On December 11, the Dallas City Council approved the most restrictive hydraulic fracturing ordinance in the U.S. The new restrictions include a ban on drilling closer than 1,500 feet from residences and other sensitive areas. FracDallas founder and director Marc McCord led a four-year battle to keep fracking out of Dallas city limits. Julie Dermansky interviewed McCord for Truthout.
I disagree with McCord’s attitude about the word “frac’ing” versus “fracking.” Apparently he believes the word “fracking” is inappropriate from an industry standpoint. I say it’s a semantics argument that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like “to-may-to” or “to-mah-to.” Who fracking cares?
And speaking of calling the whole thing off, McCord succeeded in doing just that in Dallas. It is an incredible accomplishment. In the following excerpt he describes in more detail the drilling restrictions contained in the Dallas city ordinance. This is a big deal.
“The Dallas ordinance is THE strongest in the nation! Not only does it mandate a setback of at least 1,500 feet, but it also measures that setback from the nearest edge of the padsite to the nearest edge of the protected use property line. (Most ordinances measure setback from the center of the first well bore to the physical structure on the protected use property.) It also prohibits injection (wastewater disposal) wells within city limits, restricts compressor stations to Industrial Manufacturing (IM) districts only, mandates 100 percent chemical disclosure with no exception for trade secrets, requires use of discrete tagging agents in frac fluid to track fluid migration in soil and groundwater, has increased insurance requirements (at a time when insurance companies are starting to pull back from covering gas well operations due to inherent risks), and includes other restrictions that are going to be very hard for industry to overcome.”
See what I mean? To have provisions such as measuring the setback from the edge of well pad to the property line, no exception for trade secrets, and tagging agents in frack fluid actually written into an ordinance in a major city like Dallas is groundbreaking stuff. The Dallas ordinance raises the bar when it comes to protecting public health, safety, and our environment.
I plucked more excerpts from the interview and posted them below. But do read the whole piece. It’s worth it. I like what he says. I think it bears repeating — and even spreading around.
Excerpts from Marc McCord’s Truthout interview:
“If it is ‘activist’ or ‘ecoterrorist’ to protect public health and safety, property values, quality of life and our environment, then we are guilty as charged. We never protested drilling when it was done in remote areas of sparse or no population, but then they encroached upon where we live, work, go to school and play. We did not invade their backyard. They invaded ours, and we stood up against them to protect what we have worked hard to have and enjoy, which did not include explosions and fires, fugitive emissions of deadly vapors and liquids, earthquakes that crack our foundations and walls, heavy truck traffic that reduces productivity and causes accidents resulting in deaths and injuries or the other problems that are brought about by urban drilling. Earlier this year, a young preteen boy was run over and killed by a frac truck that did not even stop. After being tracked down and identified, the truck driver claims he never even knew he hit the boy, and I do not believe any charges were ever brought, even after a hit-and-run fatality.”
“Safe drilling starts with reputable companies and people acting in responsible ways. Harming people, settling out of court and making them sign nondisclosure agreements then claiming there is no proof that anybody has been harmed is not what I call acting responsibly. It is dishonest and unacceptable behavior by an industry so enamored with itself that it believes it is always right and anybody who opposes it is wrong. Claiming that injection wells are not responsible for earthquakes that just happen to occur in the very areas where injection wells operations are occurring, even though no earthquakes had EVER been recorded there before, is not what I call acting responsibly. Claiming that no groundwater contamination has ever been caused by frac’ing when we and they know that is a lie is not what I call acting responsibly. Refusing to acknowledge that casing pipes and cement failures can and do lead to surface and subsurface water and soil contamination is not what I call acting responsibly. Claiming that they have been ‘frac’ing wells for over 60 years’ when they know that high volume slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing only started a little over a decade ago (right here in the Barnett Shale) is not what I call acting responsibly. Lying in public to elected officials and citizens in order to get permits is not what I call acting responsibly. Failing to remediate any and all damages caused by their operations is not what I call acting responsibly. Being exempted from federal environmental protections laws like the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, CERCLA and other laws meant to protect citizens while simultaneously claiming that what they do is safe and harmless is not what I call acting responsibly.”
“The public can hold public officials accountable for their actions and votes, and that is required if we want to effect change and protect our environment. The first step is caring enough to educate yourself and then be willing to take the time, effort and expense to help educate family, friends and neighbors. Democracy is messy, and it never works when people allow somebody else to carry their water for them. People must get involved on a personal level because this issue is too critically important to leave to chance — or to the fossil fuel industry. If you cannot do things yourself, then provide some financial support to those who are trying to make a difference, and help spread their message. Doing nothing is not an option.”