Wichita City Manager Robert Layton made the right decision last week in withdrawing the city’s application for a permit to drill for oil under Century II. There were too many concerns to proceed with the project.
The well reportedly had a 1 in 15 chance of generating $1 million in annual oil revenue – which would have been nice. But it was opposed by residents and businesses in the Delano District, west of downtown, where the drilling site would have been located.
Officials at the Wichita Downtown Development Corp. also were concerned that the project’s smell and noise could affect downtown projects. Developers of the planned $24 million River Vista apartments on the west bank of the Arkansas River indicated they would pull out if there was an oil well next door.
And if the city got a permit to drill, how could it stop other downtown property owners from drilling their own wells?
Geologists believe there is oil at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and near Jabara Airport, too. Those mostly industrial areas might be acceptable places to drill.
But not downtown. There is too much at risk.
For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee