Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Humanly Reasonable

Public Comments to the Denton City Council, August 4, 2015

Our air and water.
Our health and safety.
Our Denton.

This simple slogan was at the heart of our campaign to ban fracking in Denton. Our priorities were—and remain—to make Denton a healthy and sustainable city for all of our residents to live and grow. In other words, we declared that we want Denton to be a place guided by HUMANLY reasonable standards. The majority of Denton voters agreed last November that fracking within the city limits is incompatible with this goal.

When HB40 nullified our ban and told us that we had to make decisions based on what is commercially reasonable, they stole from us our best means of protecting the health and safety of all people in Denton. 

In effect this leaves our Gas Well Ordinance as the last line of defense of
Our air and water.
Our health and safety.
Our Denton.

This is in fact what is at stake here tonight: nothing less than the question if Denton will insist upon being humanly reasonable, or merely commercially so. 

I believe that what you on the City Council are here to do is represent and serve the people of Denton, and to do everything in your power to protect the wellbeing of ALL of Denton’s residents, not only the interests of industry or developers or property owners. I’m concerned, however, that the current proposal leaves the people of Denton in a worse position than we were in in 2013.

I join the chorus of other Denton residents calling for no reduction in setbacks from 2013 levels, not even in industrial zones. The City Council owes it to us, your constituents who voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking, to protect as much of the city as possible under HB40. Our 1200 foot setbacks are still less than Dallas and Flower Mound’s 1500 foot setbacks, which had a record of being commercially reasonable, even before that term set the new standard. I also want to reiterate the call for reverse setbacks to not be lower than production site setbacks. How can something that is unsafe at less than 1200 feet suddenly be safe at a distance of 250 feet, just because a developer wants to build there? Again, we must be guided by the principle of what is humanly reasonable, not just what is commercially possible. 

Along these lines, I also ask that the Notice of Activities section of the current proposal be improved so that all residents, and not just surface property owners, be notified prior to Operators filing applications for approval of a Gas Well Development Site Plan. 52.3% of all occupied housing units in Denton are renter occupied. Notifying property owners is not sufficient to inform and protect ALL Denton residents. 

And finally, I echo calls for simple and effective means to monitor the impact “commercially reasonable” fracking has on the air, water, health, and safety of Denton residents:
  • Baseline air and water testing paid for by industry, pre- and post-fracking,
  • A ban on open surface pits within city limits, and 
  • Air quality monitors for our communities; we must be able to confirm that Operators are conducting business within existing state and federal laws.
These are all simple but powerful amendments the City Council can make to the proposed Ordinance to ensure that Denton is a reasonable place for humans, not just commercial interests.


Related Posts with Thumbnails