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Don’t Mess: Tex. Railroad Comm. to Separate Parker Co. Well Fact From Fiction This Week

Kicking off tomorrow morning in Austin, and set continue through Friday, Texas’ top oil and natural gas regulators will convene a series of hearings focused on a natural gas well in Parker Co., not far from Fort Worth. At issue? ‘Shoot-first, ask-questions-later’ regulators at EPA’s regional office – based in Dallas – who put the cart before the horse in issuing an enforcement order against a natural gas producer in the Barnett Shale, stating matter-of-factly that these development activities were impacting private water wells. EPA must intervene, their logic goes, because the Texas Railroad Commission was shirking its regulatory responsibilities.

This week, starting tomorrow, a host of subject matter experts will have the opportunity to separate fact and fiction on the matter, and ultimately do the work on this issue that EPA itself has yet to actually pursue. Of course, EPA itself be on-hand to defend its decision to issue this unprecedented emergency order, right? Don’t bet on it, so we’re told.

In need of a quick scenario overview? Flashback about a few days. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jack Smith lays out the moving parts under the headline “EPA, Range Resources in fight over well contamination claim”:

The Environmental Protection Agency and Range Resources are locked in a bitter fight over the EPA’s claim that two Parker County water wells were contaminated by methane from a pair of natural gas wells operated by the Fort Worth-based company.

The Texas Railroad Commission is also in the thick of the fight. A commission staff hearing on the contamination issue, initially scheduled for Monday, has been moved to Jan. 18.

The EPA contends Range has violated its Dec. 7 enforcement order against the company by not taking “immediate actions to ensure that neighboring wells are not being contaminated” or conducting an investigation “to determine precisely how the contamination happened.” In a Dec. 28 letter to Range, EPA said the order requires the company to identify private water wells within 3,000 feet of the gas wells and submit a plan for sampling those water wells.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said “virtually everything” required in the enforcement order “has already been done.”

EID summarizes additional info our blog. Check that out HERE: “EPA staff acknowledge HF, RRC not to blame for Parker Co. wells

Also, our good friends, and industry experts, at the Powell Barnett Shale Newsletter took EPA to the mat in a December 13 white paper (available HERE).

We’ll close for now. But if you’re interested in updates throughout the week, please follow us on our Twitter page – we’ll be on-site helping to ensure the facts are widely circulated. Even to EPA’s region 6 office.

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