EagleRidge is fracking two wells just across the street from
the UNT football stadium. In an act of energy irony, the laterals from these
wells travel about 8,000 feet directly below the UNT wind turbines.
The wells are not on university property, but UNT owns 75 of
the 224 acres of minerals pooled in this lease (click on the second P-12 form here). For a University that has a mission of promoting a "sustainable future," it
prompts the question:
I took some videos of the fracking operation. I can confirm what
Wilson reported about the absence of masks on workers. The wind was
whipping smoke, fumes, and sand all over the place and carrying it far over the
fence line. I spent just a few minutes downwind of the site and felt sick for
the rest of the morning – hoarse, nauseous, and light-headed. The noise was
deafening – so loud that it drowned out the sound of highway traffic behind me,
even though the traffic was much closer.
Click here to see more of the black smog coming off this site.
Now it is one thing to put this next to the highway. But it’s
another thing to put it right next to a neighborhood. Of course, that won’t
happen anymore, right, because we have an ordinance that specifies a 1,200 foot
setback between fracking sites and homes.
Wrong. It is about to happen. This
massive, noxious industrial site is about to move on down Bonnie Brae to
Vintage. Soon this same scene will be repeated less than 200 feet from homes
where young families with children live. It is not right or fair. But it is
legal and it is going to happen. And then it will happen again and again.
This is the Denton
dilemma. We want to protect our citizens with larger setback distances, but
despite our efforts we are seeing gas wells just as close to homes as they were
before we even passed our first ordinance in 2002. The gas wells predate the regulations,
so the regulations don’t apply. We are doomed to be haunted by the ghosts of
I went to the Denton 2030 comprehensive plan community forum
tonight. There, I learned that in the next 20 years Denton is expected to grow
by 94,000 people. That means about 37,000 new homes and apartments. And we
learned that at least 50% of that growth is going to be west of the core where
gas wells are most dense. When new homes come to existing wells, we have
the Vintage neighborhood example, our setback rules don’t apply. We will
see more fracking very close to homes. Close to kids.
I had a conversation at the meeting tonight with a
high-ranking City official. Here was our conversation:
Me: “Have you seen the Vintage situation?”
Him: “Yes. It is awful.”
Me: “Could that happen again?”
Me: “Is it likely?”
Him: “It’s the perfect storm. All our growth is heading
west, right into country so thickly developed with gas wells that you could
stand anywhere, throw a rock and hit one. And all those wells are vested under
So, in addition to the people here already surrounded by pad
sites, we are looking at 50,000 new people who will be in the thick of it. Our
ordinance does nothing for them.
Denton, we have a problem. What are we going to do?