State Rep. Lon Burnam said Thursday the Fort Worth City Council should look at the more stringent, federal standards for benzene rather than base its findings on the more lenient, Texas Commission on Environemental Quality one-hour sampling standards. Burnam said the city should ask ERG, the consultant who conducted the long-delayed $1 million air quality study, to "reanalyze its dispersion modeling data." In a Dec. 21 letter addressed to Mayor Betsy Price, Burnam said that ERG should also "reevaluate the city set-back requirements." If the city doesn't consider more stringent monitoring of Barnett Shale emissions, Burnam said he will consider legislation requiring TCEQ to do so. The City Council voted down a series of changes in October to its gas drilling ordinance that were based on the findings of the air quality study. TCEQ chief toxicologist Michael Honeycutt said Thursday the state currently has seven monitoring stations in the Barnett Shale and will add nine more in the next 12-18 months. TCEQ has not seen any high benzene levels since two were recorded in Wise County two years ago, Honeycutt said. In a statement, Price said she appreciated "Rep. Burnam sharing his concerns with us; and one thing we can agree on is that health and safety of our citizens will always take top priority." Councilman Jungus Jordan, who read Burnam's letter, said there is no reason to evaulate the air quality study further. Instead, Jordan said the city should continue to push for the latest vapor recovery technology to control Barnett Shale emissions.
- Bill Hanna