New National Report: Texas is Source of Over 50% of Total US Fracking Pollution

by jim on October 8, 2013

Gas Field - OdessaWhile most of the national publicity surrounding fracking over the past couple of years has involved documenting its encroachment into the Midwest and East Coast, a new first-of-its-kind report demonstrates why Texas is still the center of the oil and gas industry's universe.

Last week the Environment America Research & Policy Center released "Fracking by the Numbers: Key impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level." As far as we can tell, it's the first systematic collection of quantifiable state-by-state data on the environmental costs of fracking in the entire US – the amount of water used in drilling operations, the amount of air pollution produced, the amount of acreage devoted to leases, etc. 

Of course, the numbers all come from either the annual self-reporting industry performs for state and federal regulators, or those regulators themselves, so there's a good chance they're being under-estimated. Nevertheless, the total numbers are still huge and shocking.  And what really catches the eye in the state-by-state breakdowns is just how much the operations around us here in Texas contribute to those huge and shocking numbers. We're not just the Belly of the Beast. We're the belly, upper and lower intestines, bowels, and open-throated mouth of the beast.

 

Number of Wells:

Of the almost 82,000 wells drilled across the country since 2005 (when the Energy Act with the "Halliburton Loophole" included was passed and signed), fully 34,000 have been drilled in the Lone Star State. The second closest state is Colorado with a little over 18,000.

Think things have slowed down and moved elsewhere? Of the 22,300 wells drilled since 2012, 13,500 of them have been in Texas. Colorado again comes in second with 1,900.

 

Acres of Land Damaged:

130,000 acres out of a US total of 360,000 acres. Colorado is second with 50,000.

 

Amount of Water Used

Out of a national total of 250,000,000,000 gallons of water used to frack wells, Texas accounts for 110,000,000,000. Pennsylvania is second at 30,000,000,000 gallons.

 

Amount of Waste Water Produced

Out of a national reported total of 280,000,000,000 gallons (that's 280 billion) of unusable toxic wastewater that needed to be disposed of permanently in injection wells, Texas accounts for 260,000,000,000 gallons. North Dakota is a distant second with 12,000,000,000.

 

Air Pollution

None of these figures includes totals from other kinds of facilities in the gas cycle, like compressors or pipelines, or storage tanks – just drilling pad operations.

Particulate Matter

Approximately 8,000 tons in Texas out of nationwide total of 13,000.

Nitrogen Oxide (smog-forming)

100,000 tons in Texas out of 170,000 for the entire US.

Carbon Monoxide

153,000 tons in Texas out of a US total of 250,000 tons.

Volatile Organic Compounds (smog-forming and toxins)

14,000 tons in Texas out of 23,000 nationwide.

Sulfur Dioxide (acid rain, respiratory irritant)

300 tons in Texas out of a total of 600 tons nationwide.

Greenhouse Gases

40,000,000 tons in Texas out of a US total of 100,000,000.

 

When a single state accounts for more than half of the wells, the waste water, and the entire country's air pollution burden from fracking, you understand why campaigning against the industry's practices in Texas is the political equivalent of fighting behind enemy lines. It makes recent victories like the defeat of the Trinity East permits and the adoption of a tougher draft Dallas gas ordinance all the more remarkable, and important.

Beginning in 2006, many of us were caught off-guard by the invasion of wells that swept eastward into the metropolitan DFW area. We didn't know enough to know what questions to ask, or we didn't want to ask them. Now, living in the largest urban gas play in the US, and inventorying these kinds of mind-numbing statistics, we don't have any excuses. Fracking represents one of the most profound environmental and public health challenges ever to confront DFW or Texas. The most important question now is what we intend to do about it.

The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date. – See more at: http://ecowatch.com/2013/report-calculates-damage-by-fracking/#sthash.JwB22iWP.dpuf

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