Bridlewood Quality of Life Coalition

Guest Editorial by kim0917

Below is a guest editorial written by Bridlewood resident Debbie Huffstutler.  It originally appeared in the Lantana community’s newsletter.

Most of us were taught at a very young age, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Perhaps the Oil and Gas Companies are exempt from this rule. When every other company and citizen has to follow the standards set by the EPA for Clean Air and Water, the O&G industry is exempt. Why? As the push for neighborhood drilling ensues, my question is: How safe is drilling, really? Especially when they are exempt from keeping our air and water clean.

In the Bridlewood neighborhood of Flower Mound, we have a large number of residents looking for truthful answers about the proposed drilling in our neighborhood and town. We are not opposed to gas drilling, just the drilling being done in highly populated, family-oriented areas, such as Bridlewood. We have realistic questions and concerns that we would like answered. We believe there are still a lot of missing and unknown facts on both sides of this issue, especially in regard to the long-term impact.

The proposed drilling affects everyone in our neighborhood, not just those that surround it. It’s about the community as a whole. It appears that gas drilling is being portrayed as no big deal with lots of money for landowners.

We have been told there will be a little noise for a period of time and then it will be a quiet and contained operation. This is a 75 to 120 foot tall metal structure that will be loudly drilling thousands of feet down and across into hard, solid rock and shale day and night to get to a highly flammable substance. Once drilled, the gas production could last for several years to several decades. This seems like a big deal to us.

Here are a few points that we learned while doing research on this topic: The proposed gas drilling site for Bridlewood would be located north of the driving range, just south of the 5th hole tee box or possibly near the 10th hole. On the large drilling site pad, 14 wells would be drilled with each drill extending out underneath homes and schools for about a mile. The drilling, or fracturing, of each well takes approximately 30 days and are done one at a time. Each fracturing uses approximately four million gallons of fresh water. That would mean 56 million gallons of water just for drilling in Bridlewood. We have been told that 14 wells means there will be constant 24/7 drilling for up to 2 years. The continuous gas production will go on for several years or more. This is not a small, quick project.

How will we as a community be affected? Bridlewood will no longer be a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, which was why we all purchased our homes here. Bridlewood Boulevard and other area roads will need to be replaced once or twice during the drilling process. Bridlewood will lose its prestigious appeal and be known as the neighborhood with the gas drilling. Our neighborhood will become less desirable for both existing homeowners and potential new homebuyers due to its industrial activities and associated risks. There will also be considerable amounts of additional traffic on our already crowded roads, from the water, sand and equipment trucks.

Some people are upset with the red signs that shout “Just Say No to Urban Gas Drilling.” They say it scares people away from the neighborhood. A sign scares them? How will a drilling rig pose less of a threat?

We have heard the argument that if ordinances and variances had not been changed in the past, our neighborhood and most of Flower Mound wouldn’t have been developed. As if we were the ones responsible for the changes and how dare us question anything else. However, if those things weren’t changed and these neighborhoods weren’t built, we all would have found homes in other areas and perhaps would not be facing a fight to preserve our quality of life.

This town and many developers made money off of the fact that we bought our homes here and we shop here, but now we should just sit on the sidelines and not dare fight for our right to quiet enjoyment of our homes?

Here are some important health and environmental hazards to consider: There are potential airborne toxins that can be distributed throughout the community via the wind. It is not just those around the site. We have to consider the construction of the pad site, radioactive materials, raw gas (which has no smell), exhaust from trucks and diesel motors and many other materials or contaminants that aren’t seen, which are part of natural gas extraction. Then we also have a potential for ground and water supply contamination.

While gas drilling company officials say they use precautions and high-tech systems, practices and equipment to better the production, these health and environmental risks are viable scenarios. Did you know the Oil and Gas companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals they use because it is considered proprietary information?

Then we have our financial considerations: What are the tax implications? What are the homeowner’s insurance implications? What about our mortgages or if we apply for a home equity loan? What about people trying to get mortgages on a home someone needs to sell. If it is a money making property, aren’t these things affected?

When does safety trump profit? When we ask those in favor of drilling where they get their information about safety to our health and environment, they reference material given by the Oil and Gas companies. So if the gas company says it’s safe look no further? Are we really that credulous? People should be checking and rechecking their facts, their research, and information. Especially when other people’s safety, health and environment depend on its accuracy.

The impact of neighborhood drilling may not be fully understood for five to 20 years down the line. What if what they are saying is based on faulty information or lack of information? Do we really want to risk it without the answers? Is it fair for others to force us into risks we did not want to take? Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? Mineral owners should be able to tap into their minerals. No one is saying they shouldn’t. What we are saying is that there are those of us who also own mineral rights, but we’d rather not tap into them and jeopardize our neighbor’s safety, health and environment, as we would not want them to jeopardize ours.

Do the Gas Rigs, and all of the equipment involved in the drilling process, really need to be in the middle of neighborhoods in order to get to the minerals? The Barnett Shale is not going anywhere. There is really no rush because as time marches on, the gas will only be a more valuable resource in the future when it can be safely extracted. We would like to hear legitimate answers to our concerns. If the answer remains “there is no evidence at this time,” “no conclusive proof either way,” well, that’s not an answer, so let’s wait until there is one.


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