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Dallas restricts gas drilling near protected areas

December 12, 2013 - Ben Klein
DALLAS (AP) — The drilling of natural gas wells will not be permitted within 1,500 feet of protected areas such as homes following a vote Wednesday by the Dallas City Council.

The council voted 9-6 to expand the buffer from the current 300 feet, the Dallas Morning News reported (http://dallasne.ws/1bzvqTj ).

Neighborhood groups and environmentalists banded together to push for the new restrictions. Some opponents said the restrictions will effectively create a ban within the city limits.

"I believe that the setback requirement is arbitrary and capricious and unreasonable," said council member Vonciel Jones Hill said. "I believe that (banning drilling) is what this motion does."

Council member Scott Griggs offered the measure without commenting. But the fight over drilling had been brewing for years, encompassing concerns about air pollution and hydraulic fracturing or fracking. A few years ago, drilling was expected to creep into the city from the Barnett Shale, but there are still no wells in Dallas.

As with the previous regulation, any new drilling site will continue to require that the city council vote on a specific-use permit. A two-thirds council vote will allow them to reduce the setback on a case-by-case basis.

Most of the handful of citizens who spoke to the issue Wednesday favored the measure.

But Bill Hastings of Dallas said it would limit economic opportunities for the city and landowners trying to profit from mineral rights.

"Three hundred feet (between wells and homes) is too close and 1,500 feet is too far," he said.

 
 

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