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Texas Lawmakers Propose Bills To Regulate Drilling Statewide

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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) - If you think gas wells are too close to homes and schools, wait until you hear how much closer they could be getting.

Right now, there are city ordinances all over North Texas that keep gas wells 600 to 1500 feet away from homes schools and parks. Texas lawmakers are considering shortening that distance to just 200 feet.

It's a concern for Arlington mother Kim Feil, whose house sits a half mile from a gas well. Feil wears a gas mask to hide the odor from the well.

"This is something that they don't want to have to wear. They are wearing this already in China," she said of the mask.

"There was an emission event off that site and my windows and doors were closed and the odor came in my home, so I don't think within a half mile is far enough," she said.

Several North Texas cities have passed ordinances to keep fracking farther away than the state required 200 feet from homes. In Dallas and Flower Mound, it's 1500 feet. But bills in the legislature would void those ordinances.

"They want to take away our ability to control the health and safety of our citizens," said Dallas City Councilman Phillip Kingston.

Dallas city leaders have lobbied against the bills in Austin. At the same time, residents of Mansfield packed their city council meeting demanding a 1500 foot distance, which opponents argue will kill the city's growth.

"A 1500 foot setback is basically a de facto ban," said Kim McCaslin-Slicker, speaking for the group, Citizens for Mansfield. "That is five football fields…(but) laid in a perfect circle takes up over 186 acres of land."

Despite opposition from people like McCaslin-Slicker, Mansfield approved the proposal for tougher restrictions on gas drilling, with a vote of 6-0. One council member abstained from voting.  The plan will require stricter air emission monitoring and improved emergency procedures, and will also ban fracking on Saturdays and holidays at wells that are within one thousand feet of homes.

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