please feel free.