Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pipeline dangers abound in Texas

WFAA / News 8

The gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Francisco suburb last month did more than kill, injure and devastate a neighborhood.

It put many North Texans on edge, leaving them wondering what condition Texas pipelines are in... and could a similar tragedy happen here?

The answer is easy. It has already happened here, many times. The better question is: Where and when will it happen again?

Full Story:

SOUTHLAKE, TX: XTO Energy seeking city gas drilling permit

Reprinted from Star-Telegram / Southlake Journal
By Nicholas Sakelaris

Southlake's drilling ordinance will be put to the test next month with XTO Energy's application for gas wells on the Milner family ranch.

The application calls for up to 18 gas wells on the 52-acre property on Highland Street south of Texas 114 and east of White Chapel Boulevard. The initial application requests just two wells.
The Planning & Zoning Commission is scheduled to vote on the specific use permit for the proposed gas well at its Nov. 4 meeting. The City Council could follow in November or December.

This marks the first time that a gas well has come up for a city vote, so the process could be tedious, some council members have warned.

If the council approves the specific use permit, the next step would be the approval of a gas well permit, which is approved by city staff.

In response to residents' concerns, XTO Energy changed the location of the drill site so it would be more than 1,000 feet from homes on Summerplace Lane. The new application reflects the change and complies with the 1,000-foot buffer in Southlake's drilling ordinance. The two homes on the Milner property are less than 1,000 feet from the wellhead, but the owners have signed waivers consenting to the drilling.

City leaders went over the drilling application at a joint council and commission workshop Oct. 5.
One major concern: where would XTO Energy get the millions of gallons of water needed for hydraulic fracturing? The process, known as fracking, is where gas companies inject water, sand and other chemicals under high-pressure into the well bore to release the gas trapped inside the shale.

Read more:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Flower Mound Suspends Issuance of Natural Gas Drilling and Production Permits

The Flower Mound Town Manager issued a temporary administrative suspension of the issuance of natural gas drilling and production permits at 12 p.m. on May 28, 2010. In accordance with the suspension, the Town of Flower Mound will not issue any new permits associated with natural gas drilling and production through June 8, 2010. Please read the suspension notice for additional information.


Flower Mound halts new gas drilling permits

Reprinted from Dallas Morning News Blog by Wendy Hundley      

The town issued an administrative moratorium that suspends all permits for new natural gas wells and gas pads.

The action follows an earlier moratorium that halted permits for centralized wastewater, gas lift, compression facilities and related pipelines.
"I've been calling for this for two years and have been ignored," Flower Mound Mayor Pro Tem Al Filidoro said Friday. He said the moratorium will give officials a chance to review the town's ordinance and appoint an oil and gas advisory board.

Filidoro said Friday's action was necessary to prevent gas drilling applications from being submitted before the Town Council meets again on June 7. "We don't want people to come rushing in while we've got a gap here," he said.

Flower Mound resident Bryan Webb, who has leased his mineral rights to a gas company, said the moratorium is not necessary for the council to make changes to the ordinance. "I'm not sure I understand the need for it," said Webb, who lost his bid for a seat on the Town Council earlier this month.

At the June 7 meeting, the council is expected to take action on a citizen-driven campaign calling for a 180-day moratorium on wastewater and other facilities, and a separate 90-day moratorium new gas pads and well permits. They would run concurrently.

The moratoriums underscore the change in the political climate in the southern Denton County town that's been divided over the issue of gas drilling.

On May 8, voters re-elected Filidoro and voted in two new council members -Melissa Northern as Mayor and Steve Lyda in the Place 4 seat. All three candidates campaigned together on a platform that called for slowing the gas boom and review the town's regulations. They said too many variances have weakened the town's ordinance.

On May 19, that trend shifted when the town's Oil and Gas Board of Appeals denied variances for a natural gas well permit on a site south of Flower Mound Road and east of Long Prairie Road.
Filidoro said the applicant has already appealed the decision and the new moratorium would not prevent the appeal from moving forward.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

TECQ regulators fail to disclose benzene in Fort Worth air

Reprint from
By Chris Hawes

FORT WORTH — State environmental officials said they never found evidence of elevated levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene during a December air study in Fort Worth. But News 8 has proof that they did, and the mayor of a Denton County town is now calling for a federal probe of state pollution regulators.

Last January, John Sadlier, deputy director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, appeared before the Fort Worth City Council with what sounded like good news: Eight air samples analyzed in Fort Worth found no traces of benzene, the toxin that — over time — can lead to leukemia. "Benzene is non-detect on all the slides," Sadlier said during the January presentation.

But what he didn't tell Council members was that the analysis equipment that TCEQ used in the field wasn't sensitive enough to detect lower levels of benzene — the levels that TCEQ's own scientists say can lead to cancer if sustained over a period of years.

Link to WFAA Full Story

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hilliard Airfield Gas Well Appeals Board Meeting Packet

Anyone interested in the upcoming O&G Appeals board meeting next week (5/19) can see the packet for the meeting at the link below.

Hilliard Field is Item #2 on the agenda. Beginning on page 175 you can read about variances that are being requested along with maps & schematics. Be sure to brew some coffee -- fun stuff.

From the maps on pages 179 and 180 you can see the proximity to Shadowridge Middle School and Bluebonnet Elementary.

According to the information, traffic would route south on 2499 to 121. Based on the aerial map on page 180 (also above), it appears a new road will be created that will feed into Arberdeen Rd. which is where both the Middle School and Elementary Schools are located. This road will be used for emergency access to the well.

If the variances are approved, expect to see unmarked trucks carrying produced waste water (frack water) down 2499.

One last curious thing I found is that the 1,000 foot setback appears to overlap with LISD land to the south of the well site and right next to the Middle School. Does anyone know if LISD was approached about the proximity of the well to school property?

LINK to O&G Packet:

EPA still working on Barnett Shale air pollution problem

DISH -- The Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to devote resources to dealing with concerns over air pollution problems related to natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale, although progress is slow, the agency's regional chief said Monday night.
More than 15,000 gas wells have been drilled in the last decade in 17 counties. The oil and gas industry says the environmental impact is minimal, but residents have complained about everything from truck traffic to air and water pollution.

"I don't have a way-of-life act I can enforce," EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said. "At the same time, the EPA is not toothless."

Armendariz said he is bringing the head of the EPA's enforcement division to North Texas for a tour.
Meanwhile, the EPA is writing rules on toxic fumes released from oil and gas production in response to an environmental group's lawsuit last year.

One option might be a federal rule requiring setbacks between industrial plants and residential areas. The EPA doesn't have specific authority to enforce such a setback, but it could require one as a way to mitigate the cumulative effect of gas drilling in areas that have other types of pollution, Armendariz said.
He said he is also working with industry groups to get a better inventory of the equipment that might release pollution. Armendariz met with a group of about 100 industry officials recently. "I made it clear to them: We can either do it cooperatively ... or we can do it through legal means," he said.

The EPA's headquarters in Washington is also studying the effects on drinking water of hydraulic fracturing, the technology that made it feasible to extract gas from the Barnett Shale. Armendariz said the study will likely include not just hydraulic fracturing but also the disposal of tainted water from the fracturing process.
"I would be very surprised if Dish and the Barnett Shale in general isn't going to be part of that study," he said.
Dish, a town of a little fewer than 200 people, sits next to a complex of compressor stations and pipelines. The town paid for tests last fall that found high levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the air.

The results were serious enough that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the sta
te agency involved in air pollution, stepped in.

See full story here:

Flower Mound sends a message, with a landslide election

By Ladd Biro

It’s morning again in Flower Mound.

Today, the air feels a little crisper. The water tastes a little purer. Our town feels a little safer.

People are smiling more. Blood pressures no longer escalate while driving along FM 2499. Election signs disappeared virtually overnight and, thankfully, they weren’t replaced with “For Sale” signs.

A record turnout for municipal elections produced a landslide of historic proportions. The people have spoken, and this time, they couldn’t be ignored. And just like that, optimism reigns again in Flower Mound.

The gracious, unflappable Mayor-elect, Melissa Northern, accepted a concession call from her predecessor, Jody Smith, without a hint of bitterness in her voice. Her running mates, Al Filidoro and Steve Lyda, praised the tireless efforts of a mobilized citizenry without kicking their opponents.

It’s morning again in Flower Mound, and we are well on our way to healing a divided town.

See full story here:

Flower Mound halts permits tied to some gas operations

By WENDY HUNDLEY / The Dallas Morning News

It didn't take long for the shift in power on the Flower Mound Town Council to be felt.
On Saturday, residents elected a trio of candidates who called for a complete review of the town's natural gas drilling regulations.

At 7:30 a.m. Monday, Town Manager Harlan Jefferson placed an administrative moratorium on permits for centralized wastewater collection, gas lift and compression facilities. The moratorium also includes pipelines related to those gas operations.

An hour later, Williams Production – the largest gas developer in town – inquired about submitting an application for an additional facility. The company was told that no applications would be accepted due to the moratorium.

See full story here:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Who's Spreading Propaganda in Flower Mound?

Flower Mound Cares has been accused by some for spreading fear and disinformation related to Oil and Gas drilling and this year's Town Elections. We've even seen suggestions that FMC hand-picked Northern, Filidoro and Lyda (N.F.L) to run against Smith, Webb and Robinson.

While our opinions on issues affecting our town are passionate, we make an effort to root them on the best information and facts possible.

So who's spreading fear & propaganda in Flower Mound?

Below are a couple slanderous examples attacking our group and a political ad attacking Mr. Filidoro. The letters are referenced in Ladd Biro's latest op-ed "Flower Mound Deserves Better".

(click images below to expand)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Smith, Robinson and Webb Turn Down FloMo Cares Debate

With the increased desire from the Flower Mound Cares community to hear more from the candidates in this year's town election a few members of the group, including the Stop Morris 6 and FloMo Cares facebook administrators thought it might be helpful to host a debate amongst the 6 candidates in a neutral location with a mutually agreeable moderator.

During a recent council meeting, we socialized the idea with Mr. Webb who had some reservations and asked for more information. 

Meanwhile, the group worked to secure a great location that could accommodate a couple hundred folks. Parker Square. Family friendly, accessible to all of Flower Mound - a great venue all around.

With a location in hand, Rob Marcoe sent the following invitation to all six candidates. Jody Smith, Bryan Webb, Gerald Robinson, Melissa Northern, Al Filidoro and Steve Lyda. 
(click on image to expand)

Unfortunately, Mayor Smith, Mr. Webb and Mr. Robinson declined-- below is their email response.  Almost immediately, Rob received a call from Chris Roark from the Flower Mound leader inquiring on the debate.
(click on image to expand)

Understanding their concerns and eager to facilitate an address to the town's people, the group agreed to modify the format from a "debate" to a "meet and greet" where each candidate would be given an opportunity to speak for 10 minutes covering various topics important to the town. Below is the follow up invitation that we sent and once again Northern, Filidoro and Lyda accepted. 
(click on image to expand)

Unfortunately, Mayor Smith, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Webb once again declined.

Suffice it to say, we are very disappointed with the manner in which these candidates seeking public office addressed our group and ultimately declined our invitations.

***UPDATE***  Thursday, April 15, 2010

Despite the the lack of interest from Mayor Smith, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Webb, the FMC and Stop Morris 6 groups decided to proceed with the candidate forum set to take place in Parker Square next week. Late this afternoon, we received a message from the property manager advising the group that we could no longer use the venue citing the following:

"Parker Square has always welcomed open forum debates, events, etc., but has never allowed individual candidates to even place signs on the property, regardless of political position.  I do not fault you for the evolution of the program, but now realize it has become something other than what we originally discussed.  Today’s comments in Star Local News confirmed to our satisfaction the debate is no longer a debate but a forum for promotion of one side’s agenda.  As a privately owned property, we will not be able to host this program.  I appreciate your work and you have been very nice to work with.  I wish you the best with your plans."

Thank you.
Curtis Shore
It is important to note that the forum was never intended exclusively for the  benefit  of the N.F.L. candidates as Mr. Shore suggests. The forum was left open for all six candidates to attend and address town residents.

We're once again disappointed that Flower Mound residents will not have an opportunity to listen to ALL the candidates speak in what is arguably one of the most important  and most contested elections in our town's history.

Sadly, today's events only reinforce our opinion that our town needs a Mayor and Town Council representatives willing to listen and address ALL their constituents -- even those with opposing views.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New drilling safety measures to be considered. How about a MORATORIUM?

Excerpt from  The Dallas Morning News 
By: Wendy Hundley

The Flower Mound Town Council discussed a number of new safety measures for gas drilling operations, including a system for monitoring air quality around drilling sites.

Matt Woods, the town's director of environmental services, outlined possible updates to the existing oil and gas ordinance.

They included reviewing the technologies for vapor recovery, screening the pad sites, recycling produced water, charging additional fees from operators, and monitoring the air quality around pad sites.

"I like a lot of these suggestions," said council member Tom Hayden. He and council member Al Filidoro recently publicized their own recommendations for strengthening the town's drilling regulations.

Hayden said he had additional ideas. He also suggested a moratorium on drilling applications "while we're doing a major overhaul of our ordinance."

But council member Mike Wallace said there was no need for a moratorium because there hasn't been a rush of gas drilling applications. [Really?]

There have been no new applications since Dec. 8, Town Manager Harlan Jefferson told the council. [What about the 10 applications on Dec. 7th?]

The council should "decide which responsible, common sense enhancements to our ordinance would be appropriate without a moratorium," Wallace said.

Council members expressed support for fast-tracking the recommendations, perhaps in the next 30 to 60 days. They asked for information about funding for additional air quality testing to be placed on the April 5 meeting agenda.

Read full story here:

Gasland - PBS Interview with Josh Fox

In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a "lesser-of-evils". The new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking", raises concerns about health and environmental risks.

A topic of concern and great debate in Flower Mound and other North Texas towns.

This 23 minute interview does a great job to explain the gas drilling process along with the the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. See link below to view.

Gasland on PBS Tonight

Other Gasland testimonials on youtube can be found here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fracturing Fluid Spill in Flo-Mo?

Ever wonder why Flower Mound residents have been so concerned about Gas drilling activity so close to residential neighborhoods and schools?

Today's 80 Barrel spill (approx. 3,000 gallons) of produced water at the Cummings' well site is precisely the reason why Flower Mound needs to reinstate a Moratorium on drilling activity and a collection facility. Below is a link to the story and video on the produced water spill. 

If you are a concerned about the increasing dangers associated with the growing gas drilling activity in Flower Mound, please take 5 minutes to contact the Mayor and Town Council at the emails below to ensure your voice is heard.

More on today's spill can be found at the following page:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New oil and gas legislation and oversight expected in 2011

New oil and gas legislation expected from next session of Texas Legislature

New laws regulating the oil and gas industry are likely to pass the Texas Legislature in 2011 in response to some of the continuing conflicts between operators and residents in the Barnett Shale gas field, the head of the Texas House Energy Resources Committee said Monday, March 15.

FM Place 2 race down to Al Filidoro and Gerald Robinson

Keep Al Filidoro in Town Council. Vote N.F.L. in May.
Story reprinted from Star Local News 
By Chris Roark,

The race for Place 2 on the Flower Mound Town Council got a little smaller Tuesday.
Bob Kohankie and Jan Balekian both told The Leader that they plan to withdraw from the race, which now features incumbent Al Filidoro and Gerald Robinson.

“I got to understand more about the candidates and decided not to run,” said Kohankie, a 29-year Flower Mound resident.

Kohankie said he will now support Robinson.

“Robinson has a long history with various aspects of the town, serving on various committees and boards,” Kohankie said. “He has an extensive business background, and he approaches issues facing the town today with a fact-based approach instead of on assumptions and innuendos.”

Kohankie went on to say there is a lot of wrong information being circulated.

“I’m looking to encourage people to talk with people to verify facts instead of going by hearsay,” Kohankie said.

Balekian said she will also support Robinson.

“I filed to enter the race for Flower Mound Town Council Place 2 primarily because it appeared that Al Filidoro was going to run unopposed,” Balekian said. “I do not believe Mr. Filidoro is the type of person we need on our town council. With the emergence of an outstanding candidate, Gerald Robinson, I have decided to withdraw and put my full support behind Mr. Robinson. I believe Mr. Robinson has the experience, the commitment, and the values we need in our community to keep Flower Mound a great place to live.”

Among Robinson’s experience that Kohankie referred to was serving on the Open Space Board about 10 years ago, as well as being chair of the board. That later became the Environmental Conservation Commission (ECC), which he also chaired. Robinson was also a member of the master plan steering committee in 2005-06 and later, as part of the mixed use committee, he helped create the town’s mixed use ordinance.

Robinson has also served on the town's citizen's budget review committee and on the Denton County Transportation Board. He has also been a Flower Mound Rotarian and was president of the Rotary in 2004. He is also vice president of the Summit Club.

Filidoro has also served the town in a wide capacity, including being on the town council for a full term and part of another term.

Filidoro has served on the town’s planning and zoning commission, he is president of the Summit Club and is a member of the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce and the Flower Mound Rotary Club.

Filidoro, an attorney, is licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas and admitted to practice in front of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the Flower Mound and Denton County Bar Associations. He is an associate professor of MBA programs at the University of Phoenix in Dallas and Los Colinas teaching business law.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lawsuits against Flower Mound & Haltom City challenge denials for gas pipelines

By WENDY HUNDLEY / The Dallas Morning News

Two local lawsuits are pitting municipalities against natural gas companies, and the outcomes of these legal battles could have far-reaching effects on urban drilling in the Barnett Shale.

The issue: whether gas pipeline companies can use the power of eminent domain to acquire easements on public property.

"This will be a landmark decision in Texas," said Tom Hayden, a member of the Flower Mound Town Council. "It will decide whether a municipality trumps a utility or vice versa."

Both Flower Mound and Haltom City have been sued because they have failed to approve requests to run gas pipelines on municipal property.

In Flower Mound, Mockingbird Pipeline wants to run 500 feet of pipe through a 30-foot pipeline easement behind a fire station.

In Haltom City, Enterprise Texas Pipeline LLC wants to transport processed gas to market by running a pipeline through the city, cutting across parkland, several streets and acreage that may be a future nature area.

Haltom City Attorney Steven Wood said a pipeline would restrict use of the public land. "You can't build on top of a pipeline," he said. "And you can't imagine how many trees they'd have to tear down to get that pipeline in."

While the power of eminent domain is usually associated with government bodies, other entities – such as electric and telephone companies – have also been granted this authority because they provide a service for the public.

In Texas, many pipeline companies are considered public utilities with eminent domain power. Of the 34 pipeline companies in the Texas Pipeline Association, more than half are public utilities and all have some public utility assets, said executive director Patrick Nugent.

While condemnation lawsuits involving private property owners are not uncommon, "I'm not familiar with any litigation filed between a pipeline and a municipality," said Nugent.

He said he had not heard about the Flower Mound and Haltom City cases but speculated that they would be closely watched by the gas industry.

For municipalities, the legal battle is over sovereign immunity and the right to protect public property from unwanted encroachment.

Flower Mound lost the first round in its argument that municipalities have immunity from lawsuits when Denton County Probate Judge Don Windle ruled Feb. 25 that the court had jurisdiction. He said the pipeline company had no alternative, except to move the pipe and take private land.

"Governments have no purpose to own and hold land except for the public trust and benefit," Windle said, according to a court transcript.

Robert Brown, who is representing the town, is appealing to the Texas Court of Appeals.

The case "could have far-reaching consequences around Texas, particularly for those municipalities that do not agree with pipeline companies that want to locate and install natural gas pipelines in parks, across fire station properties, in front of city halls and at other municipal properties," Brown said in a written statement.

Hayden agreed.

"We need to defend our town," he said. "If we didn't do that, it would set a dangerous precedent."

In Flower Mound, Hayden said granting the right of way could open the door to other pipelines, including ones that could transport wastewater from gas drilling sites to a centralized collection facility.

"That doesn't mean it's going to happen," he said. "But I don't want to have the possibility that town land could be used for that."

Williams Production, which has been at the center of an ongoing debate over natural gas drilling in Flower Mound, has not filed an application for a collection facility and has limited its request to pipelines.

"We're talking about a short stretch of land that the city previously condemned to obtain," said Kelly Swan, a spokesman for Williams, which is affiliated with Mockingbird Pipeline.

"Today, that right of way on the edge of the fire station property is an existing utility corridor that has another natural gas pipeline and a sewage line," he said. "Our short stretch of pipe would fall between them."

He said pipelines are needed to transport natural gas and bring new supplies to consumers.

"The gas from the wells in the area needs to get to other pipelines to carry the gas into the marketplace," Swan said. "If gas lines are needed, it's really a question about locating an appropriate route, which is why our project makes sense."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steve Lyda: Leadership You Can Believe In

Steve Lyda for Town Council, Place 4

Steve will work to:

Stop the industrialization of Flower Mound – Steve is concerned that the focus of the Town Council has been to increase the number of industrial projects instead of projects that will benefit the entire community.   He believes strongly that oil and gas drilling is not the kind of development we need to bring to Flower Mound.   Our residents want new, sustainable businesses in Flower Mound.  The Town Council should seek to attract the retail that people want.

Keep Gas Drilling Out of Our Neighborhoods – Steve supports the rights of mineral owners to access their minerals and develop their property.  However, development must be done in a responsible manner so as not to affect the health of residents, especially our children; our property values; and the Town’s tax base.  Steve will work to protect residents’ health, safety, and property values by doing everything he can to keep industrial facilities away from our neighborhoods.

Restrain Spending to Maintain a Low Tax Rate – Flower Mound has worked hard to keep taxes low.  In this recovering economy, Steve believes that we must remain vigilant about our Town’s expenses.  The Council must follow a conservative approach to the budget so taxes will not have to be raised nor Town services cut.

Support SMARTGrowth and the Master Plan – The Master Plan of the Town is the guide to how we want Flower Mound to grow in the future.  SMARTGrowth provides the means for assuring that we have adequate infrastructure to support future growth.  Steve is adamant that we must continue to follow and protect this vital plan that helps maintain our Town’s excellent quality of life.

Listen to Residents and Respect Their Opinions – The Town Council must continue to focus on the residents – they are the essence of our community and what makes Flower Mound one of the best places to live in the nation.  People have a right to stand up and have a say about what happens in their Town.  Their opinions should not be taken lightly.   The majority on Council has let the lobbying of out-of -town businesses drown out the voices of our own residents.  As your councilmember, Steve will be open, honest, and fair.  He will also seek to improve communications between the Council and you, the people that Council represents.

Focus on Transportation – Flower Mound has taken a direct approach to transportation issues with the creation of the Transportation Commission.  Steve is honored to have been elected Chair of the commission by his peers.  Steve knows that maintaining our infrastructure is key to the well-being of our community and brings people and businesses to Flower Mound.  With the roadway expansion projects to the south of Town, traveling in and out of Flower Mound will become more congested in the future.  Steve supports expanding the role of the Transportation Commission to address this issue and to develop our transportation options.

Visit Steve Lyda's Campaign Website:
Become a Fan on Facebook: Elect Steve Lyda 

Melissa Northern: A New Direction for Flower Mound


Melissa Northern

For Mayor

Vision for Flower Mound – Healthy City USA
Lead Flower Mound’s transformation as the destination for those seeking the highest quality of life in North Texas
  • World class medical services
  • Clean air and water
  • Green space, Tree City USA, parks and trails
  • Community activities that promote a healthy lifestyle
  • Environmentally sustainable practices
  • “Complete streets” for cyclists in strategic areas of our community
Strong Oil & Gas Ordinance – Citizens First
Create a layered approach to responsible mineral exploration that puts Citizens First.
  • Local  - Restore and strengthen gas development ordinances
  • State – Team with other communities, organizations, and our representatives to implement Best Practices that guard against weakening of local control
  • Federal – Advocate and support new legislation that requires compliance with protective health statutes and removes exemptions that are harmful to urban areas
Sound Fiscal Management - Today and Tomorrow
Incorporate long-term fiscal thinking into our decision-making
  • Practice fiscal restraint during economic uncertainty
  • Cultivate sustainable revenue growth
  • Stop pursuit of short-term development that results in long-term loss of tax revenue
SMARTGrowth and Master Plan – Grow the Right Way
Focus on sustainable balanced growth
  • Restore protective measures that have been eroded or removed
  • Support development that fits within the scope and complies with the process
  • Drive growth, but not at the expense of environmental quality, community character, and quality of life
Resident/Town  Partnership– Leverage our Town’s Talents
Promote a true partnership between the residents and the Town
  • Sponsor monthly roundtables with residents and neighborhood leaders
  • Keep residents more informed and involved in local and state issues
  • Support non-profit organizations that give back to the community
  • Overall, be respectful of differing opinions and transparent in decision making

Visit Melissa Northern's Campaign Page:
Become a Fan on Facebook: Melissa Northern for Mayor

Al Filidoro Open Letter To Flower Mound

An Open Letter to the Residents of Flower Mound
By Al Filidoro

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I have had the honor and pleasure of serving as your Town Council Member – Place 2. I am seeking re-election and once again, asking for your support. Please consider these issues:

Gas Drilling. I have a consistent record of opposing urban drilling in our neighborhoods. As your representative on Town Council, I supported the gas permit moratorium and opposed the zoning that will allow a Central Collection Facility close to schools and neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the majority on Town Council disagreed with Council Member Hayden and me. They rejected the moratorium and passed the zoning for the Central Collection Facility. I am hopeful as you consider re-electing me that you will also consider candidates for other positions on Town Council who share our  community’s collective values. Breaking up the majority on Town Council that has abdicated its responsibility to the residents will be critical to our future.

Over time we’ve seen drillers asking for variances on virtually every gas well. Variances originally put into the ordinance for unique exceptions are now the rule. We need to reexamine our Oil and Gas Ordinances and strengthen them.

When it comes to air quality, I’m reminded of this quote from quality improvement pioneer, W. Edwards Deming, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” Air quality testing from TCEQ or the gas companies is welcome, but Flower Mound must control its own destiny. I led the push on Town Council for Flower Mound to hire an independent testing firm to do our own tests at the well heads and within our neighborhoods. This testing has just begun. I intend to continue pushing for resources in this area until we have independent, ongoing monitoring that will produce the data we need to hold gas drillers accountable.

Our focus needs to extend beyond Flower Mound. When the state legislature was considering laws that would strip our community of local control over gas drilling, I went to Austin and lobbied hard to get our representatives to oppose those measures. We won that round, but we can expect them to be back at it during the next state legislative session. I pledge to you I will be continually vigilant anytime gas drillers or any special interests are trying to persuade the state to take away our town’s rights to self-governance.

Creating a Medical Community. I am proud to say that I helped bring the new THR Flower Mound Hospital to town. It will open in April, 2010 and bring with it over 400 new high paying jobs. I was also instrumental in bringing a rehabilitation hospital to our community that will employ an additional 110 people. Lewisville Hospital also opened a free-standing Emergency Room close to the new hospital. I am working with our town’s Economic Development team to leverage those facilities to create a “Medical Community.” Through targeted solicitation and enticement of healthcare service providers, equipment, insurance, and supply organizations to locate in our community we can strategically develop Flower Mound in a way that will produce jobs, tax revenue and valuable services for our residents.

Your Tax Dollars. So far during this economic downturn, Flower Mound has been able to keep town services at the same level and avoid the layoffs and furloughs that have hit surrounding communities. I am concerned, however, that we have not yet felt the impact of the downturn as we can see our tax revenue is on a concerning downward trend. This year it will be down 12%. Now is the time for strong financial leadership to maximize our tax revenue and make sure that wasteful spending does not creep into our town government.

My experience as Director of Finance for a major state agency and over 10 years of governmental auditing and accounting experience will serve our community well as we face these challenging financial times.

SMARTGROWTH and the Master Plan. I have worked to protect both SMARTGrowth and our Master Plan. When Town Council created a Central Business District for the River Walk project exempt from SMARTGrowth criteria, I insisted that we consider the SMARTGrowth criteria in designing this project anyway. While I recognize there are unique instances where it may make sense to deviate from the Master Plan, adding high density apartments to our community is not one of them. I do not support increasing residential density nor do I support rezoning our valuable tax-generating commercial property to allow developers to turn a quick profit with apartments.

Standing Up for What Is Right.
I’ve had enough of gas drillers and developers threatening to sue in the hopes that our elected officials will be intimidated into not fighting for our residents. While some members of Town Council may let their fear of lawsuits paralyze them, I will stand up for what is right. If that causes a gas driller to sue our town – I say, “Bring it on.” We cannot govern without conviction. I am an attorney by training and occupation but in my capacity on Town Council I am a lawmaker. I am uniquely qualified to caution that when avoidance of lawsuits becomes our singular objective, we have lost our ability to adequately

This Election. This election comes down to who you believe will protect your family’s health and financial well-being. My record demonstrates that you can trust me to not only say the right thing, but to do the right thing. Allow me to continue to serve you as your Town Council Member – Place 2.

Visit Al Filidoro's campaign website at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flower Mound Town Council Must Enact a Moratorium

Below is a reprint of a story from Earthworks that I felt relevant to Flower Mound considering the recent air quality test conducted by the town that showing elevated levels of carbon disulfide and methane.

It is important that we voice our concerns to our town representatives.

Councilmen Al Filidoro and Tom Hayden support a moratorium.  However, in order for a moratorium to be passed we need a Minimum of 3 Town Council members to support. Steve Dixon and Mike Wallace are our best chance to have a majority vote for a Moratorium.

I urge you to send emails to our each of our council members and Mayor and urge them to enact a moratorium and stricter guidelines on gas drilling, and produced water management.

Here are email addresses to our town council & mayor:


A struggle with toxics in the Barnett Shale -- the story of Megan Collins
The Collins clan.  Until recently, of DISH,TX.A house in the country
I had always hoped for a nice, quiet, country setting where we could raise our children. Little did I know it would be the cause of unexplained illnesses and heartache.
In 2004, my husband Mike and I found this quiet little cul de sac in the small town of Clarke, Texas now known as DISH. At the time there were only two homes built, so we met with the builder and picked what we thought was the perfect lot. Just beyond the back fence there stood a single natural gas compressor station.
Mike and I never really gave it any thought. We just assumed the trees would block any unsightly compressors. We never thought about any emissions. After our home was built in 2005 it seemed just perfect, we couldn't be happier. After a few months, though, it seemed that every time we turned around they were building another compressor station to move the natural gas locked beneath us in the Barnett Shale.
The noise became a nuisance. And the smell of natural gas was always in the air. The gas companies sent out notices that they wanted to be "good neighbors." They said they would work on the noise levels. They told us not to worry about any natural gas smells.
Little did we know, they would be the worst neighbors ever.

I started noticing issues with what I thought were allergies: watery eyes, itchy throat, and sneezing were a daily problem. Then in late 2006 I noticed that I was having trouble with my balance, sometimes staggering around and unable to stand with my feet together. My "allergy" and sinus issues were also increasing, so I just thought it was an equilibrium problem.
I began seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist. After months and months of tests, medications, and a sinus surgery, he recommended seeing a neurologist for my balance. I thought he had lost his mind, I surly did not have any neurological issues, and I was only 30 years old. Then out of nowhere I woke up one night sweating, nauseated, with a headache. I got out of bed to go into the restroom and blacked out.
After seeing several neurologists, I never received a clear diagnosis. We kept trying to figure out what in the world was going on. Then it seemed that my legs were always hurting, sore like I had been working out. It progressively got worse and the next thing I knew my whole body felt this way. I would wake up some nights and my neck would be in a spasm off to the right side, it was terribly painful. My neurologist diagnosed me with dystonia and ataxia, but where did this come from and why, he could not tell me.
I started multiple medications and physical therapy, which I still do twice a week. I honestly felt like I was going crazy. In June I woke up with blurry vision, went to work and experienced the worst headache. I couldn't stand and I couldn't speak even though I knew what I wanted to say. I was taken to the ER and admitted to the hospital. Again, I never had a clear diagnosis. The doctors suggested that it could be migraine or even a stroke.

One day last spring, out of the blue, I told my husband that I wanted to sell the house and move back to Fort Worth. I think the overwhelming medical problems just made me want to be closer to friends and family. So we put the house up for sale and about a month and a half later it sold. All I can say is we were so very lucky that the house sold when it did.
Poisoned by a neurotoxin?
In September, my boss gave me an article from the Fort Worth Star Telegram about Ambient Air Monitoring results. The article said that our Mayor of DISH hired an environmental consultant and they found a toxic soup of carcinogens and neurotoxins that were being emitted from the compressors. I had Mike contact the Mayor while I began researching the chemicals found. I was shocked when I discovered that Carbon Disulfide was a known neurotoxin.
It has been almost six months since we moved away. I am noticing that my balance is coming back. I am now able to stand with my feet together and walk in a straight-line heel to toe. I have not been able to do those tasks in over 2 and a half years. I recently had an appointment with a movement disorder neurologist scheduled, and she was amazed. It seems that all of the ataxia symptoms are gone, just not the dystonia.
Health is more important than gas
I am hoping to raise awareness about the dangerous health effects of these toxins. These gas companies need to clean up their acts. The health of citizens is much more important than natural gas being extracted from the Barnett Shale.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Elevated Levels of Carbon Disulfide Found In Flower Mound

 Elevated Levels of Carbon Disulfide Found In Flower Mound
Reprint from Flower Mound Citizens Against Drilling Blog 

Here is information from the recent air quality test in Flower Mound done by Kleinfelder, an independent testing lab hired by the town. The air quality tests show levels of Carbon Disulfide exceeded the TCEQ short-term effects screening level of 10 parts per billion. We understand that these are preliminary tests and the Town is conducting further testing to determine the source. Town officials will be presenting the Town Council and the public with a full report at the March 25th meeting.
This air quality test is to be a "baseline" for the Town of Flower Mound. Kleinfelder tested 8 sites.
Here are the 3 locations and screening results that exceed the TCEQ short term effects screening level for Carbon Disulfide.
  • 18.5 Furst Ranch
  • 69.0 Fire Station #2 Shiloh Rd.
  • 11.2 Morriss Rd Park
Carbon Disulfide can cause the following acute symptoms:

Headache, dizziness, fatigue, excitement or depression. High concentrations can cause serious psychological disturbances and in some cases death. Psychiatric disturbances (including excitability, confusion, extreme irritability, uncontrolled anger, emotional instability, nightmares, depression) have been observed following episodes of exposure to high concentrations of carbon disulfide.

Council Member's Filidoro and Hayden share our concerns and are continuously trying to persuade the majority of council to reconsider the moratorium. They were the only members of council to support putting the Flower Mound Cares Petition on the ballot in May. If these air quality test results and the methane mapping is not enough proof to re-visit the moratorium, what is.

Click Here to Learn More About Carbon Disulfide

Friday, March 5, 2010

Petition Signing Schedule. Friday, March 5th thru Sunday, March 7th


FRI. Mar. 5th,  SAT. Mar. 6th, &  SUN. Mar. 7th

Z-Grill –2321 Crosstimbers (Get Directions)
 Friday - 4pm-7pm
Saturday - 3pm-6pm
Sunday- 10am-6pm



Bring your voter registration card or voter registration number. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Methane levels get new check | Denton Record Chronicle

Thursday, March 4, 2010
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe
Reprinted from Denton Record Chronicle 

DISH — An atmospheric researcher drove a specially equipped van through several Barnett Shale counties this week and found methane plumes near many natural gas facilities, with one plume in Flower Mound measuring 40 parts per million.

According to Chris Rella, director of research and development for California-based Picarro Inc., scientists consider about 1.8 ppm of methane to be a normal background level in the atmosphere.

The company developed its equipment to read methane for greenhouse gas research. Its equipment, considered the gold standard, Rella said, is in use by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others in the scientific community.

The company recently adapted its equipment for mobile monitoring of methane and other greenhouse gases. The mobile monitor uses a global positioning system to map measured emissions in real time.

Rella said the maps can show good places for scientists to gather air samples because methane, when being emitted from industry sources, signals where to find other toxic compounds.

“When an industry emits methane, you’re probably going to see some other stuff,” Rella said.

Previous studies of emissions at Barnett Shale natural gas facilities by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showed that where there were methane emissions, the agency often also found carcinogens or neurotoxins in the mix.

Rella made several passes through Dish, where the background level was about 2 ppm of methane, and got readings near the compression complex as high as 18 ppm — or 16 ppm above background — Wednesday night.

Eleven compression stations run by five energy companies sit side-by-side on the edge of Dish town limits.

But chemist and environmental researcher Wilma Subra, of Louisiana, said she and Rella found methane plumes around all kinds of stationary equipment in the Barnett Shale area, particularly near condensate tanks.

In Flower Mound, near the intersection of Scenic Drive and FM1171, Rella spent about two hours Tuesday night isolating the boundaries of a methane plume that, at its highest points, measured 40 ppm — as high as the system could measure.

Subra said they notified state and federal officials of their findings.

“The TCEQ, with their 12-hour response system, can ask the operator for information and help determine what was going on at that time,” Subra said.

Alisa Rich, of Wolf Eagle Environmental, took Summa canister samples at the site, saying she would have lab results in about 10 days that would detail what other compounds were in that methane plume.

State health officials are investigating a child leukemia cluster in Flower Mound.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.
Her e-mail address is .

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Open Letter to Mayor Jody Smith and Town Council

Open Letter  in the Cross Timbers Gazette encapsulates the disappointment of the many Flower Mound residents who feel downright ignored and betrayed by our Mayor and Town Council.

There's documented proof that both Mayor Smith and Councilwoman Levenick were both aware of the petition despite their allegations last night.

Specifically the petition drive was announced during the public participation segment of the Town Council Meeting on 2/15. In addition, statements from members of the Petition Committee could be found in the minutes section in the packet for the Town Council meeting last night.

The petition intended to suspend a CCF in Flower Mound has quickly transformed into a public referendum for sweeping change in our Town Hall this May.

  Click Here to read Ladd Biro's Open Letter.

Flower Mound Cares Petition Drive denied motion to put petition initiative on May 8th ballot

Last night at the Flower Mound Town Council Meeting, Ginger Simonson, co-founder of the Flower Mound Cares Petition Drive asked the Town Council to make a motion to put the petition initiative on the May 8th ballot. The initiative calls for a 180 day moratorium for any acceptance and processing of a SUP (special use permit) for Centralized Collection Facilities, pipelines, gas gathering and compression stations. Ms. Simonson stated by putting it on the May 8th ballot, the town would save the cost of special election. The petition has passed the 5% signature threshold required in the Town Charter to submit for a vote of the people. The Flower Mound Cares petition has over 50% of the signatures needed to call for a special election. 

Mayor Smith Claims no knowledge of the petition drive despite the fact that it was announced during the February 15th meeting. It was also included in the minutes section of last night's town council packet. 

Those of you who missed the meeting can see Mayor Smith's comments from last night's meeting here: link to video

Read full story here:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flower Mound Defending from Williams Eminent Domain Lawsuit

The Town of Flower Mound is seeking a Texas Court of Appeals ruling on whether a natural gas pipeline company can acquire an easement on municipal property through eminent domain.

Williams Barnett Gathering System began condemnation proceedings last month after the Flower Mound Town Council turned down the company's request for a 30-foot pipeline easement at a fire station located at FM 1171 and Shiloh Road.

The town filed an appeal Friday after Denton County Probate Judge Don Windle ruled that his court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

While pipeline companies have used the eminent domain to acquire easements on private property, Flower Mound contends that it has immunity from lawsuits. The case may set a legal precedent in Texas.
"We believe it eventually will have far-reaching consequences around Texas," said attorney Robert Brown, who is representing Flower Mound in the case.


Friday, February 26, 2010

FM Cares Petiition Drive This Weekend!

Details for this weekend's petition drive. Please stop by and sign the FM Cares Petition or to learn more about the proposed Moratorium.

Also, please be sure and thank and patron the businesses that kindly allowed FM Cares Petition Association to hold the petition signing at their locations.


Bridlewood Amenities Center –5000 Par Dr.
Saturday & Sunday 10am-5pm
Get Directions

Sagebrush West Office Park
Saturday & Sunday 12pm-5pm
Sagebrush & Long Prairie Rd
Get Directions

Saturday & Sunday 12pm-4pm
2321 Crosstimbers
Get Directions

Sonoma Grill 

For additional information visit:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recycling Frack in Flower Mound Water Is A Viable Option

Many North Texas residents are concerned about the environmental and health hazards associated with Gas Drilling especially as it relates to toxic waste water management and disposal. 
 You should know that there are viable alternatives to Centralized Collection Facilities that the Town of Flower Mound needs to consider.   
For instance, Devon Energy an oil and gas operator in North Texas recycles frack water at a cost of about  $4.43 per barrel, which includes transportation and disposal of the concentrate (20 percent of the fluid that could not be recycled). Devon ends up with a net disposal cost for water of $3.35 per barrel, as compared to an estimated $2 to $2.50 per barrel for typical water disposal into an injection well. 
While it is slightly more expensive to recycle water, isn't this cost worth protecting our environment and the safety of our neighborhoods? 
We as a community need to continue to reinforce this message to our town's leadership.

See full article here:

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