MailBoxOverQuota_ErrorThursday's showdown at the Dallas Plan Commission over a 1500-foot setback between gas wells and "protected uses" like homes and schools is picking up steam.

After Commission members get lobbied during their morning session by City Attorney Tammy Palomino to "reconsider" their previous support of the extended buffer zone, local municipal Attorney Terry Welch, who's advised Flower Mound and Southlake on their gas drilling ordinances, has agreed to come to the afternoon public hearing and give a detailed presentation defending the distance. He'll also highlight other issues critical to a truly protective gas drilling ordinance, including drilling in parks, full disclosure of chemicals, and requiring first-ever air pollution off-sets of the gas industry.

Welch was a member of the Dallas Gas Drilling Task Force and his presentation of its "minority report" to the full City Council last August drew a lengthy and sustained standing ovation from the audience that even got Mayor Rawlings' attention.

From 8:30 am to 12 noon on Thursday the Plan Commission will continue its March through the construction of a draft gas drilling ordinance, including revisiting the 1500-foot setback provision, and discussing other issues like Emergency Response.

At 1:00 pm, citizens will start to gather for a pre-hearing news conference. At 1:30 we'll go into the council Chambers and wait for the public hearing on the draft ordinance to begin. It's very possible the Commission will have already decided to support or revise the 1500-foot setback by the time the hearing begins – we'll know by the press conference. If we win retention of 1500, then please thank the Commission and tell them what else you think should be included in a new ordinance. If they back down in the face of pressure from Palomino, then be prepared to raise hell and complain loudly. It's bad enough we have to fight a billion-dollar industry. We shouldn't also have to fight city staff that's supposed to be deciding policy based on the public interest, instead of secret agreements.

Remember, a 1500-foot setback for gas wells means a practical end to any attempt to bring back the Trinity East permits if the Plan Commission's denial of them is upheld at next Wednesday's Council vote. It also means fewer Dallas neighborhoods at risk from being fracked at all. This is a big deal.

We really need butts in the seats to show them you still care and they're still being watched. If you can make it down on Thursday, we know your presence will have an impact.

But we also realize that the Powers That Be are making it hard for the public to participate in their public hearings by scheduling them only during weekday business hours.

So whether you're planning on showing up or not, we've made it easy for you to let the Commission know before Thursday morning how you feel about any reconsideration of the 1500 foot setback. In less than a minute, you can click and send an e-mail to the Commission members supporting the extended buffer zone. JUST CLICK HERE. Please do this today so that when we roll into Thursday morning, Ms. Palomino will have to swim upstream against overwhelming public opposition in trying to persuade the Commission to reduce the setback. We win this round, we go a long way toward winning the whole fight. Thanks very much for hanging in there with us.

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