Cowtown pays gas drilling profits back to Alliance

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Posted May 16, 2012 by Andrew McLemore in Blotch

The Fort Worth City Council agreed to transfer profits from gas drilling contracts — airport$563,000, to be exact — back to the Alliance Airport Authority on Tuesday after some legal wrangling over who gets to keep the money.

The extra cash comes from drilling on 112 acres that the airport leased out to Quicksilver Resources, the gas and oil company that pushed hard this year to allow wastewater disposal wells within city limits.

(In a surprise move for the always gas-friendly Cowtown council, they voted not to allow the wells, which would inject toxic chemicals deep underground.)

Although it was initially thought that the city would receive the revenues from the airport’s contract — and indeed the money had already been moved into city coffers — a recent review by the city’s legal department found that the money actually belongs to the airport, according to the minutes from Tuesday’s meeting.

So the council voted to give the money back, though without any discussion.

The recent bankruptcy filings of American Airlines, and its parent company AMR Corporation,  suggest that the airport’s board of directors will keep “at least some” of the money to fill the inevitable funding gap, according to city staff.

“After the board of directors takes action to budget sufficient funds for the Authority’s perceived obligations, the board will have the right to authorize payment back to the City of any remaining Authority’s revenue,” they wrote in a discussion of the agenda item.

Right. I guess we’ll see how much the airport’s board of directors choose to give back.

Grayson Harper, a Fort Worth activist and frequent gas drilling critic, took the opportunity to address the bigger concerns surrounding the city’s embrace of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The city fights for the profits from gas drilling, while doing nothing to address the public health andsafety concerns, Harper said.

“We know that gas drilling is unsafe. The debate is over,” Harper said, referring to reports about contaminated drinking water.  “Do you have any idea what you’ve unleashed on this city? Or are profits all that drives this whole thing?”


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