Citizens Voice Opinions on Gas Drilling in Denton
August 26, 2011 by Managing-Editor
Alex Macon / Senior Staff Writer
About 75 Denton residents attended a public meeting to voice their opinions and concerns about gas drilling in front of the newly formed Citizens Task Force for gas well regulations.
The group hosted the event at 6:30 p.m. yesterday at the Denton Civic Center. Issues at hand included increasing air quality monitoring, a prohibition on using city water for hydraulic fracturing, and raising the price on permits for gas drilling.
Critics of gas drilling often point to the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process where water pumped into drilled bores in reservoir rock formations is used to increase the extraction rate of natural gas. Possible environmental and health risks of fracking include the contamination of ground water and the pollution of air quality.
"I'm pushing for a complete ban or moratorium on all fracking. An end to fracking means an end to any gas drilling," said Ben Kessler, a philosophy senior and member of Rising Tide, a climate justice activist group.
Kessler said he was opposed to gas drilling in any way, shape or form and would fight it every step of the way.
Denton sits on top of the Barnett Shale, which holds one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the US. Natural gas and oil companies began drilling there in the late 1990s, and production has increased since then.
The input given at the meeting was crucial to the process of amending the city's regulations said Vicki Oppenheim, chair of the task force and an urban planner who has worked on numerous gas well-related environmental projects.
"If we can get everyone involved, in the end we'll have a resolution everyone can like," Oppenheim said.
The Barnett Shale is expected to be responsible for more than 108,000 jobs by 2015, and drilling there contributes $5 billion annually to the economy in Fort Worth, according to the Citizens United for the Barnett Shale website. The group advocates the benefits of gas drilling in North Texas.
Critics point out that much of this money would be lost due to the cleanup costs of toxic material associated with gas drilling.
Adam Briggle of the philosophy and religion faculty helped put together the Denton Stakeholder Advisory Drilling Advisory Group (DAG) to disperse information about urban gas drilling and to create a forum for civil discussion.
The DAG, which includes members who worked on similar groups advising gas well policy in Fort Worth and Flower Mound, hosted a public panel discussion on Aug. 22 at UNT.
Briggle said the group would try to work hand-in-hand with the city's official task force in advising the mayor and city council on gas well policy.
Briggle, who lives about a mile away from gas drilling at Rayzor Ranch, said it was important to "read the moral argument behind every issue."
Calvin Tillman is a member of the DAG and former mayor of Dish, a town described as the "Grand Central Station of the Barnett Shale."
Tillman described how the noise, smell and proximity of gas wells near his home took a toll on his family. His children often suffered from nosebleeds related to the gas drilling in Dish, he said.
"I am not against oil and gas drilling," Tillman said. "I am against poisoning my family."
Both the Citizens Task Force and the Denton Stakeholder Advisory Group plan to host several more meetings in the coming months before the city makes any further amendments to the existing gas well regulations.
To contact the Citizens Task Force on Gas Well Drilling, visit cityofdenton.com/gaswellinspections
To contact Adam Briggle about getting involved with the DAG, email firstname.lastname@example.org