The Barnett Shale Town Hall meeting last Thursday evening was advertised as an opportunity for representatives from state agencies to “educate” residents of Denton on permitting processes, various planned drilling projects and facilities.
I regret that I didn’t take notes but working purely from my feeble, worn-out memory I’m going to address some of the misstatements and unanswered questions from that meeting.
In a previous blog post, I helped Tony Walker, TCEQ Regional Administrator understand the monitoring benchmark set by TCEQ that is so shocking even he couldn’t believe it.
Since not one member of the panel of experts knew anything about the FRAC Act, I explained that HERE. But you also should know that Texas has no regulation specific to hydraulic fracturing. Texas relies on cementing the well bore to protect our water. An industry study reveals some interesting things about how hydraulic fracturing, corrosion and other problems make the well bore unreliable. Life Cycle Modeling of Wellbore Cement Systems Used for Enhanced Geothermal System Development
The answer, with graphs, to the question about Barnett Shale’s 25% asthma rates: Barnett Shale has a staggering asthma rate of 25% compared to 7.1% statewide.
The questions about inspecting wells is answered, with graphs, in By the numbers: Texas Oil and Gas Wells and Enforcement Staff
And that brings me to the wrong answer I received from the Texas Railroad Commission representative, Gil
(last name to be supplied later) Brujano, P.E., Assistant Director Technical Permitting, Oil and Gas Division, Texas Railroad Commission (thanks to reader for supplying the correct name and title). The question I asked related to the recent air study where they discovered a Devon Energy valve left open resulting in benzene at 15,000 ppb. According to TCEQ, the valve is now closed so everything is okey-dokey. My question:
How is the Devon Energy well with the open valve spewing high levels of benzene into the air any different than the routine venting that occurs throughout the Barnett Shale.
His answer: Operators do not vent. It’s not allowed.
But I see it happening often and sometimes I even snap a picture, or someone sends me a picture or a video.
another video from a different facility
Venting happens. And I knew Gil
(last name to be supplied later) Brujano’s answer was wrong. However, since I didn’t have a copy of the rule in front of me, there was no use in arguing, After all, he is the expert.
The truth is: Venting is allowed per Texas Railroad Commission State Wide Rule 32 and like nearly everything else, industry has control over when they vent and when they don’t. Upon first reading, it appears there are some regulations. A closer look reveals many exemptions and ultimately industry is the decider.
As I mentioned previously, people are angry with and distrustful of state regulators. I truly believe that Tony Walker might not have understood the TCEQ monitoring benchmark but I’m not allowing Gil
(last name to be supplied later) Brujano that same consideration. I believe he intentionally misled me because the reality of allowing all that methane to vent directly into our air is not only dangerous to human health, I believe it is the HUGE elephant in the room that Big Gas doesn’t want us to see.
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.
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So let's hope together that the thing will be settled down with an appropriate way that people will accept.
Tim Ruggiero says
I was disappointed (again) with the TRRC as well as the TCEQ. I think the TRRC is horribly corrupt, as I've yet to meet or speak with anyone at this agency that truly seems to give a damn about the people on the ground other than the industry.
I'm a little more hopeful about the TCEQ (but not holding my breath) only in the sense that I have dealt with a precious few people who do actually seem to care and understand the problems-but, unfortunately, have their hands tied or get overruled by the suits in Austin , who are becoming less and less cooperative with my information requests. (i.e., we sent off a requests for ALL complaints about our favorite Good Neighbor operator, and the TRRC sees information in here that they believe is confidential, so they have deferred to the Attorney General for a ruling. The only thing possibly confidential is who complained, and we know who that is, already…)
Both the TRRC and the TCEQ could do themselves huge favors by at least pretending to be on the side of the tax payers, but they almost willingly defy us instead, with their obviously feigned concern and political bullshit answers. "We'll get back to you." and "Let us look into that for you." I'm still waiting.
I expect that all of these people- the field techs, the administrators, toxicologists, the whole lot of them to be throughly knowledgeable not only in their field, but of the laws and the 3 or 4 regulations that exist. Why don't they? I guess if they just do what the industry tells them to do, and defer to the Attorney General for answers, then that in itself tells me what good they are.
The TRRC and TCEQ have built themselves a railroad to nowhere…much like the train that runs around the Christmas tree..it just runs in circles and makes a lot of noise.
The next claim from the Barnett Shale Newsletter will be that the pictures are photoshop fabrications.
This all makes me so made. My thought is how expensive is it for me to get my own air moniter thing in my back yard. If it shows high readings – I have some sort of proof and can do . . . something?
I just got done listening to the audio of this, my favorite part was when someone asked about how much benzene is released when you pump gas. The answer was, if there is a vapor recovery device it is virtually zero. Since most of us live in the EPA non-attainment area, this is required. It is not however, required on compressor sites within the same non-attainment area. Wow, that question sure backfired, might want to get a better "loaded" question from industry next time.
Another shocking bit of misinformation came when the disposal well diagram was presented by Mr. Bujano (believe that is his last name). Mr. Bujano would have us believe that the Barnett Shale is being drilled locally to a depth of around 5000' which is incorrect. Gulftex has two wells close to the Sophia injection site with completion depths of 8335' & 12,000'. The disposal well ranges are 8600' to 12750'. Gulftex is protesting because the Sophia will very likely ruin their wells & send drilling mud back up their bores. So far, the diagrams I have seen (from internet searches) which include local seismic data indicate that there has been a deterioration of a shale layer(Viola) placing the Barnett on top of the Ellenberger formation in some places. Common sense tells me that you can not explode the Barnett at such close depths to the Ellenberger without risk of water contamination. Wildcat wells in Val Verde County, Texas were drilled into the Ellenberger to 17,000' exploring for more gas recently. Google Karst chimneys" to learn about natural weak areas that operators avoid when drilling because of water contamination risk. Karst chimneys can be found in the Ellenberger. There is a large amount of information is still not being shared. Jana DeGrand
Jovan Gonzales says
Wow. That's pretty much all I have. I just don't understand how so many people can't really see what's going on. Have you ever sent any of your bloggings to the Dallas Morning or to whatever Fort Worth's weekly truthful paper is? I can't remember what it's called by Durango is always going on about it. I'm sure both would looooove to put your stuff on an opinion column?
I especially appreciate the videos of Aruba venting in the dark. Perhaps if it is done in the dark, no one will see it. The second video of this says it all, with the employee quickly giving what appears to be the finger to whoever is doing the video taping. This is really what industry is doing to all of us isn't it? Giving us the finger in the dark and telling us lies in the light of day?