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Dallas City Hall Sues State of Texas Over Citizens Request

December 17, 2012

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joe pool lake dam

 

JOE POOL LAKE DAM EXCLUSION ZONE

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In June 2012, Dallas resident Raymond Crawford filed a Open Records request at Dallas City Hall for information he felt had an impact on the future of shale gas drilling in Dallas. One of the many permits that the City of Dallas had in limbo was an XTO application to drill for shale gas on land owned by Luminant Energy. The land is located at the corner of FM1382 and West Camp Wisdom adjacent to Mountain Creek that connects Mountain Creek Lake to Joe Pool Lake. The land in question has been confirmed to lie within an ‘exclusion zone’ that created a protective buffer away from the Joe Pool Dam.

Since it has been reported that seismic activity may have a negative impact on dam and levee construction, Crawford was interested in finding out what the City of Dallas knew about this impact and when. Thinking that any type of break or compromise in the dam could result in a major disaster for both Dallas and Grand Prairie residents. Crawford felt that it was important to find out what type of correspondence occurred between the City Manager’s office and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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Normally, the length of time to receive results of an Open Records request is 10 days. Crawford did not hear anything form anyone at Dallas City Hall throughout the Summer. Under current laws, Dallas City Hall was in violation of not responding with a confirmation or the documents requested. In September, upon realizing that staff at Dallas City Hall was in violation of such law, letters went to Crawford. The letters tell him that the City of Dallas feels the need to run his request through State of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot.  State Attorney General, Abbott promptly responded telling the City of Dallas that after reviewing the documents, he saw no reason why the documents could not be given to Crawford.

 

The City of Dallas did not like that response and has filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas preventing Crawford from seeing the documents he requested. Crawford says “I still would like to know who in Dallas City Hall corresponded with the Army Corps of Engineers and what type of information related to the dam construction and the effects of drilling was detailed in those documents. Although XTO has recently stated that they have delayed all specific use permits with the Dallas Planning Commission, Crawford says that “the devil is in the details, and I’m still not certain as to what kind of deal has been cut by the Mayor and City Manager.” Crawford was referencing a recent article from The Dallas Observer in which Mayor Mike Rawlings was asked about drilling in the Trinity River floodplain. The Mayor responded,“They will,” he replied. “That deal was cut. If they drill. That’s a business decision for them,” he said.

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Crawford is concerned that the Mayor with City Manager Suhm has a some sort of secret agreement with Trinity East to allow drilling in the floodplain which is currently against City of Dallas policy. Trinity East is prepared to request such action on Thursday, December 20th at City Planning Commission. In order to allow drilling in the Trinity River floodplain and ecosystem, the City Council would have to enact a law to enable such activity.

Crawford concluded, “if the Mayor and City Manager are out there making deals under the table, what does that say for the integrity and ethics of their office?”

Meanwhile, the lawsuit against the State of Texas filed by the City of Dallas is still active to prevent Crawford from getting the information he feels is important to all Dallas residents.

INVITE

 

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarina permalink
    December 18, 2012 1:24 am

    Wow. Just so curious about what they don’t want released. Maybe the same thing that USACE requested of Grand Prairie ~ a Moratorium on anymore drilling and fracking within 3,000 feet of the Dam? Being so reckless with their drilling and fracking plans can’t be good for either Chesapeake or XTO…endangering the lives of thousands who live so close to the earthen Joe Pool Lake Dam may be business as usual for these shale gas operators. It’s a shocking development.

  2. December 18, 2012 8:42 am

    Well done, Raymond! Come on the show and talk about it. (214) 597-1368

    • December 18, 2012 2:01 pm

      Rich, you need to do another show like the one we did in 2010, where we can discuss all the issues with the way the City of Dallas deceived us about the Task Force and all the other shenanigans they have been pulling. Raymond’s request for information is the tip of the iceberg, and it clearly demonstrates that our elected officials are not working for citizens.

  3. December 18, 2012 10:18 am

    How unfortunate it is that citizens can no longer trust public servants to do what is in the best interest and safety of the public. Makes us wonder what information is in that correspondence that the City of Dallas is trying to conceal.

  4. debrawelch@facebook.com Welch permalink
    December 18, 2012 10:34 am

    Thank God for watchdog citizens like Raymond Crawford! I will be following this story now that I have been alerted to it. I live in Grand Prairie and have kept a boat out at Joe Pool Lake for the last 5 years. I am an avid bird watcher, go to Cedar Hill State Park and often think of our ecosystem. The thought of the dam breaking and destroying thousands of people’s homes, property, and lives, is troubling to say the least. Thank you Raymond!!!

  5. Ruth Ann Cook permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:25 am

    Incredible. As the officials fight with each other, maybe some info will actually leak out.

  6. December 18, 2012 12:21 pm

    Way to go Raymond! I fully expect the City to do likewise with Hal’s recent go-round with the ORR on Winfrey and Arboretum. The City did not want to cough up, AGAIN. So, they filed an Attorney General request on the July Attorney Request ruling. Catcha-Twenty-Two, Catcha-Twenty-two.

    Ted

  7. December 18, 2012 12:59 pm

    I have been working with Raymond and others on this issue for the last two and one half years, and we have fought a lot of difficult battles, but none as tough as getting information from elected officials or employees of government that should be public information and subject to publication upon request.

    In October, 2010, I contacted USACE asking about the issue of dam integrity at Joe Pool. I had conversations with USACE’s Terry Schmidt, Bobby Faucett, Tom Johnson, Dave Madden, Skipper Scott, Wayne Lea, Anita Branch, Robert Hooper, Jennifer Walker and LTC Tim McAlister (Deputy Commander of USACE’s Fort Worth Region, now replaced by LTC Andrew N. Liffring), all of whom gave varying bits of information and promising to provide more, but never did. Repeated attempts to talk with Col. Richard J. Muraski, Commander, have been unsuccessful as he as not responded to numerous phone calls and e-mails. Now, USACE has eliminated access to staff biographies and direct contact information from its public website to protect its staff from being contacted by people like you and me – citizens of the United States of America who pay their salaries and for whom they work!

    As early as 1996, USACE was aware of the danger of drilling near dams and the potential for a dam failure resulting in thousands of deaths and destruction of homes and other property. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Texas Resources Management Plan stipulated a setback of at least 3,000 feet from any dam, spillway or other critical infrastructure of a USACE-controlled lake because of the possibility of a failure resulting in catastrophic harm to life and property. Yet, USACE told me that they had not even considered the possibility of a dam failure from frac’ing when I contacted them in 2010, 14 years AFTER the BLM’s Texas Resources Management Plan was released.

    We know that USACE asked the Cities of Grand Prairie and Dallas to cease all plans to drill near the dam at Joe Pool. Grand Prairie had already allowed Chesapeake Energy to drill a well (Corn Valley H1A) just 850 feet from the Joe Pool spillway, and Chesapeake has refused to shut down that well after numerous requests from USACE. Grand Prairie stopped issuing drilling permits near the dam, but Dallas officials have refused to even tell us they had such meetings with USACE, much less what was discussed. This is why Raymond filed his FOIA, and we still want that information because, as citizens, we have every right to know what our elected officials and their staff are doing and how they are doing it.

    Unfortunately, Dallas City Hall thinks it is above the law and does not have to respond with public information for those who elected our city govenment. We believe they are covering up their own corruption and complicity in working under the table deals that were illegal and not in the public’s best interest for health and safety.

    It is very important that citizens attend the CPC hearing on Thursday in the Dallas City Council Chamber on the 6th Floor of City Hall, located at 1500 Marilla Street at Harwood in downtown Dallas at 1:30 PM, and demonstrate to our officials in city government that we demand to be protected in their every action, which is their solemn duty as representatives of the people. We are going to be very vocal in requesting denials of three SUPs for gas exploration and production at the L.B. Houston Sports Complex (Luna Vista Golf Course and Elm Fork Shooting Sports gun range) and the the Elm Fork Soccer Complex adjacent to it.

    Current city ordinances governing gas drilling in Dallas prohibits drilling in public parks and in floodplains. The two SUPs at L.B. Houston violate both prohibitions. The SUP for the soccer complex violates the prohibition against drilling in city parks. Yet, these three SUPs are on the agenda for this Thursday, and We, The People, need to stand and be heard. Please attend on Thursday and demand that government comply with laws and ordinances to protect the health and safety of citizens.

    • December 18, 2012 2:20 pm

      Correction: My first contact with the USACE with the people named above was in September, 2010, not October.

  8. December 18, 2012 3:06 pm

    This story has been out there for some time. Glad to see it picking up some steam, again. The Dam has “moderate to high risk characteristics” structure according to its caretakers ~ USACE.

    http://www.swf.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsReleases/tabid/6565/Article/4519/us-army-corps-of-engineers-announce-dam-safety-program-initiatives-for-joe-pool.aspx

    […]
    A risk informed screening process, which considers current dam behavior, how well the dam meets current design criteria, as well as the potential consequences of dam failure were recently conducted. The screenings classified the dam as having Moderate to High Risk characteristics. The Moderate to High Risk classification is a result of potential embankment slope stability and erosion issues along with downstream consequences. Consequences include potential lives lost, economic, environmental, and other impacts.
    […]

    We have all been placed in danger by the reckless shale gas operators. These kinds of realities should represent the bigger picture for us…the Shale Gas Industry will tell us all is well…that they did lots of research and they know it’s all perfectly safe. This issue alone should show us the underbelly of this beast only wants to get us out of the way so it can have its way.

    • December 18, 2012 5:28 pm

      Ms. Westchester, the issue of bank stability alone is cause for concern at Joe Pool. The fact that USACE has recently being doing remedial repairs to soil erosion and subsidance is scary enough without the added threat of subsurface subsidance and sinkholes or earthquakes that cause a catastrophic failure of the dam.

      I am certain that the City of Dallas, USACE and the City of Grand Prairie wish that we would get distracted by other things and forget about Joe Pool, but this is not going away anytime soon. I am glad that Raymond has brought the matter back to the forefront of our battle and stimulated additional discussion because we need to alert many more people about the threats posed by a potential dam failure at Joe Pool, as well as at other reservoirs where such a failure could produce disastrous results.

      Thank you for that link to the recent USACE study. I will review it momentarily in great detail, and I hope that others will do the same. Keep up the good fight!

      • December 19, 2012 1:08 am

        Yes. That is the issue. The Dam has had known erosion issues since 2009. There was apparently no meeting of the minds prior to drilling and fracking commencing…simply a Form Letter sent to no one in particular in 2010 at USACE.. This form letter landed in the GP City files and was viewed as sufficient “evidence” that USACE was in approval of Chesapeake’s plans.

        Our community is in the shadow of the Joe Pool Lake Dam. Homes are within a few hundred feet of the Dam. Our sources tell us that a break in the Dam would have 3 Feet of water in Downtown Dallas within 24 hours. Those closest to the Dam…we don’t want to imagine that. Knowing what we know about fracking and seismicity…it’s just something to put at the top of our list of “Things to Not Forget About.”

        Just in case you haven’t seen this:

        http://westchestergasette.blogspot.com/2012/06/baldwin-hills-dam-failure-in-1963.html

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