Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hanging Together or Hanging Separately

After a confusing day filled with conflicting reports, it appears that the Berkeley Neighborhood Association announced that they've gotten Fort Worth Energy (with drilling partner XTO) to agree to their conditions for a lease. One of the conditions is that they wouldn't use the 8th Avenue drilling site.

Here's the rub. That means the site moves north, probably near Mistletoe Heights. Yulp. They also mentioned a site east of Hemphill, but I think that's too far away to reach Berkeley minerals.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it looks like the Berkeley Task Force threw Mistletoe Heights under the bus. If true, that is a disturbing development, because what Fort Worth will end up with is NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) gone amok. Everyone wants their mailbox money, but no one wants a drilling site or pipeline near them.

This is the downside to the lack of leadership from the City on this issue. As Wendy Davis tried to explain at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, we need to go back and revisit the urban gas drilling ordinance. As it stands right now, neighborhoods are free to cut their own deals. But if your Neighborhood Association cuts a deal that results in a well being stuck in some other neighborhood, how do you know some other Neighborhood Association won't do the same thing to you down the line? There will be winners and there will be losers. Your neighborhood may be a winner today and a loser tomorrow. But count on this, the gas drilling companies will never be the losers.

Fort Worth, this is larger than a neighborhood issue, this is a city issue. The gas drilling companies are employing a divide and conquer strategy. They will pit East Side vs. West Side and Berkeley vs. Mistletoe Heights. Don't fall for this. We need to stick together. And we need leadership from the city.

Here is what I propose:

  • Don't Sign: Drilling companies need 80 percent of a neighborhood to move forward. Don't sign with anyone and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

  • Contact Your Neighborhood Association: Tell them how you feel on this issue and encourage them to work with other associations to act together. Contact FW Can Do.

  • Force The City To Act: When Wendy Davis explained the need to revisit the gas ordinance, Mayor Moncrief slapped her down. The Mayor is wrong on this issue. Now it is time for citizens to make their voice heard. There is already talk of a petition to force the City Council to revisit the gas ordinance. I am throwing my support behind that idea and I'll bring you more details on this issue as they become available. It is time the citizens demand leadership on this issue.

    Anonymous said...

    Rolaids and the River

    Juan Rangel, the maverick Fort Worth schools trustee who gave former school superintendent Tom Tocco heartburn and helped usher him out the door in disgrace, has set his sights on higher (or at least, higher-profile) office. Rangel is joining the growing list of candidates — six so far — vying for the District 9 Fort Worth City Council seat being vacated by Wendy Davis. And he’s launched his campaign with an issue designed to make Mayor Mike Moncrief and his gas buddies reach for their Rolaids.

    Rangel, a school board member since 2000, wants to impose a six-month moratorium on urban gas drilling, especially on wells within 1,000 feet of the Trinity River. During the moratorium, he said, the city needs to hire a group of independent experts to study the short- and long-range impacts of drilling in the inner city and then “rewrite our ordinances to protect our neighborhoods.”

    “The Barnett Shale has been here for thousands of years. It’s not going anywhere. ... It’s more important to get this done right than to get it done quickly,” he told supporters who gathered in the rain Monday. They were listening and dripping at the site along the banks of the Trinity near University Drive, where Chesapeake Energy plans to clear-cut more than two acres of the eight acres of old-growth trees for a well site. The land, in an area long used by bikers and hikers, is privately owned and industrially zoned, but Chesapeake’s proposal has nonetheless drawn more vehement and organized criticism than possibly anything else a gas company has done locally since the boom started.

    Along with the moratorium, Rangel wants to reconstitute the city’s gas well task force and add two at-large representatives, one to represent the neighborhoods and one to represent the environment. Rangel’s proposals have the support of Davis, who called the moratorium a “reasonable request” and said she is working with the city staff to draft a new gas drilling ordinance with community input, to address many of the concerns now being raised by central-city dwellers. “Reconstituting the task force is necessary along with more community involvement,” she said. “This is new to all of us — we’re learning as we go.”

    Earlier in the week, Rangel told Static that he’s not against drilling per se. “I know it can be a windfall for governments and that it’s creating jobs. I’m just against this rush when we don’t know what the consequences are going to be. ... Why are we in a hurry? When we get in a hurry, we make mistakes.”

    Steve-O said...

    I saw this in the FWWeekly and I was a little surprised that there was no mention of Bernie. To this point, he has been the most outspoken critic on gas drilling.

    That said, I'm glad that Juan is on the right side of this fight. I'm a little concerned that a moratorium doesn't take the issue far enough. And I'm not sure where the votes on the council would come from.

    I'm thinking a ballot initiative may be the only way to force this issue.

    Thanks for your comment.