Thursday, November 8, 2012

What City Council Should Do Next

Cities in Colorado and Ohio just banned fracking. I applaud their boldness and hope they win in their impending legal defenses. I know some will want to see Denton follow suit. But I don’t think an outright ban is a good strategy for our city.

I think the best strategy for Denton is to renovate the technical system so that we can have both safe, healthy communities AND mineral development. This is our battle – not to ban fracking, but to make it an acceptable activity in our city. There will be reasonable differences about what will count as “acceptable.” But there is also common ground.
Here is how I would structure the next City Council meeting. Start with these 4 items, because they are both important AND promise broad agreement. Indeed, it is remarkable the current draft still lacks such requirements given that many operators are already on board:
1.      Require the use of green completions and prohibit flaring (except in emergencies).
2.      Eliminate all on-site pits and require closed-loop fluid systems. At the very least, eliminate all pits that would ever contain anything but freshwater – and only allow those when they would eliminate or reduce truck traffic.
3.      Require the use of low-bleed valves and low-toxicity drilling fluids.
4.      Require cathodic protection.
Then I suggest that City Council move on to consider these items, which are important BUT invite reasonable disagreement:
1.      Increase set-back distances to 1,500 feet.
2.      Provide those living in the ETJ with the same protections as we afford those in residential districts within the city.
3.      Alter the variance procedures for reducing set-back distances such that the informed consent of ALL impacted parties is required.
4.      Require the purchase of renewable energy to run on-site electric motors.
5.      Require the use of zero-emission dehydrators and other industry-recognized best practices.
6.      Bolster air, water, and soil testing before and after drilling/fracking.
7.      Prohibit compressor stations.
8.      Establish a pad-site upgrade incentive program to retrofit old sites with new equipment. This is a work-around for vested rights claims.
9.      Incentivize operators to use green or ecologically friendly fracking fluids. This could be part of a “most preferred operator” status program.
These are the big-ticket items. I don’t know why City Council got bogged down on Tuesday in discussing landscaping requirements. I don’t know why the chart they were given was so haphazard and did not reference the current draft or the DAG report. Sadly, not much got done. We need to keep our eyes on the big picture, start from common ground, and work out from there.


  1. Prohibit compressor stations should be something the city should absolutely do. Talk to Calvin
    Tillman and he can tell you what an nightmare the gathering stations and compressor station were for Dish. If you have never been to one you cannot really appreciate the harm the can cause a community with their noise, emissions and truck traffic.

  2. What about flowback? That is a completely unregulated step.
    Flowback goes into flowback tanks that have 18" x 18" vents to allow the volatile flowback vapors to escape. This is a step in the process that the EPA missed so it is completely unregulated unless it by local ordinance. (EPA did confirm with me that they missed this step. Oops!)

    Here are some videos of flowback and flowback tanks.


    What about the silica sand during the fracking process--also completely unregulated.

    Be sure you don't miss something in the process. Lots more...