Monday, October 01, 2007

District 9 Candidates on Drilling

Anthony Spangler was kind enough to cloud the District 9 race with facts in this morning's Startlegram. Specifically, the candidates in their own words on gas drilling. I'll have more thoughts on this later, but for now, I give you the position of my candidate -- Bernie Scheffler:

Bernie Scheffler, 28, a bicycle shop owner, rents a home in Fairmount. He does not own the mineral rights. Even before the race began, Scheffler embraced a Fort Worth movement that opposes urban gas drilling. He is not against rural or open space drilling.

"I'm against drilling in the dense, more urban core of the city because it's just an inappropriate land use. We've seen various kinds of accidents related to gas drilling. If we're looking at putting them inside the city limits, we've got to find ways to mitigate, or for the wells already in place, to protect the neighborhoods around them so people are protected.

"The ordinance minimum distance ought to be increased quite a bit. I think 600 feet is too close. The Wise County explosion of the fracking water broke windows 1,200 feet away. The current minimum distance here is half of that.

"As for the fracking water, I don't like the idea of injection wells. The best solution for everybody, except for the drilling companies, is to recycle the water and make it reusable. Some well-organized neighborhoods negotiate good deals for themselves but push the problems into poorer or less-organized neighborhoods. City Hall should be more of an advocate for some of these folks."


Don Young said...

After reading the Star Telegram report, District 9 Council Hopefuls Speak Out On Drilling, it is clear that Bernie Scheffler is the only candidate I would support. Most of the responses were a lot of dancing and dodging with little substance. Their responses were mostly vague, misinformed or non-answers. It's clear that the candidates need to do a lot more homework on THE issue of our time. Here's my personal scorecard:

Mark Pederson-He says he's for it as long as it's safe. Says it's good but needs regulation. Has few concerns about safety. He asks, "When was the last time a well actually blew?" How soon we forget. There was a blowout in Forest Hill in 2006 that killed a worker; A man killed at a Hood County well on 3/07; Ruptered pipeline, 3/14; Major explosion and fire, 4/23; Flareup, 6/16. I could go on. More importantly, there have been scores of less serious "incidents" resulting in deaths, evacuations, explosions and flaring. As for better regulation, that's a pipedream for the foreseeable future. Our best hope is a much tougher local ordinance.

Juan Rangel-I like Juan's call for a moratorium but he lost me when he admitted that he's considering signing a lease. You either sell out your neighborhood or you don't. You can't have it both ways. It's hard to have strong convictions when your getting, "Mailbox Money."

Chris Turner-Chris needs to study more. Sound limitations ranks near the bottom of neighborhood concerns. His suggestion for piping the toxic frac water out of the neighborhood is a bit unrealistic. HIs idea of moving production infrastructure to industrial zones falls short of moving the gas rigs there, too, where they belong.

Jim Beckman-Jim tries too hard to please everyone which pleases no one. He also projetcs a resigned attitude that is a big part of the problem. Such apathy (he may call it realism), whether real or contrived sends the wrong message to a community that clearly has the will to do more than just "tweak" the ordinance.

Joel Burns- Joel scrores points for stating that the current ordinance falls short. He's also considering leasing his minerals. Mixed messages not only confuse people they indicate confused principles. As a realtor, he should know that all it takes is one major "incident" to drive up homeowners insurance and drive down marketability.

Bernie Scheffler- Bernie "got it" early on. As he diplomatically put it, Urban gas drilling "is just an inappropriate land use." That says it all, right there. The youngest candidate is also the most wise.

Summary: Most troubling is that not one of the candidates called for an Environmental Impact Study, a baseline study of what all the drilling is doing to mour air and water quality, yet they all profess concern for their neighborhoods.

Additionally, I don't get a sense of urgency from them, as citizens, to use their influence to demand action, NOW, before the elction. Where is the outrage of what's happening in their communities? The drillers are moving at warp speed to get permits and wells in, before we wake up. Check this out:

I recently attended one of those public sales meetings at a local church where gas drillers urge folks to, "sign up today and start getting your "Mailbox Money." When I asked one of the landmen, just how many wells were going in the neighborhood, he said with a wink and a cryptic smile, "We're just getting started."


Steve-O said...

Thanks for your comment, Don. I believe that Bernie is the kind of person we need on the City Council right now. I hope the majority of voters in District 9 are as insightful as you are.