Texas Leads the Nation in Illegally Injecting Diesel into Wells, Which Is Not a Good Thing

Categories: Environment

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Regulation of the mysterious chemicals used in fracking fluid used in drilling for oil and gas has been pretty much off limits to the Environmental Protection Agency ever since Congress in 2005 stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate fracking fluid under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In a meager win for people who like water, the 2005 loophole at least was supposed to discourage oil companies from fracking with diesel chemicals, which are especially toxic. Because the diesel chemicals weren't included in that special exemption, anyone who wanted to frack with diesel was, in theory, supposed find some other volatile chemical to use instead, or at least ask the EPA for a special permit first. Naturally, that didn't happen, and the EPA missed out on its one exciting chance to regulate fracking fluid, the secret sauce of water and other stuff drillers use in hydraulic fracturing. A 2011 congressional investigation found that companies kept using diesel anyway. The EPA didn't do anything to stop them or clarify its diesel guidelines until recently.

Thanks to all that, a new report now shows that Texas has been collecting quite a lot of diesel in our fracking wells. In fact, we lead the nation in diesel.

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TCEQ Approves Nuclear Waste Site Expansion Despite Environmental Concerns

Categories: Environment

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Waste Control Specialists
The TCEQ voted to triple capacity and cut liability insurance requirements for a West Texas radioactive dump.

In a quiet, private vote yesterday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality voted to approve a Dallas-based chemical waste management company's request to triple capacity at its West Texas disposal site. Waste Control Specialists had proposed that it site grow from 2.3 million cubic feet to 9 million cubic feet. State regulators are also slashing the amount required for liability insurance.

In recent years, WCS faced a major lawsuitseeking to remove its operating license. The Sierra Club, among other environmental activists, claimed that its Texas Compact Waste Facility in Andrews County was located too close to a major aquifer and there were concerns of potential groundwater contamination. Although the company was assured of its license last April, the facility has remained a point of contention between environmental advocates and WCS.

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Texas Is Actually Considering (Slightly) Tighter Fracking Regulations

Categories: Environment

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Rich Anderson
North Texas activists say the latest fracking regulations are a good step, but there's more to be done.
Just a few weeks after Denton failed to pass a ban on fracking, the Texas Railroad Commission is proposing tighter regulation on oil and natural gas drilling in response to the north Texas earthquakes.

At its monthly meeting yesterday, the commission accepted a new set of rule proposals regarding regulation of injection wells. Among the rule changes, drillers seeking new permits would have to provide a history of seismic activity in the area they would propose to drill. The Commission could deny a permit if there is a history of seismic activity, or terminate a permit if seismic activity begins to occur.

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Texas Beef Industry Worried the EPA Is Cracking Down on Dumping Crap into Waterways

Categories: Environment

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Google Maps
That brown circle is a crap-filled lagoon.
When British artist Mishka Henner was looking through satellite photographs of the Texas landscape, he kept finding huge, brown pools of water. The pools, as he discovered, were the toilets of the beef industry, waste lagoons where all the feces and urine of factory farmed cows is funneled. Texas cow farms captured the British art world with "Feedlots," Henner's photography series of nothing but Texas feedlot ponds. The most famous image, shared all over the Internet, is the gigantic, brownish-red waste lagoon next to Coronado Feeders, a feedlot in Dalhart.

There are real reasons to be disgusted with waste lagoons, besides the fact that they're filled with poop and give British artists more excuses to ridicule Texas. The lagoons will sometimes overflow or leak, eventually winding up in bodies of water whose ecosystems can't deal with all that cow crap. And when the waste is used as fertilizer, it still finds its way into water supplies.

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One Day Soon, Dallas May Be Less Likely to Blow Up in a Fiery Oil Train Crash

Categories: Environment

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Screengrab/Forest Ethics
The yellow zone is within 1 mile of a "Potential Impact Zone in Case of Oil Train Fire." We don't even want to tell you what the red zone is.
Freight trains that everyone says are way too old to still be working keep carrying more and more gallons of volatile crude oil through busy cities. What could possibly go wrong? Explosions. And do Unfair Park readers live in the path of these potential explosion sites? Probably.

Dallas, like most major cities, is served by a national network of freight railroads lines. (Hey! We should build a logistics center!) That's a good thing, except that as the domestic oil industry depends heavily on rail to transport oil, dangerous accidents are happening more frequently.

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Dallas Mosquito Spray Sites Moving Closer and Closer to Our Favorite Fetid Pool

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Google Maps
Maps don't lie.

We'd be remiss if we didn't start this post by saying that Unfair Park is not an entomologist. Not even close. That being said, looking at the address of locations being sprayed to combat West Nile, we think we've noticed a pattern.

Mosquito control measures this year had focused on North Central Dallas until the announcement of today's and tomorrow's sprayings in North Oak Cliff -- for an "abundance of mosquitoes," not necessarily West Nile, according to the city's notice.

Now, as you can see from the map above, the mosquitoes have begun a march to the southwest. To what end, we can't say for certain. That doesn't mean we don't have our suspicions.

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After West Nile and Chikungunya, DFW Now Has the Measles -- and It's Softball's Fault

Categories: Environment, News

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Sue Clark
A case of the left one has been confirmed in the DFW area. Not so with the right one.
Last week, the first Dallas resident came down with West Nile fever. It's news, but it's also to be expected. The virus has been in Texas since 2002, and every summer carries the potential for cases (and lots of spraying). Even though West Nile's 2012 summer was unprecedented, the virus is preventable. Use repellant, wear pants and long sleeves, put screens on your windows; you'll be OK.

On Tuesday, though, health officials announced a Dallas County resident had contracted the chikungunya virus. It's the seventh case in the state, according to state health officials, but the first in DFW. The mosquito that spreads chikungunya is a cousin to the West Nile carrier. So far, the people infected have imported the virus from foreign countries to the states, but the virus could potentially spread here.

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DFW Breathes Some of America's Worst Air, and Fracking May Be Partially to Blame

Categories: Environment

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Joshua Doubek
Assorted fracking equipment.

Of North Texas' 7 million residents, 1.5 million have asthma, lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. Simply by living here those residents suffer the risk of additional complications beyond those that would normally accompany their diagnoses.

According to a report by the Texas Tribune, the Dallas region has ozone levels that far exceed federally mandated limits. For a time, beginning in 2000 and ending in 2007, air quality in the area actually improved. It was still way outside off what the EPA considers healthy, but things were getting better, thanks largely to improved auto emissions standards. After 2007 what had been a steady decline in ozone stopped, right around the Barnett Shale-induced fracking boom.

A presentation made to the North Central Texas Council of Governments shows that the ozone monitors that most consistently show levels that endanger public health are located, almost exclusively, in Tarrant and Denton Counties, both of which have a high number of fracking wells -- something that is, of course, a source of consternation for many residents.

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Denton Didn't Ban Fracking Last Night, but Voters Will Get a Chance to in November

Categories: Environment

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Crystal Hollis
Frack Free Denton getting signatures at the UNT campus.
After listening to testimony from hundreds of speakers stretching past 2 a.m. this morning, the Denton City Council ultimately voted not to ban fracking, instead sending a petition asking for a ban to voters. But while most on City Council were hesitant about passing an all-out ban -- it was defeated 5-2 -- some expressed frustration with the way the industry has been operating locally.

"We've talked with them, we've talked with them to elicit help in our ongoing problems because cannot enforce it," Mayor Chris Watts said, speaking about the city's fracking ordinance. "If we had an enforceable setback, we all wouldn't be here until 2:35 in the morning."

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Gas Industry Is Looking Nervous About Denton's Proposed Fracking Ban

Categories: Environment

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MyEyeSees
The initiative to ban fracking in Denton started out as many seemingly hopeless political campaigns often do, just a petition by angry homeowners fighting a well-funded industry that had already trampled the Denton City Council in court and follow-up negotiations.

But now that little petition has nearly 2,000 signatures, more than enough required for Denton's City Council to consider passing the ban at a meeting tonight, and that powerful industry is starting to look nervous. On Friday, the chairman of the Texas agency that oversees oil and gas used his authority to vaguely accuse Denton petitioners of working for Russia.


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