DMN Writer Opposes Gas Permits, Irving Meeting Opens Up New Front

by jim on March 19, 2013

photo_2-1Two things happened last night in regards to the Dallas Drilling Scandal and how it plays out this week in front of the City Plan Commission for a second, "reconsidered" vote On Thursday.

Sharon Grigsby, a long-time member of the of the Dallas Morning News editorial staff, took to the paper's online opinion pages and offered up a critique of why she'd vote to deny Trinity East their gas permits,

Here’s my list of why our newspaper should say no to the Trinity East plan.

1. City ordinance prohibits surface drilling in parkland because the city has determined that open spaces are environmentally important and a necessary component. All too often, the city’s history has been to under-invest in open spaces or to compromise them when a deal came along.

2. The fact that City Manager Mary Suhm told the council “no drilling in parkland” while in the same time period signing a letter saying she’d help Trinity East push forward on the parkland drilling plan may not bother the city council, but it makes for a sketchy deal.

3. If #2 isn’t taint enough, the fact that a coveted piece of parkland mysteriously showed up in the final lease further taints the deal.

4. As Trinity East’s plans rolled out to the Plan Commission, we learned of a number of environmental question marks. The one that is the most troublesome involves emissions from the proposed gas processing unit. The only thing that’s clear regarding these emissions is that no answers will be forthcoming anytime soon. Given all the fog that has pervaded this deal since December, the city’s credibility is not good — and makes it difficult to just turn our back on environmental questions.

5. Finally, the city has cited the large youth soccer fields (under development) as a reason NOT to approve other heavy industrial uses in the area. Thus, we have pause about the gas-processing unit being located so close to the fields. The city and Trinity East likely would argue that the drilling operation is different from the uses that have been denied. However, given the items in #2 and #3 above, it’s hard to trust City Hall on this deal.

6. I’m just left feeling completely squishy that so little was known about the Trinity East plan until just a couple of months ago, when documents began leaking out.  The fact is that Trinity East had never really given much detail — and the city seemed just fine with that.

We'll see if her colleagues have the same common sense Ms. Grigsby has in the next 48 hours, when the paper is expected to take its latest position. To its credit, the DMN is asking very pointed questions about the Drilling Scandal and City Manager Mary Suhm in its City Council questionnaire.

Also last night – for the first time, Irving residents met to speak up about their displeasure in being downwind of all three Dallas gas sites, including the large refinery/compressor station that will become Dallas' 10th largest air polluter the moment it comes online. Approximately 60 people showed up at a hastily called City of Irving town hall meeting at the North Hills Prep School on Royal Lane hosted by Irving City Council Rose Cannaday.

There was a unanimous opposition to the permits and many participants said they were planning to attend up at Thursday's City Plan Commission meeting at Dallas City Hall to voice their concerns. North Hills Prep is directly northwest, from all three sites, and more than once, parents said they planned to get more involved. Residents urged the Irving City Council to take an official stand against the permits, as well as recruit their state elected officials to help.

So, expect a load of angry Irving residents on Thursday. Won't you come and join them? 1:00 pm, 6th Floor, Dallas City Hall. We need you there.

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