Tonight Flower Mound Town Council passed drilling and pipeline ordinances (ordinance) that are surely the strongest in the Barnett Shale and likely the strongest in the nation.
The majority of the citizens who spoke were for passage of the ordinance. One citizen was against the ordinance until they brought in “experts” like the Texas Railroad Commission (cough). Other citizens expressed regret that Vapor Recovery Units (VRU) were not mandatory. I totally get it about the VRUs. VRUs are like the Talenti Gelato under the dark chocolate syrup under the cherry. People who live in the Gas Patch lust for them.
The tough thing about an ordinance is it’s not worth much if it won’t hold up in court when the Big Gas Mafia sues. So far, Flower Mound has successfully defended all lawsuits, foreign or domestic. Mandatory VRUs are one of those items that industry will fight hard against. I believe Tim Ruggiero hit on the reasoning in his speech at the TCEQ public hearing last Thursday. (BTW, where were you at that hearing?) Industry will fight VRUs because the cost is not returned for several months to a year or more. Tim’s theory is that industry knows these wells won’t last long enough to make the VRUs worth their time.
If Flower Mound residents truly want VRUs, people with health impacts–we know you’re out there–should come forward and let those impacts be documented the way they were in Flowback. Documentation of this kind is a huge factor in the success Dish has experienced in curtailing emissions. Simply put: there needs to be a basis.
The great thing about the Flower Mound ordinance is the part about emission standards that industry won’t be able to meet unless they install VRUs. That’s called skinning a cat from any angle. (No cats were harmed by the Flower Mound drilling ordinance.)
The weird moment of the night–weird moments are mandatory at council meetings–came when Kendra Stephenson objected to the ordinance because some “expert” that she knew was not consulted. No one seemed to know anything about this expert and Ms. Stephenson couldn’t or wouldn’t reveal his super secret identity. The city manager was questioned about notifications of an available “expert” but I guess he didn’t have the super secret decoder ring because he could find no correspondence about said “expert.” I swear! That’s how it went down from where I was sitting.
Stephenson answered “present” when they called her name for the vote. I think she might have meant abstain which can be registered as a protest vote. Anyway, what it all boils down to is a 4 to 1 vote to pass the most excellent drilling ordinance yet.
Everyone was on the same page about the ordinance being a living document that will require continual updating. Another neat thing about this ordinance is some updates occur automatically as Federal and State rules change.
The Flower Mound ordinance took a lot of hard work and dedication. I commend all the members of the Advisory Board.
Town of Flower Mound Draft Oil and Gas and Pipeline Ordinances
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Brown Bess says
Thanks for this report. Can you please provide a link to the ordinance when it goes up?
Mellany Lamb says
Thank you Sharon and Gary Hogan for coming to speak at the Flower Mound town council meeting to speak in support of the new oil and gas ordinance. And thank you for providing expert testimony to the various advisory board members. Couldn’t have been possible without you!
Liz Amason says
We are currently dealing with fracking in southwestern Idaho. Only exploratory wells have gone in and a conditional use permit for a compression/dehydration plant is being considered. Appreciate any info you can provide to help us keep this industry regulated.
Have a Facebook group devoted to this issue or you can read about it on my blog http://asklizfirst.com – Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/groups/156166501116713
Liz Amason recently posted..Have I Been Living In A Booble?
Eric Jellison says
Thank you Sharon and Gary for coming out. Gary may not remember this, but a small group of us sat around the phone for a few hours in late 2007. We listened to your first hand account of drilling in your area. Shortly after that call, and through the encouragement of a few key individuals, a truely grass-roots (the kind where you can taste the dirt in your mouth) movement in Flower Mound was born that brought together a diverse group of people from many political beliefs, who in any other setting, may have never spoken to each other. To all of those in Flower Mound, and from outside, thank you for your help.
Tammi Vajda says
I say what Eric and Mellany said!!! Seriously Sharon, thank you for all the support and help you gave during this journey. Like many people, It all begin with your reply to a desperate email I sent you long time ago. I can’t thank you enough for your time and most importantly your friendship.
Tad Ghost Hole says
I need to return to Flower Mound town council meetings since Jody Smith was vanquished last year. Back in January of 2010 I attended a meeting where in the back of the town hall Melissa Northern was schooling all interested parties about the Halliburton Loophole. Also I vaguely remember her explaining some shady conflicts of interest that Jody Smith and maybe the town’s lawyer had due to mineral rights leased to Williams. During a short respite in the proceedings Jody Smith hugged a former town council member. Mrs. Northern implied that the very same former town council member was now a lobbyist for Williams or something like that. What a night. Anyway, I’m glad to see that I did not wait in line, in sweltering heat, for nothing when I voted NFL. Keep up the good work!
Tim Ruggiero says
I applaud Mayor Northern and Council for their common sense reasoning and decision making. Vapor Recovery Units should be mandatory on every well. Industry claims they have ‘proven technology’ to drill right. While I have my doubts, this same Industry should be working on a cost effective system of eliminating fugitive emissions. If they did and produced it, then people like Ed Ireland wouldn’t have such difficulties with his mathematical equations, and the THOUSANDS of affected people like us on the Gas Patch would have at least one less serious issue to scream about.
America’s most failed CEO, Aubrey McClendon apparently has tens of millions to invest in starting a frack fluid company, but not one dime in controlling emissions.