Mansfield group confronts officials, drillers over fracking

MANSFIELD — The state's first ban on fracking took effect in Denton this week. The movement now appears to be spreading south to Mansfield, where there was a showdown over possible new regulations on Wednesday night.

But instead of a shouting match or anger, most of the discussion and the presentations appeared to be a positive step forward for the latest Texas community to deal with growing concerns over fracking.

Tamara Bounds is one of the founders of Mansfield Gas Well Awareness. The group doesn't want a fracking ban but rather increased regulations. She hoped the meeting, which was hosted by members of the City Council, would open up a dialog and lay out the group's platform for enhanced restrictions.

"There now is a new housing division being built close to us. It's 294 feet away from gas wells, the backyards," she said.

City ordinance currently calls for a 600-foot buffer from places like homes or schools. It can be less if a property owner agrees.

Bounds wants a minimum distance of 1,500 feet, as well at quicker responses from agencies like the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission of Environmental Equality if there is an issue. Those are the two bodies most commonly tasked with oversight on oil and gas matters.

"When we had the leak at the site near my home, it just took so long," she said.

Bounds captured part of that incident earlier this year with her smartphone camera.

Given the recent ban enacted in Denton, she said the industry needs to take a look in the mirror. "We have momentum," she said.

The city currently has more than 200 active wells, and has permitted about 300 more.

A large part of the area's oil and gas operators had representatives attend Wednesday's meeting. Some promised to hear resident concerns, especially regarding noise and aroma.

The CFO of EagleRidge Energy, Mike Grawe, was called by City Council member Stephen Lindsey to answer some direct questions about repeated violations at the site near West Debbie Lane and North Main Street.

Grawe admitted there were some past issues, but blamed it on different directives from the city and TCEQ. He said they were trying to address other concerns brought by neighbors too.

Mansfield's original original ordinance was passed nine years ago but has been updated a handful of times as the industry has evolved.


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