Plans to expand a drilling site in Arlington have some residents concerned.
A Houston-based energy company called EnerVest has requested a zoning change at one of its Arlington well pads, which would open the door for drilling new wells there in the future. That pad is located off South Cooper Street, just north of Mayfield Road.
The Arlington City Council is expected to give final approval to that zoning change during a meeting Tuesday night.
Arlington resident and activist Faith Chatham said the city is signing off on this too quickly.
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“I really believe the city is being precarious in approving any more wells,” said Chatham.
During the city council’s last meeting on Oct. 28, Chatham and nearly a dozen other citizens spoke out against the measure. They expressed concerns with EnerVest's track record, listing multiple code violations the company had in several states.
The group also raised questions about whether drilling activity may be linked to two small earthquakes that occurred in Arlington in September not far from the site. Opponents want city leaders to delay new drilling for at least a year.
"There is technology to determine whether these [earthquakes] are man made or nature made," said Chatham. "And we really need to use that before we approve any more well sites."
Shea Kirkman, a North Texas engineer who is representing EnerVest on this project, also attended that meeting. He acknowledged that a simple Google search of the company will bring up code violations but said EnerVest is typically not responsible for them.
"EnerVest looks at existing sites and they look to acquire those sites," said Kirkman. "They like to improve them, add wells and make them better. So a lot of times in that acquisition process they will obtain sites that are not in compliance."
City officials confirmed that all of EnerVest's sites in Arlington have been brought up to code and are in compliance.
On the issue of earthquakes, Kirkman argued that the depth at which they're occurring is much further underground than where EnerVest drills.
"We'll continue to monitor the earthquake situation," said Kirkman. "We certainly don't believe it's in relation to this site we're discussing."
The city council gave initial approval to the zoning change during that September meeting. While the measure expands the area deemed appropriate for drilling, it does not give EnerVest the green light to begin drilling operations. That would have to be approved by the council at a later date.
Chatham said she's disappointed in the council's decision and feels like she and other activists are being ignored. But she adds this fight is far from over.
"We'll be back," said Chatham.