In a move that some might say could only happen in Texas, the City of Fort Worth may adopt an ordinance permitting natural gas drilling within the city limits. Still to be determined is the required distance between a well site and residential property, but under the current plan, wells could be drilled within 1,000 feet of homes. The city council was set to consider the ordinance this week.

The ordinance apparently was proposed because the Barnett Shale, which has enriched the coffers of Mitchell Energy and Development Corp. among others, lies under most of the city and the surrounding area. Several wells already have been drilling north of the city in an area about to be annexed, and a city official said several companies have approached the council requesting permission to drill inside the city limits.

Most of the city’s residential areas have ordinances that would require a zoning change to industrial use before drilling would be allowed, but neither the producers or neighborhood groups want zoning changes allowed. Under the city’s current proposal, a permitting process would allow drilling with certain restrictions. If approved, Fort Worth would hire an oil and gas inspector to oversee the permitting process. The Forth Worth City Council then would review requests and hold public hearings only if the application did not meet distance requirements from homes or certain buildings, including schools and hospitals.

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