Mansfield council moves toward more restrictions on gas drilling

Posted Monday, Feb. 24, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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A proposed ordinance that would prohibit energy companies from fracking on Sundays and require them to be more accountable to neighbors of drilling sites found support from the City Council on Monday.

The council’s 7-0 vote was the first of three votes required for final approval of an ordinance amendment.

It was prompted by neighborhood opposition last year to a drilling operation behind the Mansfield school district’s Center for the Performing Arts on West Debbie Lane.

In addition to the Sunday restriction on fracking — the drilling process that uses high-pressure chemical solutions to splinter gas-rich shale — the amendment would require gas operators to:

•  Send notice to residents living within 1,000 feet of a drill site describing the operation, estimating its completion and providing contact information for the operator, Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission Environmental Quality.

•  Provide real-time Internet access to sound-monitoring equipment at sites required to have 24-hour monitoring. The provision is intended to help the city’s gas well inspector respond faster to noise complaints and keep better track of violations.

•  Tie into the city’s electricity grid when drill sites are more than 1,500 feet away from protected properties or when the electric utility company lacks the capacity to serve the operation. The purpose would be to reduce noise and fumes caused by diesel-fueled equipment.

The drilling phase of well operations next to the performing arts center and the Woodlands Estates has ended and gas production is under way. But two leaders of the neighborhood who attended Monday’s meeting said the proposed regulations don’t go far enough.

“We asked for some air emission [restrictions] and some penalties, too, because penalties are hardly there for these operators,” Tamera Bounds, president of the homeowners association, said after the meeting

City Planning Director Felix Wong said air emissions are regulated by state and federal environmental agencies.

“Those two agencies have sufficient regulatory authority without us duplicating it,” Wong said.

The meeting wasn’t all serious business. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, showed up to announce a resolution by the Legislature declaring Mansfield the official “Pickle Capital of Texas” a few weeks ahead of the third annual Best Maid St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade and Palooza.

Zedler presented the resolution to Gary Dalton, whose family opened Best Maid Products in Mansfield in 1926 and turned it into a condiment empire that now churns out 50 million pickles a year.

The resolution expires in 10 years, Zedler said.

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann

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