After You Allow It, How Will You Police It?

COOL CRUISERNot very well, if you're allowed to do it in Texas. The prolific Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe has the story of why a fracking well blow-out in the middle of Denton got such a slack response from all those who were supposed to be protecting the public from these kinds of things.

One huge problem with the new Dallas gas ordinance is that it will require a multi-staffed new Office of Gas Inspections available to answer calls 24/7. Time and again, City Hall staff's response to questions about who's going to be responsible for enforcing the regs of the ordinance is simply, "The gas inspector will do that." 

But no one at City Hall has a clue how much that would cost, what it would entail or how soon it would be established if ever. Not a single council person has advocated funding for such an office. So you know, we're all in favor of fracking, but regulating the stuff, not so much.

Moreover, the actual City of Dallas department that would host such a position, the Office of Environmental Quality, has been completely MIA in all the proceedings of the last year – ever since the 2011 Task Force went out of business last February or so. No input has been provided or requested from the OEQ to better understand how this new bureaucracy is supposed to work.

You can't rely on EPA. They have nobody in the field to help. You can't rely on the state – as Peggy's story makes clear. And Dallas can't be bothered to think about these things now while they're still busying themselves trying to make a land swap with Trinity East so it can get the company its permits. Like everything else about drilling in Dallas under Mike Rawlings and the still-hovering Mary Suhm, all other details, problems, policies, etc have to take a back seat to fulfilling the secret deal Trinity East and the City made. Nothing else matters until these permits are in place. Those are the priorities at City Hall today.

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