Dallas City Council forms task force for natural gas drilling regulations

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on April 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 20 at 9:06 PM

DALLAS - The Dallas City Council worked Wednesday to figure out what kind of regulations should control natural gas drilling.

The city is on the eastern edge of the Barnett Shale and exploration companies want permission to start drilling, but some are concerned and that has the council considering putting together a special task force to study the risks.

As drilling has grown in North Texas, so has the concern over risks over water, air and the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.

With two exploration companies ready to drill in Dallas, people are signing petitions.

"Many residents from all over the city are very concerned about this issue," said Raymond Crawford, with Dallas Area Residents for Responsible Drilling.

The city council decided to form an 11-member citizen task force to study drilling risks and what rules should be set up.

Mayor Dwaine Caraway appointed former city council member Lois Finkelman to chair the task force.

"The number one concern with me is making sure that the citizens voices are heard and that the citizens are safe," Caraway said.

But, money is a factor. The two exploration companies paid the city $34 million for leases and want to get going. The task force could cost up to $800,000 dollars that the city will have to find in a tight budget year. But, the council believes it must spend the time and money for the people and the environment.   

"If we do go with this gas drilling, what happens with that land, the future development of that land?" said Pauline Medrano, Dallas City Council.

The next vote on the leases could come up in October. There are currently 25 operating gas drilling wells in Dallas County, but all are outside city limits. The sites in Dallas include a city-owned area near Joe Pool Lake and the former Dallas Naval Air Station near Mountain Creek Lake, which is also close to homes.

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