Monday, April 20, 2009

Flower Mound Oil & Gas Ordinance Threatened by Texas State House Bills

This letter was sent to us by Virgina Jellison. It was sent to her and she is forwarding it on. It is regarding 3 House Bills that could threaten our Oil & Gas Ordinance. Whether you have signed a gas lease or not, this will impact all Flower Mound Residents. Please show up to the Town Council Meeting this Monday, April 20, at 6:00pm. and request the town officials take a stand against these bills. Let your voice be heard.Below is a copy of the letter sent out.

Dear Residents of Flower Mound:
While we were asleep...Oil and Gas Companies have been quietly maneuvering at the State capitol to remove the ability of local governments to protect its citizens. The denial of gas drilling waivers requested by River Walk developers/owners, who then immediately sued Flower Mound, is at the forefront.
Three Texas House Bills are currently purposed by Oil and Gas companies that would eliminate municipal ordinances that protect residents from having gas wells and pipelines in our yards, next to our schools, on our golf courses, and in front of our churches. Mineral rights already supersede the rights of the surface owner. Which means, that unless you take action oil & gas companies that own or lease mineral rights will determine where to drill, even on your own property? Your only claim will be for damages after they are done drilling. [Think 20 years later, with you having to justify the lost value to and get support from an industry-friendly court.] Otherwise, you will personally have to sue the drillers. How much money do you have to fight a team of highly paid oil/gas industry lawyers?
These bills are:
H.B.2110 – In simple terms states that after a gas driller is turned down for a permit, possibly due to multiple setback violations [like River Walk] they can easily sue the town for a “taking” of their gas and the town will lose its sovereign immunity. [Like the $200 million dollar lawsuit filed by Red Oak against Flower Mound]. Our town ordinances will no longer be able to protect our residents with safety measures and minimum setback for how close a drilling site or drilling can be to any building. [Goodbye 1,000, 500, 400 foot setbacks]
- This bill has moved from committee to the calendar committee for scheduling the House vote -

H.B.4654 – In simple terms states that Texas Railroad Commission will immediately replace municipal ordinances with ordinances that they write for us and we will have to adopt. Towns can no longer determine what a safe distance is from our homes, schools, churches, and businesses. Our ordinance will be null and void. [Think Gas wells at Northshore, River Walk, and Bridlewood Golf Course.]
H.B. 4441 – Takes away the very few rights of local governments to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents and property owners, specifically with regards to: - Rights of way; Screening; Noise Suppression; and Set-backs from Protected Uses in regard to placing gas pipelines. This proposed bill would grant the Texas Railroad Commission "original jurisdiction" over all of these things.
Unfortunately, the Texas Railroad Commission is over-extended with its primary responsibility of maximizing oil and gas production AND has regularly demonstrated both a lack of will and a lack of ability to effectively advocate for environmental and public safety issues. We know best how to protect our own neighborhoods.
Three Railroad Commissioners lavished with campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry cannot possibly create rules to protect millions of Texas home owners.
What does this mean for Flower Mound and all Texas communities?
The Texas Legislature is doing the bidding of the Gas Industry by taking local ordinances out of Flower Mound’s hands. The Gas Industry has found a way, they believe, to silence our voices
Also, this sets precedence for eliminating Flower Mound’s authority to uphold our other town ordinances: SMARTGrowth, Master Plan, etc. This is a downward spiral for all home owners, our property values, and our quality of life!
Take action today! Oil and Gas Companies are moving these and other bills like them to a vote.
Contact your local and state representatives and tell them how you feel. Write letters, send emails, and make phone calls.
1. Tell your neighbors and friends and have them do the same. The Gas Industry has been trying to slide these bills through quietly, so no one will know until it is too late.

2. Ask your Town Elected Officials to take a stand for its residents, rather than yield to River Walk partners. The Flower Mound Leader reports that Town leadership is "going to take a wait and see position". Roy Morris, a local attorney and one of the owners of River Walk and Founders Square, testified in favor of the HB 2110 and stated that Flower Mound is the reason for the bill. Morris and his partners in River Walk are suing our residents for over $200 million dollars. Also, they have asked us for $5 million dollars for River Walk reimbursements known as "economic development incentives" (tax abatements). Our hard earned Taxpayers' money could be used to sue us for more Taxpayer’s money!!!!

3. Vote in the local election for candidates who truly support our gas ordinances and will commit to fight to uphold those ordinances!

Contact information below:
Tell them that you want them to take action have the town’s lobbyist (tax payers money) to lobby against these bills.
Local Government: Email Phone
Mayor Jody Smith 817-480-3211
Tim Trotter 972-539-2290
Jeff Tasker 214-766-7067
Joel Lindsey 972-899-2805
Jean Levenick 817-430-2252
Al Filidoro 972-539-2145
Denton County - State Representative
State Representative Tan Parker
Telephone: 972-724-8477

State Senator Chris Harris Tel: (972) 436-1001
Senator Jane Nelson email: (817) 488-7400
Congressman Michael Burgess
(972) 434-9700
House Committee on Energy Resources
Chair: Rep. Jim Keffer 512-463-0656
Vice Chair:Rep. Myra Crownover 512-463-0582
Rep. Joe Crabb 512-463-0520
Rep. Tom Craddick 512-463-0500
Rep. David Farabee 512-463-0534
Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles 512-463-0645
Rep. Rick Hardcastle 512-463-0526
Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra 512-463-0463
Rep. Mark Strama 512-463-0821

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