When I first started tuning in on fracking issue, road damage and truck traffic were the last things I thought we needed to worry about. Traffic issues didn’t grab my attention like toxic exposure through air, water contamination, land use and land contamination. Then I started getting run of the road frequently. In one year, I had to buy six new tires. I had several near wrecks because trucks would drive off muddy drill sites and leave giant chunks of caliche mud in the road, or because of ruts and potholes. Experience was my teacher.
Traffic accidents and fatalities skyrocket in shale boom areas. Karnes County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale experienced an increase of over 1,000% in commercial motor vehicle accidents from 2008 to 2011.
Eagle Ford Shale by county increases in traffic accidents from 2008 to 2011 (Source):
- Atascosa: +56%
- DeWitt: +67%
- Dimmit: +175%
- Frio: +200%
- Gonzalez: +204%
- Karnes: +1,050%
- La Salle: +418%
- Maverick: +100%
- McMullen: +1,050%
Two Parker County men who were critically injured by water hauler trucks that failed to obey traffic laws have received “significant financial settlements” totaling 11.7 million.
“My clients suffered terrible injuries because these companies didn’t comply with federal regulations and failed to make safety a priority,” Laird said. “The growing energy industry has brought incredible revenue to Texas, but our roads are becoming more and more dangerous every day as a result.” –
Parker County truck wreck lawsuit one of two settled for combined $11.7 million
June 28, 2013
Fracking has brought “incredible revenue” to only a few. The majority of Texans are not seeing a benefit because most of that revenue is going into the pockets of the fracking executives and large landowners.
… Communities where drilling has occurred are now dealing with various externalities. But the companies who have generated these costs are not paying for those costs. They have off loaded that significant burden onto the tax payers and local businesses. This is true of the oil and gas industry as a whole. In fact, economists estimate that if all oil and gas externalities were included gasoline would cost in excess of $12/gallon. ~Deborah Rogers, Will the Eagle Ford Shale Bankrupt Local Communities. Also see Part II
So let’s recap on the “benefits” fracking boom towns are experiencing:
- Higher taxes to pay for road damage.
- Huge spikes in traffic accidents and deaths.
- Strip joints and prostitutes are the new sources of entertainment.
- Property and trees damaged from oilfield waste.
- Tainted beer.
- More complaints to taxpayer funded state agencies.
- Damaged health and quality of life.
- Foul air.
- Dangerous jobs.
- Longer commutes to work due to increased traffic.
- Health care administrative staff are going to work in the oil field.
- Schools are struggling with “struggling to deal with larger, sometimes transient student populations, more students from single parent homes and more homeless students.
- Food banks are swamped with more requests for help.
- Increased diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.
- Big spike in sexually transmitted diseases.
- “Desperate” need for more mental health professionals to treat depression.
- Longtime residents have been pushed out by rent that has risen as much as $1800 to $2000/month.
- Seniors are struggling with higher housing and services costs.
- “Our stable population is being ousted,”
- Women are hounded by oilfield workers.
- Long-term cost of paying for damaged health.
- More cities fall into non-attainment.
- Land use, including loss of green space, agricultural land and wildlife habitat loss and fragmentation.
- Loss of property value and loss of any potential gain in property value.
- Loss of sleep/sanity in not knowing what disaster awaits next.- fire, explosion. lightning strike, spills/leaks/emission spikes, flaring.
- Loss of tranquility with constant truck traffic.
- Loss of time being an unpaid regulator/police/reporter/researcher.
- Loss of water.
- Loss in faith of all government agencies and leaders, all the way up to the president, especially those agencies specifically created to protect us, like the now near useless EPA.
What have a missed?
PS: While I think the traffic victims deserve every penny awarded to them for their pain, suffering and loss of future income, I can’t help noticing the disparity of the settlements awarded to those whose lives were destroyed because their water was ruined and/or because they suffered ongoing exposure to carcinogens and other dangerous contaminants. Some of those people will never be healthy again.
And, why are the records in traffic accident settlements left open while records in nuisance and toxic torte settlements sealed?
Edit: I put emphasis on county to help commenter, Ben, and added suggestions from other commenters.
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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I guess because traffic accidents can’t be disputed, too much physical evidence … but when someone dies of cancer, such as Leukemia, after drilling comes to their backyard, no one believes it was caused by drilling. And the “survivors” and other victims have to suffer in silence over how their worlds were destroyed. 🙁
It’s impossible to prove that a certain cancer cell was caused by a certain molecule of benzene from the facility behind your house. But with careful documentation, you can prove you have been exposed.
We have proof of harm! But it’s hidden here http://twitpic.com/al2gue
Know for a fact that gas companies have separate road use agreements w. the County above & beyond the hundreds of thousands of dollars they pay in gasoline taxes like the rest of us. Not the gas companies fault that County has spent the money on other things or allowed roads to deteriorate!
Stan Scobie says
Ben, your point about road use agreements is important ; however it doesnt go very far regarding traffic accidents.
I suppose you could argue that the municipalities are allowing the roads to deteriorate so much that accident rates go wayyyy up.
However, that seems pretty implausible without some supporting accident report data.
Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY
Who told you that, Ben? Your daddy?
Judge Daryl L. Fowler says:
Jul 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm
We have been working in a spirit of cooperation for mutual benefit with the oil companies doing business here. Most of the RRC permits are attributable to five or six companies. Not all business models alike, so there is opposition to entering into a voluntary contract for damages based upon a well bore by some. The two agreements we have in place are with (in order of execution) Petrohawk/BHP Billiton and Pioneer Natural Resources. At $8,000 per well bore, which was a number pulled out of a hat in 2010, we have collectively received $1.8 million to maintain our roads and buy additional equipment. Counties do not have the authority to force a road use agreement on anyone, so we hope for good stewardship and good corporate citizenship good public relations to prevail.
From the DeWitt road damage study:
Eagle Ford Road Maintenance Needs in DeWitt County
Here are the highlights from the study:
The county maintains 342 miles of roads in the Eagle Ford development area
Expects almost 3,700 equivalent single axle load (ESAL) trips over the life of a well
45 miles of road maintenance per year at 80,000 per mile ($3.6 million/year or $72 million total)
187 miles of road reconstruction at $920,000 per mile ($172 million)
99 miles of major reconstruction at $1.9 million per mile ($188 million)
If we attribute ALL of the costs to the oilfield and no other purposes, it equates to $133,000 per well in the development area.
Thanks for proving my point! 2 companies in one county paid over $1,800,000, in addition to hundreds of thousands in gas taxes & licensing fees. Do you really need Denton & Wise County to confirm they have agreements in place? Here is Flower Mound’s agreement:
Ahm, hello? Flower Mound is a municipality. We are talking about Counties. The quote is from a county judge.
$8,000 isn’t jack!
The Brush Creek Road bridge in Argyle at the edge of Denton, Denton County was so heavily damaged by drilling traffic that it was closed for over 1 year. Local traffic was forced way out of there way for more than 1 1/2 year until this was fixed, wearing out other roads. Denton County received federal funds of almost $500,000, to repair the bridge because the taxes paid in were so inadequate to cover the damage. Locally, trucks are ticketed regularly for failing to follow designated routes.
“their” way. 🙂
Don Young says
Green space loss, Sharon. Wildlife habitat loss and fragmentation. These are biggies in the quality of life equation.
Don Young recently posted..Nieuwsuur
Tim Ruggiero says
Loss of property value and loss of any potential gain in property value. Loss of sleep/sanity in not knowing what disaster awaits next.- fire, explosion. lightning strike, spills/leaks/emission spikes, flaring. Loss of tranquility with constant truck traffic. Loss of time being an unpaid regulator/police/reporter/researcher. Loss of park and recreational areas. Loss of water. Loss in faith of all government agencies and leaders, all the way up to the president, especially those agencies specifically created to protect us, like the now near useless EPA.
Here is a response I got from the City of Denton:
“The Gas Well Inspections Division works with internal reviewers for each gas drilling application submitted to the City. Part of our internal review is an assessment of the proposed transportation route for each Drilling and Production Site. If the proposed route utilizes a roadway maintained by the City, then we require the operator to submit a Road Damage Remediation Agreement. This agreement obligates the operator to repair damage excluding ordinary wear and tear, if any, to public streets, including but not limited to, bridges caused by the operator or by the operator’s employees, agents, contractors, subcontractors or representatives in the performance of any activity authorized by or contemplated by the approved Gas Well Permit. The Road Damage Remediation Agreement is not just a requirement for the bigger gas companies. This is an ordinance stipulation for any operating company utilizing a City maintained roadway”
“…City maintained roadway.”
Ben, do you know the difference between city and county?
“Counties do not have the authority to force a road use agreement on anyone…” ~Judge Daryl L, DeWitt County
Ben, do you know how many wells are drilled in the City of Denton’s ETJ? Denton specifically excluded their ETJ to avoid untested litigation waters. These are not city roads. Most operators flock to rural areas to avoid regulation and oversight. There are very few wells actually drilled within the city limits of Denton, or that must use city maintained roads. Map those wells before you comment. It is nice to have those rules in place, but in actuality, until you look ay where those wells really are, and the road they use, it is a mute point.
Oh the EPA does it job “so” well (cynicism fully intended). Now fulfilling Dear o’s bidding to further Agenda 21, 3 Wyoming towns have been handed over to Indian reservations! That’s about 11000 Americans losing their property! And fracking has always been a disaster–people were scammed big time. Here in PA news came out today that some people must now pay the fracking companies instead of vs. because of FEES exceeding what the companies owe THEM!!