Thursday, December 9, 2010

EPA Orders Frackers in Texas to Deliver Clean Water Tanks to Homes Near Contaminated Aquifer

Two houses are in danger of exploding--how 
bad does it have to get before we FIGHT?

Posted by: Noël Jones

In a Dallas News article by Randy Lee Loftis, the paper reports that the EPA is finally doing there job, and has ordered  Range Production Company, to provide fresh water to families in Parker County whose aquifer has been contaminated by fracking for natural gas--two of the homes reportedly have such high levels of methane in them that the families have been evacuated because they are in danger of explosion.

Much like the DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission) here, the Texas Railroad Commission is supposed to be regulating drillers and protecting the health of citizens. But according to the article:

"The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Fort-Worth based Range Production Co. to take steps to protect the families and water supplies after theTexas Railroad Commission, which regulates natural-gas drilling, failed to act, EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said.
Railroad Commission officials "acknowledge that there is natural gas in the drinking-water wells," Armendariz said. "They want more data and believe that action now is premature. I believe I've got two people whose houses could explode. So we've got to move."
This sounds an awful lot like our own DRBC deciding to move forward with writing regulations so that drillers can start drilling again before the EPA's cumulative impact study is complete. We ALL drink from the Delaware, and tens of thousands of wells pads are waiting for a green light, and some were grandfathered in before the moratorium and have already begun drilling near our water source.
These families' clean tap water is destroyed now. They will have to ration water out of tanks forever. Why forever? Because now that their water is contaminated, NO ONE will by their houses. So they are trapped and their way of life is changed forever. Will we let this happen to us? THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.


Steve White said...

Thanks for the post on fracking. I agree that this is a serious situation and that it should be dealt with through environmental regulation. However, the effort faces rough sledding when it comes to private property owners who want to lease the development rights to make money from the gas under their property.
When you buy a piece of land you have a property right to all the minerals under that land. Under the constitution you cannot be deprived of that property without just conpensation and due process of law. That means that the government does not have the right to prevent you from selling your rights to a gas driller who intends to drill on your property. If they try, the burden of proof is on them that the drilling represents an unacceptable risk to the community. Many wells are drilled without problems and even if the government establishes the risk to the satisfaction of the court they may still be required to compensate you for the loss of your property.
Fortunately, gas wells drilled on public land do not face this legal obstacle. On public land the decision is a political one that can be influenced by public pressure.
I would recommend that we focus on stopping the drilling on public land. The information we can collect for that effort may convince some private land owners not to lease their mineral rights to developers and may be useful in developing regulations to control all gas drilling.

noel jones said...

Steve--I hear what you're saying, and I understand that that is what's going on, but I can't imagine that property owners have the right to use their land for businesses that are harmful to the health of the community at large. Could farmers rent land to energy companies that want to build a nuclear reactor when that company has a track record of radiation leaks and who are caught dumping radioactive waste into the streams that lead to the river from which 15 million people get their water?

The idea that these suits can be settled with an agreement to deliver fresh water tanks to contaminated homes while not admitting guilt and forcing the families to sign nondisclosure agreements is outrageous. If this is the way our system works, then we have to fight to change our system.

noel jones said...

Speaking of "fighting to change our system" I have some excellent news:

Vice-Mayor Elinor Warner will be introducing a resolution in support of Pittsburgh's ordinance to ban fracking in their city limits and setting the stage for Easton citizens to introduce an ordinance of our own.

The organization that is teaching residents how to fight fracking on a constitutional basis is CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) and they have issued copies of Pittsburgh's ordinance and draft resolutions far and wide in PA and are going to be teaching their 3-day democracy workshops wherever their is political will among citizens to draft a similar ordinance to ban fracking.

Elinor Warner will be presenting a resolution on this at the next Easton City Council meeting on DEC. 22ND at 6pm on the 6th floor of the Alpha Bldg at One South 3rd Street in Easton. Please mark your calendars if you will be in town, and come support this resolution!

I will be posting about this in a week or so, so that it stays on the homepage for the week leading up to the meeting, but please start spreading the word far and wide!

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