The New Gas Pollution Problem for DFW in Two Pictures

by jim on December 3, 2013

Hidden in plain sightSo far the debate over how much impact the gas industry has had on DFW air quality has centered on the Barnett Shale. That's logical because that's the gas play right in front of us, in the middle of the North Texas "non-attainment area" for smog. One of the main arguments Rick Perry's Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has made against any significant impact is that most of the drilling is happening west of the DFW urban centers.

Ignoring how geographically-incorrect this argument is – there's drilling and compressors in Dallas County right now, much less Ellis, Johnson. Denton and Tarrant – let's just cede the argument to the state that it would take gas fields to the Southeast of us, that is, upwind of us during ozone season, to really impact our air quality.

Guess what? There's gas fields Southeast of DFW that are producing lots of air pollution.

In previous posts over at least the last two years, we've shown that if you add up the standard permits of all the gas compressors in Freestone County alone, they represent more smog pollution than the Big Brown Coal Plant doing business down the road. Now there's new evidence of the size of these gas fields and their relationship to the DFW airshed, thanks to Google.

Here's a picture of the area we're talking about –  just about an hour and a half drive southeast of DFW, east of Waco. That makes it directly upwind during ozone seasons.

East Texas Gas Field Long shot













When you zoom into where the green arrow is, you see the familiar sight of hundreds of square drilling pads laid out over the landscape – just like the Barnett Shale – only DFW is directly downwind of it during the summer.

East Texas gas field -close upPollution from these sources has most likely been grossly underestimated by the state. Moreover, when gas field pollution comes into an urban area with dirty air, it increases the likelihood of that pollution turning into smog. Rick Perry's employees are loath to admit the gas industry plays any part in the stagnation of DFW air quality progress since 2007, but as these images make clear, facts on the ground trump their ideology.

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