Last night, over 800 people showed up to a townhall in Azle,Texas to talk to the Texas Railroad Commission (which regulates oil and gas development, not railroads) about earthquakes connected to fracking.
In oil crazy Texas, in years past, the very fact of evidence supporting the need for drilling caution would have served as impetus for this event to become a pro-drilling rally.
But not last night. Last night, for the first time I know about, it was not just my colleague Sharon Wilson and eco-minded folks, but a broad cross section of Texans in large numbers at the meeting. And they called not just for caution; the demand in Azle, Texas was for an all out halt to fracking and waste injection.
Yesterday, the Dallas City Council passed a tough new gas drilling ordinance - a big victory for Dallas residents, and for the rest of the country fighting the fracking boom.
Industry is calling the new ordinance ‘a de facto moratorium against drilling in Dallas.’ The city will now require that oil and gas wells cannot be sited within 1,500 of homes, schools, churches, hospitals, parks, places of employment and many other places protected from the impacts of oil and gas drilling and fracking.
Thanks to the city council, Dallas residents, unlike Forth Worth and many other Texas municipalities, needn’t worry about living adjacent to oil and gas development that threatens community health with air, water and soil pollution.
But this isn’t just a victory for Dallas; the ordinance sets a new bar for all communities considering permitting fracking and other unconventional oil and gas development. That’s because Dallas knows the oil and gas industry, and drilling is a Texas tradition. Dallas lies on the western edge of the Barnett Shale where the fracking boom began, so its residents know fracking and its impacts. They’ve been watching their neighbors wrestle with them for years. So if Dallas, Texas passes a de facto ban on fracking, what does that tell the rest of the country?