Natural gas drilling proponents and critics will be in Fort Worth tonight for a highly-anticipated meeting on hydraulic fracturing held by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As Star-Telegram Jack Z. Smith reported today,
"The agency will solicit comments from environmental groups, representatives of the oil and gas industry, and individuals regarding suggested parameters for its study of hydraulic fracturing, a process used to coax large volumes of gas from tight underground rock formations such as the Barnett Shale, which underlies more than 20 counties in North Texas.
"Public concerns have been expressed about the potential for fracturing to contaminate groundwater; about surface spills of well wastewater that includes chemicals used in fracturing; and about the large volume of water that fracturing requires -- often 3 million or more gallons for a single horizontal well."
While a coalition of environmental groups called for more federal regulation of fracking, Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones is advocating for the status quo.
Jones, who will be attending tonight's meeting, sent out a statement today defending the state's environmental record related to natural gas drilling.
"Based on the facts, one can be confident that the geology in Texas, combined with safeguards that we require in the drilling of a well, simply do not support the notion that water used in hydraulic fracturing will migrate to a water table," Jones said. "With many thousands of fracs taking place in Texas, Commission records do not indicate a single documented water contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing in our state."
Jones' full statement is after the jump:
*Tonight the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be hosting a public information meeting in Fort Worth on its proposed study of hydraulic fracturing and potential impacts on drinking water. I will be attending this meeting and welcome yet another study on this issue.
The Railroad Commission of Texas has provided the regulatory framework for virtually all of the oil and gas production activity in Texas, including over 50 years of hydraulic fracturing. This agency does not allow the permitting of a well where hydraulic fracturing will be used without certification from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that identifies the depth that groundwater must be protected by cement and steel. Water tables, that yield water for human consumption, can extend to a depth of 1000 feet in some areas of the Barnett Shale gas and oil production. The horizontal lateral pipes are placed at an average depth of 7500 feet*more than a mile and one half below the Earth*s surface.
The area well logs around any proposed well are evaluated by geologists/hydrologists at the TCEQ and the depth of the surface casing to protect fresh water formations in every new well is determined by the
TCEQ. That determination for each individual well must be submitted to the RRC before we consider issuing a permit to drill. The heavy surface casing extends below the deepest fresh water formation of each proposed new well. The surface casing is cemented in place with the cement flowing back to the surface between the hole and the surface pipe. It is tested for any pressure leakage before drilling ahead commences as an additional safeguard for protecting our fresh water formations.
Based on the facts, one can be confident that the geology in Texas, combined with safeguards that we require in the drilling of a well, simply do not support the notion that water used in hydraulic fracturing will migrate to a water table. With many thousands of fracs taking place in Texas, Commission records do not indicate a single documented water contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing in our state.
The study the EPA is conducting, like other studies in the past, will show the positive benefits of this homegrown technology that has increased our supply of clean burning natural gas that makes America more energy secure. With the oversight of the Railroad Commission, Texas*s natural gas, produced using innovative technology, will contribute mightily and responsibly to the nation*s energy mix at a time when we sorely need it.*