North Texas Daily

Protests continue over natural gas drilling (Multimedia)

Protests continue over natural gas drilling (Multimedia)

September 01
23:27 2009


By Chris Speight and Josh Pherigo / Senior Staff Writer and Staff Writer –
(Video By Jayda Quincey / Staff Photographer)

Protesters stood on the side of McKinney Street holding cardboard signs reading “Preserve Our Park,” on Tuesday afternoon. The activists rallied in front of City Hall against the drilling near McKenna Park.

The drill site in question is on the Rayzor Ranch development, which is across the street from McKenna Park on Scripture and Bonnie Brae streets.

International Socialist Organization member Elizabeth Clinton waves a protest sign in front of City Hall. (Photo By Stephen Masker / Photographer)

International Socialist Organization member Elizabeth Clinton waves a protest sign in front of City Hall. (Photo By Melissa Boughton / Photographer)

Members of the International Socialist Organization, concerned residents, students, police officers and the press were present before the Denton City Council meeting convened.

The organization held the protest because profit is superseding human rights, said Charlie Grand, member of the International Socialist Organization.

At about 5 p.m., police told those present at the protest that the issue was still tabled on the city council agenda. It has been tabled three times, beginning in July. The International Socialist Organization has held three protests so far about this issue.

“This is one of those not-in-my-backyard situations. Well this time, it is in my backyard,” Grand said.

Grand said he does not agree with the idea that Range Resource, the drilling company, has property rights for something underneath other people’s homes.

Texas Railroad Commission guidelines secure mineral owners the right to extract gas for profit. Denying the drilling site completely or even an attempt to move it could pull the city into an expensive lawsuit.

“Texas state law really sides on the side of the mineral rights owner,” John Cabrales, city of Denton spokesman said. “If you have the mineral rights, sometimes your right to access those minerals supersedes a landowner’s.”

The current drill site would place gas wells across the street from Denton Presbyterian Hospital, a retirement community, a hospice, a park and a residential neighborhood.

“It would appear the gas is located beneath the neighborhood, which requires slant drilling and the plummeting of their property value,” Grand said.

Eighteen-month-old Gracie Briggle holds a sign at a national gas protest in front of City Hall. (Photo By Stephen Masker / Photographer)

Eighteen-month-old Gracie Briggle holds a sign at a national gas protest in front of City Hall. (Photo By Melissa Boughton / Photographer)

Sammie Haren, who lives six houses down from the proposed drill site, owns the mineral rights to her residence. She said the property has been in her family for 54 years.

Haren came to the council meeting to express her concern about the dangers, which she believes are associated with the proposed drilling, she said.

“I’m not going to trash the environment or endanger people’s lives for a buck,” Haren said, when asked about the mineral profits that she stands to gain.

Protesters said they will rally every two weeks at city council meetings to make their point heard.

Cabrales said that meetings between the city of Denton, Rayzor Ranch and Range Resource Developers are continuing.

The three parties are discussing the options of finding other locations on the property of where to move the drill site.

Sharon Wilson, a member of the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project said she came to the council meeting to lend her support to those wishing to voice their opinions.

“They can easily move it farther away,” Wilson said. “Current horizontal drilling technology allows drilling to be carried out from greater distances than the proposed site. It’s probably easier, more convenient, and cheaper for the company to put it there but they don’t have to. It’s a convenience issue for the drilling company.”

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