Saturday, November 26, 2022

A Mission Unfulfilled

If Flower Mound’s Oil and Gas Advisory Board was an episode of Survivor, I’ve been “voted off the island.”

I was removed from the board because my employer’s Mockingbird affiliate sued the town. Previous members of the board were removed for suing the town, too.

It all sounds the same, right?  Both instances involve litigation, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

 The litigation by previous members was about the town’s oil and gas ordinances – the very thing the board was asked to review. 

Mockingbird’s lawsuit has nothing to do with the town’s oil and gas ordinances and everything to do with clarifying the territorial jurisdiction between Flower Mound and Bartonville.  That’s not something within the board’s scope or purview.

When the town council invited me to apply for the board, I was reluctant due to the public discourse over the past year. I have been occasionally perplexed by the lack of civility in discussing the issues.

Still, I volunteered, believing that my professional and technical expertise as a petroleum engineer gives me something of value to offer.  I’m also grateful for the opportunity to serve my community.  

As a board, we were making progress and working toward the home stretch. Ultimately, there will be some recommendations. I encourage the town’s staff, council and advisors to take the time to approach each one thoughtfully, and to seek counsel on their feasibility.      

As a representative of the energy industry, I was a minority voice on the board. Most of the votes were lopsided, but I knew they probably would be.

The board was meant to reflect the voices, opinions and interests of all of our town’s stakeholders, but honestly, not every demographic is well represented – especially those who welcomed the economic benefits of responsible energy development in Flower Mound.  I do hope their voice gets heard.

Does that mean I have any less respect for my colleagues on the board?  Far from it.  One of the things I gained from this experience was a greater appreciation for the folks who don’t see the world like I do.

It is worth noting, too, that every member is making a sacrifice to serve. They know this is important, and they’re willing to invest their time, energy and passion in the effort, just like I was.

As the mission of the Oil & Gas Advisory Board moves on, I would ask the members, as well as the town, to keep these things in mind:

  1. Mockingbird’s suit isn’t seeking anything from Flower Mound, only a judge’s answer and interpretation of applicable law.
  2. In the past few weeks, the town’s third-quarter air analysis ­– done by Kleinfelder – has yet again shown that the air quality in Flower Mound is good. This makes the 10th time this year that a test has shown that Williams’ emissions controls are working.
  3. Please continue to make informed decisions, basing them on fact-finding – not on the fear and accusation that have become somewhat prevalent.
  4. Current Flower Mound regulations are among the most restrictive in the Barnett Shale. Given that, please carefully consider to what extent any new changes are practical, necessary and representative of all stakeholders in town. 
  5. There are no new drill sites that could be permitted between Williams’ existing gas production in west Flower Mound and where development is occurring on the Hilliard site.  The area between these two sites is already off-limits, which is quite possibly the town’s most densely populated area.

As a Flower Mound resident, wife, and mother of two, I love this community. Certainly, I am disappointed I won’t be able to continue to provide professional advice as the board completes its deliberation of oil and gas ordinances. 

But when it comes to promoting civility and mutual respect, count me in.

Deborah Hempel-Medina
Flower Mound, TX

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