Texas Clean Air Matters

Report identifies ways to reduce water contamination from oil and gas development in Texas

By: Nichole Saunders

new report from the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) is shedding more light on what we know and don’t know about the potential health and environmental impacts caused by oil and gas development in Texas.

The report, the first of-its-kind authored by experts across the state, looks at all areas of concern related to oil and gas – including seismicity, air pollution, land and traffic issues  – but TAMEST’s observations about the risks to water are especially noteworthy.

Tracking and reducing spills and leaks

Wastewater that comes out of an oil or gas well is usually extremely salty and can be laden with chemicals, and TAMEST notes this wastewater can contaminate soil and harm vegetation. In fact, according to the report,  spilling or leaking wastewater and other substances is the most likely pathway for surface water contamination from oil and gas development in Texas. Yet Texas is the only major state that doesn’t require companies to report their produced water spills. The report suggests that Texas should consider improving spill reporting policies in order to better understand where spills are happening, and what is causing them. Read More »

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As Oil and Gas Industry Goes Big in the Permian, Efforts to Tackle Emissions Will Be Telling

By Jon Goldstein and Ben Ratner

Much ink has been spilled recently about big new oil and gas investments in the Permian Basin across West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. What some are dubbing “Permania” includes a more than $6 billion investment by ExxonMobil in New Mexico acreage and an almost $3 billion one by Noble Energy across the border in Texas, among others. But a large question remains: will these types of big bets also come with the needed investments to limit methane emissions?

It’s not just an academic question. The answer will go a long way toward revealing if industry actors plan to operate in a way that serves the best interest of local communities and taxpayers. Unfortunately, New Mexico is currently the worst in the nation for waste of natural gas resources from federal lands (such as those that are found in large parts of the state’s Permian Basin). Largely avoidable venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas from these sites also puts a big hole in taxpayers’ wallets, robbing New Mexico taxpayers of $100 million worth of their natural gas resources every year and depriving the state budget of millions more in royalty revenue that could be invested in urgent state needs like education.


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Is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality an Honest Broker for San Antonio’s Air Quality?

By Krystal Henagan, Moms Clean Air Force Texas Field Organizer

san_antonio_sign1Facing climbing ozone levels and non-attainment, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) deployed their top officials to host an “air quality” open house in the Alamo City, Texas, Monday. As a mother of an asthmatic son, I was looking forward to hearing the agency’s plans to improve our region’s poor air quality not only for him, but for the thousands of San Antonio children suffering from dirty air.

Those of us expecting a comprehensive overview of how the state agency was planning to work with local and federal agencies to provide regional solutions to clean up our air were deeply disappointed. Rather, the open house was a very bizarre orchestration of an oil and gas industry PR blitz held by TCEQ’s commissioners and toxicologist. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Natural gas, Ozone, San Antonio, TCEQ / Read 1 Response

Ozone—A Problem San Antonio Can No Longer Afford to Ignore

EagleFordFlareLate August provided a vivid reminder of San Antonio’s decade long challenge with air quality and a timely preview of an issue the entire region will be talking about next month:  ground level ozone (a.k.a. smog).

The last week of August, San Antonio air monitors registered some of the highest smog readings of the year. In fact, the city’s smog levels were higher than any other city in Texas on August 27.

Put simply, if you have asthma, or other breathing difficulties, you probably had a pretty tough time that week. Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural gas, Ozone, San Antonio / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

A Neighborly Approach to Cleaning the Air in South Texas

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

Is that flare operating efficiently? Is it dangerous to my health? Whom do I ask? Whom do I tell? These are the types of questions an emerging workshop developed by EDF and RGISC aims to answer.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently ranked the Eagle Ford Shale play as the nation’s largest oil field. But with oil wells often comes wasted gas, something Texas knows all too well. A huge portion of the gas pulled from oil wells in the Eagle Ford is burned away— often sending damaging pollutants into our environment.

An investigative report published in the San Antonio Express-News last year found “the rate of Eagle Ford flaring was 10 times higher than the combined rate of the state’s other oil fields.” The same researchers found that from 2009 through the first seven months of 2014 oil and gas operators in the Eagle Ford region wasted about 94 billion cubic feet of natural gas – roughly enough gas to serve the heating and cooking needs of all the homes in San Antonio over four years. Excessive or improper flaring is not only a waste of a valuable resource, but can also have harmful health effects and damage the environment.  Read More »

Also posted in Air Pollution, Environment, Flare emissions, Natural gas / Tagged | Comments are closed

Think Texas Energy Is all about Oil? Think Again.

Source: Flickr/David Ingram

Source: Flickr/David Ingram

Technology is making clean energy competitive with coal for the first time in history, and that’s a game changer.

In 1999, we pushed to get the first renewable energy mandate passed in the country – in Texas of all places. There were all sorts of concerns at the time that wind could not be integrated into the system, or that it would be too expensive. Time has proven otherwise.

Yes, Texas has plenty of oil and gas, but we also have a lot of sun and wind. Those early investments in renewables paid off and today, the Lone Star State is the top wind energy-producing state in the nation.

As such, I believe we’re helping to drive investments in wind across the United States.

Texas is on the cutting edge of technology – and proud of it… Read More »

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