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Drilling standards could unearth middle ground

Angry Denton residents spoke loudly and clearly Tuesday night in support of a moratorium on natural gas drilling and we believe it’s time for City Council members to stop delaying and revisiting and effectively settle this issue once and for all.

Residents filled the seats and lined the walls at City Hall to call for the moratorium and for EagleRidge Energy’s old permit to be revoked, saying they have grown frustrated by the council’s lack of action.

A dispute between the city and EagleRidge erupted a month ago when the city sued the company, claiming that it was drilling in violation of city ordinances in the neighborhood near Vintage Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street. EagleRidge has stated in letters to the city that its rights to develop the gas were vested under the original permits. A district judge appeared to side with EagleRidge by refusing to grant the city a temporary injunction to stop the drilling, and the city subsequently dropped the lawsuit.

About half the residents, many from the Vintage area neighborhoods, spoke up during the citizens’ agenda at the beginning of the Tuesday’s council meeting, calling for a moratorium.

The other half of the residents stayed to protest the council’s decision to reconsider last week’s vote that denied a developer greater density because it would have brought more homes close to current and future gas wells.

The council agreed to consider the matter again after the developer pledged to work with the city on disclosure, so that people who bought homes in the neighborhood would know that they were buying close to gas well sites that could be drilled and fracked again.

We understand residents’ concerns, but we also see the benefit of gas drilling agreements to the city in terms of revenue.

In our view, there should be a middle ground where residents’ general concerns can be met by adopting specific guidelines, while still allowing the business to operate.

Our position on this issue has not changed — we have continued to inform readers about both sides of the discussion and debate, and attempted to engage discussion among all concerned parties so that a satisfactory agreement can be reached.

The demand for natural gas resources will not diminish, nor will the concerns that residents have with drilling next to their homes.

The council’s job is not to make everyone happy, but to find a middle ground where both sides can benefit. They are charged with that duty to residents as well as to business developers and owners.

By setting standards, the city could be at the forefront of establishing guidelines for not only the Barnett Shale but across the country as resource development moves into urban settings.