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Just because it's legal, doesn't make it right

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On Tuesday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. concerned residents of Double Oak will be having a meeting at the Town Hall on Waketon Road  to discuss the 22 wells and the gas compressor facility the Williams Company proposes to build on the pad site located FM 407 Justin Road and Simmons Road on the west side of the town. Calvin Tillman the mayor of DISH, TX and organizers of Flower Mound Cares plan to speak to the attendees.

The following week, Double Oak P&Z will be holding a public hearing on July 27 at 7:00 p.m. to re-zone a portion of the pad site to allow for a large compressor facility which is not currently allowed within any zoning district in Double Oak. The Town’s short notice of Public Hearing on this subject fails to mention that this is the first step in approving the expansion of gas drilling and transportation facilities within the Town’s jurisdiction.

The site is amid a large residential area that includes Lantana, The Estates of Double Oak, Carruth Estates, Canyon Oaks, and central to the Cross Timbers corridor of Double Oak. Many believe that the town of Double Oak does not have adequate zoning provisions to assure the safety of its residents with a mere 500 feet setback requirement. Copper Canyon has a 750 feet setback and Flower Mound’s is 1000. Additional wells pose additional risks and the construction of a compressor facility has no provisions at all. It is out of this concern we hope to influence the leaders of the town to act in the interest of health and safety. 

While discussing the proliferation of gas wells in the area with my family, my 13 year old son asked, “Dad, how come you don’t want the gas people to drill in Flower Mound and Double Oak?” After some discussion about the issues of drilling in residential communities, I summed it up like this; “Basically, I guess I just don’t believe in saving one civilization by destroying another.” He looked up from his Avatar video game and glibly remarked, “Well, that is the American way!” How right you are, my son, how right you are.  

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that we live in a free society and as Americans we have one group telling us to behave a certain way and different group tells us to behave another. The point is that there are many perspectives to consider and as citizens we have a right to express those view points. We also have right to organize, and to correct or uphold the laws which are intended protect us and change those that fall short.  Just because Double Oak has a Gas and Pipeline ordinance on the books, doesn’t mean it’s adequate. And it doesn’t mean it will protect us should something go wrong.  When the current ordinances were passed, it’s likely that few residents ever envisioned the compressor station Williams now proposes. And it’s likely that few if any ever discussed the chemical composition of the hydraulic-fracturing fluid that is injected at high pressure miles below the surface.  Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.

As ordinary citizens like you and I begin to question the wisdom of drilling in residential communities, the Gas industry is spending millions of dollars attempting to influence decision makers with direct and indirect contributions. Public Relations firms hired by industry “Associations” inject their talk track laced with half truths and fallacies like the million gallons of “salt water” solution they pump into every well.  Despite these efforts, I believe the tide is turning against the industry.  Now making its way through Congress, the FRAC Act attempts to close the loopholes exempting the industry from the Clean Air and Water Act signed into law during the Nixon Administration. The industry fears an informed public and will dance around the issues like the political shuck and jive that goes on in Austin and Washington. It’s time to draw the line. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.

Will Evans
Double Oak

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