I attended the City of Southlake City Council meeting last night and spoke up against the city allowing hydrofracking gas drilling. I cited the environmental impact and called the councilors to account for their moral, not just their political and legal responsibility on the issue. I left the statistics to other organizers, but did mention that I thought one councilor wouldn’t continue drinking her water if it was 1% Benzene or Arsenic. I couldn’t make it to the end of the meeting last night as I have a sermon to prepare today and I’m also moving the congregation’s worship planning to an online worship organizer as well as preparing for a special congregational meeting. At the special congregational meeting, with everything else on the congregation’s plate, I want to ask my congregation to take stand, a public position opposing the hyraulic fracturing process of drilling for natural gas. I’ve done a slow burn on the issue over the two and half years I’ve lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and then a crash course the last two weeks, catching up on the details. Once again corporate America -in this case XTO (Exxon)- puts profits before people (and animals and the environment).
The most stunning, but I suppose not too surprising moment of the evening came when White’s Chapel, a 10,000 member Methodist mega church a few miles away from our UU congregation sent a petition and a letter signed by the church’s board of directors in SUPPORT of the gas drilling citing the church’s mineral rights (the church stands to make money from the drilling). Ah yes, what would Jesus do? Take the money, of course! Frack the environment.
Activists with whom I am in contact tell me this is not uncommon. Churches in other towns sell out their mineral rights as well. I hope my congregation will take up the issue and a public stand against the gas drilling. The movement needs a voice of faith in this area. Three letters from our congregation were read into the record opposing drilling at the meeting and two of our members attended.
A couple of speakers stood out for me at the City Council meeting last night. One was a man from Southlake who recently moved into town and was in his own words, “Stunned” that the Council was “even considering the issue (of gas drilling.)” Why was he stunned? When moved into town, he bought two lots to build a house and was brought into the council chambers before the planning and zoning board and the City Council to explain and justify the “environmental impact” his project would have on the “trees, rare insect species, and other animals” in Southlake. The irony was so thick in the room you cut it with a chain saw.
Ginger Simonson, a noted anti-drilling activist was passed over in the public forum. It seemed obvious the Council knew who she was and did not want to hear from her. She was not a Southlake citizen, she was incredibly informed and she was against the drilling. Coincidences, perhaps, but perhaps no.
The last person to speak in the public forum was lawyer for the gas industry. Her entrance was so dramatic and overdone, it had to have been staged. She rushed in at the last minute, “just off the plane from Houston.” She told the Council that a man in a Houston Home Owners Association wanted to sell his mineral rights to a gas company, but the HOA denied drilling rights to the gas company and the home owner sued the city for millions of dollars and surely Southlake wants to avoid THAT. She also said that she just spoke to the toxicologist at the gas company and asked him if he would move his family next to well and the guy said yes. Sure he would. Both that woman and that guy know enough about these wells to stay far, far away from them.