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Proposed Buffer Zone For Dallas Gas Wells May Shrink Drilling

City of Dallas
This drilling test site is used as an example in a presentation Dallas' Gas Drilling Task Force will give city council members on Wednesday.

The Dallas City Plan Commission has reaffirmed intentions to require a 1500 foot buffer zone, or setback, between gas wells and so-called protected uses, like homes.  

Drilling opponent Gary Stuard was at Thursday's City Hall hearing on the new drilling ordinance Plan Commissioners are crafting.  He thanked them for increasing the setback.

"Citizens come first before business," Stuard told Commissioners. "Citizens should never be sacrificed on the altar of profit.”

But gas industry consultant Dallas Cothrum says 1500 feet would be a 250 acre buffer zone, a circle about as big as SMU and the Arboretum combined.

“So 250 acres without a protected use. It’s a ban," Cothrum said as he showed the Commission several slides with wide circles around proposed drilling sites.  "Why come up with a number that doesn’t work.?”

The Plan Commission will hold two more public hearings before finalizing the new gas drilling ordinance and sending it to the City Council for a vote. 

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.