Eagle Ford Shale drilling right next to school

Cotulla HS on R & Active drilling rig on L BIG2

This is one of the most irresponsible things I’ve seen in all my years of witnessing irresponsible things in the Gas Patch.


Yep, that’s a drilling rig right across the street from Cotulla High School.

Stupid. Reckless endangerment.


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. Mike H. says

    Strange that the big wigs of these companies say wells are so safe to be around, yet how many of them live within a few hundred feet of them?

    • Jacki says

      I offered my house to one, he refused to take the offer, I was even going to pay utilities for him for 6 months.

  2. JJC says

    It is actually more than 1000 feet but heck that doesn’t make your point as well does it! Better to exaggerate and really fire the people up.

    • says

      Since you seem to be so well informed, JJC, maybe you can answer some additional questions:

      1. Did you measure the distance? The drilling permit is still not available on the RRC website.
      2. Is this another El Paso Natural Gas Co. well?
      3. What is the blast radius of such a well if there is an explosion or a well blow out?
      4. What kind of emergency plans have been made to evacuate the school in case of such an emergency?
      5. Is there another way out of the school besides the driveway shown in the video?
      6. In the Barnett Shale Hillwood, a Ross Perot Company, drilled 1/2 mile from the high school and the student has suffered many health effects.
      7. At the site mentioned in #6 above, baseline testing showed 7 detects of the 84 chemicals TCEQ commonly tests for BEFORE drilling and fracking. AFTER drilling and fracking, TCEQ testing showed 65 detects. What is the increased risk those students face from that exposure?
      8. Do you have children in this school? If not, what is your interest?

  3. JJC says

    Actually I did measure it for the school which is why I know you are lying and/or exaggerating and the permit is filed with the Railtoad Commission, API No. 283-32716.

    I watched your cheesy video entitled “Here’s what Americas Natural Gas Did Today”. What a joke! All you did was drive around and take pictures of normal drilling activity and imply that devious or nefarious activities were going on. Picture of a flare and they are “torching the land”. A water booster pump and it is pumping dangerous chemicals into a pond? It is pumping water out of that pond. Pictures of 10 inch aluminum water lines that are moving pure carrizo water beside a dead cactus and somehow this killed the cactus. South Texas is in the middle of the worst drought since the 1950’s genius, and that is what is killing the plant life. I suppose the Oil & Gas industry is responsible for the drought as well? The local landowners love it when the water pipes leak.

    My interest in all of this is that I live in this area and we have enjoyed a much needed economic impact. It has brought us jobs and prosperity that many other areas in the country would kill for. Do you live here?

    If you actually did your proper homework you would know the answers to your silly questions above. Get informed and stop spreading a bunch of lies.

    • says

      It’s so easy for people in your industry to flippantly tell us to “get informed.” First we are damn well informed, often times more so than those who work in the industry. Second, your industry tries very hard to keep their processes a secret–from their own workers even. Why do you suppose they require their victims to sign those non-disclosure agreements when they are paid off?

      I didn’t make the EFS video you are criticizing above but I posted it on my blog because I thought it was clever although the maker didn’t know what was happening in all the processes in the video, which is a problem in and of itself–too much secrecy. It was made by someone who is local and since the groundswell of opposition in the EFS is in the beginning stages I thought it was important. What the video shows is that all the people down there are not thrilled with you activities.

      If the permit for the well that is way to close to the school is on the RRC site, then it was just added recently because I looked for it before I posted the picture. And, by the way, show me where I am “lying” in the above post. The drilling rig is right across the street from the school and that is irresponsible. With horizontal drilling techniques, the well could have been placed at a safer distance from the school but it’s so much more convenient and profitable for the driller to have it close to the road.

      I live in the Barnett Shale where you people have been drilling for quite a while now. We aren’t too happy about it and we now know that the economic benefits go mostly to the CEOs of the drilling companies. The benefits the businesses see are fleeting, boom and bust type benefits. They are not good for the longevity of the area. We also know what happens when you drill that close to schools–increased leukemia and lots of asthma.

      And, I have toured the EFS and held meetings with the residents, lots of unhappy residents, lots of scared residents. New people in the EFS contact me every day. The opposition is growing down there. Why don’t you do things right and safer then maybe people wouldn’t object.

      You failed to answer questions 2 through 5 and question 8 above. What-a-matter? Didn’t do your homework.

      I mean, door-to-door hookers in the man-camp RV parks??? Nice benefit.

    • elizabeth riebschlaeger says

      Oops, JJC. I remember the 1950’s drought and the pictures in Life Magazine showing real Texas cowboys burning the thorns off cactus ears so they could be fed to their cattle when the grass and trees ran out. The cactus did not die from the drought, but as a plant is built to survive it.

      That is why to this very day, many ranchers leave or cultivate cactus especially along their fencelines, so that they will have a “backup food” for their cattle when droughts hit–and hit they will. They also have discovered that those bunches of cactus make great shelters for the quail population and good hunting for the quail hunters and their bird dogs.

      So, maybe something else did kill that cactus. Would have to be investigated, wouldn’t it? Think that would be possible?

      As for your statement “we have enjoyed a much needed economic impact. It has brought us jobs and prosperity that many other areas in the country would kill for”, let’s just say that some corporations and people are willing to do just that: kill for that economic boom you describe, and some have. How many have died from accidental fires, explosions or spills, and how many more will die of the illnesses brought on by toxic vapors and chemicals they were exposed to as they worked these rigs, drove these trucks, or lived next to in their homes.

      Remember, the shale boom is new to South Texas. Not so to Pennsylavnia, Wyoming, Colorado or the Barnett in North Texas. Ever talk to them about the problems there? One person from PA wrote, “Pennsylania is lost; but we can still save New York” (from the damages that came to others from fracking). People are complaining about toxic smells and like it or not, there is evidence out there of contamninated and ruined water wells that have been the result from some fracking operations. As for the picture of the rig across from the school, like it or not, that is putting those teachers, staff and students at risk if there is a fire or explosion.

      Think you did not address the questions posed by Sharon above. And before you dismiss my comments as being from someone who “doesn’t live here”, I am a born and raised Texas living in the middle of the Eagle Ford Shale boom and realize the dangers. Some things, especially a lot of money, are not worth one human life–adult or child. If we do not face the dangers, we will never find ways to make this quest for energy in shale areas safe. Might as well face the dangers and get to work on those.

  4. says

    Oh, btw, I doubt you work in the oil and gas business because you haven’t used their same old lines they use over and over. So are you a doctor? http://www.texassharon.com/2011/09/15/eagle-ford-shale-trust-me-im-a-doctor/ or a mineral owner? You seem concerned about “riled up” people. Are you in the business of un-riling people?

    You probably don’t know yet about how harmful having a drilling site near people and especially children can be. Maybe you don’t even have children. Maybe you should come up here and take a tour, talk to some parents and see what has happened to us. Then you might decide that there is another way to bring economics benefits to your area, like building windmills or solar panels.

    Maybe you should just consider trying to answer the questions 2 – 5 above. Maybe ask the local first responders. But, don’t go ask the guys at the drilling site. They don’t know. All they know is what their employer tells them.

      • elizabeth riebschlaeger says

        I don’t go to this school, but know that at least the first drilling operation is being completed. But toxic releases could still be possible from leaks in the valves or connections of the pipes, or above ground installations.

        Best thing is to know what number to call to issue it and file a complaint with the TCEQ (The Railroad Commisison has done its job if the well is in production). And also to report any unusual health symptoms you might notice, like
        regular headaches, especially if you have not ad headaches before too often, or dizziness or nosebleeds.
        Does your school nurse know what to watch out for in symptoms of exposure to toxic vapors?

        Just be prepared, and know what the evacuation plan is if there should be a toxic release or an explosion at that site.
        Do your school administrators, teachers, school board members, staff members and students know what to do in that plan? If your school principal or superintendent has not told you what that is, good idea to ask. Everyone in that school should be informed of what to do or what symptoms to report if feeling ill, especially suddenly.

  5. Jacob says

    Im sorry but everyone opposed to drilling are a bunch of idiots. I have worked in the drilling industry for years and have seen everything that could happen on a rig. There are dangers of blowouts on rigs, but you have a better chance of a plane crashing into the school. All chemicals are mixed in a confined space by a properly trained Derrick man. No vapors are involved, all chemicals are poured through a hopper and are completely sealed. There is so much pressure in the pipes we use to drill and transfer drilling fluids that if there is a leak, even as small as a needle, the pump pressure drops and the driller is forced to fix the problem. As far as tracking goes, companies take every precaution necessary to avoid ruining water wells. Very rarely does a water well get contaminated. Everybody complains about drilling, but every person who has ever posted anything about how much they hate drilling has used what we drill for. You’re all hypocrites. Go live in the forest and hug a tree; see how long you can make it without crude oil and natural gas.

    • wayne says

      People who complain about drilling and getting American oil and gas are the BIGGEST hypocrites. They use their cars everyday, fly to their vacation hot spot, use plastic trash bags, dont forget they use electricity which by the way powervplants use natural gas, coal, or fuel oil. You cant depend on wind or solar. The wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining. Do you hypocrites want to keep getting your oil from all these Muslim countries which supports terrorist? Think about that. Ask yourself, or try not using anything made from oil for a week. You cant. So grow a pair and find something else to bitch about. Now with that being said, I have passed by this location many times and agree that they should have placed it farther away from the school. Now does anyone know if the school has received or is receiving royalties? If they are, Cotulla has been a very poor school district in the past. With all this new tax revenue coming in and as long as the school’s administration are not embezzling money, the extra tax revenue should help All the student receive a better education.

  6. joe says

    you forgot to mention that there is a prison behind the highschool. the drilling rig will be gone in weeks, but the prison is there forever. i feel safer with an drilling rig than a prison full of rapists, child abusers and murderers.