In 2006, Fort Worth, Texas became the first large city in the nation to allow drilling for natural gas in densely populated areas - as close as 200’ from dwellings. While relatively few may be enriched by this unprecedented event, many others are concerned about the negative impact and far-reaching implications of industrial drilling in their communities.
With drilling either underway or planned for nearly every neighborhood, issues such as safety, air and water quality, property values, destruction of natural habitat, and threats to neighborhood integrity are very real. Gas drilling companies are waging an all out advertising campaign to win public support. Many residents remain skeptical and ill at ease. Many feel powerless and resigned.
Because billions of dollars are at stake the powerful energy extraction industry aided by political interests are trying to control the debate. However, as drilling operations move deeper into residential neighborhoods and parks, many people are turning their apathy into activism.
In the grand tradition of political protest art, and participatory democracy, FWCanDo (Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Ordinance), presents an exhibition of artwork on these issues.
Artists, from Goya to Picasso to Keith Haring, to Anonymous have played a crucial role in bringing awareness and expression to the injustices of their times.
Buzzworms in the Backyard provides an opportunity for artists to publicly express their concerns about these important issues. It also encourages them, and the community, to take a closer look at the facts concerning gas drilling in Fort Worth. For more information: http://www.fwcando.org
Fun Facts…about Urban Gas Drilling in Fort Worth, Texas to provoke change and inspire protest.
1. Task FARCE The Fort Worth Gas Drilling Task Force appointed by Mayor Moncrief in 2005 to make recommendations for the current ordinance, was heavily weighted with CEO's from all the major gas drillers in the Barnett Shale, their lawyers and a few developers. Citizen Representatives were outnumbered and outvoted. The final outcome was predetermined.
2. Women's Breasts vs. Gas Wells The City of Fort Worth considers “Gentlemen's” clubs more dangerous than gas wells. Gas wells are allowed as close as 200 ft. from a residence. Gentlemen's clubs: 1,000 ft.
3. CONFLICT #1 Mayor Mike Moncrief says that his oil and gas income is NOT a conflict of interest in city council business despite the fact that he made over half a million dollars from his oil/gas stockholdings in 2006, including Chesapeake Energy. http://www.startelegram.com/metro_news/story/251305.html
4. “Clean Burning”? Natural gas releases several types of carcinogens, including, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. The production of the gas denigrates our air, water and soil. A single well consumes millions of gallons of fresh water. http://www.earthworksaction.org/aircontaminants.cfm#GAS
5. Duck & Cover! The most toxic material on the planet is a byproduct of gas drilling in the Barnett Shale: NORM (Naturally Occurring RADIOACTIVE Material). And you thought Iran was dangerous. Read more and see a slide show, here: http://www.dentonrc.com/sharedcontent/dws/pt/slideshows/2007/11/radioactive_residue/
6. Null & Void The gas drilling industry is exempt from Fort Worth Zoning Regulations. How else to explain their Heavy Industrial sites in our neighborhoods?
7. Got Gas? In May, 2007, the FWISD cosponsored a poster contest, with that unfortunate name, for 9th grade school children. Who were the other sponsors, you ask? Click here to find out: http://www.barnettshaleexpo.com/fwisd_contest.php
8. CONFLICT #2 (no pun intended) Taking the “public” out of public schools, the FWISD, refused to allow information about Buzzworms in the Backyard to be distributed to “public” school art students. I guess the kids are busy asking each other if they Got Gas?...and possibly because the FWISD is doing big business with their cosponsors. http://www.daleresources.com/pdf/Dale%20donates%20$3K%20FWISD.pdf
9. Asleep at the Well Despite being the first large city in the USA to allow Urban Gas Drilling, the City of F.W. REFUSED to conduct environmental impact studies. Fort Worth is already out of compliance with Federal clean air standards. http://www.downwindersatrisk.org/ http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/air/sip/dfw.html
10. Fun Factoid #1 Oil & Gas drilling activities are EXEMPT from Federal Clean Air Act.
11. Fun Factoid #2 Oil & Gas drilling activities are EXEMPT from Federal Clean Water Act.
12. Education Redefined a la P.T. Barnum When Mayor Moncrief realized that too many F.W. residents were getting info from unbiased sources he had a great idea: Create a website owned and operated by some of the Big Boys of the Barnett Shale. That way, suckers like us won’t have to hear any of the Bad News from FWCanDo and others. Voila! The Barnett Shale Energy “Education” Council was born. http://www.bseec.org/
13. Drilling Downtown If you believe that Urban Gas Drilling is nutty, wait until you read about the gas well planned for Downtown Cowtown. The only thing nuttier than that is Mr. Peanut hisself! http://fortworthology.com/2007/09/25/chesapeake-to-drill-for-gas-in-downtown/ http://www.thelogofactory.com/logo_blog/images_ill/mr_peanut.gif
14. Intangible #1 Remember back in ‘04, before the Barnett Shale was discovered, when taking a drive out in the country was one of life’s little pleasures? Not anymore. That is one of the quality of life intangibles that you can’t put a price on. Now gone.
15. Intangible #2 The lights from gigantic gas facilities, burning 24/7, now blot out what few stars were once visible in certain parts of the city. How much is it worth to see the stars from your own backyard?
16. Moneychangers in the Temple One of the most hypocritical symbols of urban gas drilling is the use of Fort Worth churches for leasing parties by gas drilling companies. Across the city, churches, which are among the largest landowners, have eagerly opened their doors for such meetings. Why? The Shekels. Remember your Sunday School lessons about money being the root of all evil? Remember Jesus driving the moneychangers from the temple? Remember several of the Ten Commandments? That was so last millennium. Welcome to the new, “Good News”.
17. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? If gas drillers get their way, there will be at least 3,000 gas wells in Fort Worth alone. Considering that pad sites require removal of all vegetation, Fort Worth will lose a minimum of 15,000 acres of greenspace over the next few years, from natural gas production. That is equal to more than 137 F.W. Botanic Gardens.
18. Worst Case Scenario. What If...? It may be rare, so far, but the odds of a major catastrophe are increasing daily. If a gas well did blowout in an urban neighborhood, what would happen? A gas well DID explode in rural Palo Pinto in ‘05, leveling and burning one square mile, leaving behind a crater hundreds of feet wide. It’s very easy to imagine the death and carnage a similar explosion would cause in your neighborhood. http://www.nbc5i.com/news/5551640/detail.html