Report: Documents Show Gas Driller Violated State Regs After Parker County Water Well Became Flammable

Categories: Legal Battles

A hose attached to Steve Lipsky's gas-producing water well
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 methane originating in the aquifer.

Gas driller Range Resources, the commission ruled, was not to blame for Lipsky's flaming water. What it did not mention, however, was that after Lipsky complained about the gas, the commission sent Range a notice of violation, according to Brett Shipp's story last night on WFAA-TV. Commission inspectors had detected gas pressure on Range's wellhead -- a sign that something could be amiss.

As I reported back in April 2012, thousands of feet of Range's well bore between the aquifer above and the gas-bearing shale below were not lined with cement. This huge section was left exposed. That in itself might not be a problem, but the exposed section cut through the Strawn formation, a geological feature that also holds natural gas. Per the regulator's own rules, "productive horizons" or "gas formations" have to be cemented in to prevent the gas from migrating up the well bore and potentially seeping into aquifers.

Experts from Cornell and Texas A&M say Range should have done that anyway. In Lipsky's legal battle against Range, his experts have contended that this might be why Lipsky has gas in his water.

In a response to the commission obtained by Shipp, Range apparently proposed pumping cement down the well bore "to eliminate any chance that gas could be migrating from any zone down below."

It never did. The Commission dropped the violation and eventually exonerated Range in a hearing that appeared to be as much a swipe at the EPA as it was an honest, fact-finding inquiry. I was troubled back then by the commission's incredibly cozy ties with the industry, a fact the Texas Sunset Commission has lamented to no avail. Elizabeth Ames Jones was about to be named chairperson of the commission. She was also a candidate for Texas Senate. And Range Resources had in the recent past had a financial interest in several wells owned by a now-defunct company run by Ames Jones' father and husband.

Range now says the rule it allegedly violated applies only to "commercially productive zones," though the actual code reads much more broadly.

And the commission? It says it doesn't decide what is and is not commercially productive. Range Resources does.

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The case in question was not the result of fracking.  The gas in the guys well was proven to be from the formation that his own water well is drilled into.  Also the flaming hose video he did was not a hose from the water spigot, it was a hose off a vent pipe which is there to allow gases that naturally occur in groundwater to escape.  He and his consultant were found to have perpetrated fraud in that video by a court.

The Consultant he employed was disqualified as an expert witness.  She claimed she was a PhD but was not.  She is not an engineer or geologist.  Her report on  air quality failed to take into the fact that methane is emitted from a nearby stock yard.  Bottom line was that here evidence was bogus.

While the article wishes to minimize the Rail Road Commissions hearing, there was factual information presented that proved the case against Range Resources was bogus.  Evidence of the differences in the methane proved conclusively that it was not fracking of the well that was at it issue. The EPA had no evidence that the was an issue before its order to Range Resources and never gathered any evidence to justify it.

Just in the case of Dimrock, PA, and PAvillion, WY, The EPA did shoddy work and found that it had no evidence to show that fracking was causing the issues that were being asserted.  The Movie's Gasland and its sequel are nothing but frauds.  There are so many mistakes in the movies it is not even funny.  So to date there have been no cases of Fracking in the United States contaminating drinking water.  Scientific Study after study have demonstrated that.


Gasland Part II. Go watch it. Shipp did, otherwise he wouldn't have a story.

holmantx topcommenter

On Zimmerman

Should have stuck with manslaughter. GZ pursued, left his vehicle and confronted Martin. A fight ensued (in the legal sense). When "fighting" both parties are at fault. If the losing pugilist produces a weapon and kills the winning pugilist, he negates "self-defense" since he engaged in "fighting". GZ is guilty of manslaughter.

But the press, and the state, and the prosecution blew it by dragging race, gun control, and media attention resembling coverage of pornogragraphy, and so clouded the issue that GZ obtained sympathy.  

The prosecution only asked for manslaughter in the last ten minutes of the trial. It was pitched as 2nd degree murder and clearly it was not. Confused, the jury had to send out a question of, essentially "what's manslaughter?" 

He's not guilty of 2nd murder. Not even close. However, he DID engage in fighting, and it's manslaughter if you kill your opponent.

And BTW, employing the term "white-assed cracker" was viewed by the jury as a racist statement.  And here is where the rubber meets the road on who is the final arbiter of what terms are racist, and who are the race-baiters.

and I obviously don't care about changing the subject from Gasland II, because nobody cares about that.

holmantx topcommenter

Reminds me of the movie, 1941 (1979) Hysteria grips California in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. An assorted group of defenders attempt to make the coast defensible against an imagined Japanese invasion, in this big budget, big cast comedy. Members of a Japanese submarine crew scout out the madness, along with a Captain in Germany's Kreigsmarine (Navy).

Colonel "Madman" Maddox: Identify yourself!

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: Captain Wild Bill Kelso, United States Army Air Corps. Where the hell am I?

Colonel "Madman" Maddox: Barstow. Where are you coming from?

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: San Francisco... been chasing a Jap squadron for a day and a half. I lost 'em somewhere over Fresno.

Telephone Operator: I'm from Moline, Illinois.

Captain Wild Bill Kelso: Tough Shit.

mavdog topcommenter

but according to Rick Perry and the TX Railroad Commission, Texas is the place to be for business! Come to Texas, where you can do whatever you want because YOU can determine the rules!

After all it's all about jobs, even if there won't be any potable water for anyone to drink....there'll be jobs!


More evidence that we can't trust the oil and gas industry with our lives.  Nor can we trust Texas government.  Dallas and other cities should deny drilling, fracking, and pipelines and get super serious about implementing solar and wind power.


@mrgeo Totally, it's amazing how aggressively the fracking giants have gone after every family their fracking has destroyed, either buying them off, gagging them and their children, or suing them into oblivion.

What scientific study after scientific study has demonstrated that fracking hasn't contaminated drinking water? 'cause by my count there are DOZENS. I think maybe you meant to say, industry-bought-study after industry-bought-study has determined that the voluminous number of incidents where fracking has contaminated drinking water wasn't really the fault of fracking, but some other remarkable coincidence that just happened to coincide EXACTLY with fracking and flammable water. 

Let's see if you can follow this logic.. 

Man drills well. 

Water is fine for life of well. Years, perhaps decades go by.. 

Fracking starts underneath or nearby. 

Suddenly water starts fizzing and becomes flammable. 

Gas company, the same company who's head of operations discussed how they were dealing with an "insurgency" of the american people, and that it was important to treat american citizens as though they were virtual foreign terrorist insurgents (people get touchy when you make them and their families sick) and that you should use psychological studies and military people with backgrounds in psyops to intimidate and marginalize them - this gas company, says "No, No.. Haha.. You're all so silly. Obviously this has nothing to do with us. This is a problem which has existed all along and you've just barely noticed it. Here, listen to our paid servants in the state legislature come in and explain it to you. See? Now make sure you aerate well and go shut up or we'll sue you for defamation and whatever other bogus charges we can come up with. Oh, and when we sue, don't worry, because the judge won't dismiss the case on totally apt charges is unbelievably biased in favor of us and has campaigned about how those darned liberals fabricate evidence about fracking and get big bad Obama's EPA to come in and try to take over! Unfortunately he had to eventually recuse himself when it became obvious just what a shill he was for us, but don't worry - we have a thousand of them."

Nothing happens. Fracking company exploits natural resources, water is polluted for next several hundred years, maybe longer, they leave, area is decimated, people get sick, land abandoned.. Fracking company uses obscene profits to buy more state legislators and PR firms who hire more shills to invade comment sections and try and obfuscate issues with as much FUD as they can shovel. 

Lather, rinse, repeat. 

Perhaps you should make an analogy about how people who think their water is being polluted by fracking, just because it became flammable immediately after fracking by their properties started, are really just like people who denied the earth was round. Haha.. Yeah, I've been hearing that one a lot. Tha'ts a good one.

Comparing people whose children are getting sick from fracking contamination to backwards, foolish round-earth deniers is funny. 


  ("Nobody cares about that")  I think that the folks whose well water is contaminated and flammable out in Parker Co. care a great deal, especially since the Texas Railroad Commission looks the other way when Oil and Gas industries in Texas allow folks to be blown up repeatedly in their suburban Dallas  homes by corroded natural gas connectors and has allowed methane gas to contaminate a significant agricultural and residential water source, just outside Tarrant Co.


@holmantx Hahaha!!! Ha.. Yeah.. It's funny villainizing and making fun of families whose children are getting sick from formerly-potable drinking water which "just happened" to get poisonous and flammable after fracking operations moved in nearby.. Hahaha.. Stupid sick kids and their stupid backwards parents who are all like "Oh, my sick kids!" Hahahaha.. They're like crazy lunatics who think the earth is flat.  I'm right with you, holmantx. Keep beating up those sick kids and their grieving parents! They're not going to beat themselves up! You know, because they're too weak, because they're exposed to toxic water and air which spontaneously, and completely by coincidence, became toxic right after your buddies (employers?) at the fracking companies started their wholly environmentally-friendly, non-impacting fracking work. It just makes sense..

You know what else is funny? If water is just poisonous after fracking operations move in, it's like we're disappointed. If water doesn't LIGHT ON FIRE and it just causing all kinds of sickness and contains super high levels of chemicals which are associated with fracking, we're like "Yeah, whatever.. big whoop, deadly drinking water. Call us when your water explodes." 


You are off topic X2. " Krieg",the  German word for " war", is misspelled in your movie review above.


@Gangy Never fear! the conservative pro-life Tea Party geniuses like Smith of Parker Co. and his "thought leader" Laubenberg of Collin Co. will probably advise that industrial oil and gas industry environmental  "rape kits" are used in order to get those contaminated wells "cleaned out."  Never mind that flammable methane gas in Parker Co. drinking water. is probably more dangerous to un-born fetuses than  legal abortion services...

mavdog topcommenter


oh, I see. you can't have an idea, or defend a position, all you can do is post drivel.

well done! "cartoonish because the reality is obvious for everyone to see for you see", pretty funny and OH! so eloquent defense of your hollow position.

here, I'll answer the question: YES, fracking has polluted water supplies, it's substantiated in the links you posted! maybe you missed that part....

"We concluded that Aimee Ellsworth's well contained ...methane that was in part attributable to oil and gas development"

but them maybe you believe the State of Colorado is giving everyone "a pack of lies"?


holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx

DFW Airport names Virgin Australia executive as new CEO!  Typical.  Corporate empire puts lackey in key position to do their evile bidding.

Shale gas drilling began at DFW Airport in May 2007.  

So long as you on the far left exhibit a total abolitionist approach to shale gas completions, the Utilitarians are going to win the day.  Why?  Because you are cartoonish.  You are cartoonish because the reality is obvious for everyone to see for you see, fire does not leap from my spigot.  

Now go smoke a water pipe.

You'll feel better about yourself.

mavdog topcommenter


oh, I did, it is a litany of industry promoted sites and hired researchers.

but you didn't answer the question, are you of the opinion that there has not been any water contamination caused by oil and gas fracking? by the label you applied, "pack of lies", it sure seems that is your assertion.

mavdog topcommenter


by "pack of lies" are you saying oil anf gas fracking has not caused any water contamination?


@holmantx @mavdog Since when did wanting to protect one's family from polluted drinking water become a "far left exhibit of a total abolitionist approach to shale gas completions,"? 

These are not wild coincidences. These are not people who are rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth environmental extremist liberals whatever else is the current shill approach to blaming victims, these are people who the fracking industry has targeted for being hurt and having the NERVE to speak up about it.

This isn't a left vs right thing, despite how much fracking companies would love to make it so. This is about corporations with ungodly amounts of money making people sick and covering it up with a vast network of paid shills and horrible people. 

The fracking companies probably will win the day, but not because of the reasons you site. They'll win the day because they own the politicians, they have billions to spend on putting down the "insurgency" of families they're targeting, (their words, not mine) and in the end, it doesn't cost a whole lot to have people fork over their souls these days. 

Cartoonish. Yeah. Someone here is cartoonish. If you had a curled mustache you stroked and tied someone to a flaming water well, it couldn't get much more apt. 


@holmantx @mavdog Just out of curiosity, at what point did caring whether or not your family is being poisoned by fracking-polluted flammable drinking water become "anti-energy extremism"?

You can obfuscate the issue all you want. Here's the facts as they've played out all over the place. One incident might be an insane coincidence, but multiple ones, no.

1. Well drilled.

2. Water is fine for years, sometimes decades.

3. Fracking starts near well.

4. Water becomes polluted, flammable. 

You're REALLY going to sit there and tell me with your paid shill straight face that none of these cases has anything to do with fracking. 

And worse, you're going to VILLAINIZE these poor families that fracking is destroying? Your'e going to compare them to extremists, "crazy liberals", or as your bosses in the oil industry call them "insurgents"? These are people whose lives are being destroyed and you are on the side of the people doing the destroying. Shame. 

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