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Excerpt

The following is from the November 8, 2010, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

November 10, 2010

By RUDOLPH BUSH
The Dallas Morning News

Facing a big hole in its budget nearly three years ago, the Dallas City Council held an ace that could both prevent a tax increase and help fund 200 new police officers.

It was a one-time play, a $33.4 million payment from two energy companies that signed a deal with City Hall for natural-gas drilling leases on 5,000 acres of city property, including the old naval air station at Hensley Field near Mountain Creek.

Briefed to the council on Feb. 6, 2008, the three-year deals with XTO Energy and Trinity East Energy were approved the same day with little public comment. . .

Now, with the leases only a few months from expiring and XTO seeking to exercise its lease at Hensley Field, the public is getting its say. . .

"During the peak [of natural gas prices], a lot of companies did exactly what happened here. They went out and leased a bunch of land, and now the clock is ticking," said Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University.

But perceptions about drilling have changed. . .

Bullock said that now gas drilling is fought almost anywhere it comes near residences.

"I think there's been a really poor job done on the part of industry in being able to communicate the risk involved, which is very low. At the same time, people have legitimate concerns," he said.

Read the full story.

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