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Citizens Argue For, Against Dallas Fracking Ordinance

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Dallas city council members found themselves on the receiving end of comment Wednesday afternoon.  It was a public hearing on a proposed gas drilling ordinance.  The issue has been discussed at city hall for three years, and all sides feel the issue of hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' is about to reach its climax.

Cory Troiani said he got to know problems first hand when he lived in Denton.  "For awhile I lived about 700-feet from a frack site.  My roomates and I experienced headaches, dizziness.," he told the council.

Phyllis Guest was among more than two dozen people who took to the microphone.  "Such drilling will use water we cannot spare, tear up roads we cannot afford to repair and possibly cause earthquakes," she offered.

The proposed Dallas ordinance is relatively restrictive and went through months of arguments with the Plan Commission. The biggest unresolved issues are the setbacks between wells or between wells and homes. The plan commission recommendation is 1,500 feet - city staffers suggest 1,000 feet.  Environmental activists and some homeowners groups want the higher number.

Eloy Trevino of the Dallas Homeowners League said, "It is time for the icty of dallas to set and enforce standards that any future drilling oprations will include the best possible public safety health and protections."

Some oppose the ordinance because it's not restrictive enough - they want an outright ban on drilling in parks or flood plains.

Others oppose it for just the opposite reasons. They think it's too restrictive for gas companies to work at all.

Among them, geologist David Martineau. "Hearing all these people talking about illnesses and sicknesses, it's really industry that in the oil and gas industry it doesn't even fall in the top 25% of the people that get sick."  He said gas drilling has helped boost the national economy in a time of stagnation.

At the end, activists supporting the ordinance tried to unfurl a banner with a message,"Be A Strong Mayor," aimed at Mayor Mike Rawlings, urging him to support the measure.  Such displays are not allowed at council meetings  But the Mayor got the last word.   As officers took the banner away he said, "Thank you very much.  I already work out every day."

Councilmembers didn't tip their hands at the session, they merely listened and took public input.

A vote on the ordinance is expected next week.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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