Yesterday the City of Denton validated the signatures on the fracking ban petition. Now the initiative will go to the city council and they have 60 days to hold a public hearing where they will, most likely and again, ignore the will of the people and deny the ordinance which means, unless the city pulls some other shenanigans, it should be on the ballot in November.
What was the City of Denton doing while Frack Free Denton was working hard to gather signatures on the petition that, when passed, will protect the public?
They weakened the noise ordinance.
Although they claim the noise ordinance is stronger, it’s actually much weaker but comes with some vague promises from the city.
They passed a moratorium on new drilling permits.
The purpose of the moratorium as stated by Councilman Dalton Gregory:
However, the city can’t do anything about the 30% of Denton’s available land that was permitted by the fire department for an unlimited number of wells into perpetuity.
Some of Gregory’s ideas on improving the ordinance where listed in another article.
“I’d also like to see consideration given to encourage the clustering of gas wells in order to open up land use for the future development in the city.”
Oh, do you mean clustering the gas wells to create environmental justice areas? But you can’t cluster the wells on the 30% of Denton’s available acreage that is already platted and permitted by the fire department for an unlimited number of wells in perpetuity because operators can do anything they damn well please on those vested sites.
I also think that we need to address the insurance and bonding provisions of the current ordinance to make sure that the provisions are adequate and equitable.
This will do nothing to stop the ongoing emissions that residents are subjected to.
As a side note: In response to the news that the council had passed a moratorium, EagleRidge submitted a statement to CBS 11:
“Eagleridge Energy, while surprised by the Denton City Council’s decision to initiate a moratorium on new gas wells, remains supportive of the city’s efforts to assure the health and safety of the citizens of Denton. Eagleridge looks forward to continuing to work with the City to develop a clearer, more predictable and useful gas well ordinance. The company is also committed to being environmentally responsible and points to the fact that it has been in compliance with state and local government standards relating to safe drilling, fracing and ongoing operations and that it has no violations.”
But, that’s not the truth. TCEQ issued a notice of violation to EagleRidge for their operations in the Vintage and Meadows of Hickory Creek neighborhood.
AND this one:
“On April 23, 2013, the RRC sent a request for legal enforcement to the legal department for failure to notify the district office immediately when they lost control of the well per SWR 20 (a) (I)”
AND this one:
Agreed enforcement order by Railroad Commission of Texas September 11, 201220. O&G 09-0273645: Eagleridge Operating, L.L.C. (Operator No. 238462)enforcement action regarding the Corbin (255643) Lease, Well No. 1, Newark,East (Barnett Shale) Field, Denton County, Texas. Violation of Statewide Rule §3.8(d)(1).(d) Pollution control. (1) Prohibited disposal methods. Except for those disposal methods authorized for certain wastes by paragraph (3) of this subsection, subsection (e) of this section, or §3.98 of this title (relating to Standards for Management of Hazardous Oil and Gas Waste), or disposal methods required to be permitted pursuant to §3.9 of this title (relating to Disposal Wells) (Rule 9) or §3.46 of this title (relating to Fluid Injection into Productive Reservoirs) (Rule 46), no person may dispose of any oil and gas wastes by any method without obtaining a permit to dispose of such wastes. The disposal methods prohibited by this paragraph include, but are not limited to, the unpermitted discharge of oil field brines, geothermal resource waters, or other mineralized waters, or drilling fluids into any watercourse or drainageway, including any drainage ditch, dry creek, flowing creek, river, or any other body of surface water.
They failed to enforce the noise ordinance that was in place prior to the weakening mentioned above.
This one is best illustrated by a chain of emails between the city and me.
“Lindsey.Baker@cityofdenton.com”I’m sorry to bother you with this, but I have been unable to get an answer to my open records request.On April 27, 2014, I made the following open records request.Please provide “The weekly noise report,” described in “35.22.5 Standards for Gas Well Drilling and Production” of the Denton Development Code, for the EagleRidge Bonnie Brae 4H facility pad site on Vintage Road and the EagleRidge Bonnie Brae 1H, 2H and 3H facility pad site on Bonnie Brae. All information requested is for the dates August 1, 2013, through April 27, 2014.Ms. Walters replied that there were no records responsive to my request. I often do open records requests to the TCEQ for reports that are required from operators. If TCEQ does not have the reports in house, they demand that the operator provide them to fulfill my open records request. Thinking this might be the case, I followed Ms. Walters’ suggestion and contacted the Gas Well Administrator. On May 14, 2014, I sent the following email to “Groth, Darren” Darren.email@example.comPer instructions from Jennifer Walters, Public Information Coordinator for the City of Denton, I am writing in an attempt to find out what happened to the weekly noise reports as required in the gas well ordinance. Ms. Walters has my open records request and she can forward that to you. She has informed me that the reports were not provided. Please contact the operator and obtain those reports to fulfill my open records request or let me know why the reports were not provided,Thank you for your time,Mr. Groth never responded to my request.I understand that the noise ordinance was changed on March 18, 2014, so there will be no reports after that date. Previous to that date the weekly noise reports were required under the former ordinance. Unless the answer is that EagleRidge refused to provide them, please obtain the reports and send them to me.Thank you,Sharon Wilson
This is why Denton must ban fracking.
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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I don’t believe they are required to answer questions, but they are required to provide specific requests for public information within 10 business days. If you sent your e-mail to Mr. Groth on May 14, 2014, then it looks as if today (May 28, 2014) would be 10 business days.
If they choose not to respond, then they must let you know they are appealing to the Attorney General by today (10 business days) of the request and then send their request to the TX AG within 15 days. So, they need to let you know what their plans are as of today. Otherwise, you can contact the local DA and ask for help with prosecution of these criminal acts.
Public Information Requests
WCGasette recently posted..Voilà!! Let’s Just Cover it Up with NEW Homes!! *UPDATE*
The response to my PIR was that there are no documents responsive to my PIR.
North TX Neighbor says
Then no one was enforcing the ordinance and there aren’t any documents! File non-enforcement of a city ordinance case in municipal court there in Denton.
Just re-watched the video of the recent Denton City Council Meeting when they changed the noise levels from 65db to 85db via the Consent Agenda. That was priceless and appropriately out-of-focus.
These kinds of serious matters should NOT be on a Consent Agenda! From watching that video, it’s clear that the City and that man with white hair were being really good snake oil salesmen. (Who was that?) That was some great acting. Saying the Ordinance had too many inconsistencies and needed changing? Good grief. Those Texas men and women should be ashamed of themselves!
That was Dalton Gregory the same one who agreed to the friendly amendment that allows builders to build up to 250′ from well sites.
Denton’s charter says the vote must be before November.
Sec. 4.08. Submission of electors.
“If the council shall fail to pass an ordinance proposed by initiative petition, or shall pass it in a form different from that set forth in the petition therefor, or if the council shall fail to repeal a referred ordinance, the proposed or referred ordinance shall be submitted to the electors not less than thirty (30) days nor more than sixty (60) days from the date the council takes its final vote thereon. If no regular election is to be held within such period the council shall provide for a special election.”
Tim Ruggiero says
Have you ever noticed that when an fracking company does respond to real complaints, whether it’s responding to the news or telling a jury that their company “Is in compliance with state law” or “In compliance with state and local government standards”? Why do they never have their OWN standards? Every reputable company, when advertising, almost always inform their customers of THEIR high standards. When a company’s negative actions are brought into question, their spokesperson usually speaks to that situation “Not meeting OUR standard” or “expectation”. Only the Frackers defer to the low bar of government standard.
What EagleRidge is doing is the same thing all these frackers are doing, is trying to imply they have high standards, when in fact, most government standards on anything are pretty low.