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Denton Gas Drilling Task Force Rules of Procedures

Denton Gas Drilling Task Force Rules of Procedures

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Published by Brandon Cooper
From the City of Denton, regarding the rules and procedures for the City of Denton Gas Drilling Task Force.
From the City of Denton, regarding the rules and procedures for the City of Denton Gas Drilling Task Force.

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Published by: Brandon Cooper on Apr 18, 2012
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04/18/2012

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Task Force Rules of Procedures   

The way in which the Task Force operates is fundamental to the integrity of the gas drilling code amendment process. All members are expected to follow the appropriate portions of these Rules of Procedure. The following summarizes the rules regarding Task Force meetings and procedures. A. Introduction In August 2010, the City Council adopted several amendments to the Gas Well Drilling and Production regulations, referred to as the “Phase I” amendments. At the time of the adoption of the Phase I amendments, future amendments were contemplated with the intent of providing further protection from the potential harmful sideeffects of natural gas drilling and production. City staff is in the process of reviewing possible amendments, referred to as “Phase II” amendments, and has created a task force to assist with the preparation of any recommendations for City Council’s consideration. The Task Force will help staff address complex issues and ensure that the interests of all stakeholders are considered and evaluated, including the interests of neighborhoods and the energy industry. The Task Force is comprised of a collection of City staff members, citizen representatives, industry experts, and scientists. The members are divided into two groups, voting members and advisors. The voting members are Dr. Tom La Point, UNT Professor; Vicki Oppenheim, founder and Principal of an environmental planning and sustainability firm; John Siegmund, retired VP of Wells Fargo Advisors and former petroleum engineer; Don Butler, Senior Project Manager from New Tech Global; and Dr. Ed Ireland, Executive Director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council. The advisory, non-voting members are Darren Groth, Task Force Chairman and City of Denton Gas Well Administrator; Dr. Ken Banks, City of Denton’s Director of Environmental Services; and Dr. Kenneth Tramm, Principal of Modern Geosciences. Available to assist the City throughout this process are outside legal experts consisting of Terry Morgan, Terry Cross, Martin Rochelle, and David Klein. In addition to the named individuals, other City staff members may participate in the Phase II amendment process, as needed. B. Meetings in General Each meeting will be scheduled by the Task Force Chairman. One Focus Area will be discussed per meeting, once the Focus Area items are finalized. The input received from various sources, i.e., the Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group (DAG), Denton’s citizenry, and Task Force members, will be used to create the broad Focus Area topics. Once a Focus Area is identified, the City staff Task Force members will identify how the current gas drilling ordinance addresses or does not address the topic. After this assessment, the Task Force voting members will decide if the current regulation is adequate. If the Focus Area is adequately addressed, no further action is required. If, however, the voting members decide the Focus Area is not adequately addressed with the current ordinance, then the Task Force will devise proposed actions. The proposed actions must be in-depth enough to capture the idea, but should remain as succinct as possible to ensure the action can be tracked and evaluated effectively. Each proposed action must receive a favorable vote, as defined in Section E of these Rules, to proceed as a Task Force recommendation. Proposed actions submitted to the remaining Task Force as recommendations will be first analyzed by legal counsel to verify whether the action if legally defensible. If yes, then the proposal is examined for scientific defensibility by scientific counsel. If the proposed action is both, then City staff will draft language that addresses the recommendation as a proposed amendment to Subchapter 22, the City’s gas well drilling and production ordinance, of the Denton Development Code (DDC). If the proposal does not pass either or both legal and scientific reviews and is not included in a draft ordinance revision, then the item will be presented to City Council with the reasoning behind its omittance from the revised DDC. C. Meeting Procedures All Task Force meetings are open to the public. Only Task Force members, however, will vote on the Focus Area items. Representatives of the private sector and other guests should sit in the audience or along the perimeter of the room. Each Task Force member shall strive to be objective and neutral in their decision making. In addition, members should weigh carefully the judgment gained by their professional expertise and not be influenced by personal bias. Derogatory comments disseminated towards the City, other Task Force members, the City Council, or other individuals will not be tolerated. Only cordial and polite debate about topics shall be discussed and all members shall refrain from using profanity. Members shall strive to set an example for others to ensure civil discussions are engaged and all members must take responsibility for their own actions and accept the consequences of their actions, ideas, and statements. The Task Force chairman will call for votes and facilitate the meeting.

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Task Force Rules of Procedures   
The Chairman will open the meeting and announce the Focus Area item for discussion and describe how that item is addressed or not addressed by the current DDC. The next step is to identify proposed actions, as suggested by the voting Task Force members. Once the list of proposed actions is exhausted, as determined by the Chairman, each action will be presented to the Task Force voting members for their vote. Any topic that does not receive a favorable vote, as defined in Section E of these Rules, will be recorded as a proposed action, but the item will not be forwarded for review to the Task Force legal and scientific advisors as a Task Force recommendation. Recommendations forwarded for review will be presented to the Task Force advisory members. The entire process will be run through the structure for gas well code amendments identified in the matrix table below. Throughout the process, when applicable, the results for each proposed action will be captured and posted online. In addition, the entire matrix will be presented to City Council once all the findings are compiled to help them identify possible actions that could be used to address the broad Focus Areas.

SAMPLE MATRIX (used for demonstrational purposes)
Focus Area Air Quality Addressed in Current Ord. Yes, but insufficiently Proposed Actions 1. Action 1 2. Action 2   3. Action 3 Legally Defensible 1. Yes/No 2. Yes/No   3. Yes/No Scientifically Defensible 1. Yes/No or N/A 2. Yes/No or N/A   3. Yes/No or N/A Revise Code 1. Yes/No 2. Yes/No   3. Yes/No

D. Quorum Meetings will commence at the scheduled start time if a quorum of at least three voting Task Force members are in attendance. Meetings will be cancelled and rescheduled by the Task Force Chairman if a quorum is not present twenty (20) minutes after the scheduled meeting start time. In addition, at least three voting Task Force members must be present to conduct a vote. The Rules require that the Task Force Chairman establish the presence of a quorum prior to any vote. E. Voting Voting is by voice or show of hands. Voting is by each voting Task Force member, with each member having one undivided vote. Every proposed action must be presented to the Task Force voting members for a vote. Proposed actions must be approved by a favorable vote to be forwarded to the Task Force legal and scientific advisors. A favorable vote is determined if a simple-majority of the Task Force voting members record an approving response, or if a tie vote is recorded. F. Meeting Summaries The Rules require that a summary of each meeting be posted online at the City’s website. To accomplish this requirement, the Task Force meetings will be open to the public, on a viewing basis, and minutes will be taken during the meeting. The meeting’s minutes will be posted to the City’s website at http://www.cityofdenton.com/index.aspx?page=1548. In addition, the summary matrix of each Focus Area’s proposed actions will be posted to the same webpage. The matrix will be updated with the results from the Task Force vote and both the legal and scientific review, if applicable.

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