The shaking around Azle and Reno, which I will hereafter refer to as "San Andreas MInor," has attracted the attention of the U.S. Geological Survey precisely because the area has almost no record of seismic activity. A few studies, including one recently from SMU, point to correlation between the ep ... More >>
So far, none of the two dozen earthquakes recorded in North Texas since the start of November have caused any serious damage. The Eagle Mountain Lake Dam is fine. Homes and businesses are intact, save for the occasional hairline crack. No one has been hurt. There's no guarantee that won't change as ... More >>
Texas is one of a handful of states that hasn't adopted the coming Common Core curriculum standards, but former State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar nonetheless believes that the creep of "socialized education" is apparent in a new environmental science text. In an innuendo-heavy segment ... More >>
Wayne Christian is eying a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency charged with the twin tasks of regulating the oil and gas industry. So naturally, Christian is campaigning hard on his unwavering opposition to abortion. Christian, a former state representative from East Texas, tout ... More >>
With Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings' bankruptcy possibly approaching as soon as the end of this month, Public Citizen warns that if the giant electric utility's assets are broken up, Texas taxpayers may end up paying to reclaim its coal mines. As we've reported before, the Sierra Club's Beyond ... More >>
Last year, we brought you the story of Steve Lipsky, whose little slice of paradise in Parker County became a proxy in the war between the EPA and state regulators. It wasn't long after Range Resources began stimulating a nearby natural gas well by hydraulic fracturing that Lipsky noticed his water ... More >>
The way Railroad Commission Chairman and Texas Attorney General candidate Barry Smitherman tells it, the aim of his 10 years of public service was not brazen tub-thumping for the industry he regulates in order to shore up deep-pocketed benefactors for his political aspirations. It's only ever been a ... More >>
Barry Smitherman recently leapt off the political springboard that is the Texas Railroad Commission and dove into the attorney general's race. Heretofore, he has focused his campaign primarily on extolling the virtues of hydraulic fracturing, firearms and suing the Obama administration. Yet Smither ... More >>
Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, Texas' biggest power generator and utility, is in danger of going bankrupt, and some believe it's quite possible that the Texas taxpayer will get left with the tab. As we noted last month, the Railroad Commission of Texas allowed EFH's subsidiary, Luminant Mining ... More >>
Frederick Wright presumably knows a thing or two about the oil and gas business. He's a petroleum engineer who has worked on both sides of the fence. He spent some time with the Bureau of Land Management. Eventually, he worked for more than a decade as engineer in oil and gas fields. In 2007, he j ... More >>
Property rights in Texas are supposed to be sacrosanct, practically God-given. So the ease with which pipeline companies seize private land through eminent domain is curious. The law here is anything but settled. That's where landowners like Freddy Davenport come in. Increasingly, disputes between ... More >>
A few years ago, in a case fracking opponents believed was the smoking gun they'd been waiting for, the Texas Railroad Commission sided with the industry. It said that Parker County homeowner Steve Lipsky's gaseous and incredibly flammable water well was a product of naturally occurring, biogenic me ... More >>
Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, Texas' largest power generator and utility, is getting its books scrutinized by state mining regulators. The Railroad Commission of Texas is apparently worried that if the company goes bankrupt, which analysts expect it may, it could jeopardize more than a billio ... More >>
In case you missed it, Gov. Rick Perry used his veto Friday to override the bipartisan will of the legislature, which sought to inject the most meager, almost universally agreeable ethics reform into the state oil and gas regulator. They attempted to do this because the Railroad Commission of Texas ... More >>
Drilling thousands of feet into the earth is a cakewalk compared with dealing with City Hall.
You'd think in this state, property rights would be the inviolable bedrock around which damn near everything else revolves. You'd think eminent domain, the taking of private property for public use, would be invoked only when the common benefit of a railroad, a highway or a pipeline is so undeniable ... More >>
Before City Manager Mary Suhm struck a secret side deal with natural gas producer Trinity East to drill on parkland in the Trinity River floodplain, there were two, lesser-known gas wells situated in Irving that Dallas stood to collect royalty checks on. According to Railroad Commission of Texas d ... More >>
State Representative Van Taylor, a real-estate investment banker from Plano, has introduced legislation that would settle, once and for all, who gets the last word on drilling under private property: That would be the Railroad Commission of Texas. The bill, filed Tuesday, would strip from Texas mun ... More >>
Tarry Canadian bitumen is barreling its way to Texas via the Keystone XL pipeline. Will it bring energy independence or environmental calamity?
Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz issued a temporary restraining order against TransCanada Tuesday, preventing the company from continuing construction of the southern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline crossing Mike Bishop's land. I met Bishop a few weeks ago at his place ... More >>
Last summer, as the Dallas City Council was briefed on the ins and outs of bringing heavy, industrial processes into a densely populated, urban area, industry boosters like Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council assured council members we would know in virtually all cases what was ... More >>
Once again, the Railroad Commission of Texas' raison d'être has been evaluated by a commission comprising state legislators and two regular citizens. Once again, it was given a reprieve from being abolished, given the gang-busting pace of oil and gas development over the last several years. But not ... More >>
Range Resources, a company that fracks shale formations across America, wants controversial former EPA regional chief Al Armendariz to shut up about what happened in Parker County. The company's lawyer sent him a letter recently insisting that "(he) cease from making further false and disparaging co ... More >>
Chesapeake Energy, one of the shale boom's biggest players, has amassed the rights to drill on acreage roughly equal to the size of West Virginia. It's a shrewd strategy -- tie up all the land you can using outrageous sums of borrowed cash (more than $30 billion), freeze out your competitors, then d ... More >>
Anybody who is at all familiar with the Texas Railroad Commission won't be surprised to learn that the almighty oil and gas regulator isn't exactly aggressive in its enforcement of the rules. The highly political commission's contradictory charges are to promote oil and gas development while holding ... More >>
America’s fracking gold rush portends the greatest environmental disaster of a generation.
Former EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz was the designated whipping boy at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing this week, though it proceeded in absentia. Armendariz totally blew it off, to the supreme indignation of Chairman Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, and the assemble ... More >>
Politics is politics, and incumbents running for re-election in conservative Parker County, Texas, where the local economy is fueled entirely by shale-gas production, want to look like champions of the industry. But what if you're a judge? And what if, at the very moment you put up fliers of Rush Li ... More >>
Four years have passed since Trinity East signed on as the largest gas lease-holder with the city of Dallas, and the company still doesn't know when it will be allowed to drill its first well -- if ever. As the company's name suggests, Trinity East wants to drill for natural gas along the east side ... More >>
Steve Lipsky's epic battle and what it means for the future of fracking.
Speaking of urban drilling and gas releases in populated areas like Mansfield, the Government Accountability Office says the gathering pipelines used to collect natural gas from drill sites are unregulated, and their locations are often unknown. The GAO conducted site visits in, among other places, ... More >>
The University of Texas Energy Institute cast a skeptical eye on the likelihood that the actual act of fracking could result in groundwater contamination. Particularly in the Barnett Shale, where aquifers sit thousands of feet above the shale rock, head researcher Dr. Chip Groat reasoned that the da ... More >>
In one of America's wealthiest suburbs, an unlikely band of drilling opponents helped drive away the world's biggest energy companies. Did they save the town or ruin it?
For folks in the sandy hills northwest of Dallas, it's a devil's bargain for gas, water and jobs.
Photo by Leslie MinoraTask force chair Lois Finkelman and members Terry Welch and Cherelle Blazer mull over fracking regulations at yesterday's meeting.The city's gas drilling task force slurped down a hearty helping of alphabet soup last night, with visits from representatives of the EPA (En ... More >>
Natural gas activist and blogger Sharon Wilson was among the environmentalists out at Earth Day last weekend -- not far from the EPA's six-foot cardboard Al Armendariz -- and she was passing out copies of a new report she'd helped produce on gas drilling in the Barnett Shale. Produced by the Fort ... More >>
We added insult to injury a long time ago in this whole business of fracking in Dallas -- you know, the kind of natural gas drilling where they blow up underground rocks in a geological formation called the Barnett Shale, releasing trapped gas. Now, if you don't mind, I need to add injury to insu ... More >>
Maybe the biggest problem with the fracking issue is that it involves the deadly, mind-numbing and sleep-inducing phrase "parts per billion." Otherwise I might have cracked the case long ago. Fracking is deep-well drilling for natural gas in which drillers inject water and chemicals into a l ... More >>
Chesapeake EnergyA diagram from "Ask Chesapeake" shows a disposal well for spent fracking fluid, down into the Ellenburger Formation underneath the Barnett Shale.If you thought you'd heard the last from the City Council on gas drilling for a while, well, think again.Originally, the council was go ... More >>
A little more than a month ago -- and before the Environmental Protection Agency assumed control of Texas's greenhouse gas permitting -- the EPA looked to be drawing a line in the sand over water contamination from gas drilling in the Barnett Shale, with an emergency order for Fort Worth-based Ra ... More >>
Patrick MichelsThat's Kim Feil at far right with her pal, Ben ZeneWhile we await the Dallas City Council's decision concerning XTO's permit application to gas-drill within the city limits, we look just a little westward -- toward Arlington, where, tomorrow, the council there will vote on a permit ... More >>
Worries about groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing around the Barnett Shale got a fresh wave of attention yesterday -- first with a pair of federal suits filed in Dallas, and then with the Town of Flower Mound's denial of a request to drill near to Grapevine Lake. Keystone Energy w ... More >>
Your Texas Railroad Commission: Elizabeth Jones, Victor Carrillo and Michael WilliamsThe Texas Observer has published a story about the Railroad Commission of Texas that I want to call appalling, but I think the Railroad Commission has lost the ability to appall. The story exposes a pattern of de ... More >>
Patrick MichelsEPA representatives hear concerns over current air pollution regulations for the natural gas industry Monday night.They came in striped ties and checkered ties, sport coats and shirtsleeves and the beard stubble of Washington operators on the road. The four white-collar grunts from ... More >>
Some of the very generic imagery featured on Alan Todd May's company's Web siteAlan Todd May spent the better part of 1983 to 2002 in and out of prison, having been arrested for such things as credit card abuse, check fraud, theft ... well, you name the hustle, he hustled it. There were 14 convic ... More >>
Increasing train traffic rattles nerves and homes in Fort Worth
Ralph Nader's running for real this time
Oysterman Joe Nelson says pollution is slowly killing Galveston Bay. Is anyone listening?