Gwen Lachelt, EARTHWORKS, 505-469-0380
Sharon Wilson, Texas OGAP, 940-389-1622
Fort Worth, 2/23 – Today EARTHWORKS formally launched the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), a new citizens’ group that will work to ensure that Texas’ burgeoning Barnett shale gas industry operates while respecting the environment and the rights of its neighbors. Simultaneously, the new watchdog group released its best practices platform: DRILL-RIGHT TEXAS: Best Oil & Gas Development Practices for Texas.
“Shale gas drilling has a black eye in Texas because it fails to respect communities and the environment. That’s why concerned Texans came together to form the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project,” said Gwen Lachelt from EARTHWORKS. “DRILL-RIGHT TEXAS shows the responsible way forward for both drillers and regulators, and Texas OGAP will push them in that direction.”
The shale gas industry is exploding in the central Texas. In Fort Worth alone, more than 1,100 wells have been drilled within the city limits, and 100 new wells are being permitted every month. Over 9,000 wells have been drilled in surrounding counties — with 5,000 more already approved. Pipelines and wells are being located and drilled just a few feet from residences, sparking concerns by local residents for their health. Open spaces, such as the Tandy Hills, Greenbelt and other endangered, native prairie lands are turning into industrialized landscapes and drilling is encroaching upon Lake Worth, a critical drinking water supply for the city.
“DRILL-RIGHT TEXAS shows the drilling industry how to do it right: respect private property rights, clean water and clean air, wildlife, and public health,” said Sharon Wilson, the new Texas OGAP organizer. She continued, “I’m a 4th generation Texan who hoped to get rich selling gas leases. After witnessing first-hand the devastation wrought by current drilling practices, I know that unless DRILL RIGHT recommendations are followed, Texans and future Texans will be a whole lot poorer.”
EARTHWORKS, the only nationwide non-governmental organization (NGO) in the U.S. focused exclusively on resource extraction, has worked with Texans since the Barnett Shale drilling boom sparked citizens to demand greater oversight of oil and gas activities in the region. Texas OGAP hopes to replicate successes in other states like New Mexico and Colorado, where EARTHWORKS-championed landowner and environmental initiatives have become law.
“We are calling for responsible water standards to protect Texans threatened by drilling,” said Kathy Chruscielski, Texas OGAP Steering Committee member. She continued, “Enormous amounts of water are used to drill wells and the waste water must be properly managed. Water recycling, closed-loop drilling systems and non-toxic fracturing fluids are best practices we’re promoting to protect our increasingly-scarce fresh water supply.”
A citizen’s groundwater advocate and the publisher of Parched Newsletter, Chruscielski became active in water issues four years ago when gas drilling was blamed for causing water wells to go dry.
“Some areas are so important for future generations that they simply should not be drilled,” said Texas OGAP member Don Young and founder of Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations. “We’ve got to protect our special places like the Tandy Hills and LBJ Grasslands or we won’t have anything left,” he continued.
Young’s Fort Worth CANDO is the first group in the United States devoted to raising public awareness of urban drilling issues.
Texas OGAP will work with communities statewide to prevent and minimize the impacts caused by energy development. EARTHWORKS has 27,000 members nationwide, and offices in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, D.C.
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Texas.OGAP [at] earthworksaction [dot] org
* Don Young, Fort Worth CANDO, 817-731-2787
* Kathy Chruscielski, PARCHED, 817-448-6348
* Calvin Tillman, Mayor of DISH, Texas, 940-453-3640
* Tim Ruggiero, directly affected landowner, 917-763-8901
* Wilma Subra, EARTHWORKS board member, 337-367-2216