Media Reports


Railroad Commission taken to task over well inspections

Date: 2007-10-15
Publication: BY MIKE LEE AND JEFF CLAASSEN
Description:
State inspectors who check oil and gas wells for safety and environmental problems work under little supervision and need specific rules about accepting gifts from well operators, according to a state audit.
Forty-six percent of the 169,000 oil and gas leases in Texas have not been inspected for five years, reducing the agency's chances of preventing environmental problems, the Texas state auditor's office said in its Aug. 24 report.

State inspectors make their checks using an informal system that relies on complaints and might appear too friendly to well operators, the audit states.

"In the three districts visited, employees reported that they accept meals, caps, gift baskets and other small gifts from oil and gas operators that they regulate," the auditor's report says. "While this may not violate the Commission's policies, any acceptance of gifts by district employees from industry may create a public perception that the employee is not objective."

Richard Varela, executive director of the Railroad Commission, defended his inspectors.

"It's not unusual for an operator to take one of our inspectors out to lunch -- not only our inspectors but any inspectors in the state," Varela said. "We don't envision that being cushy."

Some wells don't need to be inspected frequently because they're in played-out fields, Varela said.

"Even if I had the resources, I'd direct them to ... areas where there is a lot of activity," he said.

The commission recently moved extra inspectors into the offices that cover the Barnett Shale.

The Shale, one of the country's most active gas fields, covers most of Denton, Parker and Tarrant counties and includes parts of 13 other counties. Because of its size, the field is policed by inspectors from district offices in Wichita Falls, Kilgore and Abilene.

Those three offices, which cover 86 counties, have 32 inspectors among them, commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said. Those offices also have 13 well pluggers and five cleanup coordinators who also perform inspections, Nye said.

There have been three accidents in the past month involving Barnett Shale rigs:
-- A cloud of vapor escaped from a rig near Acton on Aug. 29.
-- Red-dyed diesel fuel spilled into a creek in Johnson County on Sept. 7.
-- An explosion at a tank battery at a drill site near Granbury on Sept. 13 scorched two trucks.

Nye said the sites in Granbury and Acton were inspected in spring 2006. Drilling began Aug. 6 at the Johnson County site, which had not been inspected before the accident.

All three sites are in compliance with commission regulations, and "enforcement action will not be sought for these accidents," Nye said.

City inspections

The audit drew a sharp response from area residents who have been pushing for stricter regulations on gas drilling.

"I think people all over the state realize the Railroad Commission is not doing a good job of managing the gas drillers," environmental activist Don Young said.

Fort Worth City Councilwoman Wendy Davis, who has pushed for tighter regulation of gas drilling, called the results "completely unacceptable" and said the recent accidents speak to poor inspection.

Fort Worth officials have said they can't regulate the safety or environmental aspects of drilling, because those are overseen by the commission. Instead, city officials have focused on keeping gas wells out of residential areas and reducing the impact of the noise and traffic associated with drilling.

City inspectors must visit every gas well in Fort Worth every year but try to do inspections twice a year, city spokeswoman Cecilia Jacobs said. The inspectors can enforce only local ordinances, such as noise and landscape provisions, but they can report more serious violations to the commission, she said.

Julie Wilson, a spokeswoman for Chesapeake Energy, which has several high-profile drilling sites in the city, said the company tries to remain diligent regardless of the amount of oversight.

"We inspect our own rigs continuously to make sure they are safe and in full compliance with local, state and federal regulations, with or without [commission] inspections," Wilson said in an e-mail.

$50 gift limit

In response to the audit, commission managers agreed to add a passage to the agency's handbook prohibiting gifts worth $50 or more. The handbook prohibits gifts that could create the appearance of bias but does not specify a dollar value.

Inspectors typically work out of their homes with "minimal supervision," which can make for greater efficiency, state auditors said.

But managers often failed to follow the commission's "unwritten policy" to accompany inspectors occasionally to check on their work and instead relied "only on the inspector's written reports."

Commission managers said they do check on inspectors remotely by analyzing records and other data, but the audit says "formal quality control guidelines" are needed.

Mike Lee, 817-390-7539; Jeff Claassen, 817-390-7710
(Click the red title link above to read the rest of the report.)


Fire Erupts At Johnson County Storage Facility

Date: 2007-10-15
Publication: CBS ll News
Description:
Fire breaks at a storage tank facility in the Town of Keene, about 25 miles south of Fort Worth.

Brad Shipp/WFAA TV Reports (10/18 & 10/22/07) on Gas Leak Danger and the Negligence of the Texas Railroad Commission:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Read TXSharon's excellent blog on same subject:
Click Here


When Backyard Views Are of Wells and Drilling Rigs (NY Times)

Date: 2005-07-31
Publication: New York Times
Description:
WHEN Peggy and Bob Utesch bought a house five years ago on four acres in a town called Silt in rural Garfield County, Colo., they envisioned a quiet, pastoral life. What they got instead was the constant noise and exhaust of heavy trucks and natural gas drilling equipment, not to mention rig workers urinating on their lawn.

Barnett Shale (Wikipedia)

Date: N/A
Publication: Wikipedia
Description:
The Barnett Shale is a geological formation of economic significance.

The Truth From Above (New West)

Date: 2007-01-17
Publication: New West - Colorado
Description:
After working for 15 years as an exploration consultant to the oil-and-gas industry, using satellite imagery to hunt for likely drilling sites, John Amos had a road-to-Damascus moment when he viewed satellite imagery of wells in the Jonah natural gas field, in Wyoming's Upper Green River Valley.

Dallas Considers Gas Wells on Public Land

Date: 2007-09-25
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
A natural gas well nestled in a Dallas park or perched atop a river levee?
It sounds far-fetched.
But Dallas officials think they could hit the jackpot by authorizing natural gas drilling on city-owned property, including public parks.

Gas Wells Fuel Real Estate Debate

Date: 2007-09-24
Publication: The Kane Republican
Description:
Drilling is blamed for causing natural gas to seep into the Kushequa community water well and explode.

Subordination Agreements

Date: 2007-09-07
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
Thousands of area residents who leased their mineral rights for natural gas drilling could find there's red tape between signing a lease and cashing a royalty check.

The 25 Most Polluted Regions in the U.S.

Date: 2007-09-07
Publication: sixwise.com
Description:
Dirty air threatens the lives and health of far too many Americans," said John L. Kirkwood, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association. He said this in response to the American Lung Association State of the Air Report 2005, which found that more than 152 million Americans live in counties where they are exposed to levels of air pollution that could harm their health.

Injection Well Shut Down

Date: 2007-03-18
Publication: Wise County Messenger
Description:
A saltwater injection well near Boyd has been shut down, at least temporarily, by the Texas Railroad Commission.

Subrogation Agreements required of Some Homeowners

Date: 2007-09-07
Publication: www.dmn.com/metro and west edition
Description:
Maurice Richter – Dallas Morning News – Thousands of area residents who leased their mineral rights for natural gas drilling could find there's red tape between signing a lease and cashing a royalty check. “…some mortgage companies are trying to charge upwards of $500 and want a survey done, too…"

Fuel Spill turns creek red in Johnson County

Date: 2007-09-07
Publication: www.nbc5i.com
Description:
Fuel spill at drilling site turns creek red. Texas Railroad Commission and EPA reported to be on sight.

A funny thing happened at the Trinity Trees Public Forum

Date: 2007-09-07
Publication: www.caravanofdreams.blogspot.com
Description:
A crowd of around 400 people watched as speaker after speaker had their say on the whether the eight-acre tract of old growth urban forest would be preserved or go to the bulldozer. District 9 City Council representative Wendy Davis, the event's emcee, struck the tone early: "We want to have a constructive dialogue with Chesapeake." After all, she said, once this grove of trees is lost, it is lost forever. But that wasn't the funny thing. The funny thing was this -- the only extremist in the room is the guy who should know better, Tom Price, Jr., the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for Chesapeake Energy. He's El Jefe for Chesapeake on this deal. But he comes off like Montgomery Burns -- corporate fatcat who always says the wrong thing and then doesn't understand why people get angry.

Bullcorn Through a Bullhorn

Date: 2007-09-06
Publication: www.fwweekly.com
Description:
FW Weekly Static – Chesapeake shot itself in the foot. The company erected little white signs to mark where replacement trees would be planted, which only served to emphasize how large an area would be cleared. “They are going to cut down 100-year-old trees and then plant some saplings in a straight row to try to hide the gas rigs,” activist Don Young said. “Them showing up really helped our cause because they showed how awful this thing is going to look.”

Chesapeake Curtails Production and Drilling Activity Press Release

Date: 2007-09-06
Publication: www.chesapeake.com
Description:
Chesapeake Elects to Curtail Production and Defer Drilling Activity in Response to Lower Natural Gas Prices. Chesapeake has also elected to reduce its operated drilling rig count from current levels of 155-160 rigs to 140-145 rigs by the end of 2007. This reduction in drilling activity will lower the company's previously budgeted capital expenditures by approximately 10% in each of 2008 and 2009, or a combined $1 billion.

Grand Prairie City Council further restricts wells

Date: 2007-08-24
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
KATHY A. GOOLSBY – DMN - Grand Prairie's City Council tightened its gas drilling and production ordinance last week, further restricting wells located less than 1,000 feet from homes.

Dallas County Residents Be Warned

Date: 2007-08-24
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
ERIC AASEN – DMN - Dallas County residents, you've been warned: Gas wells are coming. After years of drilling for natural gas in the massive Barnett Shale underneath North Texas, gas companies are starting to set up shop on the western fringes of Dallas County…..Others have been drafting or passing ordinances to protect residents.

Residents Against UTA Drilling

Date: 2007-07-28
Publication: Star-Telegram and AboutAirWaterBlogSpot
Description:
John Austin/Star Telegram - Drilling dispute ARLINGTON -- Everybody in North Texas, it seems, wants a piece of the region's red-hot gas-well action these days. Everybody, that is, but neighbors near the University of Texas at Arlington's Maverick Stadium on the west side of campus.

Era fending off injection well

Date: 2007-07-22
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Paul Fleming, 91, sits on his porch in Era on Saturday. Fleming, his daughter and son-in-law and other members of the community were able to fight off plans for a injection well to be built on neighboring land. Examiners for the Texas Railroad Commission have recommended that the application for the well be denied.

Devastating Effects on Winona Residents

Date: 2007-07-14
Publication: Firehouse Gallery/Internet
Description:
Tammy Cromer-Campbell, author of Fruit of the Orchard: Environmental Justice in East Texas. Documents the devastating effects of an oil/gas toxic waste facility on the residents of Winona (a rural community of 500 people living downwind of a toxic waste injection well facility) Texas in 1982.

Fort Worth Gas Boom Fuels Public Outreach Plan

Date: 2007-07-11
Publication: Reuters.com
Description:
Questions included not only financial terms but how long drilling would take and how noisy, ugly and dangerous well-operation would be, officials said.

Tomato Stake Out

Date: 2007-07-4
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
FWCanDo willing to provide “one tasty tomato” per person, not for money, but in return for the recipient posting a “Just Say No to Urban Gas Drilling” sign in his or her front yard.

Plans to Level Trees next to Trinity Trail

Date: 2007-06-27
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Chesapeake won’t back off plans to level trees next to the Trinity Trail.

2 Hurt in Gas Flare Up

Date: 2007-06-16
Publication: Star-Telegram
Description:
Two Chesapeake Energy employees were injured Wednesday afternoon when natural gas in a tank at a compression plant ignited briefly.

Truck Traffic Blamed for Damaged Roads

Date: 2007-06-15
Publication: Johnson County
Description:
The Weatherford Democrat - Big trucks and the gas drilling industry, in particular, are damaging some Parker County roads so much that they are becoming dangerous, according to Precinct 3 Commissioner John Roth, and even if his road and bridge budget doubled, it still wouldn’t be enough to keep up, he said.

Gas Wells Light Up the Sky

Date: 2007-06-14
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
Denton - Flaring process draws complaints from some neighbors.

Neighborly Dispute in Denton

Date: 2007-06-14
Publication: Denton Record Chronicle
Description:
Noise, flame from gas well burn-off disrupt life near North Lakes Park.

Residents Protest Gas Processing Plant

Date: 2007-06-13
Publication: Star Telegram
Description:
… an $80 million natural gas processing plant that some homeowners say threatens their quiet enclave. Noise, pollution and -- since a worker died last month in an explosion -- safety are among the concerns of those residents, who say they were caught by surprise when the plant went in next door.

Gas Wells Cause Friction Between Neighbors in Texas

Date: 2007-06-01
Publication: USA Today
Description:
Drilling rigs are rising over golf courses, churchyards, even tree-lined neighborhoods of Fort Worth, which sits on one of the nation's largest natural gas fields.

Static May Have Sparked Natural Gas Fire

Date: 2007-04-23
Publication: CBS 11 News
Description:
Fire happened in a venting facility for a 24-inch natural gas line that feeds the power plant.

Rancher says pipes are radioactive

Date: 2007-04-13
Publication: Associated Press/ABC News
Description:
Texas Rancher Locks Horns With Gas Company, Says Donated Pipes Were Radioactive.

Permits issued despite concerns

Date: 2007-04-02
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Texas Railroad Commission has issued permits for nearly 30 new injection wells for oil and gas waste in counties around the Barnett Shale in recent months, including a new injection well in Denton County.

Gas Well Permits Draw Neighbors Eir

Date: 2007-03-29
Publication: Cleburne Times Review
Description:
Residents near a proposed gas-well drilling site turned out to protest the proposed access plan.

Perilous Profits

Date: 2007-03-28
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Tempers and dangers are ramping up in the gas field we call home.

Getting to Know the Drill

Date: 2007-03-27
Publication: Dallas Morning News
Description:
Now that drilling has come to the big city, it's accompanied by a fierce competition for Fort Worth's densely populated neighborhoods, including downtown.

Ruptured Gas Line Continues to Spew Flames - Weatherford

Date: 2007-03-14
Publication: n/a
Description:
LubbockOnline.com Ruptured gas line continues to spew flames – Flames 10 to 12 feet high persisted for a second day Tuesday at the site of a fiery gas line accident, although the blaze was under control, officials said.

Man Dies in Hood County Explosion

Date: 2007-03-26
Publication: CBS11 News
Description:
Homeowners worried about their own safety – compressor plant may be there for 30 years.

Natural Gas Drilling Planned in Mall Parking Lot

Date: 2007-01-26
Publication: cbs11news.com
Description:
The drilling will take place in the parking lot of La Gran Plaza, in front of the theatre. The location is roughly 350-feet from I-35 South at the Seminary exit. Workers at a radio station across the street from the mall are concerned. "Hopefully we won’t have any accidents, “ says area worker, Tony Adriann. "If we have any accidents, ya know, it's gonna be kind of dangerous for us."

No yields in DISH, Atmos meeting

Date: 2007-01-13
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating whether Atmos Energy has interfered with the airspace over Clark Airfield, after the airfield operator said Atmos workers told him planes could be in danger.

Drilling could sap water supply

Date: 2006-12-10
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Despite problems locally with water wells gone dry, hydrologists anticipate the Trinity Aquifer can remain a viable source of water for the long term, even after the Texas Water Development Board released new estimates of the
area's future groundwater use as anticipated in early January.

Open Letter to Mistletoe Heights

Date: 2006-12-01
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Letter by Don Young, Fort Worth TX.

Drilling Through Peace and Prosperity

Date: 2006-11-29
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Neighbors and activists fear gas wells are digging big holes in Fort Worth’s future. The worst noises stopped when the drilling was completed, but trucks and other heavy equipment operating on the well site continued to be a problem. Then they started building the gas compressor station several blocks away, which eventually added the powerful hum of its
huge turbines to the noise.

The Gasfather

Date: 2006-11-21
Publication: FW Weekly by Jeff Prince
Description:
If the mayor is making thousands of dollars off gas companies, why is he still voting on their requests at city hall? A one-page memo went out from Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief to neighborhood groups last month seeking nominations for the city’s ethics review committee. Moncrief ended the letter by thanking people for their assistance “in this important process.” Moncrief’s recent letter seems stranger still, coming from a guy who regularly votes in city council meetings on issues involving gas companies that provide him with tens of thousand of dollars in income, the same gas companies that drill under city parks and invade neighborhoods with noise, dust, heavy equipment, truck traffic, potholes, and the occasional gas leak, blowout, pipeline rupture, or fatal injury.

Energy officials dish out answers for area residents

Date: 2006-11-16
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
About two dozen residents grilled local energy officials for more than two hours Tuesday night, trying find out what lessons they learned after an Atmos Energy compressor spewed natural gas for 45 minutes one night last month.

Chance to clear the air

Date: 2006-11-14
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Already unwilling neighbors to an Atmos Energy compressor station built recently just beyond their town’s boundaries, residents have grown more uneasy since the failure of a compressor Oct. 16, when it spewed gas for about 40 minutes between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Pipeline locations hit or miss in area

Date: 2006-10-06
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Denton City Council approved plans for the housing development in June, despite fears that construction could rupture underground gas lines.

Reichmann moves toward compliance

Date: 2006-09-26
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
A Grapevine-based company sued by the city of Denton for failing to follow gas-drilling regulations took a step toward compliance Monday by submitting maps of its area drilling sites, city officials said.

New drilling rigs safer, quieter, cleaner

Date: 2006-09-14
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Denton city leaders have a new message for companies wishing to drill natural gas wells or install transmission lines in the city: Go around trees or pay the price.

City amends tree protections

Date: 2006-08-03
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
Denton city leaders have a new message for companies wishing to drill natural gas wells or install transmission lines in the city: Go around trees or pay the price.

Changes set Argyle up for gas boomlet

Date: 2006-07-28
Publication: Denton Chronicle
Description:
ARGYLE — With a temporary drilling moratorium lifted Tuesday night and well setbacks relaxed, more gas drilling rigs will soon rise above the hills and trees of Argyle.

Gas Explosion Sparks Fires, Injures 1

Date: 2005-12-16
Publication: NBC5i.com
Description:
Flash Of Light Seen As Far As 100 Miles

High, Dry, and Hot Under the Collar:

Date: 2005-12-15
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Gas drillers may have hit a mother lode of angry citizenry.

Pipeline Explosion Lights Up East Texas Sky

Date: 2005-11-7
Publication: KSLA News 12
Description:
Waskom, Texas explosion

City sees boost in gas wells, revenues

Date: 2005-10-5
Publication: Star Telegram
Description:
"More than 400 natural gas wells are operating or planned within the city limits.."

Gas Pains

Date: 2005-09-14
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
(feature article) - Barnett Shale drillers have hit a mother lode of angry neighbors.

Residents protest church decision to grant natural gas drilling lease

Date: 2005-08-29
Publication: Star Telegram


Some believe city's drilling rules should keep more distance

Date: 2005-08-16
Publication: Star Telegram

‘Til Your Wells Run Dry

Date: 2005-06-29
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Gas drillers are sucking up a sea of North Texas water.

Mayors Conference 2005 Energy Resolutions

Date: 2005-00-00
Publication: www.usmayors.org
Description:
Mayors Resolution; Whereas greater security is needed for highly volatile energy resources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG): the LNG tanks in Philadelphia, alone, have a blast radius of over one mile.

Drilling for Natural Gas Faces Hurdle: Fort Worth

Date: 2005-05-4
Publication: RealEstateJournal.com

A Gas Boom Has Some Wishing No More Wells

Date: 2005-01-15
Publication: New York Times
Description:
Gas drilling in Tyler makes national news.

AON Recommendation to OG on Terrorism

Date: 2004-12-07
Publication: www.aon.com
Description:
The oil and gas industry should remain constantly alert against the threat of terrorist attack, according to a new report released by Aon Limited, the UK’s leading insurance broking, risk management and consulting company.

Saving a Patch of the Past

Date: 2004-09-4
Publication: FW Weekly
Description:
Local naturalists are worried that Fort Worth’s last grasslands are in danger.

No Wells Planned for the City

Date: 2002-10-13
Publication: Star-Telegram
Description:
No wells are planned for the city. Westlake to look at ban on drilling.

Residents near Denver City fear all's not well with water

Date: 2000-03-3
Publication: Lubbockonline.com
Description:
….two residents and a third who is building a home have gas leaking into their water wells about 285 feet below.

Gas Leak Forces Residents From Homes

Date: 2000
Publication: nbc5i.com
Description:
A gas leak forced five Johnson County families out of their homes Wednesday afternoon.

Edison NJ Natural Gas Explosion - video google.com

Date: 1994
Publication: Google video
Description:
A very compelling video of the huge natural gas explosion in a residential area. Officials called for immediate evacuation but many residents were unable to leave.

New London TX School Explosion kills 300 Students and Teachers

Date: 0000
Publication: Wikipedia
Description:
The New London School explosion occurred on March 18, 1937 when a natural gas leak caused an explosion, destroying the New London School of the city of New London, TX. The disaster killed in excess of three hundred students and teachers, making it the worst catastrophe to take place in a U.S. school building.

Radioactive Wastes From Drilling - EPA.gov posting

Date: 0000
Publication: Epa.gov
Description:
While fossil fuels are chemical sources of energy, the processes used to extract them from the earth often generate
radioactive waste.

Gas Boom, an audio series by Dan Potter

Date: 0000
Publication: WBAP News/Talk 820

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