Environmental Injustice in Barnett Shale: Cowboys Stadium more important than neighborhoods

According to this article, it’s too risky to drill under the Cowboy’s Stadium because it’s such an expensive and huge structure.

Lord knows we wouldn’t want to risk Monday night football, but the kids in the picture, aw well…

Cowboys Stadium site in Arlington isn’t expected to be used for gas drilling

“We don’t want the ground to give and cause it to crack or sink,” Doegey said about the rock beneath the stadium.

Doegey said that when he lived in Southern California, oil extraction had caused some surface collapses and seawater had to be injected into the rock to mitigate that.

~City Attorney Jay Doegey

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Matt says

    Thought from a petroleum engineer –

    The thought of the earth 'collapsing' due to drilling the Barnett Shale is ridiculous to anyone who knows anything about geology or the oil and gas business. Other formations, do have this problem though and people should be wary (just not in this situation).

    Subsidence is caused by depressurization (through gas/oil/water production) of a rock with low compressive strength. Basically, the rock is not strong enough to hold the weight on it without the gas or liquid filling it. The Barnett Shale, along with the vast majority of gas/oil formations, can easily hold the weight above it.

    The particular earthquakes were mapped to 5 kilometers in depth. These measurements can have 10 or even 20% error, but to be more than double the depth of the Barnett Shale, it is very safe to assume oil and gas drilling is not a DIRECT cause. I'm not a geologist and can't speculate on potential for indirect causes.

    As far as earthquakes in Fort Worth, there have always been earthquakes. The largest of which was in 1978 @ 5.3. There have been more recorded in the last few years since the mid 80's, which may be cause for concern, but I don't know of any hard evidence suggesting a reason.

  2. TXsharon says

    Thanks for your comment, Matt. Fear of the stadium collapsing due to drilling under seems ridiculous to me, but it's even more ridiculous to consider something too dangerous for a sports stadium that is acceptable for neighborhoods.

    Drilling has way to many mysterious "incidents." Frequent earthquakes shortly after drilling activity in an area that was earthquake free for 150 years and drilling is not responsible. I'm not going to swallow that bullshit. That goes right along with all the water that is suddenly and mysteriously contaminated shortly after hydraulic fracturing in the area. People who are harmed get millions and a non disclosure agreement so we can never have that PROOF. Just like the cattle that died when they licked up the frack fluid that sprayed into their pasture. We'll never officially know what happened because the owner gets millions to keep his mouth shut.

    I'm disgusted by this kind of immoral behavior.

  3. TXsharon says

    People in Cleburne heard a boom before the quakes. That's consistent with what I read about the drilling induced quakes in Colorado.

  4. Anonymous says

    Drill a gas well on the 50 yard line of the stadium, just to show everybody how "safe" it is!

  5. Anonymous says

    I wouldn't say 'earthquake free'. According to the USGS, there have been earthquakes every year for at least the last 40 years sans 1. The earthquakes got worse in 2006, 2-3 years after hydraulic fracturing techniques were 'perfected'. I have actually worked with companies who use that same fracture design all over the country from North Dakota to Pennsylvania to Texas to New Mexico.

    Ironically, the pairing of the hydraulic fracturing procedure with the contaminated water is probably incorrect, while the well is almost certainly a strong factor in the water contamination itself.

    Whenever a well is drilled, about 1/3 of the cost of drilling the well is devoted to protecting aquifers, employee safety, and public safety.

    Aquifers are protected partially because of law, partially because of legal exposure, but also partly because the well does much better if it is isolated from water zones. If you are curious, I can outline the 'usual' procedures of fracing and drilling in an email for you to do as you wish.

    The probable (I would say at least 90%) explaination for the water problems are a 'bad cement job' in conjunction with a casing failure. All of which are bad for the company AND the people.

    As someone in the industry, I'm very disappointed that a minority of companies don't work more actively to find the cause of the problem. I've seen several instances where it was very clear that fertilizers were to blame (due to chemical makeup of polutants) and the oil companies involved STILL took steps to remedy the problems to garner public support and because it costs them very little money (relatively) to help someone out (between $10k and $50k as opposed to drilling a single well at $1000k+)

    Sorry so long :)

  6. Matt says

    The effects of drilling or poor completions are not generally seen immediately. As far as the hydraulic fracturing, imagine spraying a 7000 psi sprayer at the side of a mountain. How long would it take you to break almost a mile into the mountain if you held it against the rock?

    You probably wouldn't be able to. That is exactly what a hydraulic fracture i, but usually at 1000-2500 psi. The only way it could happen is by following a fault already present.

    I'm not defending anyone, I'm just explaining how it works. Oil and gas companies have been and are still faulted for many things, but the punishment should fit the crime and all companies shouldn't be lumped in together. I, along with many other engineers, take pride in drilling wells invisibly. We've taken steps to insure our drilling rigs put out less exhaust than a semi, use silent pumps if we are within earshot of a residence, put up fences around well sites, monitor wells physically and remotely to insure there are no spills above or below ground, etc. We even will drill at times to prevent the disturbance of native wildlife and folliage as well as stop drilling in the event of an archeological find.

  7. TXsharon says

    Kudos to you and your company, Matt for trying to do things better. Isn't it uncanny that there are so many "incidents" surrounding the oh-so-safe and benign hydraulic fracture process? Since your company is so responsible, I assume you have no problem listing all the chemicals used in your hydraulic fracturing process and that you support tougher regulation of the industry. I can assure you that where I live the operators have little regard for human or animal life. Check out the pictures. They're worth 1000 words.

  8. Matt says

    Currently we use a mix of water, 15% Hydrochloric acid, CO2, Methanol (where neccessary), and different sizes of sands. The additives, that have many people worried include – Sodium Erythorbate (a food additive), Potassium Cloride (a simple salt), biocide (3, 5-dimethyl-l, 3, 5-thiadiazine-2-thione is an example) – these are used in ppm and hold to EPA regulations in drinkable water, non ionic, non foaming surfactant (basically soap, called "soap sticks" in the well fields), corrosion inhibitors (sodium nitrate being the most dangerous, all of which break down into harmless salts in around 3 days)

    Most companies use a schedule very similar to that, unless there are special well considerations such as H2S, in which case they take extra precautions as it is extremely deadly.

  9. TXsharon says

    Good. Then you won't mind one bit having your hydraulic fracturing process regulated. Will you? Because your chemical components are certainly much different than the ones DOCUMENTED by research scientists.

  10. Matt says

    I wouldn't mind at all of course, and I'm betting that oil and gas companies wouldn't mind either as long as the amounts used are only accessed by independent research groups and government agencies for the first 2-3 years after the procedure. It is exactly the same procedure we use now for documenting almost everything we do and has caused a lot of positive change in the oil and gas industry already. The 2-3 year lag just to keep other companies from benefitting from your companies research, but still providing independent groups and agencies the chance to look over everything.

    People misread fracing into water zones… There are hundreds of water bearing zones. There aren't any bearing potable water below certain depths depending on the area, but usually 6-700 feet is the deepest. If you frac into a water zone even 20 feet away, the response is immediate and can be seen in the production. I'm currently investigating the possibility of a fracture travelling 1500' up a wellbore (which is what the microseismic showed). Through chemical analysis of production fluids as well as fluids taken physically from both zones, I believe that the fracture did not travel that far, but I'm getting an independent analysis to be sure.

  11. TXsharon says


    The industry has spend $44.9 MILLION lobbying against regulation JUST in the 1st quarter of 2009. LOL!

    Nice try.

  12. Matt says

    I should also add that the big reason oil and gas companies are fighting disclosure acts are simply paperwork costs. A team of people drilling in New Mexico, for instance, are about 2/3 regulation workers dealing with all the insane regulations in New Mexico.

    It is very expensive to drill there because of the extra paperwork. The actual drilling is identical to drilling in other parts of the country, but the regulations make drilling there uneconomic usually. I refuse to even work there.

  13. Matt says

    Regulation breeds cost. It's nothing more than that, although I completely understand why anyone would believe otherwise. I wish people would focus more on getting the lobbyists out of Washington. I don't believe they serve a bit of good. I don't believe that any company should be able to sponsor an elected official. Why wouldn't we focus on getting rid of lobbyists? For all industry?

  14. Matt says

    Agh… I was looking through that TEDX site… They list things such as sand, clay (like that used in wine making), and salts (like chlorine tablets for the pool) as cancer causing. I'm not saying everything she says is wrong, but sand causing cancer? Maybe we should shut down every beach in the world…

  15. TXsharon says

    Matt, if industry can afford to spend $44.9 MILLION during the 1st quarter of 2009 alone lobbying against regulation, surely industry can afford a little paperwork.

    COME ON! LOL! Permits and filing fees are next to nothing compared to the profits your industry makes.

  16. TXsharon says

    You are distorting the findings of Dr. Theo Colborn.

    NOT funny. This kind of behavior is why citizens do not trust your industry.

  17. Matt says

    I'm not sure how I'm distorting it… I'm betting that she saw the chemical compound, Silicon Dioxide, and found that when powdered and inhaled it can act similar to asbestos cutting holes in your lungs and causing a rate of healing that promotes cancer.

    Calcium Chloride, when taken in large doses or over a long period of time could promote oxidation just by it's ionic nature. It isn't used in the quantities required to have those effects.

    Just look at the list yourself. I'm not making anything up. A lot of what she says is cancerous is only in special situations and not proven to any degree (though, over time, we will find some are cancerous and should stop being used)

    There are without a doubt toxic chemicals used in fracturing. In dilution those are generally managed, outside of certain chemicals that break down. Drilling fluids are sprayed all over workers on location and probably breathed in a lot. They don't suffer abnormally from cancer. Why would it be different when diluted even more inside an aquifer?

  18. Anonymous says

    If an oil company (or one of their representatives) tell you that the sun came up this morning, you better go outside and check it out by looking up into the sky! They lie a lot! And on top of that, they are NOT NICE People!

  19. TXsharon says

    I obtained a sample of flowback from a pit and had it tested. In addition to other chemicals, it contained chromium.

    I did not know how to collect the sample properly so I collected only fluid. Later I learned that I should have gotten the mud on the bottom of the pit because that is where the heavy metals fall. Still, with my inexperienced collection, it showed chromium.

    I will be collecting more samples.

  20. TXsharon says

    Matt, you are exposing your true deceitful nature. Dr. Theo Coloborn did not say that sand was cancerous.

    or (2) they can be “land farmed” in which they are incorporated into the soil
    through disking. Here, toxic metals and silica fines would continually build up in the disked soils and could be mobilized on dust particles. At some locations, because of regional differences in geology and technology, 100% of the injected frac’ing fluids may remain underground.


    The physical characteristics of a chemical can contribute to its becoming a chemical of concern, as well as its application or use. For example, crystalline silica is reported in 33 products on this list ranging from <1% to 30% of the total composition. It poses its hazard as a respirable dust that lodges permanently in the lungs and can cause silicosis, emphysema, obstructive airway diseases, and lymph node fibrosis. It is not captured in either the water-soluble or volatile pathways in this analysis. It poses a long-term, delayed health hazard similar to asbestos, but can rapidly turn into malignant lung cancer.
    It is reported in both drilling and fracturing products. Oftentimes, the cuttings captured in drill pad reserve pits are used to produce berms or as fill on the pad. Over time, silica in the drilling muds could become airborne as dust along with other toxic compounds. The MSDSs recommend the use of respirators and goggles when handling the silica-containing products when dust is formed.

    Page 4-5 http://www.damascuscitizens.org/images/TEDX-NYnarrative_9-11-08.pdf

  21. Matt says

    They don't use fine silicas is my point, which you've spelled out quite clearly is the only potential way it can cause harm. I'm not sure how that is being deceitful, but companies use a specific size of 'crystalline silica', aka sand. It's measured by sieve size and is much too large to become airborne. The pressure required to crack SiO2, which I believe is a 6 on the hardness scale (see quartz), would be much greater than any pressure we would use.

    I'm not trying to be deceitful at all. There are toxic chemicals used. Absolutely. I don't believe that those chemicals make it to the aquifers through the frac itself, but through safety precautions that have been circumvented.

    I think that the burden of proof should lie with the oil company when there is suspected leakage. I think that any engineer that knowingly uses extremely toxic materials or materials that are toxic are spilled on his watch should lose his license. There is no excuse for that. I do know that Chromium is used in a small percentage of instances and I can't remember why for the life of me, but I know that those flowbacks must go to a tank for hazardous waste if it has over a certain amount.

    There is a certain amount of lying that all companies do. No doubt about that. I promise that I have NO reason to lie. Whatsoever. I copy and pasted our materials list from a previous well we fraced above and added the description the best I could.

  22. Anonymous says

    After our city met with XTO
    representatives last month,in
    regard to 14 horizontal wells
    being drilled on existing pads,
    within city limits.The question
    of water use was brought up. It
    was explained,the water (2-9
    MILLION gals.per well) would be obtained by drilling their "own" well,at 200-300 ft.Safely above most individual wells.It would
    not affect our water table. HA HA

  23. TXsharon says

    The chromium I referenced above was landfarmed from a sludge pit.

    Matt, the silica is NOT too large to become airborne. I have several videos of it. Here's one.



  24. Anonymous says

    Oil companies will pack sand up your behind–and sometimes it's silica!!! Ha.