Yesterday, just before I left to speak at the Dallas Drilling Task Force public meeting, I received an email from the ABCAlliance. The contents of that email changed what I planned to say to the task force.
Here's what I said: I am Sharon Wilson. I live at XXX. I lived for sixteen years in Wise County where fracking the Barnett Shale was born. I worked in the oil and gas industry for twelve years. I now work for EARTHWORKS' Oil and Gas Accountability Project. I work with the people who are impacted by natural gas extraction.
How many of you have read Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety? [Shockingly, not many hands went up and my question was met with looks of bewilderment.] I hope all of you will read it because it documents what has happened to families and communities in the Barnett Shale. It includes letters of concern from scientists, doctors and toxicologists.
I planned to tell you some stories from Flowback. But just I received an email that changed my plan. I receive emails like this all the time. Here is What Happened Today in Argyle, Texas.
From the email:
I drove to the Haynesville Shale last Tuesday, to the Church of the Living God where the EPA was holding a community meeting. The residents in this area on the Texas-Louisiana border are still, after more than two decades, trying to get one simple thing: safe drinking water.
I first met David Hudson in 2006, not long after, "What Lies Beneath," a story by Rusty Middleton about water contamination in DeBerry, Texas from oil field disposal wells appeared in the Texas Observer. Hudson was already a veteran in dealing with contaminated water.
Photo: Car Lust
When I was sixteen, I announced my intention to buy a new VW Beetle for a monthly payment of only $125. That s when I first learned about associated costs. It was several years before I could finally afford a new, red, VW Beetle and all the associated costs.
Did you think that industry was telling you the whole story about the amount of water they use to frack a natural gas well?
In the Barnett Shale, estimated frack water usage ranges between 2.5 to 9 million gallons per frack. The Eagle Ford Shale average, according to the Texas Water Development Board, is 7.5 million gallons per frack. We don t know exactly how much water they use because most of the estimates come from industry. We do have the little dab of information from the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District that revealed industry used 1,146,598,272.73 gallons of groundwater in 2009. But that only considers the metered sources. There were many cases where industry took water from unmetered sources with no enforcement action or fines.
When they say fracking goes miles deep and miles wide, they aren t kidding.
Recently I learned that EOG, aka Enron Oil and Gas, is planning to start a frack sand mining and processing plant in Cooke County near the beautiful Saint Jo. The planned 1,400-acre facility will handle all stages of production and transportation. Although EOG has only applied for and has not yet been granted the permit by TCEQ, they have already done a lot of construction and water well drilling at the proposed site. You can see aerial photographs acquired through the efforts of local citizens at the Save The Trinity Aquifer blog spot.
Despite my dislike of predawn hours, I met Calvin Tillman, former mayor of Dish, TX, in the parking lot Friday morning and we were loaded and rolling by 6:30 AM, south bound, on the "Dark Side of the Boom" Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) tour. Unfortunately, Tim Ruggiero had to cancel at the last minute.
Just south of Waco the air seemed clearer and air flowed in and out my nose for a change. But that feeling didn't last long. We saw the first man-camps and flares just south of San Antonio and the familiar layer of ground level ozone obscured the far horizon.
Dozens of man-camps dot the sides of the roads. Many of the man-camps use of the same type FEMA trailers that were used after Katrina. What's a little formaldehyde to roughnecks who work with dangerous chemicals all day long?
We rolled into Laredo about 2:30 PM and thanks to Trisha Cortez, Safe Fracking Coalition, found a wonderful place to eat some fresh Tex-Mex. I can't remember the name but the restaurant sits right on the intersection after you take exit 2. It's a fast food place but they make everything fresh including the corn tortillas right there. YUM!
The Town Hall meeting was held at the beautiful UTHSC-SA Laredo extension campus. Featured speakers were Robert Mace, Deputy Executive Administrator, Texas Water Development Board; Gil Bujano, Assistant Director, Railroad Commission of Texas, Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of Dish, and me.
Just when you thought you had learned all the dirty secrets of the shale drilling debacle, here comes something new. It took a while, but you finally figured out that the landman s depiction of two tanks sitting in a green field with flowers all around was far from accurate. You learned about the multiple tanks, diesel fumes, noise, bright lights, constant truck traffic, noxious odors, massive pipelines, injection wells, landfarms, waste pits, frack pits, compressor stations, tank farms, water depletion, water contamination, spills, processing plants, nose bleeds, royalty checks that never came, rashes, illegal dumping and etc. But there s more and if you live in North Texas, you should pay close attention.
The sand used for hydraulic fracturing has to be mined and that can be quite a destructive process. Sometimes, as is the case in the Ozarks, it requires mountain top removal. Other times they have to dredge the rivers, or they just dig the sand.
Here are some of the environmental concerns from frack sand mining. Thanks to Friends of the Rivers.
It is well known that breathing toxic gas patch air is hard on our hearts and lungs now a new study shows it also gives us dirty minds.
Children who live in areas with air pollution show brain lesions in the prefrontal cortex of their brains that are similar to people who have dementia and Alzheimer s. They also show signs of cognitive impairments in memory, problem solving and judgment and deficiencies in their sense of smell.
In Mexico City, an 11-year-old girl named Ana who has an IQ of 113, which is above-average, also has persistent, growing brain lesions. Ana was one of 54 children who participated in the Mexico City study. Autopsies of healthy children who died in accidents showed proteins that are known hallmarks of Alzheimer s and Parkinson s diseases.
Another study of 200 10-year- olds in Boston found that higher airborne concentrations of soot meant lower IQs and poorer memories.
Researchers believe nonoparticles--tiny particles in smog, carbon, metals, solvents and other reactive gases-travel through the nose and into the brain where they cause inflammation.
Industry claims they can water down the millions of gallons of toxic chemicals in frack fluid until they are harmless.
I guess the Texas Legislature thinks watering down also works with disclosure bills. The much touted HB 3328 Texas Disclosure bill that was supposed to set some kind of national standard is now so watered down that no one but industry will mistake it for setting any kind of national precedent.
There is a lot of hype going through the internet today with calls from some environmental groups asking members to call in support of this bill. but, an Inside EPA article by Bridget DiCosmo calls it a gutting (subscription required, excerpts follow).