The City and Industry Lost. Now they Want a Do-Over Vote. Tell Them NO!

by Downwinders on January 7, 2013

Because citizens unexpectedly won the rejection of Dallas drilling permits at December's City Plan Commission meeting, City Hall and the Gas Industry are trying to engineer a "do-over vote" this Thursday.

They're trying to give dead gas permits a second chance, but if we nail down the coffin this time, it could be the last vote on old gas leases on public land in Dallas.

That's why we need you to be there. Please.

THIS THURSDAY
Beginning 1:30 PM
City Council Chambers
6th Floor, Dallas City Hall

Just last month Downwinders at Risk and other citizens groups held off the combined forces of Dallas City Hall and the gas industry only five days before Christmas.

The other side knew a lot of people wouldn't be able to attend a last-minute holiday meeting and they scheduled the first vote on gas permits in Dallas in two years to take advantage. They thought they would win. 

But they thought wrong. Despite not being able to show up with the numbers we've previously enjoyed, citizens still carried the day with a 7-5 victory at the Dallas Plan Commission. The next stop was the City Council, or so we thought.

But the gas industry and City Hall has been scheming again.

They've called for a "reconsideration" of the December vote at this coming Thursday's City Plan Commission meeting – a "do-over vote" for the same gas permits that were denied in December.

Why? Because we won, and they can't tolerate that. 

If the original December 20th Plan Commission 7-5 denial of the Trinity East gas permits stands, the City Council will need a 12 member "super-majority" to overturn that denial and award the permits.

Right now, the Mayor and City Manager can't find 12 votes to approve gas drilling in parks and floodplains.

If they can't find them, then these permits are never awarded and the last of the "grandfathered" Dallas gas leases on public land are nailed shut and buried forever for lack of Council support.

On the other hand, if this "reconsideration vote" wins, and the Plan Commission approves the gas permits on a second try, then the Mayor only needs 8 votes to approve the permit when it comes to the Council. These zombie gas permits mught live to threaten Dallas for years to come.

The Mayor thinks he has 8 council votes for approval – at least until the May elections. But he doesn't have 12.  

So if you want to quit coming to City Hall for these kinds of votes for a while, we strongly advise you make this one. It's a proxy vote for the entire gas drilling issue with this council.

A Quick Reminder of Some of What's at Stake:

1) Trinity East and City Hall staff are asking the City Plan Commission to vote in favor of allowing drilling on public parkland – something that is currently not allowed.

2) Trinity East and City Hall staff are asking the City Plan Commission to allow drilling in the Trinity River floodplain – something that is currently not allowed.

3) One of drilling sites is in the middle of the newly-rechristened "Luna Vista" (LB Houston) Golf Course and by the North Hills Prep School.

4) At another site near the city's large new Elm Folk soccer complex, Trinity East and City Hall staff are supporting the construction of three gas compressors that could EACH release 25 to 300 tons of air pollution a year without any public notice. This air pollution includes carcinogens such as Benzene and Formaldehyde, as well as smog-forming pollution and greenhouse gases. That's 75 to 900 tons a year total, or 150,000 to 2 million pounds, of potential air pollution from just one proposed site every year. That's huge. 

Please do three things to help:

1) Send a "Don't Approve These Gas Permits" message to the Plan Commission and City Council right now.

We've set up a "click and send" e-mail message you can automatically send to members of the Dallas City Plan Commission and City Council through our own website at:

https://www.downwindersatrisk.org/featured-citizen-action

You can send our prepared comments as well as your own. But please do this right now – the vote is this Thursday and they need to see their mailboxes full this week. And please do this even if you did it for the first Plan Commission vote back in December.

2) Show Up on Thursday

90% of social change is just showing up. We know it's a hassle. But if you can take off work, if you can arrange for someone else to pick up the kids, if you can put off those errands another day, we really do need your warm body in a seat at City Hall to help us prevent this backdoor attempt to subvert democracy. Really.  At meetings like these, think of the room as one big ballot box. Each seat represents a vote. A ballot. When you sit down, you become a breathing, warm-blooded ballot for change. We need to stuff the ballot box this Thursday. 

We encourage non-Dallas residents who have experiences with gas facilities they want to share to come and testify. Trinity East lobbyists love to talk about how great these facilities are elsewhere in North Texas.  

It starts Thursday at 1:30 pm in the Council Chambers on the 6th floor of Dallas City Hall. The Trinity East gas permits may get moved up on the agenda or they may be the last item for action that day. Be prepared to stay. We want you to speak out and make comments, but you don't have to. Just be there.

3) Register to Vote

Dallas City elections are this May. Many City Council supporters of gas drilling are now officially running for re-election. These council members, and their opponents, need to know how you feel about their support of irresponsible urban drilling. The Mayor thinks he still has 8 votes for drilling in floodplains and parkland with these incumbents. That number could be lower by June.
 

Let's be clear: Nothing has changed between December 20th and now to warrant a "reconsideration" of the original City Plan Commission vote to deny Trinity East's gas permits, except the desperation of the opposition. This is just a raw power play.

Trinity East and City Hall are mad at us because citizens are getting in the way of a "deal" that's already been "cut" between gas operators and City Hall.  We're imposing messy transparency and common sense on a backroom "business arrangement" that the public was excluded from when it was made.  
 
We won the first round without many of you there. Now, we need everyone's help to defend that victory.  Show up on Thursday to help us throw another public monkey wrench into their private deal-making. Don't let them steal this vote. Thanks.

See you Thursday.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DARRD January 7, 2013 at 7:22 pm

WOW! This is the first time I’ve seen Mary Suhm not wearing a black pant suit! Actually, it’s rather slimming.

Reply

John January 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Before I get a buch of comments about “You don’t have live next to a compressor station” I would like to state that I grrew up in West Texas in the oil patch in the shadow of a shell refinery, I remember looking out and see all the wells flaring gas all night and all day, i’ve lived with the smell and asthma that came with that. But, the oil patch was were my family worked, doing our part to deliver the energy that our country needs to survive. I agree that we need to find a new way forward, how ever after reading the comments about this debate over the past few years I feel like all of the people on the NO Drilling here side of the debate want to have their cake and eat it too. No solutions just obstructionism.

It was all OK when it was something that happened “out there” i.e. Africa,
Middle East, West Texas, the North Sea. However, when it comes close to home all
the Soccer Moms get in their bully pulpit and say, “Not in MY backyard!”. My
question is if not our backyard then who’s? The fuel that we ALL use has to come
from somewhere. When it’s all said and done after you pick up your kids from
school, take them to and from soccer, and go wave your protest banner at city
hall you still have to go the Exxon/Shell/Valero station and fill up. So
tell me, who really won? The majority of your electricity still comes from
coal and natural gas. People want their transportaion, heat, power, plastics,
and all the other conveniences that make up the modren society we have built for
ourselves over the past 150 years, but they don’t want to have to deal with the
flip side of all that convience. Until we all start to change how we live none
of this will stop. You can bitch about ordanances, air pollution, truck traffic,
VOC’s cuasing cancer till you are blue in the face, but as long as our society
needs these hydro-carbons to fuel EVERY aspect of our lives, the little people
will continue to be rolled over, just like in Africa, Middle East, West Texas.
Where are your solar planels on your roofs, or the wind mills in your backyards,
what is your AC/heater set to, do you grow at least some of your own food, or do you just
buy it at the store where it was havested, prepped, shipped and stored using
some form of hydo-carbon? You may win the battle of drilling in the floodplain
but until we as a socitey start using less energy you will lose the war. Because it’s not really the fracking that is the problem, it’s our hypocritial use of energy.

Mandating solar planes, wind mills, LEED certification all new construction, better gas mileage for cars, less long haul trucking,, more efficent jet engines, not shipping all of our cheap crap across a damn ocean from China, these are the thing that will bring the slow end to our hydro-carbon economy.

Reply

Westchester Neighbor January 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm

No, John. That’s a very nice attempt to make people feel guilty…but no. Blaming “the people” instead of blaming the corporations that have so much power to influence legislation is really missing the reality of all of this.

Our leaders must have the courage to speak up and they need the courage to use their time in office to truly make a difference. If we elect the best and the brightest among us then there is no excuse for any of this. If we are electing the less bright among us, then maybe that’s where we need to focus more of our energy.

Money is at the root of all evil. And this is all very evil.

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