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Dallas City Council Approves More Restrictive Gas Drilling Ordinance

Bill Zeeble
Jim Schermbeck with Downwinders At Risk is pleased with the 1,500-foot restriction.

The Dallas City Council passed a new, more restrictive gas drilling ordinance this afternoon. It includes a 1,500-foot setback from homes, businesses, schools and other so-called protected uses.

An 11th hour amendment was approved that requires a tougher two-thirds majority council vote to reduce the setback.

The council approved the ordinance 9-6, with Mayor Mike Rawlings voting for it.

Council member Lee Kleinman voted against the ordinance. He says the 1,500-foot setback effectively kills gas drilling opportunities.

“We’re going to have an ordinance that we might as well save a lot of paper and write a one-line ordinance that says there will be no gas drilling in the city of Dallas,” he said. “That would be a much easier ordinance to have.”  

Council member Carolyn Davis disagreed. She says the ordinance doesn’t outlaw drilling -- it keeps residents safe.  

“I think this is about making sure people are protected in their neighborhoods,” she said. “It is the right thing to do.”

The ordinance, crafted by the City Plan Commission, would allow drilling on park land if certain conditions are met and if the state Parks and Wildlife Department gives the required approval.     

Drilling opponents had wanted to see drilling banned on park land.  But they’re pleased that the drilling buffer zone was increased from 300 to 1500 feet.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.
Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.