Angela’s Tweets for 2011-02-28

A Plan for Dallas’ Gas Drilling Taskforce

Cities across the country have been struggling to address the health, safety and environmental issues associated with a new gas drilling technique known as hydro-fracking, where large volumes of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals are injected deep into the ground to release natural gas trapped in rock.

Last month, the Dallas City Council agreed to delay a drilling permit vote until a city-appointed taskforce could review and revise the city’s drilling ordinance.  However, a taskforce proposal has not been forthcoming, and concerned residents have regularly voiced their frustration to the City Council about this delay.

Creating a gas drilling taskforce is a critical first step in evaluating the hazards that may be posed by hydro-fracking.  Just today, The New York Times issued a troubling report:

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.

Given the growing evidence of risks associated with hydro-fracking, the Dallas City Council must move swiftly to address the safety of this practice.  To move this issue forward, last week I proposed to my colleagues the formation of a Gas Drilling Taskforce, outlining its composition and responsibilities based on best practices and lessons learned from other North Texas cities.  Among other things, the Gas Drilling Taskforce will be responsible for proposing revisions to the city’s gas drilling ordinance and forwarding their recommendations to the Dallas City Council.

The health and welfare of Dallas residents is paramount.  Since time is short (the vote on one gas drilling permit has been reset for October), I will be working with my colleagues to implement the Gas Drilling Taskforce as quickly as possible.

Angela’s Tweets for 2011-02-21

Weather Update – Friday 1pm

Just got this update from City Hall:

Just a quick update, except for light flurries the snow has ended and the arterial streets are in fairly good shape. They are slushy and will refreeze tonight.

TXDOT is bringing in 44 additional snowplows from West Texas more than doubling the snowplow effort in Dallas and Tarrant Counties.

The City continues sanding operations with 60 trucks.

We have approximately 300 stranded Greyhound passengers at the Greyhound terminal.  We are providing security.

Love Field will begin operations around 1 pm.

Update on Weather-Related Closures/City Response

I received this update this morning from First Asst. City Manager Ryan Evans:

We have received about five inches of snow and another two to three inches may fall before this stops somewhere around noon.  Temperatures are expected to peak around 24 degrees so there will be little to no melting.  Around 11 am tomorrow the temperature is expected to reach 32 degrees with highs in the 40s.  So, there will be fairly rapid melting tomorrow.

  • Several media outlets have reported that the City is closed for business today.  That is incorrect and the outlets have been notified.
  • All facilities with the exception of municipal court jury trials and the following libraries will be open although they will be minimally staffed.  Citizens can still go to the city courts building to pay and the proof or plea docket is open.
  • We have been unable to open some libraries due to staff unable to make it to work. Those libraries include:
  • Arcadia
  • Dallas West
  • Forest Green
  • Fretz Park
  • Hampton
  • Highland Hills
  • Kleberg
  • Lakewood
  • MLK
  • Mountain Creek
  • Oak Lawn
  • Pleasant Grove
  • Polk Wisdom
  • Skillman
  • We have 60 sand trucks in operation focusing on emergency response routes, hospitals, fire  and police stations, bridges, overpasses and viaducts.  When these are sanded they will move on to major arterials.
  • TXDOT is focusing on the freeways.
  • Garbage pickup, which we had hoped to start back up today or tomorrow is further suspended until regular pickup times next week.
  • Love Field is closed.  One runway has been cleared of snow and deicing is being applied.
  • DFW Airport is open to arriving flights but over 120 departing flights have been cancelled.
  • The Emergency Operations Center is operational.
  • We continue to have very few Super Bowl event complications.

Here’s a  good news article from The Dallas Morning News that explains why so many of our residential streets have not been cleared of ice/snow.

Update from Oncor

Just got this from Oncor:

Grid situation improving but conservation still needed

Winter record expected Thursday morning; consumers asked to reduce energy consumption 6-9 am

ERCOT’s electricity demand peaked this evening at 56,334 MW between 7-8 pm – a new all-time record for winter peak demand.  ERCOT’s previous record for all time winter peak demand is 55,878 MW, which occurred on Jan. 8, 2010.

Although the immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages this evening are reduced, ERCOT will still be monitoring the grid closely this evening because additional unexpected major losses of generation could force operators to proceed with emergency procedures to avoid an uncontrolled statewide blackout.

Another record demand expected Thursday morning

At this time, the forecast for tomorrow’s peak load is 56,800 MW which would break the record again.  ERCOT is asking consumers to reduce energy consumption during peak-demand times from 6 – 9 am.

The grid continues to have more than 5,000 MW of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold.

Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service initiated by each utility when supplies of reserve power are exhausted.  Without this safety valve, generators would overload and begin shutting down to avoid damage, risking a domino effect of a state-wide outage.

Utilities/ transmission providers determine the location/scheduling of the rotating outages.  

Update from Atmos Gas

FROM ATMOS GAS:

Atmos Energy, the largest distributor of natural gas in Texas, has seen record demands for gas due to the extremity of the cold weather in North Texas. According to John Paris, president of Atmos Energy Mid-Tex Division, “Our system has performed admirably due to a lot of preparation and the dedication of our service personnel who have been working around the clock. A curtailment order was issued for noon today by Atmos Energy. We are either curtailing or interrupting all industrial customers North of I-30 in the Dallas, Rockwall, and Tarrant counties. In addition, all industrial customers are curtailed or interrupted in Denton, Collin, Cooke and Grayson counties. This curtailment order to industrials is issued to ensure adequate supply to our residential and commercial customers.” Paris also noted, “The forecast continues to call for frigid temperatures over the next several days which means we still have severe weather ahead of us.” Again, it is imperative that customers conserve energy by:

  • Setting thermostats to 65 degrees. Keeping warm by insulating yourself with sweaters and jackets.
  • Limiting early morning hot water use! Taking showers, doing dishes and laundry in the late afternoon and early evening prevents additional use at the peak wake-up time.
  • Limiting opening doors, etc. If possible, use the smallest living space you can, and reduce the temperature in unused spaces to 60.
  • Closing blinds and drapes to keep heat in unless there is direct sunlight available to help warm the space.

If a customer experiences any problem with their gas service, they should call 888-286-6700. The company asks for patience as some response times have been affected due to hazardous driving conditions.