City officials in Fort Worth and Arlington are meeting BlueStone Natural Resources II about the company’s controversial request to drill a saltwater injection well near the banks of Lake Arlington.
The mayors of both cities met with John Redmond, president and chief executive officer of BlueStone, in Austin on March 14 about the proposed well in far east Fort Worth. The meeting was held in the offices of Texas Oil & Gas Association President Todd Staples.
Arlington Director of Public Utilities Walter “Buzz” Pishkur didn’t consider the talks to be particularly “heavy,” but they were substantive enough that state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, earlier this week yanked amendments related to the injection well from legislation regarding the Texas Railroad Commission. The commission regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas.
“We requested that they sit down with us about things they should consider,” Pishkur said. “I want to keep this dialogue at a high plain and so far so good.”
Several Fort Worth officials described the meeting as very successful “as far as the parties understanding the issues.”
Despite the discussion, Fort Worth and Arlington officials said they still are preparing a rigorous protest against BlueStone’s permit request before a state administrative judge at the end of May.
“It didn’t move things too far. It was all the necessary parties in the same room laying their cards on the table,” said Mattie Parker, chief of staff for Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and the City Council. She said Price and Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams were “very cordial and blunt” about their opposition to the well.
BlueStone declined to comment and it is unclear if Redmond made a special trip to Austin for the meeting. But BlueStone has said that its permit application for the well meets the state’s strict guidelines. The well would be used to collect excess gas and brackish, or salty, water produced by the company’s other natural gas wells in the immediate area, the company said.
Fort Worth, Arlington and the Trinity River Authority have filed protest letters with the commission, saying that the well presents a threat not only to water quality — Lake Arlington is a major water source in North Texas — but to the structural integrity of the dam.
Fort Worth and Arlington ban wastewater injection wells. Arlington also prohibits any kind of drilling within 600 feet of Lake Arlington’s reservoir area and blocks any “saltwater disposal lines” under the lake or within 100 feet of easement surrounding it.
Turner’s amendments connected to the Lake Arlington well permit would have banned disposal wells within three miles of a dam, lake or reservoir and upheld longstanding bans against injection wells. A third would have required the state to hold a public hearing in the area where the proposed well was to be drilled.
The amendment on the prohibition of disposal wells near a body of water, and the measure upholding the overall bans against them, were withdrawn by Turner because of what he called “good-faith negotiations” between BlueStone and the cities. The public hearing amendment was tabled.
“After speaking with one of the impacted cities, and learning there are good-faith negotiations underway with the permit applicant, I pulled two of the amendments, but only after a long discussion about the issue and my concerns,” Turner said.