Dallas considers plans to drill gas wells

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on June 21, 2010 at 9:07 PM

DALLAS — News 8 has confirmed that the first petition to drill a natural gas well inside the city limits of Dallas is now being considered.

We're not talking about some obscure, out-of-the-way location; we've learned that the city has sold mineral rights to property around lakes, golf courses, and even parks where families play with their children.

The first place where drills could enter the ground is at the former Dallas Naval Air Station just north of Mountain Creek Lake. The proposed site backs up to a neighborhood in Grand Prairie.

A public golf course is also a real option for drilling.

Years ago, facing a cash crunch, the City of Dallas leased the mineral rights to dozens of city properties. With the sinking economy, those companies didn't move forward on drilling — until now.

The proposed wells could have a big impact on the lives of homeowners like Fred Allen in Grand Prairie. "I don't like it, short, sweet and simple — I don't like it," he said.

The former Naval Air Station is just yards from his home across the Dallas-Grand Prairie boundary line. If plans are approved, it would be the first natural gas well in the Dity of Dallas.

Until now, the natural gas boom focused on Tarrant County, which has seen an explosion of wells and controversy.

"They should look at those other cities and say there is a problem — at least a potential problem," said Wendel Withrow, chair of the Dallas Sierra Club. "They should put a moratorium on those drilling permits until these questions can be answered."

Two years ago, for $34 million, Dallas leased the mineral rights for more than 2,000 acres of city land for drilling. Much — but not all — of that property is in rural areas.

The lease locations include a public golf course in North Dallas and Love Field airport.

Gas well supporters insist there will be no drilling actually at city parks, and activities will be kept at least 300 feet from homes.

But critics like Withrow remain skeptical. "When it's close to schools, close to houses, it's close to even roads — anywhere the public is allowed — you need to take a much closer look at it," he said.

Although the leases have been approved, each drilling site must be individually approved by the City Council. That hasn't happened yet, and some members have already said they will resist.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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