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Making Dallas Even Better

Would This Have Been A Worse Season For the Cowboys?

In May, I predicted that the Cowboys would go 1-13-2. If you’re not used to reading sports standings, that is one win against 13 losses and two ties. Given what a cannonball into a pool filled with broken glass the 2015 campaign has been thus far, as I asked in the headline, would 1-13-2 have been a worse season for the Cowboys?

Pros: According to this, no team has ever tied twice in a season since overtime was instituted in 1974, which was also the year I and this magazine were born — a pretty good year, all told. Since I don’t think anyone is ever beating that, the Cowboys would have a permanent place in the NFL record book, alongside the mark it set in 1996 — most players to wear a full-length mink to a grand jury hearing. Plus, all those forfeits! So, still terrible but you’re getting something memorable in the exchange.

Cons: No one wants to forfeit that many games in a season, no matter what. I don’t even know why we’re discussing it. This is dumb. Who brought this up, anyway? Jeez.

Oil and Gas Wells to Blame For More North Texas Earthquakes

Today a new study was released in the journal Nature Communications that determined the causes of the unusual seismic activity (earthquakes) around Azle (northwest of Fort Worth) in November-December 2013, which Brantley Hargrove wrote about in the May 2014 issue of D Magazine.

Researchers from SMU, the University of Texas at Austin, and the U.S Geological Survey determined that activities related to oil and gas operations in the area, as the Morning News notes, are responsible for “shifting faults below Dallas-Fort Worth that have not budged in hundreds of millions of years”:

The scientists zeroed in on an unusual mechanism behind the quakes: workers pushing liquid into the ground on one side of a fault and sucking gas and groundwater from the other side of the fault.

“The combination of these activities seems to have triggered the earthquakes, and that was a real surprise to us,” said Matthew Hornbach, a geophysicist at SMU and a lead author of the paper.

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North Texas Drought Persists

Looking at the Texas Water Development Board’s weekly drought map, and noting that only 43 percent of the state is in the midst of a drought today as compared to 58 percent a year ago, it sure is unpleasant to see that dark red lingering over much of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Like we’re the bullseye on a dart board.

Of course, that NASA video that was going around online a couple weeks back says most of North America is likewise pretty well screwed, so we won’t be alone in our misery.

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More Nature Destroyed in Trinity Watershed

Ben Sandifer had a couple hours to kill Sunday, so he went traipsing around down in the McCommas Bluff Nature Preserve. He found some tracks of heavy vehicles and followed them to the disturbing scene you see above. The “before” photo was taken in April 2014. The “after” picture was taken February 8. This place has been destroyed. It’s a county preserve. Ben has called around to all the various agencies — Trinity Watershed, Water Utilities, he even called John Wiley Price — but he hasn’t gotten an answer yet as to who did this and why. Read Sandifer’s blog to learn more about the sensitive area and what’s at stake (such as one of about 100 known trout lily colonies in the State of Texas).

Remember last year when Trinity Watershed Management officials apologized for their incompetence and invited a bunch of folks out to see their horrible stewardship of the land and promised it wouldn’t happen again? Yeah, well. So much for that.

“A half acre here, an acre there disappears,” Sandifer says. “Suddenly you don’t have anything left.”

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Yawn, Another Earthquake in Irving

A 2.7-magnitude earthquake shook Irving at about 6 a.m. this morning. These minor events, none of which have caused significant damage or injuries, have been so common in the area (it’s the 12th since the beginning of October) that I’ve begun to feel downright Californian in my lack of excitement in hearing news of another.

The Morning News has a map showing the close proximity of the epicenters of each of these quakes to a natural gas well. Fracking, and more specifically the injection of wastewater from fracking being injected into the ground, has been found in some studies to be correlated with greater seismic activity.

A FrontBurnervian in the oil and gas business sent me a note with a map from a drilling industry information site showing the horizontal track of the well’s drilling bores was in the opposite direction from where the quakes are clustered. He argued that because of this, and because the well hasn’t been active since 2012, it’s likely not responsible for the tremors.

I ran this claim by Brian Stump, a seismologist at SMU.

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Leading Off (12/12/14)

OSHA to Investigate Thanksgiving Tower Fire. Thursday’s blaze beneath the downtown Dallas building’s parking garage claimed the lives of three men working in a thermal storage tank. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined. Officials don’t know if the workers may have been welding or cutting even though the company that employed the men hasn’t had a valid permit for that sort of work since 2009.

10th Irving-Area Earthquake in 2 Months. Last night at 9:25 p.m., a 2.6-magnitude quake struck near Spur Road and the Trinity River northeast of the former Texas Stadium site.

Dallas DA’s Office Dismissed Cases Without Informing Victims. WFAA reports on two family violence cases dropped by the district attorney in violation of the Texas Bill of Rights, which states that crime victims are entitled to be told about all proceedings involving their cases.

Former Fort Worth Cop Not Indicted For Shooting Dog. Kenneth Wayne Flynn shot a neighbor’s German shepherd back in September after being led to believe the dog had killed his cat. A grand jury yesterday no-billed him on animal cruelty charges.

Yes, We Are Still in the Midst of a Drought, and It Is Still Exceptional

Gosh, we had all that rain last night. The storms last week. So we should be doing a lot better with the wet stuff, right? Not so fast. The Texas Water Development Board releases a drought report every week. The new one is just out. It says:

For the first time since late 2010, less than half the state is under drought conditions. We saw improvements in south Texas and the southern High Plains over the past week, but drought worsened in North Texas. One patch of exceptional drought includes Dallas, Fort Worth, Weatherford, and Mineral Wells, and another patch includes the Wichita Falls area.

So let’s continue to conserve, people. Which is totally different than if I’d written “let’s continue to conserve people,” which is what I almost did. The comma makes a big difference. Because if we wasted some people, we’d actually do better with conserving water. Anyway, I got distracted a bit there. So: water. Let’s watch it.

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Brantley Hargrove Lands Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

I want to say something funny here. I want to poke fun at Brantley’s affinity for “cat facts,” or his life in “the bubble,” or his fear of ghosts, or his inexplicable desire to climb–and then jump off of–things he shouldn’t. But no. Today we celebrate.

It’s official: Simon & Schuster will publish D contributor Brantley Hargrove’s forthcoming book about famed storm chaser Tim Samaras and the gigantic tornado–the widest ever recorded–that killed him. The book, tentatively titled The Storm is likely to come out some time in early 2016. It grew out of the reporting Brantley did for this Dallas Observer story last year. I know David Patterson, his agent, is very excited. So is Brantley, though he knows he has a formidable task in front of him.

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Leading Off (5/21/2013)

Devastating Tornado in Oklahoma: Another horrific tragedy. There are dozens dead, a lot of them children who were taking cover in the hallway of an elementary school. Thousands more are left homeless, their possessions in shambles. And while the death and destruction will eventually be quantified and ranked historically, the grief and suffering is immeasurable. […]

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Leading Off (3/18/13)

Cruz In Control: Say what you want about Ted Cruz, the guy’s a freshman Senator getting presidential buzz in March, three years before the next presidential election. This guy is not going away anytime soon: Fracking Fuels Boom Towns: Gas production is driving the rebirth of tiny towns throughout rural Texas.  But don’t worry, fracking has […]

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