Monday, August 31, 2009

Judge dismisses the Red Oak/Riverwalk lawsuit. Says O & G Board Actions Legal!!

Well finally something good to report about gas drilling. Case dismissed! This is good news for all North Texas Towns. This was one of the suits filed by Red Oak and Riverwalk. When a town puts together an Oil and Gas ordinance, they should have every right to enforce it without the threat of being sued by big money oil and gas.

Remember the bills introduced last legislative session trying to take this right away from local government to rule where and how drilling is done in their towns? Oil and Gas spent "mucho money" lobbying for the bills to be passed. The lawyer for this development spoke in favor of the bills. Thankfully the bills died on the floor. It is known for a fact that many letters where sent from numerous North Texas Towns pleading not to let these bills go through. Maybe our elected officials are finally realizing that something is terribly wrong with the way Oil and Gas conduct business and production in the Barnett Shale.

Red Oak and the Riverwalk Developers knew all along what Flower Mound's O & G Ordinance stated. After all the ordinance was already in place when they signed a lease between the two of them. Knowing they would need many variances for this site.

It is in the middle of a densely populated area of Flower Mound. They want to put gas wells a few hundred feet from the hospital, future office buildings, a park, shops, condos and apartments.

There is a similar situation going on in Denton right now. I hope their town protects them like Flower Mound protected their residents.
Judge dismisses Red Oak lawsuit against town
By Chris Roark, Staff Writer
Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 11:21 AM CDT
Less than a month before the start of the trial involving Red Oak Gas and its subsidiaries against the town of Flower Mound and its Oil and Gas Board of Appeals over denial of gas drilling variances in June of 2008, the case has been dismissed by Judge Carmen Rivera-Worley of the 16th Judicial District Court of Denton County.

The court issued its order Friday finding that the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals' actions were legal. This followed the town and the board's motion with the trial court to dismiss the case. A court hearing took place Aug. 20.Red Oak has 30 days to file an appeal.

“The Town is pleased with the trial court’s opinion. It is our hope that this will conclude the litigation between Flower Mound and Red Oak,” said Town Manager Harlan Jefferson. “We were confident that the actions of the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals were legal and are gratified by the trial court’s decision.”

Red Oak Sabine, Red Oak Gas, Red Oak Gas Operating Company and Red Oak Gas II filed a suit against the town and the board June 18, 2008, after the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals denied 15 variance requests for drilling setbacks.According to a copy of the lawsuit, Red Oak Gas was claiming the denial was made “without reference to applicable criteria and standards, is illegal in whole or in part, constitutes an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious, causes Red Oak Gas an unnecessary hardship, is otherwise wrongful, invalid and unenforceable and should be reversed.”

Red Oak Gas was seeking variance requests for a pad site on a 134-acre tract of land located east of FM 2499, west of Morriss Road, north of FM 1171 and south of Timber Trails Park. The surface owner, Cole McDowell, is seeking to build The River Walk at Central Park on the land. The requested pad site was located on the northeast portion of the property. Because the pad site did not meet some of the distance requirements outlined in the town’s gas drilling ordinance, the applicant was required to request a variety of setback variances, including distance from a public building that includes a school, hospital or religious institution.

Of course only a few of the variance requests are listed below. It was crazy how many were requested for this site.

The request would have put a well 779 feet from First Baptist Church, located at 1901 Timber Creek Road, and a tank battery 885 feet from the church. The ordinance requires a setback of 1,000 feet for both, or down to 500 feet with a variance.

The requested variance also would have put a well 695 feet from Applewood Daycare, located at 2011 Timber Creek Road, and a tank battery 827 feet from the daycare. The variance would have allowed for a setback down to 500 feet.According to the lawsuit, Red Oak Gas had received a letter from the owner of the daycare, the landowner of the property the daycare is located on and the church’s pastor saying they did not object to the variances.

The lawsuit stated the only opposition came from public residents who did not live within 1,000 feet of the proposed site.

The opposition came from those who the Riverwalk will depend on for business. Those that will ultimately determine how successful this venture will be. They would need the residents to feel safe to use the hospital, visit the doctors in the office buildings, shop in the stores, play at the park, buy the condos and rent the apartments. With wells a few hundred feet away, many feel that is a danger.

The lawsuit also stated that during the meeting, “more than one board member expressed objections to any drilling on the Red Oak property generally, not just the June site, and at least one board member expressed the desire to have a ‘hole’ in central Flower Mound so that ‘there’s nothing there.’” It went on to state “some board members effectively based their decisions on the goal of banning drilling altogether within central Flower Mound, including the Red Oak property, thereby preventing Red Oak from extracting its minerals.”

The lawsuit stated that the board failed to apply applicable law. It noted that according to Texas Local Government Code Section 211.009(a)(3), a variance can be granted if it’s not contrary to public interest and if a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship. It also referenced a portion of the Flower Mound Code of Ordinances that states “all property owners, mineral and otherwise, have the right to enjoy their property and its benefits and revenues.”

Well the town is allowing this developer to build and develop all he wanted and asked for but the gas wells. This is the same developer that brought Flower Mound Parker Square and Frisco their Frisco Square which was dubbed "Fiasco Square".
Five Star began work on the first phase of the planned 4 million-square-foot complex in the spring of 2002. It built three buildings totaling 250,000 square feet -- two 57-unit multifamily buildings with ground-floor retail, and one 80,000-square-foot office facility, of which 20,000 square feet is retail space -- but then had trouble leasing the space. After that the project stalled, leading some local commercial real estate brokers to begin referring to it as "Fiasco Square."

He is getting another chance to build a huge development and do it right. He is still receiving his "right to enjoy the property and its benefits and revenues" from the hospital, shops, condos, and apartments!

Red Oak Lawsuit Dismissed

On Friday, the Red Oak lawsuit against the Town of Flower Mound and the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals was dismissed.

Chris Roark has a good summary in the "Leader". Here's the link:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Honesty isn't in Gas and Oil Industry's Vocabulary!

Many have signed leases right here in North Texas and all through the United States. Believing that if it is put in writing, the gas and oil companies will stick to the agreement. Recently DFW accused Chesapeake of not reporting some production amounts.
The airport notified Chesapeake Energy that Chesapeake is in "monetary default."
"I think we should all be concerned," said Burnam.

The airport's received $37 million in royalty payments to date but contends in these letters it's not being paid correctly, citing concerns with both the way Chesapeake is calculating royalties and the amount of gas the company reports it's producing and selling.

Burnam's district includes Fort Worth, a part owner of D/FW airport.
"Any public official is going to be, should be concerned... Certainly D/FW is big enough to stand up for its own interest but that fact that they're having these legal letters back and forth over so many issues really disturbs me," he said.

Royalties, however, aren't the only controversy involved in D/FW gas drilling.

Big problem, who is watching them to make sure they do what the lease states? If you believe the Texas Railroad Commission here is Texas is regulating and protecting us, think again.
Landowners in Texas who lease their lands for drilling have very few options when they are denied the royalty payments that are rightfully theirs. That is because, in Texas there is no single authority in in charge of ensuring that landowners receive their dues. Due to the lack of such authority, owners are often at the mercy of oil and gas companies who may delay and deny royalty payments. In such cases, owners may have no other option but to consult with an oil and gas attorney to receive the royalties due to them.

Even if the TRC was in charge of monitoring the reporting of production for royalties to make sure landowners are paid correctly, it is physically and mathematically impossible for them to do so. Like previously posted, a total of over 377,000 oil and gas wells, over 76,000 of them being gas wells and only 80 something inspectors!

'Honor System' Doesn't Work for Oil and Gas Companies, Louisiana Says
NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Louisiana has filed 30 federal lawsuits seeking millions of dollars from oil and gas companies it accuses of grossly under reporting oil and gas production. It claims the oil industry has cheated the state by lying in a tax reporting system that relies upon an honor code.

About 1,546 oil and gas wells and other production facilities operate in Terrebonne Parish, on the Gulf of Mexico. Below the surface of the Gulf and in the coastal lowlands lie some of the major oil and gas fields in the United States. The inshore and offshore fields have been extensively developed and minerals have been extracted from them for decades.

Oil and gas production companies must pay severance taxes to the state on all minerals and gas extracted and removed from Louisiana. Taxes are based on the volume of minerals and gas that pass through valves that measure and control the flow. Oil and gas companies periodically report the volume to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

The state's lawsuits say that before 2008, gas and mineral reporting was done on a well-by-well basis. Since then, to make things less complicated, the reporting is done by land - operators file a single report for all wells operating on a parcel of land.

Under the new system, the state has no way of determining whether production from a particular field is comprised of production from all, some, or only one well within that field and - the state says - visible inspection by assessors is generally not feasible, as assessors have "neither the manpower nor the resources to conduct visual inspections of the thousands of wells and other facilities located in the fields." For that reason, the Louisiana Tax Commission developed "a system of self-reporting" where "the assessed value of oil and gas property is determined solely on the basis of reports filed under oath."

The state says the many defendants substantially under reported the fair market value of the oil and gas extracted from 1998 to 2008. Often, the state says, the defendants did not report production from some wells at all. Sometimes they reported they their wells were "shut in" and not producing, and yet they reported to other sources that those very wells were "producing" during the same times.

The state demands back taxes and damages for RICO violations and mail fraud.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another case of dirty drilling!

Here is another case of water well contamination. This is near the Colorado town of Silt. Many people have reported illnesses since drilling started. The first 2 phases of the testing showed the amount of methane is increasing at an alarming rate. Part of the money for the study was paid for out of a $371,200 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fine against EnCana Oil and Gas in 2004. Encana was found at fault after gas and benzene seeped to the surface in the Divide Creek area.

It seems every time you turn around there is proof that gas drilling is dangerous to humans and the environment.

There is currently 1700 wells in the area and the potential of 7000 in the years to come.

As of a year ago, there were over 76,000 gas wells in the state of Texas!! Over 377,000 oil and gas wells combined. The Texas Railroad Commission had only had 84 inspectors in 2008.

Here are a few articles we have posted in the last 30 days.

Clean Burning Gas. What a joke!

Here are a few paragraphs from the article about the Colorado Study

Tests will determine the extent of methane gas contamination in domestic water wells in the area
County commissioners this week approved a $199,879 contract for GeoTrans, Inc. to complete the Phase III Hydrogeological Study of the Mamm Creek area southwest of Silt.

The first two phases of the study were paid for out of a $371,200 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fine against EnCana Oil and Gas in 2004, after gas and benzene seeped to the surface in the Divide Creek area.

Since 2004, the county has been conducting a study that finds that there is methane showing up in local domestic wells in the Mamm Creek area that may be the result of gas drilling in the area. More than 1,700 natural gas wells are currently operating in the area, with the potential for up to 7,000 wells in the coming years.

The study indicates that “thermagenic” methane and chloride have been infiltrating wells in the area at an increasing rate over the last seven years, a period that coincides with stepped up intensity in drilling activities around the county.

The presence of such gases could be an indication that drilling activities are in some way the cause, although she said the COGCC may not agree with that interpretation.

Neither gas has been found at levels that would trigger regulatory action, the study states, although indications are that the levels are rising and that the chloride could soon reach a threshold that warrants government intervention.

The main hazard from the methane, Jordan said, is that it could accumulate in water tanks or, if it is being vented into the atmosphere, in low-lying areas close to the ground, and be ignited by an errant spark.

Jordan has recommended more detailed study and monitoring than what is now planned, however funds are not available at this time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EPA preliminary findings of fracking chemicals in drinking water

This is a great article about the EPA preliminary findings in Pavillion, Wyoming. If it is so, this would be the first, and certainly not the last, where science proves water contamination from oil and gas chemicals.

It is about time the gas and oil industry be accountable and this study could be the one thing that forces them to follow the rules of all other industries. There is a flicker of hope now that the EPA has become involved in the testing. Too bad they didn't wake up sooner.

But the Oil & Gas industry free ticket to contaminate our precious resources could end soon. It is important that you let your member of Congress or Senator know how important it is to co-sponsor the Frac Act bills below.
They are currently pending in legislation.

S. 1215 - Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act
A bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes.

H.R. 2766 - Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009

Here are a few paragraphs from the article. Go the the above link to read the complete story.

Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination [1] near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March.

The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and it could be pivotal in the national debate [2] over the role of natural gas in America’s energy policy.

Abundant gas reserves are being aggressively developed in 31 states, including New York [3] and Pennsylvania [4]. Congress is mulling a bill [5] that aims to protect those water resources from hydraulic fracturing, the process in which fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas. But the industry says environmental regulation is unnecessary [6] because it is impossible for fracturing fluids to reach underground water supplies and no such case has ever been proven.

Scientists in Wyoming will continue testing this fall to determine the level of chemicals in the water and exactly where they came from. If they find that the contamination did result from drilling, the placid plains arching up to the Wind River Range would become the first site where fracturing fluids have been scientifically linked to groundwater contamination.

EPA officials also said they had found no pesticides – a signature of agricultural contamination – and no indication that any industry or activity besides drilling could be to blame. Other than farming, there is no industry in the immediate area.

EPA officials told residents that some of the substances found in their water may have been poured down a sink drain. But according to EPA investigation documents, most of the water wells were flushed three times before they were tested in order to rid them of anything that wasn’t flowing through the aquifer itself. That means the contaminants found in Pavillion would have had to work their way from a sink not only into the well but deep into the aquifer at significant concentrations in order to be detected. An independent drinking water expert with decades of experience in central Wyoming, Doyle Ward, dismissed such an explanations as "less than a one in a million" chance.

Some of the EPA’s most cautious scientists are beginning to agree.
"It starts to finger point stronger and stronger to the source being somehow related to the gas development, including, but not necessarily conclusively, hydraulic fracturing itself," said Nathan Wiser, an EPA scientist and hydraulic fracturing expert

The study has already cost $130,000. Many residents living near gas drilling don't have that kind of cash laying around to do their own studies. Which may be one reason the industry has gotten away with it for so long. The passing of the pending bills will make it easier and less expensive to investigate this type of contamination for the EPA.

EPA officials have repeatedly said that disclosure of the fluids used in fracking – something that would be required if the bill being debated in Congress were passed – would enable them to investigate contamination incidents faster, more conclusively and for less money. The current study, which is expected to end next spring, has already cost $130,000.

Precise details about the nature and cause of the contamination, as well as the extent of the plume running in the aquifer beneath this region 150 miles east of Jackson Hole, have been difficult for scientists to collect. That’s in part because the identity of the chemicals used by the gas industry for drilling and fracturing are protected as trade secrets [1], and because the EPA, based on an exemption passed under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, does not have authority to investigate the fracturing process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Using the Superfund program gave the agency extra authority to investigate the Pavillion reports, including the right to subpoena the secret information if it needs to. It also unlocked funding to pay for the research.

"How in god’s name can the oil industry dump sh*t in our drinking water and not tell us what it is?" shouted Alan Hofer, who lives near the center of the sites being investigated by the EPA.
"If they’d tell us what they were using then you could go out and test for things and it would make it a lot easier right?" asked Jim Van Dorn, who represents Wyoming Rural Water, a non-profit that advises utilities and private well owners on water management.
"Exactly," said Luke Chavez, the EPA’s chief Superfund investigator on the project. "That’s our idea too."
Now that the EPA has found a chemical used in fracturing fluids in Pavillion’s drinking water, Chavez said the next step in the research is to ask Encana for a list of the chemicals it uses and then do more sampling using that list. (An Encana spokesman told ProPublica the company will supply any information that the EPA requires.) The EPA is also working with area health departments, a toxicologist and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to assess health risks, he said.
Depending on what they find, the investigation in Wyoming could have broad implications. Before hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, the EPA assessed the process and concluded it did not pose a threat to drinking water. That study, however, did not involve field research or water testing and has been criticized as incomplete.

This spring, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called some of the contamination reports "startling" and told members of Congress [8] that it is time to take another look. The Pavillion investigation, according to Chavez, is just that.
"If there is a problem, maybe we don’t have the tools, or the laws, to deal with it," Chavez said. "That’s one of the things that could come out of this process."

Below are a few more stories previously posted about water contamination from gas drilling.

Don't think it can happen here. What you don't know may make you sick or even kill you. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIAL TODAY!!

Radionuclides Close Hudson Oaks Municipal Water Well (Paluxy)

Below is a post from
Municipal water well is taken out of service.

Of course it is stated the "source of contamination is unknown". How many times does this have to happen before it isn't a coincidence anymore? Numerous situations have been reported all over the United States. This particular well had no radionuclides and NORM for 20 years before gas drilling and now high enough readings to close the water well down! 3 gas wells are 1/4 mile away.

How many of you still think gas drilling is okay to have near our water sources, agriculture, neighborhoods, parks and our children's schools? What is it about our society that we just don't get it until it becomes personal and it's too late?

Many put their trust in the gas companies who will say anything because they make billions while they pay out a few dollars, depending on your postage stamp size lot, to royalty owners.
The gas companies get tax incentives and exemptions from rules and regulations and what does the average resident get?

Well like the residents of Hudson Oaks and numerous other towns that have had to deal with gas drilling for the last 5 or 6 years, they get to worry about how long the water was contaminated before it was tested. They get to ask themselves what if the air they breath and soil they plant in is contaminated too. What will the effects be down the road?

Comforting isn't it?

Private water well owners in the Hudson Oaks area might want to have their water wells tested for radionuclides if they are in the Paluxy formation.

Diamond Oaks municipal water well in Hudson Oaks (Parker County) was taken out of service after tests indicated the presence of radionuclides. Radium 226, radium 228 and Alpha radiation at entry point 007 tested in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Levels.

According to Kristi Krieg, Drinking Water Specialist at the TCEQ, the well was closed after an enforcement letter was sent to the city on May 22, 2009. Krieg said that the affected Hudson Oaks water well is 230 feet deep in the Paluxy formation. Hudson Oaks Director of Operations Patrick Lawler estimated that the well, located near the New River Fellowship Church off Interstate 20, had been in service since the 1980s. The source of the contamination is unknown.

Radionuclides can be naturally occurring (NORM) but Skip Ferris of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said that if the contamination was from naturally occurring radiation, it would have always been there and "wouldn't just show up after 20 years".

According to Texas Railroad Commission maps, the water well is approximately 1/4 mile from two 'dry holes' and three Devon Energy natural gas wells completed in November of 2007, August and September of 2008. According to the EPA, oil and gas drilling may sometimes produce radioactive waste in the form of produced water, drilling mud, sludge, slimes, or evaporation ponds and pits. Radionuclides in these wastes are primarily radium-226, radium-228, and radon gas. Alpha particles, bone seeking carcinogens, can pose a serious health threat if ingested or inhaled according to the EPA.

It is unusual for a water well to be closed due to radionuclides. According to Krieg, the City of East Chico is the only other municipal water well to close for radionuclides in the four county Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District area. The East Chico water well in Wise County closed earlier this year.

The deadly effects of gas drilling

In the past, we have posted quite a few articles about gas drilling accidents. Don Young from has compiled many of those articles into one long list. Just a reminder of what a dirty and sometimes deadly industry natural gas drilling can be. If gas drilling has this effect on animals, what is it doing to humans?

Monday, August 24, 2009

EPA Confirms Water Contaminants From Oil And Gas Production

Below are two articles about EPA testing of water wells in Wyoming. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and Encana assured the residents that there was not any water contamination. The EPA has proven them wrong. 11 or the 39 wells were contaminated.

Another example why you should never, never trust the gas and oil companies!!!
If gas and oil had to play by the same rules as all other industries and be regulated by the Federal Government, this would not be an issue.

Pavillion, WY, August 14, 2009 - This week U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a group of over 70 that initial investigations found 11 of 39 tested drinking water wells were contaminated. Among the contaminants are toxics used in oil and gas production.

As part of a Superfund investigation, EPA began sampling in March 2009 in the Pavillion, WY area in response to multiple landowners concerns about changes in water quality and quantity following EnCana's increased gas development in the area. Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and EnCana had continually assured Pavillion residents that there was no evidence of hydrocarbons or toxic chemicals in their drinking water wells.

"Our families and neighbors are experiencing everything from miscarriages and rare cancers to central nervous system disorders, seizures, and liver disease" said John Fenton of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, a citizens group formed to address oil and gas contamination.

Full cooperation in this instance requires that EnCana fully disclose what products and chemicals have been used in the Pavillion/Muddy Ridge fields," says Deb Thomas, organizer for the Power River Basin Resource Council and the Pavillion Area of Concerned Citizens. "This shows why federal regulation of fracturing and drilling operations is so important. We have been seeking answers from EnCana and the State of Wyoming for years. We are very pleased that EPA is now getting results. All citizens deserve clean water."

Natural Gas Glut

Gas companies have too much gas! Yet they keep drilling all around us here in North Texas. Contaminating our air and water. Maybe this would be a good time to stop drilling for awhile and do research on how to do it more responsibly.

The largest U.S. natural-gas producers may be doing too well at the wellhead for their own good, pumping so much of the heating and power-plant fuel that prices won’t soon recover from last year’s market collapse.

One definition of Gluttony:
means over-indulgence to the point of waste.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Residents near Fort Bend well blowout complain about noise and smell

Here is an update on the Fort Bend well blow out. Below is a posting from a few residents near the site claiming there is a loud sound and foul smell. Also one claims they saw gas rings in puddles that formed after it rained.
Once again another example of "clean burning natural gas" and how "environmentally friendly" gas drilling truly is!!!
Officials say the well is releasing natural gas, salt water and sand 50 feet in the air.

Of course the gas company is down playing it and claims the smell is mostly salt water and sand. Is it so hard for them to be completely honest about anything?
The well is releasing natural gas, salt water and sand, which is spewing 50 feet in the air, officials said.
The site is being monitored 24 hours a day.
Company officials said the smell in the air is the salt water and sand.
The leak is expected to take a couple of days to get under control.
Firefighters asked nearby residents to stay inside their homes and limit outside activities as a precaution.
A few comments on the articles from residents nearby.
I would hope that the equipment to cap the blowout arrives soon. Being a resident about 1/2 mile from the site has not been pleasant. The smell has been awful (like burning tar not rotten eggs) and the sound pollution has really disturbed our normally quite neighborhood. My husband and I can hear it inside our home. I would hope that something will be done to put more quality control on the devise that failed. Read this has happened before. Especially since we have a park within 250 yards from this site where kids play often. This could have been a terrible incident.
Posted by: SueQZ at August 20, 2009 06:15 PM

Anonymous said...
I live about 1000 yrds from the busted pipe, it sounds like a jet engine all day and all night. Yesterday it rained and I noticed that in the puddle of rain it made oil rings, and the water coming from the rain gutters was foaming up in the pulled. When I turned my windshield wipers on it made streaks across my windshield.
10:48 AM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Well blowout could last for days!!

It is going to take days to fix this blowout.

A natural gas well blowout in northwest Fort Bend County that began Tuesday morning could last for days before the system is fixed, authorities said.
As gas keeps gushing out and shooting to the sky, a jet engine-like noise can be heard and the air has a noticeable odor.

How comforting to know the Texas Railroad Commission is "monitoring" the situation and that the public is not in danger because the gas mainly contains methane!

Definition of Methane-Methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential.

"Our agency is monitoring to ensure the operator is taking appropriate actions," said Grey Grossman, the commission's representative. "The public is not in danger."
Grossman said the gas mainly contains methane.

The closest subdivision is 1000 yards or 3000 feet away. Which is over a 1/2 mile. What if the neighborhood was....lets say 300 feet or 500 feet away like most ordinances allow here in North Texas? The authorities are concerned enough to restrict air traffic within a 2.5 mile radius.

Meanwhile, Bob Lutts Park on Harlem Road has been closed out of precaution.
A Federal Aviation Administration temporary flight restriction issued Tuesday is still in effect today. It bans unauthorized flights below 2,500 feet within a 2½-mile radius of the site.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flower Mound Oil & Gas Board Meeting, Wednesday night 6:30 pm, at Town Hall

The FM O & G Board will meet Wednesday night. Link to agenda is on the right of the blog.

Recently during a Town Council meeting, Williams Production mentioned they could drill up to 100 wells in West FM. There are other companies wanting to drill In Flower Mound as well.

Everyone should educate themselves on the O & G Ordinance and the Board's process of granting variances. It could greatly impact your quality of life, children's school and neighborhood soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

North Texas earthquakes may be from Gas drilling injection of wastewater into DFW fault

Southern Methodist University used seismic sensors to find the cause of a series of earthquakes since October of last year. Their research showed a "possible correlation" between the quakes and salt water disposal. The disposal well is located at the southern end of DFW Airport and sits atop a fault line!!

Chesapeake has shut down DFW Airport disposal facility and another in Cleburne.
Although SMU said the quakes don't appear to be connected to drilling or fracturing, it is alarming that the cause of the quakes is from injecting fluid into a fault line that no one knew was there.

The question is, how many more situations like this exist in the Barnett Shale?
The below article appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Go to the link to read the whole article.

A series of minor earthquakes in North Texas may have been caused by a wastewater disposal well connected to natural-gas production in the area, Chesapeake Energy Corp. told state regulators Thursday.

Researchers from Southern Methodist University in Dallas have deployed seismic sensors in the area to study the phenomenon. On Thursday, the researchers said preliminary results suggest the quakes do not appear to be connected to drilling or fracturing itself.

But they said their research does show a "possible correlation" between the quakes and a salt water disposal well operated by Chesapeake on the southern end of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The airport sits atop a fault line.
Write to Ben Casselman at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Natural Gas Drilling linked to the death of migratory birds

Exxon Mobil pleads guilty to killing birds in 5 States, including Texas. The deaths were linked to gas well reserve pits and waste water storage. Here is another example that there is nothing "clean" about natural gas drilling.

Flower Mound doesn't allow waste water reserve pits and many surrounding towns are requesting the same. They use closed loop systems but the drilling waste or mud is stored in portable steel tanks until it can be transported to injection wells. This practice does cut down on wildlife drinking from or bathing in the pits. Although there can still be leaks from the tanks or during transportation.

Some drilling companies use pipelines to send the waste or mud to a central storage area until it can be transported for disposal. Some risk here would be pipe couplings failing and leaks at the storage facility and during transportation.

But waste water storage isn't the only way for contamination. During the drilling and fracing process, leaks of drilling/fracing fluid and odorless gas can spew from the well site itself. There have been numerous cases in the past 3 months right here in North Texas referenced in previous posts.

Most drilling companies claim the drilling and fracing fluids are 99% water and sand. In the last few months there have been numerous stories of animals deaths and vegetation dying after exposure to the fluids. That 1% seems to be extremely lethal. What is in that 1%? According to Cherokee Horn, it is additives found in common household items. They really don't have to tell us because the Federal Government gives them an exemption from doing so. article stated the following

Exxon Mobil pleaded guilty to causing the deaths of approximately 85 migratory birds, most of which died after exposure to natural gas well reserve pits and waste water storage facilities.
Birds died in Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas between 2004 and 2009.
Article Controls
Officials said that at those sites, birds would either get coated in hydrocarbons or ingest the oily waste, leading to their deaths. None of the birds are on the government's list of endangered or threatened species.

Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yeah Right. Gas drilling is environmentally friendly and strongly regulated.

Another letter arrived from Cherokee Horn yesterday. This one is about environmental concerns. It states the following:

"frac fluid is 99% water and sand, the rest is additives found in common household items."

Tell that to the owner of the 17 cows that died after eating and drinking from a pasture where spilled frac fluid pooled.

Chesapeake waited 5 hours to report this deadly spill to state officials. The Caddo Sheriff's Department learned about it from the residents living near the spill. This just proves the lack of respect gas companies have for the citizens living near gas drilling.

Chesapeake claims the frac fluid is 99% water. Apparently the 1% left over, or additives found in common household items according to Cherokee Horn, was extremely lethal. The frightening thing is that lethal 1% isn't considered a "reportable quantity"!

Chesapeake Energy Corp. waited five hours before notifying the state of a spill from a well site onto a south Caddo pasture that apparently killed 17 cows April 28, according to Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality files.

Chesapeake Energy, the largest competitor in the Haynesville Shale natural gas play in northwest Louisiana, also never notified the Caddo sheriff's office, which learned of the incident through neighbors. Local authorities, such as police or sheriff's offices, are supposed to be notified first when there is an environmental incident, according to DEQ.

Turk's letter states:"During a routine well stimulation/formation fracturing operation by Schlumberger for Chesapeake, it was observed that a portion of mixed 'frac' fluids, composed of over 99 percent freshwater, leaked from vessels and/or piping onto the well pad."
The spill was not reported, the missive states, because it was not a "reportable quantity" under state and federal regulations, but water and soil analysis found that some of the site contractor's "products" mixed with storm water runoff and flowed into the field.

Cherokee Horn further states:

"Much information about the hazards of drilling is based on old technology no longer in use and/or drilling techniques and chemicals that are not used in the Barnett Shale."

Those in Keller who had a mysterious yellow substance rain down on them from a gas well might disagree with that statement.

Below are links to 2 more incidents that happened right here in North Texas in the last 3 months. You can bet we would never know about these dangers if someone outside of the industry wasn't watching.

We all know that the Texas Railroad Commission is suppose to regulate the gas and oil industry. Yet they are allowed to receive 30% to 50% of their campaign donations from the very industry they are suppose to regulate. The TRRC had only 83 inspectors as of last year and over 377,000 wells, 76,436 of them are gas wells according to data collected in 2007, to inspect. You do the math. Yet we are suppose to feel comfort in knowing that the TRRC is watching out for us. We are expected to let the gas companies come into our towns and drill where ever they want and trust that everything will be okay.

The "Halliburton Loophole" allows the industry not to tell what is in that 1% of "frac fluid". They get other exemptions from the Clean Air and Water Acts. Because of this, we really don't know what they are doing. We have to take their word for it. Are you comfortable with that? What is it going to take to get our government officials to demand better regulation? When is enough......enough?

Support the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Program. Contact our elected officials here in Texas and Washington.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UNT Study proves 78% wouldn't want a gas well in their backyard!

UNT Research center did a study to see how distance and royalties play a part in opposition to a gas well close to neighborhoods. The result isn't a surprise. The majority wouldn't want a gas well 500 to 200 feet from their homes even with getting royalties. Fifty two percent of the people posed with the question of 1000' or over favored a gas drilling operation. The conclusion is 78 percent don't want a gas well 200' from their home or in their backyard! Even with royalties. (FM ordinance states when a sign lease exists a variance can be granted for 300'.)
UNT center finds that opposition increases as gas wells get closer to neighborhoods
DENTON (UNT), Texas – A recent survey conducted by the University of North Texas' Survey Research Center shows that many North Texans have mixed feelings about the local natural gas industry: enjoying the royalties associated with drilling, but disliking the prospect of having wells near their home.

The survey, which was conducted by Dr. Paul Ruggiere, director of the center, found that when posed with a hypothetical gas well 1,000 feet from their neighborhood, a slight majority (52 percent) of citizens either strongly or somewhat favored a gas drilling operation that close. The favorable ratings increased to 65 percent if the respondent was told to rate the question as if they had mineral rights that could pay them royalties for some portion of the gas extracted.

However, when the hypothetical well is moved to within 500 feet the ratings shift toward majority opposition; 72 percent with no mention of royalties and 59 percent who were told they would receive royalties opposed drilling within 500 feet of their neighborhood.

At 200 feet, the opposition is much greater; 86 percent with no mention of royalties and 78 percent who believed they would receive royalties opposed drilling within 200 feet of their neighborhood.

"At 1000 feet, the prospect of receiving royalties appears to influence respondents' favorability rating. The strength of that influence dissipates as proposed gas wells get closer to respondents' neighborhoods," said Ruggiere.

Question Wording
Would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose gas drilling within 1,000 feet of your neighborhood? How about 500 feet? How about 200 feet?
If you had mineral rights that could pay you royalties for some portion of the gas extracted, would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose gas drilling within 1,000 feet of your neighborhood? How about 500 feet? How about 200 feet?

Ruggiere oversaw the survey, which was conducted by telephone at the Survey Research Center's Denton telephone facility. A total of 607 respondents, age 18 or older, were contacted and interviewed between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29, 2008.
The poll included residents of Tarrant and Denton counties. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of the two versions of the polling question.
For further information, contact Ruggiere at 940-367-8829 or

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another pipeline leak because of corrosion in Wise County

Another leak from a pipeline caused by corrosion. This time Devon acknowledges that the pipe leaked and fixed the problem. That hasn't always been the case.

"The pipe that runs across Mr. Mitchell's land developed a very small hole - a hole large enough to put a toothpick through," said Chip Minty, media relations manager with Devon Energy Corp. "Under pressure, enough gas leaked through from that size of hole to make itself obvious."Minty said the hole was caused by corrosion by bacteria.

"Bacteria can settle in a pipe and create corrosion, so we're analyzing that bacteria so we can treat that pipeline and address that type of bacteria so we don't have that type of corrosion problem again," Minty said.Along with replacing the pipe, Devon removed two barrels of liquid and replaced the contaminated soil.

"There were about two barrels of liquids - whether that was water or some other natural gas liquids, we're not sure. We dug up all of the soil that has been in contact with the liquids and carried it away from the site," Minty said. "We're going to analyze all of the soil and liquids to see if any remediation is necessary."

Mr. Mitchell grows trees on his land for business and since 2001, trees have been dying. Last year Devon came out and tested the soil and found the the soil had heavy condensate or weathered gasoline but claimed it couldn't be because of a spill or leak from their activity.

In 2007, Devon tested the soil and found that the "soil contains what appears to be a heavy condensate or weathered gasoline.""We did find an area in his property where there was evidence of hydrocarbons that had been spilled or leaked onto his land, but those weren't attributable to a natural gas pipeline based on what we found in working with the Texas Railroad Commission. That leak wouldn't have been caused by a pipeline," Minty said. "We take our relationships with our landowners seriously. We've been to his property a number of times. We haven't found any evidence that our operations would cause damage to his property. We haven't found anywhere where there's damage that we can attribute to our pipeline.

Really? How else would gasoline show up on his property? If Devon had taken responsibility the first time Mr Mitchell complained, the recent problem could of been avoided. It is time for gas drilling companies to be accountable and more honest about what chemicals they are using during drilling and fracking. Spend more time and some of that profit money researching how to do it right.

"Darin hired an independent company to test the soil in July 2008, and the company also found evidence of gas in the soil on his property. But Darin said that he has never dumped or had anything leak any kind of gas in the area.
The issue is a stressful one for Darin and his father, who have spent their careers in the nursery business. Both said they have never seen trees die like this before they began planting on this land. "It's frustrating," Darin said. "Why spend money to maintain a tree farm when everything keeps dying. It's disheartening, and I can't get any help."

Town Council Meeting

During the briefing session, at the beginning of the Town Council Meeting, the topic regarding seismic testing was discussed. Council Member Jean Levenick and Mayor Jody Smith recluse themselves since they both have signed leases with Williams Production.

Some of the concerns are that the "Thumper Trucks or Vibroseis Buggies" can damage roads. They weigh about 60,000 lbs. and move very slowly and do cause some vibration. The town staff is concerned about costs to repair roads. Williams is proposing this process to increase production and profits from gas drilling in West Flower Mound as stated by a representative from the company during public participation. The Williams representative used the assumption that 100 wells could be drilled in the area when speaking about the increased profit. There are approximately 11 streets involved in this testing. Council Member Al Filidoro asked for more information including seismic data.

According to a Lewisville blog, residents said they felt some vibration during identical seismic testing in March of this year.

In East Texas, some residents are suing a seismic testing company for damage to their homes from Thumper Trucks. Here is an article from their local newspaper.

Briefly mentioned was the waste water receptacles. This issue will go in front of the O & G Board.

Another representative from Williams did get up and speak during the public participation about the waste water receptacles. Williams is asking that the waste water pipelines be considered under the current pipeline ordinance. The representative stated that there are 3 lines. One to transfer gas products, one for produced/contaminated waste water, one gas lift lines. These pipelines will be carrying contaminated drilling waste water approximately 4 feet underground. As we get more information on this process, we will share it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What you can't see may hurt you.

The below video link was sent to us by txsharon and is an official video from the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. It shows fugitive emissions from a natural gas well facility in the Barnett Shale. It was taken with a high-tech infrared camera and shows the invisible hydrocarbon vapors. This is what is going into our air everyday.

The American Lung Association recently gave Denton County an air quality grad of "F"
Beth Lutz returned to Denton from a California vacation, her eyes began itching and burning again. The constant irritation in her throat returned, too.
“I don’t know what’s in the air here,” Lutz said.
According to state and federal data, it’s ground-level ozone. And greenhouse gases. And other noxious elements.
The American Lung Association grades Denton County air quality an “F,” identifying about 37.6 percent of the population, more than 230,000 people, as being most at risk on days with heavy smog.

A recent report by Al Armendariz, Ph.D., Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Southern Methodist University, "Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvements"
Mentions that natural gas is important but is greatly affecting public health and our environment. The study was conducted to come up with some options to drill for gas in a way that has less impact our our air quality.

Natural gas production in the Barnett Shale region of Texas has increased rapidly since 1999, and as of June 2008, over 7700 oil and gas wells had been installed and another 4700 wells were pending. Gas production in 2007 was approximately 923 Bcf from wells in 21 counties. Natural gas is a critical feedstock to many chemical production processes, and it has many environmental benefits over coal as a fuel for electricity generation, including lower emissions of sulfur, metal compounds, and carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, oil and gas production from the Barnett Shale area can impact local air quality and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The objectives of this study were to develop an emissions inventory of air pollutants from oil and gas production in the Barnett Shale area, and to identify cost effective emissions control options.

Sign-on to Support Dr. Aremendariz for EPA Region 6 Administrator

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has been working hard to get the United States Government to make the Oil and Gas industry abide by the Clean Air and Water Act just like every other industry in the nation. Currently, Oil and Gas has many exemptions (Halliburton Loophole is just one) and it has become critical that they have to follow the rules and regulations that everyone else has.
They state the following:

The oil and gas industry has the financial and technological ability to "Do it Right." In some situations, companies will use better practices because it makes economic sense to do so. In other cases, however, industry is forced to innovate because they are pushed to do so by government regulations (e.g., new regulations may limit the allowable amount of air emissions).

Often, communities or landowners are not opposed to drilling - they simply want to ensure that it is done in a way that minimizes impacts to the environment and their lives.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Important Information to be discussed at Town Council Meeting

We have been told that Monday night, August 3rd, at the Town Council meeting, Williams Production will be speaking at 6:00 p.m. regarding oil and gas issues. It is not on the agenda and from what we were told was last minute. We believe Williams is proposing the following and wants to discuss the below issues:
(1) water receptacles and
(2) thumping trucks.

The water receptacles appear beneficial "on the surface," but there are "hidden" problems such as potential leakage into our aquifers and facilitating more drilling within our residential neighborhoods.

The thumping trucks weigh approx. 60,000 pounds and will tear up our roads. Drilling companies want to use them, because they provide a 3D seismic picture of the shale formulations and will increase the gas companies' profit ratios. Although the seismic activity is relatively safe, the trucks are extremely heavy and move very slowly causing road damage. The problem is the Town will be having to pay to replace the damaged roadways.
Below are some articles we found on Thumping Trucks for you to do your own research.
They create earthquakes underground.” That’s how one official described the activity of thumper trucks, though their actual mission is to engage in seismic testing to help drilling companies understand the makeup of the various layers of materials deep underground.
"The use of the 64,000-pound thumper trucks, euphemistically known as vibroseis buggies, as proposed in this project, leaves long term scars on the land that resemble furrows in the sagebrush," the Alliance says.


Forced Pooling

The below post was to answer many who wanted to know what happens in a forced pool situation. The information came directly from Cherokee Horn website. Most of the property owners asking about Forced Pooling are those that surround the proposed drill sites at Northshore. If someday they want to drill there, all of those unleased property owners would be very important because of the distance required by Flower Mound O & G Ordinance. We do not want to tell you what to do but like to address all the questions we receive.

Forced Pooling isn't used very often. In fact if you go on the TRRC website and search, you will find very few cases considering how long the TRRC has been around. MIPA (Mineral Interest Pooling Act) and Forced Pooling is usually used by small property owners that want to be included in a large pool but haven't received offers from gas companies.

All I could find that was close to our situation was the link below. It was for the gas company to acquire leases for a unit that the unsigned properties were important for drilling.
There was one in December

I found this interesting article from a law office.

If we find out any more information on this subject we will post it.

Forced Pooling

With Cherokee Horns recent push to get people to sign, many have been asking about what happens in a "Forced Pool" situation. Well here it is right from Cherokee Horn's website.

It says that those who do not initially sign would not get the bonus but receive the 20% royalty. After drilling costs were recouped and well was producing, the forced pooled lots would get 100% royalties while the signers still got their 20%. It almost seems too unreal but I have read legal blogs too and they all say the same. So it seems not signing is a better deal and the best protection for our homes no matter what. Why? Because of our O & G ordinance, we still get to fight for the distance of 1000' or with variance of 500'. The signers automatically give permission for 500' or 300' with a variance.

"An exception to this would be if a homeowner’s unsigned lot were absolutely crucial and the company had to include it. A scenario such as this would exist if the company could only access the rest of their mineral pool by going through a particular unleased interest. In that particular case, the gas company could appeal to the Texas Railroad Commission to have the needed parcel included in their pooling unit. This is called forced pooling.
In such instances, once production is established the owner(s) that were “forced pooled” would receive a 20% royalty payment, but no bonus. Once the gas company has recouped 100% of their well costs, then the mineral owner(s) would come in for their full interest. This means the royalty goes from 20% to 100%. "