Interview with a Vampire(Trinity East Energy)
After watching the “I Love Mary” game show today put on by a majority of the Dallas City Council as the panel, with your host Mike Rawlings, we felt that it was important to put a few things in perspective. While Council members Scott Griggs and Angela Hunt produced time lines, documents, and City Attorney witnesses, to show the deception that has been in play for a while, a large group of council members wrapped their arms of support around Mary Suhm.
Back on May 5, 2012, The Dallas Observer published an in depth interview with Steve Fort, a Trinity East Energy representative about their plans to drill in Dallas.
It’s important to notice not only the vagueness of Fort’s answers, but his direct answers as well. Remember that “the deal was cut” to use Mayor Mike Rawlings words, are featured in this article: The Dallas Observer from another Dallas Observer article in December 2012.
Excerpts from The Dallas Observer article are below:
Tell me about the land Trinity East has leased along the Trinity.
I think we originally leased about 3,500 acres that the city owns [the acreage was reduced in an agreement to extend the lease]. There’s a golf course, which is a floodplain and it floods periodically. There’s a gun range, and frankly, the environmental impact of that is so much greater than ours it’s really kind of funny if you think about it, and the rest of [the acreage] is not even being used. It’s called parkland, but if you go down there, a lot of the areas, you wouldn’t want to go down there at night by yourself.
How many drilling pad sites would you plan on placing in Dallas when all is said and done — how many pad sites would Trinity East have in Dallas?
I don’t know, we currently have three pending, two of them are on city of Dallas-owned land. But for the park area up there, L.B. Houston area, we only have two sites on city of Dallas property planned. That’s all we need.
How many pad sites would Trinity East place on that land in total, notwithstanding the ordinance changes?
We don’t have an exact number planned. We planned these three, and then we submitted them and that’s when all of this stuff [ordinance changes] started to happen, so we kind of put it on hold until we determine what the city of Dallas is going to do.
Can you give a rough estimate of how many pad sites people should expect, notwithstanding the ordinance changes?
On city of Dallas property? … There won’t be that many within the city of Dallas limits.
Can you give me a ballpark figure?
Five or six, maybe. Very few.
And that’s on both private and city land?
And five or six would allow you to access all of the gas that you feel you can access.
Again, that’s an estimation, but it’s in that range, yes.
So when people worry that the flood plain will be dotted with drill sites, that’s not how Trinity East intends to develop the land?
A pad site is three to four acres, and on that three to four acres can be 10-15 well heads. So there will be multiple wells but it will be on a limited number of pad sites.
How does Trinity East’s Dallas land figure into the whole system you have planned with pipelines and drill sites in other cities?
It’s a critical piece of our master plan. In fact, our master plan was built largely in reliance on the city of Dallas piece.
Would a preventative ordinance here affect your ability to transport gas from other cities where you’re drilling? Can you explain that?
Yes, we have a master plan for pipelines and transportation of the gas. It all runs through this part of our project. It will have a negative, possibly a terminating impact on our entire project. So there’s a lot more at stake than the 19 million dollars that we paid for these leases.
What is Dallas caught between? What won’t be connected by this missing link if that ends up being the case?
Well, it will involve Farmers Branch and Irving.
Do you have wells in both those cities now?
We have a well in Irving; we don’t have a well in Farmers Branch. We have SUPs that have been granted in both those cities.
Would I be able to see the master plan so I can kind of understand it better?
No, I don’t think so. That’s just confidential information for our company. It’s not public.
The two sites on city property with pending zoning permits — they’re both in the floodplain, correct?
Yes. … We worked with the parks board in developing those sites and they approved them. And then we also got approval from the Corps of Engineers.
I was unclear on whether a company could drill in a floodplain in Dallas after looking through the ordinance because drilling isn’t currently listed as an approved use.
The way it works is, the existing Dallas ordinance does not prohibit drilling — the statement in the blog [referencing our Buzz column] that the current ordinance prohibits drilling in the floodplain or parklands is totally inaccurate. [Side note from Patrick Williams, the guy who wrote that Buzz post: Right now, city ordinances don’t specifically prohibit gas drilling in a floodplain, he says. True. They just don’t allow drilling — unless the rules are changed, that is. Okeedokee. I’ll leave it to gas drillers, lawyers and Zen philosophers discuss the subtle differences between things that aren’t allowed to happen and things that are prohibited from happening and simply point out this: If Buzz was totally inaccurate, then there’s NO REASON for the City Council to accept the task force’s OWN FREAKIN’ recommendation and change the floodplain rules. Seems like that should be fine with drillers and anti-fracking folks. Win-win! Sheesh.]
The way it works is that all activities in the floodplain are controlled by its own section in the Dallas ordinance. And the way it works and has worked for 100 years is whenever somebody wants to do something in the floodplain that’s never been done before, they approach the city, and the city amends it to allow that as an allowed use … drilling is not on there because nobody’s ever approached them before, but when we took the lease, we had that discussion with the city. It was made very clear that adding that as a permitted use would not be an issue. In fact, as late as a year ago, when we were dealing with the staff, they were prepared to put that forward to the City Council and add that as a permitted use.
So we’ve relied on that, and in fact, drilling on the floodplain is really the best place to use it because those are the areas that are farthest away from residential uses. And there’s lots of heavy industrial uses in that area down there in the floodplain.
When you were making these plans and working with the parks board and working with others at the city, was there someone at the city who was spearheading this?
Yes, and we were told that the staff would make that initiation to make that code change, and it was not a big deal.That’s what we were told.
Who was it?
I’m not gonna name names because I’d rather not do that.
Was any of this put in writing or in a contract, or was it a verbal understanding?
There was some documentation that I can’t discuss.
Why can you not discuss that?
I’d just rather not. We’re trying to work with the city. We don’t want to get in a fight with the city. But we do expect to drill and access those properties that we’ve paid a lot of money for. And we believe that the citizens of Dallas deserve to get to reap the benefit of those minerals that they own.
Is there more land leased on private property that’s not included on the map [above]?
And where is that?
It’s all around it.
How much land is leased on private property on land that’s not included on the map?
I really can’t disclose that. That’s kind of proprietary information, but it’s a lot.
Why can’t you disclose that?
I’d prefer not to. We’re a privately held company. We don’t disclose our internal business workings.
So would some of the pad sites be 300 feet from residences?
No, we’re nowhere near any residential uses on our pad sites?
What would be the closest?
At least half a mile.
Is that a policy of your company or …
No, it just happens to be the sites that we chose; we thought they were best suited for this being in a remote area. And we worked with the parks board to do that.
There would be no drilling closer than a half mile, no matter what the ordinance says.