About 30 percent of the gas wells operating in Tarrant County have not been inspected within the past five years. The inspections are the responsibility of the Texas Railroad Commission, which enforces safety and environmental rules for gas drilling.
A recent audit discovered that 46% of the wells in Texas have not been inspected in the past five years!
This is no news to us in Wise County. Here are pictures of an injection well taken just a few days after the September 27, 2007, inspection pronounced the site “safe and clean.” After I made a formal complaint, the RRC did a real inspection and the site was shut-in, the permit pulled and fines accessed against the operator.
Sure, the RRC is understaffed but the incompetence is also deliberate.
The Railroad Commission oversees the oil and gas industry in Texas. It is run by three commissioners, who are elected statewide to six-year terms. Commissioners earn between $92,000 and $137,000 a year.
The three current commissioners each get a substantial amount of their political contributions from the oil and gas industry, according to an analysis of contributions for 2006 by the Web-based watchdog group followthemoney.org.
Chairman Michael Williams, who has been on the commission since 1999, got a third of his contributions — $138,000 out of $400,000, from people and companies in the oil and gas business, during the 2006 election cycle.
Elizabeth Ames Jones, who was appointed to the commission by Gov. Rick Perry in 2005, also got about a third of her contributions from the oil and gas sector — $695,000 out of $2.1 million.
Victor Carrillo, who was appointed by Perry in 2003 and re-elected in 2004, got 54 percent of his contributions from the oil and gas sector, $194,000 out of $355,000.
Texas Railroad Commission, www.rrc.state.tx.us
I call it what it is: protection money.
Now, too late, Tarrant County is paying attention. Now they want to open a satellite RRC office to inspect wells in their area because they’re concerned about runoff and their drinking water.
Protecting the water in your county is a good start but, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, IT ALL RUNS DOWNHILL! Wise County water becomes Tarrant County water! That’s not a hard concept.