By Chris Eversole
Residents who are fighting plans to drill two fracking wells at S.W. 29th Street and Czech Hall Road between Mustang and Yukon won a small victory this week at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
An administrative law judge on Tuesday denied an application to move forward with the wells on an emergency basis.
A hearing on the merits of the protest is set for Dec. 18.
“The denial of the emergency is a step, and we’re grateful for it,” said resident Carrie Clear.
“We know this is a process, and we have to take one step at a time.”
Roan Resources argued that it had a drill rig leased and the delay could cost it millions of dollars.
Administrative Law Judge Kendal Huber Minmier ruled that Roan hadn’t adequately addressed:
-Safety and health impacts on neighbors and nearby schools and nursing homes;
-Potential traffic dangers on the two-lane roads at the intersection;
-Why a true emergency existed and the cost of a delay.
“Although this hearing resulted in a denial, this is not the end,” resident Christine Parrish noted in an email to residents.
“The concerned citizens must also present clear and convincing arguments against the proposed ‘merits’ of the case.”
At the Dec. 18 hearing, Roan will make its case, and the residents will need to counter it with evidence.
“Rest assured, Roan Resources will come back strongly addressing all the public safety issues with its proposed actions to ensure the public’s safety,” Parrish said in her email.
The residents said many were caught off guard by the drilling proposal.
Only property owners with mineral rights received notifications from the company.
One of the mineral-rights owners, Eric Sanderson, notified others, and the protest grew.
The group says it has collected 296 names on a petition opposing the wells.
At the hearing, Sanderson expressed his frustration with the process.
“We will not be steamrolled over,” he said.
The judge took exception to his comments.
“There is no steamrolling in my courtroom; it is not a rubber stamp,” Minmier said. “That is offensive to me.”
Mia Debruyne, an adjunct physical science teacher at Oklahoma City Community College, testified about a recent study conducted in Pennsylvania.
The study, conducted by 18 experts, said that oil and gas wells should be a mile and a quarter from schools, day care centers and nursing homes because of potential health risks from air pollution.