Do you think members of the Fort Worth City Council ever look around, sniff the air, read the stories about people getting nosebleeds and turning up with gas-drilling chemicals in their blood and moving out of town because of gas wells, earthquakes happening because of disposal wells, aquifers being fouled because of gas wells, pipelines blowing up — not just in Cowtown, but around the country — and say to themselves, “Gee, maybe we should have paid a little more attention to all those warnings and critics and complaints back before we shot this city full of holes?”


So, moving on. Latest bit of cheery news in the ongoing series we could call “Shale Drilling and You” comes from a study by Edward Olaguer, senior research scientist and director of air quality research for the Houston Advanced Research Center. Olaguer concluded that shale drilling in urban areas indeed has a sizable impact on air pollution.


“Major metropolitan areas in or near shale formations will be hard-pressed to demonstrate future attainment of the federal ozone standard,” the study said, “unless significant controls are placed on emissions from increased oil and gas exploration and production.” This from a center that is partly industry-funded.

Jim Schermbeck, director of Downwinders at Risk, said the study is “proof we need a regional strategy of self-defense to reduce air pollution from the gas industry.” Downwinders, after fighting, with significant success, to force reductions in pollution from the cement plants near Midlothian, has been working in recent years to reduce air pollution from gas drilling and other gas operations as well. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency “aren’t doing enough,” he said. “Despite their official plans, our air is not getting cleaner, because gas pollution is still under-regulated.”

Schermbeck said the air pollution impacts predicted by the study rival the smog effects from the Midlothian cement plants and East Texas coal-fired power plants.

Despite the rosy predictions of state officials, he noted, the Dallas-Fort Worth area hasn’t met federal smog standards in the Clean Air Act since 1991.

Perhaps, if drilling and construction of gas compressor stations and pipelines continue, our air will continue to get worse instead of better. In which case, the byword for air quality in North Texas shouldn’t be the old hippie saying “onward through the fog” but instead “backward through the smog.”


  1. It’s silly for anyone to blame gas drilling on the pollution that’s making us all sick. Look around and what do you see? An ocean of cars on every street and highway. There are too damned many people driving too many cars. That’s what’s ruined the air here. And every week or so we see some politician or TV “news” person just gushing because studies show thousands more are moving here every year.

    • @Joe: Silly? That’s certainly an odd word to use in this kind of discussion. What is so “silly” about chemicals contaminating our Dallas/Fort Worth air shed. Is exposure to cancer-causing pollution silly?

      Maybe you can suggest a new North TX law that we all stop driving our cars immediately. That way, shale gas operators can proudly proclaim, “See, the air is cleaner because we’re here drilling and fracking.” In fact, some already have proclaimed that. But get ready for another round of “getting on board”! This time imploring us to stay home, stop driving, sell our cars.

      Seems that idea will be promoted sooner and louder than Fort Worth giving any consideration to stopping the shale gas buildout.

  2. If the drilling industry will use electric rigs, invent technology to prevent silica dust from leaving the drill sites, show water and soil tests from mud farming are NOT going into our storm drains and produce, put scrubbers on open hatch flowback tanks, and use Green Completion systems NOW and not 2.5 yrs later when the EPA mandate takes effect, then they only have to guarantee that the cement casings won’t rot, and that the steel casings can withstand earthquakes, and that the injection wells will not eventually migrate and contaninate our ground water….nevermind the human errors/accidents from the huge build out that “is not” an acceptable amount because you can’t find willing sacrifical lambs!!! We live in BarnettShaleHell and you can’t fix that! You cannot undrill those wells, unpollute the water and unpollute the air!