Energy companies not sensitive to concerns of low-income families

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    Before we break our arms patting ourselves on the backs because the plan to have a natural gas well on campus has apparently been avoided, maybe we should read between the lines.

    It’s true that if Chesapeake Energy’s south side plan is approved by the city of Fort Worth, we will no longer have a gas well near the stadium, but the proposed well didn’t disappear. In fact, it mysteriously multiplied.

    Opposition from the influential TCU community put politicians under pressure and brought lots of unwanted attention to the reality of urban drilling in the city.

    The pressure made it difficult for Chesapeake to proceed with its plans to put in a production well and run pipelines through residents’ yards via imminent domain as the gas industry giant, through its subsidiaries, has already done to less-fortunate people all over the city.

    Average people, myself included, have been robbed of peace of mind and unless you are wealthy, no one seems to care.

    When XTO Energy moved into my own neighborhood, which is in Fort Worth but outside of Tarrant County, the Railroad Commission of Texas refused to even consider a petition, signed by almost everyone on our street that explained our narrow, winding, country roads with steep embankments were not safe for 18-wheeler traffic. Two SUVs barely fit when traveling in opposite directions, so what is going to happen when a tanker truck meets a school bus? The commission recently approved a site just over 200 feet from my back door and less than 100 feet from my childrens’ playground without flinching.

    But the concerns of the TCU community were heard loud and clear, and faced with a battle Chesapeake couldn’t win, the company moved the proposed sites to areas with a higher concentration of immigrants, who may be less likely to protest, and lower-income families. Both of these groups also either can’t vote or in the case of lower-income families, hold less political clout.

    Chesapeake said it will not withdraw its application for the well at TCU unless the city approves the new “Meerkat to Seminary” plan which includes four new sites including some in very close proximity to homes, the Trinity River Trails and school campuses including the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Rosemont 6th Grade School on McCart Avenue.

    University and city officials have praised the plan as being incredibly thoughtful and an ideal outcome, but it seems like all we did was take the well and pipeline plans from a wealthy area, multiply them and transplant them into areas that are less affluent.

    Robyn Walton, head of the Colonial Hills Neighborhood Association gas drilling committee, said the City Council had already made it clear they were not going to grant any high-impact permits for well sites within 300 feet of homes, and that there was not really any place on campus that was suitable for drilling that was fit that criteria.

    If this is true, which I certainly hope it is, why is Chesapeake now able to hold the TCU permit as leverage to get the other sites approved?

    I wanted to ask Chesapeake, but they did not immediately return numerous calls for comment.

    They can name the plan after incredibly adorable zoo animals, but the truth about what’s happening here is ugly.